Live Auctions

Dealer Painted: 1981 Delorean DMC-12

The painted DeLorean: this is the stuff of folklore and urban legend, with armchair quarterbacks often debating how many DeLoreans were painted and who was responsible for the color change. This 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 here on eBay is claimed to be one the more “genuine” examples because it was painted by an authorized dealer – but it is not one of the three painted by a contractor under the orders of DMC’s U.S. operations. 

Three DeLorean’s were painted upon their arrival to the USA: one red, one black and one yellow. The cars were painted by an authorized subcontractor chosen by DeLorean’s US team to paint those three cars. Everything else was either painted by the owners or performed by dealers. I would say this car, with its ample papertrail backing up the dealer paint job, slots somewhere in between – but it is still not to be mistaken with a factory painted DeLorean.

This particular car’s paint job appears to have been done to a high level, with the trim either removed or professionally masked off. The top photo shows the DeLorean stuck in a garage with a few other pieces of garage art, and the low mileage indicates this was simply an acquisition to be cherished and not a car to be used. The seller claims this car was parked in 1987, but still regularly started and ran – yet he cautions against driving it long distances.

The interior is gorgeous, and at first I thought this was the same red DeLorean we featured a few months ago – but that car was an automatic example. This one sports the desirable manual transmission and an absolutely flawless cabin. The bidding is already quite active on this car but is offered at no reserve. The high bidder is over $16K, but we doubt this one is far from over for one of the slightly more genuine painted DMC-12s in existence.


  1. dirtyharry

    I always thought one of the most attractive features on the D. was the stainless steel body panels. I still think these are attractive otherwise, maybe gull wing doors flip the ‘special’ switch too.

  2. Tom Justice

    The problem with SS is hardly anyone knows how to take out dents and leave the SS looking as it did before the dent. I saw it once on Wheeler Dealers and it was a real specialty that cost them quite a few quid to get done and they were very minor parking lot dings. I worked on a few of these in my day and they were all painted because no one could be found to fix the SS.

    • Pa Tina

      You lost me.(Not a difficult thing to do) How does applying a coat of paint to a stainless steel panel make it easier to repair? Or make a parking lot ding look better.?

      • Poppy

        With paint you can skim coat with filler to fill the dings, and you don’t have to try to match the factory “brushing” on the stainless after you’ve taken a hammer and dolly to it. That is truly an art. Try taking a dent out of your SS fridge and making it look new.

      • Christian

        Well what does it matter if it painted over the stainless steel because it’s still a stainless steel panel anyway. So now it’s going to be even worse to repair because now you have take your time to knock out the debt plus fix any paint issues.

      • Pa Tina

        Yeah- that makes a lot more sense. To fix a parking lot ding you put a $10,000 paint job on the car . Brilliant.

  3. Oil Slick

    The new guy Ant is ok but bring back Ed as the show sucks now.

    • Milt

      Ant’s got enough personality for his own show. WD is not the same anymore.

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      I have the new shows recorded but can’t bring myself to watch them without Edd.

      I think that Ant has been on some other BBC car-building shows.

      I do have to say that the series has gone downhill since the early days when they would work on affordable cars and make repairs that you could do on a limited budget and using regular tools.

  4. Metoo

    Does the caution about driving long distances include distances through time? Does the engine have a governor limiting the top speed to 87 mph?

    • Christine

      Deloreans will always be worth so much more because of the legacy of Back To The Future. As for long distances, it didn’t take long to get a Delorean up to 88 MPH!

  5. Dyver

    The fact that they put a six in it doomed it from the start.

    • Christian

      Putting a 6 cylinder it had nothing to do with it. I’m sure you’re one of those types that like to run their mouth about something they don’t know and the V6 in the car is actually quite fine!

  6. Daniel

    Usually when they are painted, it means they are covering up something like a big bondo patch…

  7. grant

    Over spray is apparent on the (poorly) masked rear bumper trim. I’ve seriously done a better job with rattlecans, in a car wash stall at 4 am on Easter sunday. True story!

  8. Mark

    Looks like a Pontiac j-2000 dashboard ?

  9. Ken Member

    Grant, suggest you look at the ebay pics of the rear bumper – if you can spot any overspray in that photo, you’ve got microscope eyes. I’ve worked in a bodyshop and helped launch the 1990 Chrysler LH bodies in their Bramalea Ont. plant with the first for Chrysler plastic front fenders that survived thru the Ecoat and topcoat paint ovens and I can’t see any overspray on that rear bumper and I know masking – take another look. And please tell me how you got a paint job better than this with rattlecans in a carwash at 4 am on Easter sunday – I’d like to know how to do that, even if I can’t find a vacant carwash!
    The BF photo just shows dust from the desert around the owners home as far as I can tell.

  10. fish56

    Nice car. Very sharp in red! Does look like a quality paint job, no orange peel.

  11. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Heard about the painted ones.

    Always wondered if the cars that were painted, were painted because they had damage to the stainless.

    After all, no manufacturer ever sent a car out with factory repaired bodywork right?

    Repaired some stainless damage years back, worrying about the adhesive that attaches the panel and getting the right look on the stainless after it was straightened, were bigger issues.

  12. rough diamond Member

    Beautiful car! This one is already at 20K with 3 days to go. Looks like the orange chopper and Corvette (possibly) as I think that is a front fender from one of the Mako Shark years, stay put.

  13. craig m bryda

    Looks good I like it. Its different.

  14. ROTAG999

    As far as WD the new Guy Ant is fine they could have done a lot worst think the show needed some new blood maybe Ed will get his own show.

  15. Scott Brown

    No mention of the gold DMC 12. Not sure if that one was painted or plated. It was an official one of one.

    • T Mel

      The gold DMCs were plated. There were two cars assembled at the factory and sold. There were enough parts made for a third car but it was not assembled at the factory. The third car was put together years later using those original factory plated gold body panels. Total of three authentic gold DMCs exist

  16. Moxman

    When I first saw the picture of this car, my first thought was “This looks just like the one I saw at John Hine Pontiac, right after they painted it.” Then I saw the window sticker…wow…what a surprise to see this car again after all those years. The service manager at John Hine showed me the car right after it was done and it looked absolutely fabulous. Not only that, their body shop had, and still does, a stellar reputation for quality. My dad had a few cars repaired there and they always came out great. I would assume that the paint is probably close to as good as it was when I first saw it? As far as I know, that’s the only one that they painted? What a cool find and a nice walk down memory lane for me. Thanks Barn Finds.

    • Robbib74

      Moxman – I bought this red Delorean and would love to hear your story about seeing the car at the dealer and more of the story. If you would be so kind to provide contact info, I’d be very excited to chat. Thanks!

  17. jan

    We purchased a unregistered Delorean from Delorean Cadillac in Cleveland. Our car was used as a demo and had approximately 1000 miles on it.
    The story we got on that dealership was that it was owned by Charles Delorean,
    John’s brother. We never did document that story but, they did have 3 painted Deloreans an the lot at the time. I always felt that painting those cars detracted from the value, but improved the looks dramatically.

  18. T Mel

    Just because DMC may have sanctioned three painted DMCs in the US by hiring a contractor to paint them doesn’t qualify them as “factory painted” in my book.There were no factory painted DMCs unless you count the front and rear bumper covers which were painted on every car. But no whole cars were ever painted at the factory.

    • dnett

      The Delorean factory did not have a paint shop at all. Even those bumper covers were already painted when they arrived at the factory,

  19. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Winning bid:US $27,520.00
    [ 48 bids ]

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