New Jersey Time Machine: 1981 Delorean DMC-12

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Nearly all people agree that John Z. DeLorean had the best of intentions when he left General Motors to start his own automobile company.  However, millions of dollars and a felony charge later, the company he founded collapsed amid accusations of impropriety.  What was left was a lot of finger pointing and 8,975 vehicles that soon found themselves a valued part of pop culture.  If you would like a piece of this maligned magic, then take a look at this 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 for sale on craigslist in Red Bank, New Jersey.  Is this DeLorean priced fairly at $59,000, or will the owner have to travel forward in time for a few more inflation-soaked years for this price to make sense?  Thanks to Rocco B. for this gull winged tip!

From initial idea to execution, it takes a long time for a car to be born.  For a company starting from scratch, with no factory or infrastructure, that time can be even longer.  John DeLorean left General Motors, where he was the youngest division head in General Motors history, in 1973.  Some said he was forced out.  Regardless, he announced his intentions to create his own automobile company at that time.  This took a lot of guts when you take into account just how cutthroat the industry was then (and is still today).

The first DeLorean car finally rolled off the assembly line in January of 1981.  It took a number of compromises, deals, and a large amount of bull-headed determination on DeLorean’s part to get to that point.  One of those compromises was powering the car with a Pugeot, Renault, and Volvo joint venture engine with what could be generously described as “lackluster performance.”  Another compromise was having Pugeot build the factory in Northern Ireland using subsidies from the British Government.  If you remember your history, that area wasn’t such a pleasant vacation spot at that time.

The huge delay also contributed to the DeLorean coming to market in the middle of a severe recession.  When it finally did hit the market, critics and customers both found the car to be underpowered and expensive for the market it was intended for.  As with any new car, quality was an issue as well.  By the end of 1981, unsold DeLoreans were stacking up at dealerships, investors were getting antsy, and the British Government was unhappy with how their investment in Northern Ireland was going.

In 1982, DeLorean was a target in an FBI sting operation where he eventually was accused of entering a large cocaine deal to raise funds to save the company.  There was also a financially questionable situation involving Colin Chapman at Lotus at the time.  The arrest started the dominos falling, and the party was soon over.  Liquidation of the company’s assets followed, and the British Government seized the factory.  DeLorean was eventually acquitted but it was far too late.

DeLoreans like this 1981 model are all that is left to show for this Herulean, but futile effort.  Found in New Jersey, this very well kept example has just 17,941 miles on the odometer.  The seller claims that over $10,000 was spent on such items as brakes, the water pump, the ignition system, taillights and the electrical system to make the car reliable.  The seller also tells us that the car is equipped with rare black and gray leather seats and a flux capacitor in a nod to the movie “Back to the Future.”  A look at the car cover in the pictures does make one wonder if it is being stored outside, and if it had been exposed to the elements for a long while.

While it seems like a nice car and the seller’s claims that a lot of repair work has taken place, the $59,000 asking price may be a high hurtle for prospective buyers.  It does have low mileage.  However, there are still more than a few DeLoreans out there that have never been driven and were hoarded away as an investment.  Hopefully, the seller will consider the market factors that are driving DeLorean prices and will re-assess the situation.

Have you ever owned a DeLorean or have memories of the company’s rise and fall?  If so, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Tony Primo

    It’s nice to see that DeLorean carried on the GM tradition of leaving the tachometer needle up, when the engine was off!

    Like 2
  2. Howie

    I think these are cool, but we all know they are not quick or fast. And this baby has a automatic!!

    Like 4
  3. Steveo

    Ah, the bitcoin of the automotive hobby.

    Like 3
    • Melton Mooney

      Bitcoin is not that overrated. More like the automotive equivalent of a Bored Ape NFT.

      Like 1
  4. Dave

    What… no PATINA?!

    Like 3
    • Pa Tina

      I’m still kicking. Just have nothing to say about this car. Thanks for asking!

      Like 2
      • Dave


        Like 1
  5. Craig Baloga Craig Baloga

    Vacuum the floor and ask $100 more…..

    I’m a poet and don’t know it….LOL

    Looks decent, maybe a little strong on price from recents I’ve seen….


    Like 3
  6. angliagt angliagtMember

    Crazy asking prices on these.There was one on
    Facebook near here that the seller was asking something
    like $104,000 for,but has lowered it to about $74,000.

    Like 0
    • Doc

      Asking prices on these cars are hilarious. angliagt the one you mention might be the most ridiculous example… I would bet that one sells for less than half the original asking price.

      The car described in this post above was originally listed at $75k at least a couple months ago. Pictures of it on a beach and stored outside are probably not the best for sales, nor are the two-tone seats.

      I don’t know if the high asking prices are just hoping to catch a buyer that doesn’t do their research, or if the owners are just subconsciously trying to avoid selling a car they really love. But auction sites will get the car sold in 7 days for a fair price with multiple competing bidders, for anyone who does want to sell.

      Like 0

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