Live Auctions

Painted Stainless: 1982 DMC DeLorean

Any automotive engineer worth their salt will be able to explain the importance of a proper development program before any new model is released onto the market. Unfortunately, it seems that DeLorean didn’t receive that memo, and as a result, their cars were plagued with problems when they were new. Today, there is enough knowledge available to transform what was an automotive dog into something that is decent to live with. This 1982 example has received some of that attention, and the owner has also transformed its appearance to make it something pretty head-turning. After five years of ownership, he has decided that the time is right for the car to head to a new home. Therefore, he has listed the DeLorean, which is located in Manteca, California, for sale here on eBay. The bidding has reached $19,600, but this remains short of the reserve.

When the owner purchased this DeLorean, a previous owner had covered its distinctive brushed stainless panels with a coat of Black paint. It seems that the current owner had intended stripping this away to return the car to its former glory. However, removing the paint revealed some minor dings and dents, so he chose to address these and apply a coat of Silver Gray paint. The result doesn’t detract from the car’s original appearance, but it represents enough of a change to allow this car to stand out in a crowd. He has done a great job of whipping the panels into shape because there are no signs of ripples or defects. It seems that there may also have been some issues at the front of the vehicle because he purchased and fitted a new front fascia. The trim and glass are in good order, as are the distinctive DeLorean alloy wheels. Overall, there is little to be critical of with the exterior presentation.

When we lift the iconic gullwing doors and take a look inside the DeLorean, we find an interior that looks pretty serviceable and one that has received some attention from the owner. The seats wear a fresh set of Gray leather covers, and they look really inviting. Some of the other leather is beginning to show its age, but I believe that if handed to a specialist with the right cleaners and conditioners, it could be brought back somewhere close to its original condition and appearance. A few other items will require attention, and these range from the pretty minor to the relatively expensive. The original radio/cassette player is missing, so the buyer will need to source a replacement. The air conditioning also doesn’t function, although it isn’t clear what the problem is. The other big-ticket item is the gauge binnacle. It is hidden under that Black cover, and it is badly cracked. I performed a search and located an OEM replacement for under $500, and swapping that item would make a significant difference to the interior presentation. Any other issues are minor and could be addressed as time and circumstances allow.

Many people believe that the DMC DeLorean represented a triumph of style over substance. Its appearance held the promise of supercar performance that could match offerings from Ferrari and Porsche. However, the reality was somewhat different. John DeLorean had envisaged the car as a mid-engined vehicle with either a Wankel rotary or a Ford Cologne V6 occupying the engine bay. This was where the company’s lack of time, money, and engineering expertise was exposed as wanting. When neither of these options came to fruition, the answer rested in a 2,849cc PRV (Peugeot/Renault/Volvo) V6 that produced 130hp. Even then, the company didn’t set the drivetrain layout in stone. Mr. DeLorean still had his heart set on a mid-engine configuration. However, he had employed the legendary Colin Chapman to oversee the engineering, and Chapman instantly recognized that the company had neither the time nor budget to pursue that option. Therefore, the DeLorean emulated its Porsche competition in plumping for a rear-engine configuration. At 2,718lbs, the vehicle was far from a heavy car. However, with only 130hp available under the right foot, the 5-speed manual DeLorean took a leisurely 16.5 seconds to cover the ¼ mile. If the buyer ticked the box beside the 3-speed automatic option, the same journey could be measured with a calendar! Thankfully, the original owner didn’t choose that option, so the performance of this vehicle should be pretty reasonable. The owner recently replaced the sender unit, so the fuel gauge now reads accurately. The temperature gauge doesn’t work, but the electric fans cut in as they should. I would attend to the temperature gauge issue as a matter of priority because cooking that V6 could result in a large repair bill. Otherwise, the owner says that this classic runs and drives well.

Ah, the DMC DeLorean. If only it had been a good car when it was new, or a new car when it was good, its story might have been very different. The tail-heavy nature of these cars didn’t find a lot of favor with owners in the early 1980s, but ongoing spring and shock development mean that these can be transformed into a pretty rewarding driver today. This one shows a lot of promise, and the paint job means that it will stand out in a crowd. While tidy and original survivors regularly change hands for $40,000 and pristine cars can command prices of $60,000, I’m not entirely sure where this one will fall. Originality and overall condition tend to be crucial with these classics, so the paint will probably impact the sale price. It also has a few issues to address, but most of them are likely to involve more time and effort than dollars. I would be surprised if the car topped $30,000, which makes this an auction that should be worth watching.


  1. Future Is Now Marty

    In the OHIO area tgey have a ding doctor that removes those issues.
    Mi would seek him out if the paint 🎨 could come off with out damage.
    Needs a dash bad too..

    Like 3
  2. Abi

    “2,849cc PRV (Peugeot/Renault/Volvo) V6 that produced 130hp”
    It’s a wonder this car could reach 88 MPH ……

    Like 16
    • Fred W

      I’m sure there are lots of Renault V6 hop up parts available……..

      Like 6
      • Dave

        Yep, but like everything else, hopping up the engine makes the transaxle the weak spot.
        DeLorean was with Pontiac, was he not, and was probably intimately familiar with the inability of the transaxle in the 1963 Tempest/Le Mans to handle the torque of the 326 V8. In that case, even though the Buick and Olds used a conventional drivetrain GM decided that bigger was better and redesigned the car(s).
        But, I digress…

        Like 1
  3. Howie Mueler

    Was it painted with a brush or a roller?

    Like 5
    • Dave

      Thanks for the memory jog!
      By the summer of 73 my dad’s 67 F100 was a patchwork of roof-tarred homebrew replacement panels. I was working 3-11 at a gas station and my dad was working 4-12 at the steel mill. A buddy and I were supposed to be painting the front of the gas station but we roller-painted the truck instead. When I went to pick Dad up he walked right past it! He liked it. I took some heat from the station manager but even he liked the paint job.
      A week later the borough oiled the road and there went my paint job. Ever the optimist, Dad said that it was free muffle coat.

      Like 4
  4. Gary Rhodes

    Future, stainless is almost impossible to knock dings out of. It is really material, not like sheet steel. These cars were turds and only had the full wings going for them.

    Like 2
  5. Alan J.

    I get that the writer doesn’t like the D very much, but the prices on these have climbed steadily over the years and will continue. Problems which they have are very easily cured. Engine is stout and can handle dual turbo chargers if anyone is looking for more power. In its original configuration– a very fun car to drive! Lot of picture requests.

  6. bikefixr

    I spent waaay too much time inside these cars. I did stereo/alarm installs for the local dealership. Horrible cars. Everything runs through a relay, often buried in the bowels of the car. Cramped, hot, slow and just bizarre in too many ways. I lived within eyesight of the Bridgewater import center and saw these just lined up there by the hundreds. John Z lived just up the road. Saw him regularly in town for years. Just a sad legacy.

    Like 6
  7. Jay McCarthy

    These were horribly underpowered and highly unreliable cars and time has improved neither

    Like 5
  8. MKG

    The engine that almost put Volvo out of business! Pehr Gyllenhammer lost his job as head of Volvo for approving this known piece of trash engine. Its doomed to failure if not on its deathbed already. As with the Triumph Stag, toss the garbage engine and install a real powertrain.

    Like 1

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