Time Machine: 1981 DeLorean DMC-12

By 1985, the production days of the DeLorean DMC-12 were well and truly over, and had it not emerged in a starring role in the 1985 film Back to The Future, there is every chance that the DMC-12 may have quietly faded away into obscurity. The DMC-12 has since developed something of a cult following, and low mileage examples have become highly sought after. This particular DeLorean has been in storage for many years and is claimed to only have 24,345 original miles showing on its odometer. The condition looks good, but it will need some work to prepare it for a life back on the road again. Located in Dade City, Florida, you will find the DMC-12 listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding is currently sitting at $21,700 in this No Reserve auction.

Apparently, the DeLorean has spent many years stored indoors, and that has meant that time and the elements haven’t had a chance to inflict any real harm on the car. There is one shot of the underside of the car, and it looks very clean. The brushed stainless steel body looks nice and straight, with no obvious dings or blemishes. The stainless steel on the nose and tail of the DeLorean are slightly different in shade to the rest of the car, but this is a common sight. One notable thing is that the gullwing doors still remain open of their own accord. The mechanisms that hold the doors in the open position can deteriorate over time, but these seem to have escaped that fate.

The general condition of the DeLorean seems to reflect the low claimed mileage. The overall condition of the interior is quite good, with a minor mark on the center console, and some stretching of the leather on the driver’s seat being the only signs of wear. As befits a car of this type and price, the DMC-12 came fully loaded with luxury appointments. Air conditioning, power windows, power locks, an AM/FM radio/cassette player, power mirrors, and a wheel that was adjustable for both tilt and reach were all standard features.

It was under the hood where the DeLorean tended to disappoint many people. The 2,849cc V6 engine produced around 130hp, and while it was not expected to propel a particularly heavy car (2,844lbs), it simply didn’t offer the sort of performance that the styling seemed to promise. Hurting the car’s perception further, was the fact that it wasn’t as agile and maneuverable as many people expected (its turning circle was a massive 42′) and the car was lumbered with some pretty negative press reviews. This particular DeLorean is further hampered by the fact that it is fitted with the 3-speed automatic transmission rather than the 5-speed manual. The owner has heard the engine run briefly following ether being sprayed into it, but given the fact that it has been sitting for many years, there is sure to be plenty of work to undertake before the car could be considered to be roadworthy.

The DeLorean DMC-12’s star turn came the very moment that it appeared on the silver screen. One interesting fact surrounding this is that the movie made more money in its first week of release than the car did in its entire production run. This is another of those cars that was a failure when new and has developed a later cult following. Apart from the negative press reviews that the car received when new, one of the greatest killer blows that the DMC-12 received revolved around its price. When the prototype was unveiled to the world, John DeLorean stated that it would be available for sale at a very impressive $12,000. By the time the first car finally rolled out of the factory, this had skyrocketed to just over $25,000, which today would be the equivalent of around $69,000. Still, with the bidding at its current level, that actually makes it cheaper now than when it was new.

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Comments

  1. Robert White

    Delorean can be viewed getting into his manufacturing marvel of the century in the film Cocaine Cowboys where his entrepreneurial demise was catalogued along with that of the likes of Escobar’s networked Columbian cocaine cartel.

    What completely ended the Delorean was a lack of speculative investment dollars. He was a desperate man much as Elon Musk is today.

    The Delorean & Tesla are two peas in a pod IMHO. Buy your Teslas before Musk ends up with the same fate as Delorean did.

    I had a neighbour that had one of these cars and for twenty years the car just sat in his carport looking anomalous.

    Bob

    • JP

      Yeah… I don’t think Tesla and Delorean have much in common… Musk has had billions of speculative dollars to throw at his company, and he’s sold many thousands of cars. As for desperate, Musk… not so much.

      Like 1
    • Miguel

      Robert, you think the government is going to set up Elon Musk in a drug raid?

      • Robert White

        Drug raids are so 80s that I think not. Musk will go the way of Richard ‘the Gorilla of Wall Street’ Fuld and end up in receivership. Tesla will likely be merged with one of the BIG three automakers given the in-place infrastructure that has already been built.

        Musk will continue to burn cash hand over foot until the day traders short sell Tesla into Chapter 11. And once the short-sellers latch on to Musk for a meal it will be game over for the banks that are backstopping him with speculative investor cash that is perennially on the warpath for yield.

        And back when the government took down DeLorean it was a different time politically. The Delorean takedown was part & parcel of the Reagan administration & CIA campaign against Communism proliferating in the third world.

        Bob

  2. Dana Friedman

    Just for reference, the nose and tail caps weren’t stainless steel, hence the color difference.

    Like 1
  3. luke arnott Member

    These were made in Northern Ireland,where there was NO history of car production ever.The whole scheme was a ploy to create employment with Government money and was cancelled by a new incoming government under Margaret Thatcher.

    Like 2
  4. Djs

    Friend has a Tesla you need to drive it or ride in one then judge there is no comparison I drove it fantastic but of the two but still I’d like to own the Delorean

    • Miguel

      The cars were not being compared. The company situations are being compared.

  5. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Somewhere (youtube I think) there’s a video on a guy that put a turbo’d LS into one of these. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t cheap but from what I remember it performed. The biggest black mark from what I remember was the lack of solid engine performance with the Delorean. Except for someone wanting an original, most people sound disappointed in them regardless of the cost.

  6. Wayne

    I have driven both a Tesla (original Roadster and a 2 motor “S”) and 2 different Deloreans. No comparison. Also Musk did not start Tesla. He was brought in along with some investment money after the company was started. The Delorean was not a bad driving car. It was actually pleasurable. But the lack of large HP and “superb” handling just made it a lackluster sports car. I would have never considered buying one because of the PRV engine. (and I think that there were people like me.) The PRVs were such POSs in the Volvos that I never wanted another one. (I realize that most of the problems were solved when this car came out. But it left such a bad taste in my mouth that I could not even contemplate another.)
    One of my customers had one of these and he sent it to Texas where they did the complete Back to the Future conversion to it. Besides destroying the electronics, it now drives like a truck. Looks cool, but that is it.

    Like 1
    • Miguel

      Video Bob strikes again.

  7. Dave

    I wanted one of these, along with a Fiero, until I attempted to sit in one. No go!

    • g Wentzell

      I could sit in one of these MANY years ago – couldn’t do it now. I saw one of these at a car show recently, I forgot how small and LOW to he ground they were!

  8. Bob McK Member

    I always wanted one and tried to buy a new one when the company failed. Just could not negotiate a price I was willing to pay.

  9. Miguel

    I think the automatic on this car will keep a lot of people away.

  10. T Mel

    In case anyone is interested (since almost everyone and every car publication gets this wrong with the exceptions of Hemmings and Car And Driver); “DMC” is the official make. “DeLorean” is the official model name. “DMC-12” was just the factory project code. So, officially, it’s not a “DeLorean DMC-12”, it’s a “DMC DeLorean”.

  11. Bob McK Member

    Thanks T Mel, I learned something today.

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