Given A Swirly? 1981 DeLorean DMC-12

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It seems strange to purposefully scratch up a stainless steel finish, but that’s just what one owner did to his DeLorean DMC-12 way back when. Of course, there was a good reason for this, as the owner had previously built a custom Jeep entirely out of stainless steel, and applied the same “swirled” finish. If you look past that, there’s a decent DeLorean here that comes with the preferred five-speed manual transmission and has had a ton of recent maintenance work completed. The seller seems quite well informed and provides a detailed listing of the work completed here on craigslist, where the DeLorean is posted with an asking price of $35,000. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Ian C. for the find. 

The scaly finish is unusual for sure, and while I’m not one to judge the personal tastes of others, I can’t quite see how this would ever make a DeLorean more attractive. Of course, I do get the idea of wanting to have a matching pair of stainless steel cars, but I’d leave them with as close to a mirror-like finish as I could get. The seller points out that the swirl marks are similar to the original graining, but done in swirls as opposed to straight lines – and that it could be made straight once again. This is above my pay grade in terms of figuring out how to restore the original appearance, but I’m sure there’s a DeLorean detailing forum somewhere that has the answers.

The DMC-12 is the preferred manual transmission variety, and the interior looks to be in fair shape despite being parked in storage in 1988 and not taken out until recently. For Back to the Future fans, going into storage in 1988 of all years is a sweet bit of irony. The seller notes the interior largely flaw-free, with no cracks in the dash and only minor separation of the stitching starting to show on the seats. The tachometer doesn’t work, and the listing notes that the windshield is cracked but that Safelite stocks replacements; I find that hard to believe, and the seller stops short of verifying it. It would be absolutely wild if they did, however!

Here’s the Jeep that started it all in terms of that custom stainless steel finish, so at least we know the seller isn’t making the story up. It’s still an odd design, in my eyes, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Now, one fairly serious issue about this DeLorean that’s been repaired is a crack in the frame. The seller describes the area of concern as being where the front frame horns hold the torsion bar. The fix included a “repair boot” that was fabricated from 1/8 inch stainless steel, and has purportedly resolved the brake pulling issue caused by the frame damage. It’s said to be “…probably better than new,” but it’s still an area of the car that warrants inspection. Is this swirled DeLorean a good buy at $35K?

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  1. Brian73 Brian73Member

    I only hope it looks better in person, because it looks ridiculous and UGLY in pictures. But like you said, beauty is in the eye of the beer holder. Or something like that. 😉

    Like 40
    • Tom

      It’s all personal preference and opinion, but I thought these things were hideous and ugly when they were new. Didn’t get it then, don’t get it now. The fact that anyone would pay 35 grand for a mint original, let alone this mess, blows my mind…

      Like 6
      • bone

        I concur !

        Like 0
  2. Bmac777

    Don’t smoke Meth!
    I’ve seen a lot of car customizing that I don’t care for, but this vandalizing of stainless steel is absolutely HIDEOUS! But that’s not all …….. It also has a broken frame, and I’m sure it was expertly repaired, cause this guy is obviously a master craftsman.

    Like 41
  3. Steve Clinton

    It looks like it has a skin disease.

    Like 21
  4. Ian C

    At first glance, I thought it was a camo paint job. Turns out it just looks like a poor attempt to copy the dash of a late 70’s TransAm.

    Like 22
    • SubGothius

      Yeah, it’s like they were going for an engine-turned finish without the slightest notion of how that’s actually done.

      Like 19
    • Stu

      Every time I look at this car….I gives me the idea that a stainless steel eating disease is all over….I don’t know to look at the car or the grass….

      Like 5
  5. Tim M

    And I thought painting a Delorean was stoopid! Yikes.

    Like 17
  6. Curt Lemay

    Why would anyone do this? If he thinks he is going to get big bucks from this, he is mistaken.

    Like 12
    • Steve Clinton

      But…but, it’s one of a kind. (and I AM being kind!)

      Like 12
  7. Bakyrdhero BakyrdheroMember

    Front and rear plastic bumpers are black instead of grey.

    Like 5
    • Steve Clinton

      He must have swirled the color right off of them!

      Like 7
  8. Gerard Frederick

    There is no accounting for bad taste, however I KNOW when something is hideous. I for one and by extension the vast majority here know this. It´s kind pf like Michelangelo produced beauty whereas Picasso was artistically criminal.

    Like 6
    • Steve Clinton

      Or Michelangelo putting Kmart clothes on his subjects.

      Like 8
  9. Bakyrdhero BakyrdheroMember

    I’m wondering if the person that did that to the Stainless finish is/was some sort off eccentric or young person with quick and easy money. I can’t imagine saving your pennies to buy a DMC at a premium car price and promptly destroying the finish “just to match your Jeep”. The OCD in me is screaming for relief every time I look at it.

    Like 7
  10. Bakyrdhero BakyrdheroMember

    Interesting but useless side note on this car: according to the Craigslist Ad the last five of the VIN are 00690.

    The three DeLoreans sent out by the factory to be painted as an experiment were 00661, 00667, and 00672. Very close in the line. I know it means nothing, but someone must find it interesting like I do.

    Like 7
  11. john A Corey

    I can’t love the swirls, but he earns positive style points for the black bumper plastics – they never quite matched in the original silver-ish factory color and the stronger contrast here makes that, at least, look less an accident at birth.

    Like 3
  12. Sal

    Unless Christopher Lloyd, Thomas Wilson, or Michael J Fox did this to the stainless…
    I don’t see how this is worth 35k. There was/is frame damage and the finish needs extensive effort. Prices have gone up recently, but only for well sorted, cars without issues.

    Maybe the ‘culprit’ here started to swirl the paint and then about 5 mins into it realized there was no going back? I hope that’s the answer. Or does it somehow look 1000X better in person?

    Like 3
    • RC

      Does the Flux Capacitor still work? That would make a huge difference!!!

      Like 2
  13. Ray

    Meth is a heck of a drug!
    Only a tweeker would do that.
    They should be arrested for doing that to the car!

    Like 6
  14. Howie Mueler

    Nobody is that stupid, oh wait……………

    Like 3
  15. EPO3

    It’s not like sanding paint off if you don’t end up warping the panels the panels will be getting awfully thin.A real bad screw up.

    Like 1
    • EPO3

      I have seen one that was done with a 2 inch disc I guess he was trying to replicate the dash on a Trans Am And I hate to say it didn’t look awful.

      Like 1
      • EPO3

        I should have have looked at the craigslist ad before I commented we all know the body is a huge mess that two piece of steel if it is steel used as a band aid makes that Delorean more deadly than the coke that was smuggled in it

        Like 0
  16. ShaneH Shane

    I’m wondering how someone can fix absolutely everything except the speedo cable

    Like 1
  17. Brian

    Ugly and has frame damage !!!
    And he wants 35K !!!!!
    Sad !!!!

    Like 1
  18. Autoworker

    That car looks as if its been galvanized.

    Like 1
  19. EPO3

    I should have have looked at the craigslist ad before I commented we all know the body is a huge mess that two piece of steel if it is steel used as a band aid makes that Delorean more deadly than the coke that was smuggled in it

    Like 0
  20. Mike

    A good candidate for a regular paint job.

    Like 0
  21. Steve Clinton

    He got carried away with the steel wool!

    Like 0

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