Production of the DMC-12 car commenced in February 1981 in the purpose-built 500,000 sq ft building on the outskirts of Dunmurry. In an earlier post I outlined some of the details contained in Ken Bloomfields’s papers about the De Lorean project that were released this morning in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland.
A year later production was discontinued in February 1982 when De Lorean Motor Cars Limited was put into receivership. Employment peaked at 2,636.
Another June 1983 file also released this morning gives more detail to the understanding that Clive Sinclair considered producing the Sinclair C5 electric vehicle in the defunct De Lorean plant at Dunmurry.
Lotus had a large hand in the design of both the gull-wing DMC-12 and the diminutive chassis for the Sinclair C5. (It’s a cruel irony that more C5s were manufactured than DMC-12s … though eventual sales figures were very similar.)
But rather than just investigating the production of the C5 in Dunmurry, the Department for Economic Development (Industrial Development Board) paper suggests that Sinclair was also considering buying a controlling interest in Lotus Cars Ltd and had much larger plans for the south Belfast plant.
In May 1983 the receivers granted an option to Mr Clive Sinclair for the purchase of the remaining plant and machinery in Belfast. Mr Sinclair is considering the purchase of a controlling interest in Lotus Cars Limited and has tentative plans for the manufacture of cars at Dunmurry commencing in 1985. If these proposals move ahead Mr Sinclair will wish to discuss financial assistance towards the development of these plans with IDB.
NB Mr Sinclair and his associates have emphasized the absolute need to maintain the confidence of this information since Lotus Cars is a publicly quoted company. [emphasis added]
Did the IDB mix up the C5 electrically powered tricycle with a Lotus car? Or did Sinclair really have a larger ambition?
Ultimately, the Sinclair C5 was assembled in 1985 in Wales.
The counterfactual history of Lotus cars being (even partially) manufactured in Dunmurry is like a crazy dream after eating too much cheese!
Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about and reports from civic, academic and political events, reviews cultural performances, chairs discussions, and live-tweets, streams and records lectures and conferences. He delivers social media training, coaching and consultancy, produces podcasts, is a member of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland, FactCheckNI board member, and is a member of the Corrymeela Community.