Stainless-steel body panels, tough mechanicals, many rust-free low-mileage examples and fast-improving parts supply: a DeLorean DMC-12 makes a promising classic car purchase. And if you’re tempted, don’t hesitate: against the backdrop of rising values for desirable old motors, this year’s 40th anniversary DeLorean celebrations (the first cars rolled off the Belfast production line in early 1981) are sure to burnish the DMC-12’s reputation with a consequent impact on prices.
Only last month, a 1982-registered example in good condition and with 61,000 miles that was estimated to make between £26,000 and £35,000 at auction eventually went for £42,750. That’s an impressive result but one that was achieved when, from £39,000, only two bidders remained, each trumping the other in £250 increments. A desire to win at all costs? It’s always a risk with auctions, so let’s just hope the victor is pleased with their DMC-12.
They ought to be. If nothing else, the story behind the model is like something out of Hollywood. Dashing and brilliant General Motors executive John DeLorean quits to realise his dream of building an ‘ethical’ two-seat sports car: one that will be safe, durable and sustainable, albeit with a mid-mounted V6, gullwing doors and a stainless-steel body. He recruits Giorgetto Giugiaro to style it and Lotus’s Colin Chapman to engineer its chassis and suspension. He persuades the UK government, desperate to create jobs in a divided Northern Ireland, to pour millions into the project. But complaints quickly surface about the car’s poor build quality and performance, and a new administration opposed to private sector support is elected. Within months, DeLorean’s dream is shattered, the final nail in the coffin his arrest on drug charges when caught trying to raise enough cash to keep the company afloat.
And there, but for all the legal and financial complications that followed, the story ends. Except that, happily, DeLorean’s dream lives on in the form of thousands of extant DMC-12s. More than 9000 were made, although of the roughly 6500 remaining, most are in the US.
There are parts suppliers, too. The original factory parts were bought by a supplier in Texas, but here in Norfolk we have DeLorean Go, the world’s second-largest supplier of parts for the DMC-12. And, of course, there are the owners clubs; deloreanclub.uk and deloreans.co.uk.
These serve the 350-400 DMC-12s on UK roads, all of them imported at one time or other. These cars change hands from time to time, but you have to be quick when they come onto the market. All DMC-12s left the factory in left-hand drive, but a tiny few have been converted into right-hookers.
Gearboxes are split 70:30 five-speed manual and three-speed automatic. The engine is a 2.8-litre V6 that makes a paltry 130bhp, so don’t expect fireworks. Instead, if you can bag a DMC-12 for £30,000 (or even £42,750), expect to attract the kind of attention usually reserved for hypercars costing 50 times as much.