It was in January 1974 that the John Z. DeLorean Corporation was established in Detroit, its eponymous founder having steadily climbed the ladder from engineer to general manager within the American motor industry and recently resigned from General Motors. He soon laid plans to produce his own limited production and technically advanced sports car: designed by Giugiaro, and based on his 1970 Porsche Tapiro concept car, it was distinguished by gullwing doors, a brushed steel finish and a chassis made from ERM, a patented lightweight composite material owned by a DeLorean subsidiary.
Following formation of the DeLorean Motor Corporation in October 1975, a complex series of capital-raising exercises generated the funds necessary to produce the first prototype twelve months later. Finances, though, were stretched and after several international possibilities a factory was set up in Belfast in association with the Northern Ireland Development Agency. Prior to production, however, the ERM for the chassis was replaced by a patented Lotus vacuum molding process which, with other changes and type approval testing, delayed the DeLorean's launch until 1981. The rest of the specification included all round independent wishbone/coil spring suspension and disc brakes, while power came from Peugeot's 2,849 cc fuel-injected V6, producing 130bhp at 5,500 rpm and 162 lb.ft at 2,750 rpm allied to a five-speed gearbox.
Originally owned by the DeLorean factory and registered in Northern Ireland, the example pictured here was bought by the current owner with just 750 miles recorded before conversion to right-hand drive by the original DeLorean subcontractor. In early 1994 the car underwent the later factory updates at DeLorean in Texas at a cost of some $7,500, prior to coming fourth in the National DeLorean Concours. Finished in the correct brushed steel with grey interior, this very individual motor car is in excellent condition.
|1981 DeLorean DMC-12
Offered at the Coys 14 December 1996 auction, this DeLorean brought a top of the world price of $22,112.
Hopelessly flawed, with their anemic engines and nearly unsolvable electrical glitches, DeLoreans nonetheless represent an interesting oddity in the field of automotive collectibles.
‘Daily drivers’ are best purchased in the $9,000 – $12,000 range, with truly exceptional examples bring up to $18,000 in the U.S. Deduct $2,500 for automatics.
While speculators have long hoped that the DeLorean would explode in price, their wished have yet to be fulfilled. Not even its “What Time Zone Are You From, Mister” starring role in the film “Back to the Future” has caused an uptick in its value.
However, if you are determined to have a gullwing and don’t want to spend the requisite $150,000+ for one with a three-pointed star on its nose, the DeLorean is your only alternative. Just don’t bank on retiring from the profits you’ll make by selling it in five, ten, fifteen, or fifty years.