Gullwings in Gold: 1983 DeLorean DMC-12

The story of the 24K gold-plated DeLoreans is an interesitng one, and like so many of the “special edition” DMC-12s, there were a few originals created by the factory that sparked copies created by private individuals. This 1983 example shows just 156 original miles and is one of the copies created after the car left the factory with its standard stainless steel exterior. Find it here on eBay with a $150,000 Buy-It-Now.

You could argue this is the least desirable of the 24K gold-plated cars. The three factory models were created in concert with an American Express promotional campaign that promised upwards of 100 gold-covered cars. These plans did not materialize and today, three cars exist – two in museums – that were built with special gold-plated panels. There’s an excellent online resource for more information, available at Delorean.com.

That same site sheds some interesting light on this car, as it is the one with the least amount of history. It’s also the DeLorean most identifiable by the lack of gold plating on the nose and rear tail panels, along with portions of the inner gullwing doors. It was for sale in the DuPont Registry in the early 90s for $100,000 and later showed up at an auction for seized assets. Based on that history, the current owner is the one who bought the car at auction.

The car still shows impressive, delivery-grade mileage to this day. The engine presents very well, with minimal cosmetic deterioration. The seller doesn’t disclose the auction sale, only noting the listing in the DuPont Registry. That omission aside, the rest of the description is correct in that the only other known gold-plated cars are in museum collections and not likely to be sold anytime soon. Does that make this one worth $150K?

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Comments

  1. Alexander

    Have you ever heard the expression “No matter how hard you try, you can’t polish a turd”??

    • Metoo

      Or, “You can roll it in glitter, but it’s still a turd”

    • Adam T45 Staff

      Alexander, you need to watch Mythbusters. They proved that it is possible to polish said item!

      The DeLorean was one of those cars that promised so much, but sadly delivered so little (history is littered with examples of this. Did someone say “Triumph Stag”?). All these ever needed was some intense research and development before release and they could’ve been a nice car. Had they had R&D and been fitted with a better engine, they would’ve been a world-beater. Sadly, they are what they are: They are an example of what happens when an individual places their ambitions ahead of their abilities.

  2. Fred w.

    I don’t get it- the car looks like any car painted gold color. It would be hard to photograph a gold plated car in the sunlight- there would be a lot of specular highlights. Unless the “matte” finish on the stainless panels tends to tone it down a bit.

  3. Classix Steel

    I hope someone has a flux capacitor to shock themselves prior to purchasing this one ! :-)

  4. Taco Juan

    I have never been a fan of this vehical. I’ll walk past them at car shows. Gold, black, red, I don’t care.

  5. Jamez Rogers

    Best friends uncle had a gold one, it sat in a bank in Houston Texas for years

    • Neil

      Small world …I appraised that car, it was donated to the Petersen Museum, it was kept in a glass case in a bank since new had 4 or 5 miles on the odometer

  6. Mark

    For $150 it might be worth it but $150,000? Especially considering it’s a copycat and not 1 of the original factory built gold additions its value is basically nothing as far as I’m concerned.

    I’ve never really been a fan of the original cars in stainless so I’m sure that has a big influence on my thoughts about this 1.

  7. The Chucker

    I saw #4301 at the Peterson Auto Museum a couple of years ago. If you ever go there, I highly recommend spending the extra $ on the “vault” tour…it is well worth it!

  8. Mark S.

    No likes? Am I the only one who remembers John DeLorean? I guess that was funny back in the eighties. I’m dating myself here.

  9. Tom Member

    What is it worth melted down? A gold Bar is more exciting and fits in my garage better!

    Like 1
  10. CanuckCarGuy

    Quality and performance notwithstanding, I’ve always liked the DeLorean’s style… but never liked colourized versions, regardless of how it’s achieved. The rawness of the stainless steel compliments the futuristic styling, making it look like something Buck Rogers would drive…. this one looks like something Liberace would drive.

  11. Crazyhawk

    If I had one of these in my garage, I’d probably look at it and think, “man, I wish I would’ve bought a funner, better looking car”…..

  12. Michael

    I wonder how this plating was done.

  13. Miguel

    What is the best way to make the Renault engine run worse than it normally does?

    Answer: Let it sit for 35 years without driving it.

    • Tony, Australia.

      Miguel the Renault engine can be replaced with a V6 Pontiac engine and they go a little bit better, apparently it’s an easy swap from what I’ve heard, bolts right up to the transaxle.

  14. Del

    The write up is great but the Plating referred to is the actual PLATE that will be found in the new Owners head if he pays that much.

  15. Nrg8

    Lee Iacocca something something cocaine something something.. It does explain alot, that and it was the 80’s after all. Still this does look like krylon rattle can. Not at all appealing. Gold is maybe 1 or 2 micron thick, couldn’t even buy replacement panels and unplate the gold to sell to pay for said replacement panels.

    • Larry Ragans

      Don’t you mean John DeLorean ( founder of the DeLorean Motor Company)something something cocaine something something? October 19, 1982, John DeLorean was arrested and charged with conspiracy to obtain and distribute 55 pounds of cocaine.

      • Tony, Australia.

        Yes, and apparently the accusations were started by ‘The Big Three’, similar to the Tucker controversy, both companies had Detroit scared about the new competition on the block !

  16. Neil

    I have a cousin that is pretty wealthy. Back in the day she bought 2 brand new DeLoreans. Never put any miles on them. Stored them as an investment. She had them insured, and fortunately the storage building burned to the ground. They were worth more back then, so she dodged a bullet trying to dump them in this market.

  17. Maestro1 Member

    They are fascinating cars with an equally bizarre history. Buy one with a Volvo in it.

    • Tony, Australia.

      If I remember correctly isn’t someone in Brazil, Argentina or somewhere in Sth. America planning on remaking these?, apparently they acquired the moulds, machinery and specifications, etc. from the Belfast factory, might be worth checking out with a bit of research.

  18. Trickie Dickie Member

    Oh My Gawd……Really? When reading this text here and on eBay, I had to chortle a lot, almost forcing hot coffee out my nose. I would rather sit alone in a dark closet than to have anything to do with one of these “automobiles” Oh, the humanity!!

  19. Jreno1 Member

    Actually they only Built two, the third was assembled from the spare panels that we’re made in case one of the two factory cars crashed. I volunteer at the other museum where the other factory car is on displayed.

  20. Ric Parrish

    So many specialty cars made the same mistake, no horsepower. Had the DeLoreans had a high performance 327 SBC, four speed and posi rear, they would have been unbeatable.

    • Adam T45 Staff

      Your possibly right Ric, but I suspect that they would’ve been (more) tail-heavy, and as a result the handling would’ve been horrible. When the DeLorean was designed there were plenty of better V6 engines than this one. The Ford Essex V6 is the first that springs to mind.

      If they had’ve wanted a V8, the the Rover 3.5 litre would’ve been a perfect choice. It only weighed a touch over 300 pounds, and could be tuned to produce some serious horsepower. Just a thought.

  21. dyno dan

    I’d give 2 bars of gold plated latinum.
    must be back to the future dollars!

  22. KKW

    Put the crack pipe down!!!!!!! Now back away!!!!!!!

  23. Jieinthousandoaks

    I just saw one of the factory ones yesterday at the National Auto Museum in Reno

  24. David Miraglia

    Back to the Future. Right, For a dog she is still pretty. always liked that design.
    Marty MCFly and Biff not withstanding these online jokes…

  25. Tony, Australia.

    13 years ago I bid on one of these on Ebay, 413 miles on the clock, brand new in a heated garage, it ended up selling for $23 grand. When the guy bought it new and drove it home from the dealer he said he didn’t like the way it drove so parked it in the garage and there it stayed? There was also a yellow one for sale about the same time, you have to wonder why it was painted yellow, probably to cover up the Bondo, sold for about 14 grand if I remember right !

  26. Michael Wilson

    Please note that this is one of the two privately gold plated DeLoreans. This is not a factory original. (Of which there are 3)

    DMC acknowledges this car, but it is not a factory job.

    http://support.delorean.com/kb/a93/gold-plated-deloreans-updated.aspx

  27. Fulm

    If by chance someone has interest in this….DeLorean…I am 10 minutes from location.

  28. T Mel

    As Jreno1 stated, there were not three factory built gold cars, there were two and a pile of extra body panels that almost would make a third car (short a passenger door). These extra parts were made in case one of the production cars was in a wreck. This was a stipulation from AMEX in their contract with DeLorean. Regardless, these extra factory parts were assembled into a gold car years later by a private party who had the missing panel recreated in order to complete his project. In addition to these three, two others we’re made completely by private parties, this car being one of those.
    The author got other things wrong too. The front/rear bumpers on the gold cars were not plated, since they were just stock urethane parts. They were painted gold in the factory just the same as all DMC bumpers were painted silver/grey in the factory. The person who custom plated this car obviously didn’t bother painting the bumpers gold as the factory cars were, and in my opinion it looks pretty unfinished.
    Also the official model name is just “DMC”, not “DMC-12”, but almost everyone gets this wrong except for a very few quality publications that do proper research such as Hemings Motor News and Car And Driver.
    Always so many misinformed comments when it comes to the DMC. No, nobody in South America is reproducing this car, but the current DeLorean Motor Company in Houston, Texas is working toward doing so. They have enough NOS parts for about 500 cars. The original factory dies we’re literally dumped in the ocean by the British Government back in the day, basically out of spite.

  29. alan

    I’d like to find that artificial reef.

  30. Vincent

    When life hands you lemons, you paint that shi# gold.

  31. Gerard

    Little comment about the engine: it’s known as the PRV engine here in Europe, i.e.: Peugeot-Renault-Volvo, as all three manufacturers teamed to develop and use it in their respective vehicles. It was fitted on many of their models and also other brands than DeLorean, from ’74 to ’98. It grew up to a 3-liter, 24 valve, twin-turbo 400hp powerplant in the Venturi coupe and still holds the speed record on the Hunaudieres straight at le Mans, with a WM in ’88: 251mph; to be fair, chicanes have been built in the straight since then! Interesting fact: this engine family should have included a V8, hence the 90° angle and the common rod journals for opposed cylinders, leading to a feeling of “unbalanced” running.

    Like 1

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