The first DeLorean produced, commonly referred to as "VIN 500", has a number of misconceptions about it. Now more than 40 years ago, separating fact from fiction becomes even more difficult.
According to factory production records, the first four cars - 500, 501, 502 and 503 - started down the production line on December 17, 1980 in the newly built factory in a suburb of Belfast, Northern Ireland. VIN 500, a black interior (as were all the cars up to VIN 2436, when grey interiors were introduced), manual transmission car was actually completed on Sunday, January 18th, 1981. VINs 501 and 502 are also recorded as completed on the same day.
It wasn't until three days later, on Wednesday, January 21st that John DeLorean visited the factory to inspect these first cars - by this time 10 cars car had been completed - and view other cars progressing down the assembly line.
Gene Cafiero (seated in car), with left to right, George Broomfield, John Haig, Barrie Wills, John DeLorean and Mike Loasby. Photo courtesy of Alexx Michael, Looking Inside the Stainless Sensation
The John Haig-managed, DMCL/Lotus Job 1 support team was there in force and to mark the great occasion, Mike Foxon was given the honour of undertaking the rehearsal of driving VIN 500 off the line, ahead of John Z's appearance through the doors of the assembly hall. Haig and the rest of his team looked on with pride as he drove the car off the line, through the door - only to collide with a stack of empty cages in the yard.
Panic ensued as the whole event that was carefully planned to follow was to be captured on camera by the Belfast photographer, Esler Crawford. Esler had been engaged by Dick Brown to photograph all major events at the plant, from the groundbreaking ceremony onwards. Having survived the last days of the Shah of Persia in Tehran and the advent of the ayatollahs, John Haig remained his usual calm self. He consulted with George Broomfield and they decided Job 1, a manual transmission car (VIN 500), should be replaced by Job 2, an automatic (VIN 501, now posing as 500 for photographs), with the minimum of fuss to which the approaching entourage accompanying John Z was totally oblivious.
VIN 500 was later repaired and saw limited use at the factory, with a few later upgrades being fitted to the car. When the factory closed in late 1982, it was included in the purchase of the remaining parts and unsold cars by Consolidated International who later donated the car to the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum
in Cleveland, Ohio, where it remains to this day.
Photo courtesy of the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum.