No Rust Here: 1982 DeLorean DMC-12

By Montana Danford

I’m going to resist the urge for any references to a certain 80’s movie. This car is said to be an original 29K mile 1982 DeLorean and is for sale here on eBay with a current bid of $17,900. DeLorean’s are pretty unique cars that were only made for three model years and have a huge cult following. The all stainless steel bodies and gull-wing doors were certainly a dramatic design feature. Continue reading to learn a bit more about DeLorean history and see more about this specific survivor.

If you aren’t familiar with DeLorean Motor Company (DMC), here is a brief history.  DMC was founded in 1973 by John DeLorean a long-time automotive engineer and designer. According to History.com, “Starting in the 1950s, DeLorean worked as an engineer for the Packard Motor Company and later moved to General Motors (GM), where he was credited with developing the Pontiac GTO, the first “muscle car.” DeLorean quickly rose through the corporate ranks at GM, becoming the youngest general manager of the Pontiac division and then, several years later, the youngest head of Chevrolet.” DeLorean eventually opened a factory in Ireland to produce his own car, but legal issues would lead to the demise of his company and his career.

This DMC-12 was made in August of 1982, but according to DeLorean.com, the VIN is actually a 1983.  The tricky thing about a stainless steel car with no paint, is exactly that…no paint.  There is no way to cover up dings with body filler and paint.  There are a few experts around the country that specialize in restoring the body panels on these cars.  They put meticulous time and energy into taking out every ding, then brushing the stainless panels to perfection.  This process can be very labor intensive and can be a major undertaking if there are any serious dings or dents. This particular car is said to be original with no dents or damage.  It does, however, seem to need a bit of TLC.  With discoloration on the hood, front blinker missing or damaged, interior well used and the engine needing a re-fresh, this car will require some money and time to get it back to its former glory.

If you’ve dreamed of owning one of the 9,000 DeLoreans produced, this may be a good project for you.  If you want a show-quality example, this one will be a challenging project, but it can be done.  Just watch out when you get to 88 mph (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

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Comments

  1. YooperMike

    Would love to dive into this car. But, age has caught up with me and I have to finish a couple things I started in the late 90’s.

    1+
  2. Jeffro

    Jeffro was here! That is all

    2+
  3. Rodney

    Please, no, you-know-what references……

    1+
    • JimmyinTEXAS

      Too late, the author did that before the last period.

      0
  4. grant

    The frames on these rust like mad.

    1+
  5. JimmyJ

    There’s a great delorean story on YouTube I think it’s called “the delorean story” very interesting I recommend it.

    2+
  6. T Mel

    Always enjoy the write-ups on here, but I can’t resist sharing actual facts about these cars since most sources have some common incorrect or misleading information. First, the model name of these cars is just “DMC”, not DMC-12. Yes, it was intended to be DMC-12, but no they were never released in production with that name. That’s probably the biggest incorrect thing out there that most people don’t know. Next, a little clarification on the model years versus “how long these cars were produced”. Production lasted approximately 20 months from March of ’81 to October of ’82. All so-called ’83 DMCs were actually ’82 models that we’re re-VINed with new ’83 VIN numbers to make it easier for dealers to sell remaining slow-moving stock. One last clarification, the company theoretically did not fail, or rather, did not have to fail. The same day that John D. was being illegally enticed by the FBI, his top executives had been trying to get ahold of him because they had secured a legitimate funding source that would have kept the company solevant for another 12 months and hopefully long enough to turn things around. Since he was busy being illegally arrested, that funding deal couldn’t happen without his signature. If anyone is interested in more detail about any of these facts, I’m happy to provide more info.

    13+
  7. michael streuly

    Always wondered what the real story was.

    0
  8. Bbuz

    No way it’ll ever get to 88 mph in the Twin Pines Mall parking lot

    4+
  9. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    IIRC the ’12’ part of the original name was a reference to the original intended price of $12,000. You can guess why John DeL. dropped that idea like the proverbial hot potato.

    One thing I’ve noticed about these is that many of the ones that come up for sale have real low mileage. I wonder why that is? One reason might be that they were bought as an ‘investment’ for resale, but I have a suspicion there might be other reasons…..

    0
    • T Mel

      You’re correct Dolphin, the named was dropped a few months before production release to avoid bad publicity due to the MSRP ending up being more than twice the original $12,000 estimate. For the same reason (negative publicity) the company never publicly announced the official name change. They quietly swept all notations of the “-12” part of the name under a rug. The car was released with no emblems saying “DMC-12”, with the MSO statements that just read Make:DMC and model:DMC, and with owner’s manuals and all other paperwork completely absent of any reference to the “-12”.

      1+
    • T Mel

      In my estimation there are numerous reasons why most of these cars have very low mileage. But I don’t believe any of the reasons were due to any serious mechanical flaws. Investment probably played a part, as did confusion of where and who could perform regular maintenance with the dealer network dissolved, confusion about parts availability for DYIers, lack of practicality probably influenced some owners, even the oddball tire sizes could have played a part. At the end of the day, owners who enjoyed their DMCs and where a little determined to use them did so. I’ve seen numerous examples with 70,000-80,000+ miles with little to no serious mechanical rework of any kind. Just like most other cars from the era, with proper maintenance, they performed just fine.

      3+
      • craig m bryda

        I know of a guy who wanted one desperately but was too ” Thrifty ” to pay the money the dealer wanted, sticker + . He finally overcame his reluctance and paid the premium. A few days later the same dealer wanting to liquidate his remaining inventory of new Deloreans lowered the prices drastically. Ol’ Skip was beyond pissed.

        2+
    • Miguel

      Or maybe the engine didn’t last very long to get to the higher miles.

      He could have done much better choosing the engine.

      0
      • Greg

        I think you’re exactly right. The compromise that lead to using the PRV 6 cylinder engine really took the steam out of what could have been an excellent driving car with good power. Should’ve gone with a v8! Maybe the aluminum v8 Buick designed and Land/Range Rover bought 🤔

        0
      • T Mel

        I purposely excluded that possibility. The PRV engine is a reliable motor used in millions of other cars. There was nothing wrong with it. The Bosche fuel distribution system does need knowledgeable care but again, it was used in millions of German cars without systemic issues. Was the motor particularly powerful with exciting performance? No, not so much, but it is reliable.

        0
      • T Mel

        Most DMCs have around 5,000-20,000 miles. No motor is that unreliable.

        0
      • RS

        It may BE reliable, but even back in the day, 130 hp and 10.5 seconds to 60mph was pathetic.

        0
  10. leiniedude

    I don’t know if I have ever seen one in person, so I need some help here Gang. “The tricky thing about a stainless steel car with no paint, is exactly that…no paint.” I am confused how the hood becomes discolored? Thanks for any advice, Mike.

    1+
    • T Mel

      Hi Mike, I’m not sure why Montana is referencing a “discolored” hood. I’ve looked closely at the ad and pics and I’m not seeing it. Of course any steel can become discolored from heat, but I don’t see that here and it would have taken some extreme situation to produce that. I do see what I think might be some flaw in the front bumper cover finish but it could be lighting. The front and rear bumper covers are painted conventionally so anything is possible with those. The seller doesn’t say anything about the hood being discolored either. Being stainless steel, I am not aware of any substance that could discolor it that couldn’t be cleaned or removed so Montana has got me there. I’ve seen a lot of these cars and own one. I’ve also done hundreds of hours of research on them I’m not aware of any discoloration that can happen under any reasonably normal circumstances. The one point I think Montana was trying to make about the stainless being a so called problem or issue is that it can only be properly repaired with old fashioned metalworking craftsmanship. You have to reshape the metal by hand and then resurface the brush pattern by hand. It’s a lot more work than someone might do with your average restoration because you can’t simply slap on some plastic, sand, and repaint. I don’t see this as a negative though. The stainless steel looks nice IMHO and there are plenty of people with the skills out there.

      3+
    • JimmyinTEXAS

      The very first picture looks like paint chipping off. Maybe that is what is meant.

      0
      • T Mel

        If you’re referring to the upper bumper cover area in front of the hood, then I see what you mean. That’s not stainless though, it’s the same poly mould used on most bumper covers in that era and it’s painted conventionally. Its got nothing to do with any challenges with stainless. That’s what I was referring to as part of the painted bumpers on these cars.

        0
      • JimmyinTEXAS

        Thanks, T Mel

        0
  11. leiniedude

    Outstanding reply T Mel ! I would sure like to see one in person. Maybe some day, Thanks, Mike.

    1+
  12. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    Just bought a new stainless steel refrigerator and it already has ugly fingerprints on the front where it was touched. Also starting to show some discoloration in places. Need to get some special cleaner for it=downside.

    I think there’s a reason why SS never caught on. It just doesn’t look very good compared to good paint. And SS is a 1-trick pony as far as color goes. Maybe I would want a SS car if I drove extensively during winter in the rust belt, but other than that no thanks. Some Deloreans have been painted, and that doesn’t surprise me.

    0
  13. Bruce Best

    I own a Lotus Esprit, a 1989 and I have driven a DeLorean and they are similar only in that they look somewhat the same. The differences are striking when you drive one. There is FAR less visibility out the sides and almost no visibility out the rear. There is far less power and acceleration. Brakes are not bad and very similar shifting not so much but that could be just the car I was driving. I know mine was adjusted by a number of craftsman at Boeing before I got it and the shifting has always been easy and very smooth.

    If you have not seen one or driven one they are a treat but there are others that are so much better and easier to maintain. The V-6 just does not have the power that chassis needs to be a truly fun car. If you plan on just cruising then you have your car but it is not the sports car other similar cars are. I wish they had put the twin turbos on it from the factory and worked out the bugs. That would have been a something to see if not a world beater.

    0
  14. matt grant

    i sold them when they were new at south motors in miami. they were fascinating cars.

    0
  15. Tim Rusling

    I briefly drove a 7 year old ’82 and was very impressed with the build quality and how it drove. I don’t do fast speeds any more, to protect my driver’s license, but it was certainly good enough for my taste. It’s still near the top of my wish list.

    0
  16. Cj

    They should’ve been faster. Does this one still have the original hamster?

    0
  17. Rentalbarn

    Back in 82 and my regular trips to the jersey shore a huge parking lot with hundreds of new shinny DMC’s sat along the interstate. A while later they were being sold out of one of the overstock furniture stores for $16,000.00

    1+
  18. leiniedude

    Auction ended,
    Current bid:US $19,600.00
    Reserve not met
    [ 47 bids ]

    0
    • Rentalbarn

      That is good money for a car that needs to be updated.

      0
  19. RussS

    These cars with their French V6 engines never interested me. However, John DeLorean’s book “On A Clear Day You Can See General Motors” is an EXCELLENT read, a view of the US auto industry from the 50’s through the 70’s. Pass on the car, find the BOOK.

    0
  20. RS

    These cars with their French V6 engines never interested me. However, John DeLorean’s book “On A Clear Day You Can See General Motors” is an EXCELLENT read, a fascinating view of the US auto industry from the 50’s through the 70’s. Pass on his car, find his BOOK.

    0

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