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Doc’s Barn Find: 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 Turbo

We have said before that you just never know what you might find hidden in an old barn or garage. When we came across this 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 Barn Find, we thought it was a very neat find, but then we looked at the engine. What we found could make this a much more interesting find. The owner has listed the car here on eBay, without a reserve.

At first glance, the PRV V6 doesn’t look all that different from any other DeLorean engine, but if you look closely you will notice the rearranged intake. The French and Swedish built V6 wasn’t known for being a power house, with 130 hp to move around the 2800 lb. car. To give this machine some extra juice, a turbo charger was installed. Mr. DeLorean actually commissioned Legend Industries to develop a twin turbo version of the car, but only 3 were ever built. We assume this car had its turbo installed later as a kit, but you never know.

It appears that this car’s interior is still original and is starting to show its age. There are a few trouble spots, but it could still be used and enjoyed just as it is. The weakest point has to be the three speed automatic gearbox, which hurt the already sluggish performance. It would be a lot more fun to have the manual paired with the turbo, but this will have to do.

This DeLorean is going to need some work, but overall is in solid condition. The engine is the area of most concern for us, as it isn’t currently running. The seller has been able to get it to running, but only by spraying starter fluid into the intake. Hopefully it won’t take much to get it running and driving again. If we could go back in time, we would find out more about the history of this turbo time traveler.


  1. Tom Butters

    Will that car ever be a respectable collectible, or is it forever tarred with the missteps and chicanery that first got it built and then killed it? It was an underpowered diversion. A friend who owned one hated it and could not wait to unload it, the electric door openers being a source not only of annoyance but danger- you could be trapped in the damn thing if the power failed, in the early marks. I worked in NY car advertising specializing in imports, and this package scared our agency off.

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    • Kenny_Z

      The door locks are mechanical. The electric locks are there for convenience but you can’t get stuck if the electrical fails. I have a battery kill switch on mine for car shows and can lock and unlock the doors with no power. You can get stuck if the torsion bar fails because the doors weigh just as much as a normal car door except you have to push them up. Basically the same problem as with a Bricklin.
      The car is a respectable collectible and turns more heads than anything else I’ve ever owned. At car shows she draws more looks than any exotic.

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  2. Mark E

    If you could get it for a good price AND you had enough left over, I see DMC has a shop located in Florida. At the very least I’d stop by with it and get their take on it. The engine problem could possibly be some typical Delorean quirk that’s easily fixed if you’re lucky.

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  3. Dolphin Member

    Tom has some very interesting comments about things that I was not aware of, and they don’t help me to like these cars any more than I do. One thing I do like is the idea of a stainless bodied car, which *doesn’t rust*! The body design isn’t bad, either.

    Not so good is the rear engine placement, which is a recipe for oversteer, and especially the engine choice, which resulted in less power and performance than the car looks like it should have. Then there is the problem of the PVR V6’s reliability, which was not good. Years ago I went to do a PPI of a fancy version of the Volvo wagon with the PVR engine in it and I could hear it running before I could see it, and it did not sound good. These developed a loud knock because the camshafts didn’t get adequate lubrication, and most of them required expensive repairs. I don’t know whether the ones that went into Deloreans had as many problems as the ones that went into Volvos, but Volvo did not continue too use the PVR V6.

    Too bad John Delorean ended up with that engine in a rear engine design. I think if he had a decent engine and put it into a mid-engine design, he might have made something good.

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  4. Horse Radish

    But of course the original flux-capacitor, the one that allowed the time travel.
    Travel time for under $20k ???

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  5. NLCTVWGuy

    When I worked for a Volvo dealership, we couldn’t wait to get any of the V6 turkeys off the lot. The 264/265 models from 76-82 were pretty bad. I guess they were not any worse than the typical American car of the era, but that wasn’t good. Compared to the rest of the Volvo lineup, the V6 was difficult to fix and was literally a ticking time bomb with those aforementioned camshaft problems. Tick tick tick tick tick. The end of production, the 2.8 version in the later 760GLE and 780 models through 1991 were better. Not bulletproof 300k engines like the red-block 4-cylinders but they’d survive a lot longer. None of them were “performance” cars though like the Delorean’s bodywork promised. I expect the turbo version of this make it more fun, for a while until the usual problems develop. Or have developed, perhaps, since it’s DOA now…

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  6. Ron Southan

    Colin Chapman’s saddest days. I’ll remember the original Elite and Elan instead.

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  7. Horse Radish

    High bid and presumably
    sold for $14,600

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