1983 DeLorean With 1,218 Miles!

There were many different factors at play that resulted in the DeLorean being the sales failure that it was. However, if the buck must stop anywhere, it should probably land at the feet of John DeLorean himself. Indecision, poor planning, and shocking business management doomed the project before it even got up and running. The car was set to fade into obscurity, but it has managed to become something of a collectible. This particular DeLorean is one of the last to ever roll off the production line, and when you combine that fact with its extraordinary odometer reading, then that makes this a vehicle that should command a premium price in a DeLorean context. It is located in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN of $51,990, but if you are truly interested, you could try your luck by making an offer.

It is hard to decide just what makes the DeLorean such a standout. Is it the stylish bodywork that was penned by Giugiaro, or is it the brushed stainless steel panels? Both make a statement, and scream “look at me!” The stainless steel finish does have its disadvantages, because it is prone to showing fingerprints, and even minor dings and bumps are difficult to address. The advantage is that rough ownership tends to show, which is an advantage for potential owners. The owner states that this vehicle has been kept in a climate-controlled garage throughout its life. This is an important fact because while the panels obviously won’t rust, that body does sit on a steel frame that can be prone to problems. The steel frame was epoxy-coated, and if the epoxy remains intact, then things should potentially look healthy down below. The urethane nose and tail sections were not a great color match when new, and this only ever had a tendency to get worse with each passing year. However, the match on these ones is a lot closer than on many examples that I have seen. The DeLorean was only available with these finely-finned alloy wheels, and these ones appear to be in good condition. Honestly, there doesn’t seem to be a lot to fault about the car’s exterior condition or presentation.

Interior trim for the DeLorean was originally available in black only, although the company eventually did add grey to the palette in a bid to make the interior less oppressive. This is a very late production car, and it does feature the darker color. Overall, the condition of the interior is quite good, as this was an aspect of the DeLorean that was prone to deterioration. The seats are upholstered in leather, and while the driver’s seat does have a few minor wrinkles, there is no edge wear on the bolsters. The rest of the interior looks to be in about the same condition that it would have been when it rolled out of the factory. Having said that, because this is such a late example, it would have been assembled with a great deal more care and expertise than earlier models. All DeLoreans featured air conditioning, and the A/C in this car is said to blow ice cold. That’s a very good thing because cabin ventilation tends to be marginal, to be diplomatic. The vehicle also features power windows, along with power locks and an AM/FM radio/cassette player.

If only the DeLorean had been built as John DeLorean had envisaged. Then it would have been possible for people to forgive its failings because the car would have been a jet. The original concept was for the car to feature a mid-mounted Wankel rotary engine, but fate conspired to rule that idea out. DeLorean then managed to source the PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) V6 engine, with a capacity of 2,849cc. He persisted with the idea of mid-mounting the engine, but when the engineering across many aspects of the project got out of hand, DeLorean called in Lotus founder Colin Chapman to sort these problems. Chapman saw that the V6 would cause major engineering and reliability issues if fitted the way DeLorean envisaged, so he took the decision to rotate the engine and transaxle. This made the DeLorean a rear-engined car like a Porsche, but without either the engine power or the years of engineering experience with such a configuration. Emission laws strangled the performance, and the V6 struggled to produce 130hp. This meant that the car became more about pose-power than performance because it struggled to accelerate from 0-60 in 9.6 seconds in manual form. If fitted with the optional 3-speed automatic transmission, you started to consider measuring performance with a sundial. Thankfully, this one is a 5-speed manual, and it is said to be in very good mechanical condition. It features new tires and has just undergone a full fluid change. The owner is claiming that the vehicle has a genuine 1,218 miles showing on its odometer, but he doesn’t mention whether he holds documentation to verify this. He does say that the car is capable of hitting 110mph. If you are going to attempt that feat, then an escort vehicle is probably going to be required. This is because the speedometer only reads to 85mph, so everything above that is probably guesswork. Besides, if Hollywood is to be believed, won’t the DeLorean disappear when it hits 88mph?

While the DeLorean was a car that had many flaws, this particular one would seem to have a lot to commend it. After the company essentially collapsed in December of 1982, Consolidated International was brought in to complete the build of the partially-assembled vehicles that remained in the factory in 1983. The result was that of the approximately 9,000 DeLoreans that were built, a mere 276 were 1983 models the same as this car. Add in its overall condition and its claimed low mileage, and that should all conspire to make this one of the most desirable DeLoreans available on the market today. Values have remained strong over the past few years, and while really nice examples can easily sell for $45,000, pristine cars can command $60,000 or more. If this one is all that the owner claims it to be, that would push its value into that upper echelon. That would also make it a pretty reasonable sort of score at the BIN price. Of course, if you can make a lower offer and it’s accepted, that’s even better. It could be worth the effort to do that. After all, it costs nothing to ask.


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  1. Earl

    In the movie, the car was fit with a V8 from a Porsche 928.

    Like 3
    • Kevin Pike

      We left the stock engines in the cars for Back to the Future.

  2. George Mattar

    I drove one about 10 years. Horrible car. DeLorean must have been high on coke When He designed this heap. For a guy that gave us the GTO, then the 69 Grand Prix , I guess the writing was really on the wall when he designed the totally useless Vega. However, he realized his dream of his own car after a tumultuous career at GM. He lived his last years in Bernardsville, NJ and was actually in the local phone directory.

    Like 7
    • Alw

      If it was that bad why would you drive it for 10 years?

      Like 4
  3. Ken Jennings

    Has this car been sitting for a long time? We all know the problems with that, otherwise a pretty nice car. I sat in one of these once when I was a much smaller man, didn’t fit too well then. I thought it was hard to get in and out of. Loved the idea of it, but the actual lay out made no sense to me. Why didn’t they go with a mid engine V8 and a VF 5 speed like a Pantera. Wouldn’t that have been easier then the crazy plastic Lotus idea?

    Like 1
    • Al

      I would say, with only 1,218 miles over 37 years, it’s been “sitting” somewhere all it’s life.

      Like 1
  4. Troy s

    Probably tarnished the reputation of the brilliant car guy that was John DeLorean more than anything else, even the alleged drug bust. Fits the earlier eighties, remembering all the wonderful yucka-mobiles from my high school daze. Not going to blame him for the Vega’s cheapy build quality,, that blame goes directly to Ed Cole who botched it all up.
    Buy it if you want, don’t expect miracles.

    Like 5
    • Raymond Kolvites

      I personally knew John. And lived not far from him.without going into detail, the reason he went out of business was because the British government conspired along with US auto makers to put him out of business. The British government was the main financial backer, they withdrew 30 million dollars of needed funding and created a sting operation. When he wanted to back out, they threatened his kids.
      It is a long story with a lot of unknown details the public has no cutie about

  5. nlpnt

    I always thought the black or gray vinyl (leather?) interiors in these were out of place in what was supposed to be a “nice” car in 1983. Some sort of velour, corduroy or even a striking mix of plush fabrics in a choice of red or blue would’ve suited it so much better.

  6. Classic Steel

    It would be fun to drive to 88 mph.

    A very unique car and considered iconic!

    The stainless was a nice touch…

    Like 2
  7. Andrew Sutton

    John Delorean didn’t design the Vega. He inherited it when he went to become president of Chevrolet.

    Like 2
  8. Chas358 Chas358

    It sat somewhere without being driven for a long time.

  9. CCFisher

    If not for the stainless steel skin, the gull wing doors, and a certain series of movies, these would have been forgotten long ago. Under the glitz, these were wholly unremarkable cars. Had it stayed true to the original concept, a mid-engine sports car with a $12,000 price tag, it might have succeeded. Instead, it came to market with a weak, rear-mounted V6 and an eye-watering $25,000 price. It was doomed before it ever went on sale.

    Like 5
  10. Alw

    No way that car only has 1200 miles on it. Seat and engine condition make me question that.

    Like 1
  11. Jeffro

    Reason for such low miles…. that was as far as they could push it!

    Like 4
  12. luke arnott Member

    The whole thing was nonsense from day one.Northern Ireland had no car building history to speak of,the Government at the time wanted to create jobs,and DeLorean & Chapman did very well out of it financially at the taxpayers expense.

  13. Frozenbird

    There is a reason why so many Delorean’s have such low miles, there is a tiny little plastic gear that drives the speedo cable in the front drivers wheel. And they all break at some point, I had to replace mine, twice. Many owners just went without seeing their speed (not like you were going to get caught speeding anyways) and then replace this little gear right before selling. Thus accounting for so many cars with such low miles running around. Not saying that is the case here but…………

    Like 9
  14. Steve

    It would only disappear at 88 mph if you had the flux-capacitor turned on. No mention in the write-up that one is installed in this car.

    Like 2
  15. Gary Hartley

    I think Renault power may have been his biggest mistake. Renaults were never popular in the USA. They were a bit of a bad joke.

  16. Jack

    Almost 40, but the engine looks pretty dingy for 1200 miles.

    Like 2
  17. Paul apyan

    I have had my DeLorean for over 20 years. Very few problems but I have regularly serviced it and done a few upgrades.
    In the photo of the engine the original plastic antifreeze overflow bottle is intact . If they got too hot they would crack and/ or explode . DeLorean has a replacement stainless steel one for sale .
    Also I do not see the two marks indicating this car has had the recalls (2) addressed.
    Finally I get more head turning with this car than my red 1965 Corvette, or my 1930 Model A Ford. all fun!!

    Like 1
  18. JC

    great ev conversion candidate! Tesla motor. Wahooo!

  19. Louis Chen

    These DMC-Back to the Future car do look nice. I recently bought one that need an engine and minor parts replacement. I decided to stuff a Toyota/Lexus 3.3 V-6 engine in it. After 4 months of “upgrade” I’m sure it is better and more reliable than the O.E.M. drive train! My version was also a 1983 but mine had auto trans. The drive train came from a Lexus RX 330. As a retired shop owner I’ve decided to get my hands greased up again with my old fart partner! Can’t stay away from the smell and feel of motor oil! I’d be hard pressed to see a total EV takeover anytime soon. How can an EV make that sound and smell of a gas burning/polluting I.C. engine?

  20. Bmac777 Member

    Everytime I see one of these I think
    ” Cool looking car, if only they …..”.

  21. stanley kwiecinski

    ….These ones..Twice. Ain’t got no scoolin’ doesn’t sound right? just got to me MHO Later!

  22. Frank

    Adam Clarke, “these ones” should simply be “these.”

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