Rejoice car geeks, movie fans, and sci-fi nerds: the long-lost DeLorean DMC-12 could be coming back to showrooms soon.
Whom do we have to thank for that? The U.S. Congress, apparently.
Yes, the same men and women who find it nearly impossible to agree on anything mustered up enough votes to ensure that DeLoreans can roam the roads once more.
In fairness, though, that may not have been their intent when they passed the Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform Act of 2015, a massive six-year spending bill. In fact, some elected officials might've missed the fact that the legislation allowing for DeLorean's return -- the Low-Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act -- was wrapped into the $325 billion bill.
But the fact remains that it's there, in "Section 24405: Treatment of Low-Volume Manufacturers". That section carves out legal exceptions for small producers of replica cars (i.e. companies that build fewer than 500 copies of models designed at least 25 years ago).
For years, those manufacturers had been held to the same standards as huge corporations like Toyota and General Motors -- standards that smaller firms often had neither the money nor manpower to meet.
As Texas-based DeLorean Motor Company explains on its website, replicas must still adhere to regulations set out by the Clean Air Act. But now, companies can do so by using certified engines from other equipment manufacturers. That will allow DeLorean to boost the power of its iconic DMC-12, which was sometimes ridiculed in the 1980s for its less-than-impressive 130 horsepower (about what a V8 Mustang would've earned at the time).
Replica cars will also be held to the same equipment standards as modern vehicles, and they'll be subject to recalls, too.
DeLorean says that it plans to turn out around 300 units of the DMC-12, beginning in 2017. That's a mere fraction of the 9,000 DeLoreans that were sold between 1981 and 1983, when the company declared bankruptcy. Prices are expected to fall below $100,000.