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DeLorean DMC-12


Gullwing doors and stainless-steel body panels make the DeLorean DMC-12 very distinctive
Gullwing doors and stainless-steel body panels make the DeLorean DMC-12 very distinctive

Our technology guru at ClassicCars.com, Tony Perez, has a thing for DeLoreans. It’s those gullwing doors that get him, he freely admits.

So in deference to Tony and all his fine work, I offer this classic piece of 1980s history, what appears to be a nicely preserved, low-mileage 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 being sold on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in Libertyville, Texas.

The asking price seems fair enough for this piece of history, at $28,500, though that is higher than the $22,000 upper value listed in Sports Car Market’s price guide. This one has just 54,000 miles on its odometer, the seller notes, with no mechanical or cosmetic issues.

The coupe’s styling keeps looking better all the time
The coupe’s styling keeps looking better all the time

The DeLorean coupe is one of those cars whose back story is larger than the car itself. Basically, it was created by the great General Motors product impresario John DeLorean, who struck out on his own to build his namesake sports car in Northern Ireland for the American market.

He adventurously chose to build the car with a stainless-steel body, which instantly made it a distinctive automobile that received lots of attention. However, upkeep and repair of the gleaming surface can be issues. The supercool gullwing doors were major attention grabbers as well.

The DMC-12 did receive criticism for its high price, spotty build quality and modest power from its French-sourced V6 engine. About 9,200 cars were built during its 1981-82 production run before the company filed for bankruptcy.

The stylized logo stood for DeLorean Motor Company
The stylized logo stood for DeLorean Motor Company

Then John DeLorean was arrested on drug charges for allegedly trying to parley a large pile of cocaine into cash to save his company. How 1980s is that? He was found not guilty, but his reputation was ruined.

Most notably, and most famously, is that the DeLorean DMC-12 might have become just another quirky used car if not for its starring role in the popular Back to the Future movies. Doc Brown’s time machine is an iconic piece of movie history, and even DeLoreans not equipped with flux capacitors have benefitted from the connection for generations of film fans.

Oddly, there are companies that sell faux time-machine parts and even make modifications so that anyone’s DeLorean can resemble the movie prop. That seems kind of weird and over the top, but I suppose there’s a market for such things.

Most DeLorean owners like their unique cars just as they were built, and there is active club support. So Tony, I say go for it. Your gullwinged dream awaits.

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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