Turbo Powered: 1981 DMC DeLorean

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John DeLorean made a significant impact on the car industry during his lifetime. Think of the cars that he had an influence on including the Pontiac Firebird, Pontiac GTO, Pontiac Grand Prix before he designed and developed his on car, the DMC DeLorean. The 1981 DMC DeLorean is located near San Diego, California in El Cajon. It is listed for sale here on Craigslist for an asking price of $21,500. The odometer on this car shows 39,017 miles.

The life of the DeLorean Motor Company was short lived. The first DeLorean rolled off the assembly linen in January 1981 and production ended in December 1982. Only 9,000 cars were built but there is an estimated 6,500 still on the road. All DMC DeLoreans were built with an under powered 2.85 liter SOHC V6 engine that produced only 130 horsepower and 153 lb ft of torque. The engines were supplied by Peugeot-Renault-Volvo. While this car is not running, the engine will turnover. An interesting feature of this particular car is that it is equipped with an aftermarket BAE turbo that provides 6 psi of boost. The BAE advertisement boasts that the turbo will increase power by 50%.

The interior of the car looks rough and like it was exposed to the elements. The steering wheel is cracking the console is popped up around the 5 speed manual transmission shifter. The description is not very detailed but it does say that the car has air conditioning, even though it is not working. The seller states that the car was pulled from 25 years of sitting in dry storage. The seller states that he plans to get the car running next month and will increase the asking price.

All DMC DeLoreans came paneled in SS304 austenitic stainless steel from the factory except for three gold plated cars. However, some cars were painted after they left the factory like this one that is painted in red. The paint looks dull. I think this car is overpriced for its condition but it does have some unique features.

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  1. dirtyharry

    If I had a Delorean, I would likely just drive it from time to time.

    Like 67
    • Bakyrdhero BakyrdheroMember


      Well done Sir

      Like 2
      • dirtyharry

        Bakyrdhero: Thanks. These are challenging times. I am hoping we can enjoy our car passion and keep our collective sense of humor too.

        Like 8
      • Bakyrdhero BakyrdheroMember

        Week you made me laugh, and I had to think about it for a second or two. I like these cars and the movies, the jokes never get old.
        Be Well

        Like 3
    • Ward William

      Patience my pretty, you will have one one day. All in good time.

      Like 0
  2. theagent39

    The car is grossly overpriced: Doesn’t currently run (why was it parked?), will need brakes completely gone through, painted, unknowns and interior requires much attention

    Like 11
  3. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    They are increasing In value but being painted probably doesn’t add to it’s value?

    Like 5
    • SubGothius

      Especially considering these were often painted to hide a fiberglass replacement body panel, if a stainless original panel could not be found or afforded.

      Like 11
    • Ward William

      Not at all. This was probably a dealer paint job. There were a few of these that were painted red by several dealers. It may actually add to the value.

      Like 1
      • PRA4SNW

        The value could be increased by a little if there is paperwork proving that it is a dealer paint job.
        If it were in better condition, that is.

        Like 1
  4. jeffro

    How much horsepower does the Flux Capacitor add?

    Like 6
    • Emmett Brown

      Where we’re going, we don’t *need* horsepower…!

      Like 0
  5. DavidH

    Flux capacitor output in Gigajoules x .75 = added hp.

    Like 10
    • Jeffro

      And now I know. Thanks David 😁

      Like 3
  6. William

    These are better in stainless, way better. No wax is needed, only Windex!

    Like 2
    • angliagt angliagtMember

      I read where Club Soda worked well.

      Like 0
  7. bobhess bobhessMember

    Agree on all of the above but it’s nice to see one a different color. Buy it for a lot less, put an up to date engine in it, repaint it red and drive it.

    Like 5
  8. banjo

    A painted DeLorean almost always means it has been wrecked. Although some dealers did paint them in an attempt to boost lagging sales. 21K will buy you a good looking, road ready, non turbo DeLorean. I’m not sure a turbo adds that much value. This thing is a long way from the road….. But “Where we’re going we don’t need roads.”

    Like 8
    • UK Paul 🇬🇧

      To be fair a nasty hail storm can damage these and it’s a hugely costly and specialist repair. It might have been minor.

      Like 0
    • Rick Rothermel

      Ron Tonkin Gran Turismo in Portland Oregon was one of the first DeLorean vendors and was painting them from the first shipment. Yellow looked great. They also stayed around unsold long enough to take root.

      Like 2
  9. Michael Malcewicz

    I was a young adult in the early 80’s and remember these cars well. They were a piece of junk even coming out of the factory and had to be torn down and rebuilt at the Lincoln-Mercury Dealerships to make them right and run correctly. They overheated and had tons of electrical problems, suspension issues, you name it. My brother was a mechanic at the dealership and he worked on them. Fords were better than those POS’s and that isn’t saying much, my brother would say. That is what toppled DMC, the quality was BAD and they let them go anyway. The buyers paid $30k and up to 35k and they were PO’ed, because all they got was a headache for their money. The stainless steel panels were impossible to straighten and make them look right again. Many cars were repainted, because of this issue. The body men of that time went through hell working on wrecked DMC’s, most insurance companies walked up, took one look and just wrote a settlement check on the spot. The car is basically a Lotus Esprit chassis with a stainless steel / fiberglass reinforced body. The engine/transaxle was way underpowered and the car drove like a pig. This car will need at least 30k invested to get it back to a good safe running condition. And ein the end, you won’t get that back at sale. They look sexy, but the underpinnings are garbage.

    Like 6
    • Tom

      Well michael,
      When you conccidder the reality of why the DMC company its self failed so suddenly- and miserably… wich Was due to John’s COCAINE HABBITS taking up most of his free time,away from Running a poorly funded ,and experience lacking factory workers,and management staffed – company.
      It’s not too hard to understand why all those issues you mentioned ,were common in these cars.. he was too much of a pseudo celebrity party boy in the 80’s, and his early BETTER years of automotive design where behind him. The DMC was his failed attempt to regain that ideology for cars / concepts he was once known – better- for..
      Back to the Future movies boosted sales but his nose cany habit was to much for him to maintain good profit from these cars in the long run..his following prison term didnt help matters none either..

      Like 0
      • Michael Malcewicz

        John was not a Coke head. His plan was flawed from the beginning. Instead of building in a country where there was skilled automotive builders, he chose unwisely and went with Ireland, where they gave him 100’s of millions of dollars and other subsidies to get the lazy bastards off the welfare payrolls and back to work. Trouble was, the workers were being trained on the job and screwing stuff up along the way.That crap was shipped out. What they should have done is wrote the first 300 cars off and gone from there.

        Like 1
      • David RichehMember

        Back to the Future came out well after DMC shut down.

        Like 0
    • Marty McFly

      To anyone who held on to this car after 1985: if anyone finds it, tell them your accountant gave it to you!

      Like 0
  10. Bob McK

    I do love these cars, but this one seems to be priced very aggressively. No telling what the paint is hiding, however some were painted when new, just because some people liked them that way.

    Like 0
  11. John A CoreyMember

    I visited this car about three years ago, when it was till (barely) running. I was looking for an iconic 80’s car and thought this might be it. Noooo. RUN AWAY!

    Like 5
    • Bob McK

      It looked like it had been ridden hard. Good to know what you actually saw.

      Like 1
  12. Larry Smith

    the 2.8 V6 engine was a bad engine they had a lot of camshaft problems,Had one in a Volvo ,worst engine i ever had.

    Like 2
  13. Bryan

    Yes, I agree that some DeLoreans were indeed painted when new. I remember seeing a brand new red one in the dealer showroom in 1981 at Hahn Chrysler/Plymouth BMW DeLorean, a dealership in Yakima Washington. It certainly caught my eye and was quite striking compared to the stainless cars which featured inconsistent shades of painted versus stainless finish.

    Like 1
  14. K. R. V.

    What’s the best engine drivetrain to upgrade the power? I’d say possibly a Subaru Turbo 4, with the 5spd transaxle! Intimately an AWD system!

    Like 1

    Its BEGGING for a LS Swap.
    There, I said it, Someone had to.

    Like 1
  16. Mike

    Turbo’s are pretty rare from what I know, and a painted red one even more. The car is in rough shape but certainly salvageable if someone wants to invest the money! There’s a DMC California so they could certainly service the car. Replacement parts do exist, if you’ve got the money. This car is 100% worth investing in, again, if you’ve got the money. You can actually Rent a Delorean Time Machine for parties and events via https://DeloreanRental now days hahaha what a crazy time to be alive!

    Like 0

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