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Car Tales: Utterly Unique, DeLorean DMC-12

‘There really is nothing like the DeLorean DMC-12, a rear-engined two-door sports car. Imbued with glamour, fabulous engineering, rebel spirit, and a measure of unquestionable controversy, the DeLorean is utterly unique as an automobile, distinctively in a world of its own.

 

1981 DeLorean DMC-12 for sale
‘Even though, in what might now be claimed as classic post-modernism, the idea for this singular car’s gullwing doors was derived from 1954’s equally extraordinary, almost mythical Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.
‘Of course the DeLorean DMC-12 was personified by John DeLorean, the car’s designer and instigator. For many the name John DeLorean remains synonymous with glamorous automobiles.

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‘Before he became entranced with his own DeLorean project, John Zachary DeLorean – the son of Romanian immigrant parents, with a labourer father who was also, by all accounts, a drunk – had been earning $600,000 a year, a phenomenal sum for those days, as head of first Pontiac and then Chevrolet for General Motors.
1981 DeLorean DMC-12 side view
‘Apart from one rather substantial hiccup later in life, John DeLorean was a shining example of the American Dream, accomplished with natural-born talent, hard work, and perseverance. Which is embedded into the very notion of the ever distinctive DeLorean car.
‘And we have one right now at Beverly Hills Car Club, a low-mileage 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 with only 5,747 miles on the odometer and finished in its iconic color scheme of stainless steel combined with a grey interior. The DeLorean is equipped with a five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel disc brakes, dual exhaust outlets, counterbalanced Gullwing doors, Hella quadruple headlights, side marker lights, front spoiler, louvered rear-window cover, three-spoke steering wheel, Goodyear tires, alloy wheels, and a spare tire fitted in the front trunk.
‘Amenities include air conditioning, a cargo net behind the seats, sun visors, a center console, an ashtray, a glove compartment, dual-side mirrors, power windows, and a dashboard digital clock. In addition to the equipment, this two-passenger sports car comes with workshop manual booklets, and a clean Carfax report. This is an extremely low-mileage DMC-12 in exceptional condition that is mechanically sound.
‘As above, the DeLorean is sometimes referred to simply by its internal DMC pre-production designation, DMC-12. However, the DMC-12 name was never used in sales or marketing materials for the production model.
1981 DeLorean DMC-12 rear view
‘As it ages, the DeLorean car only increases in desirability. At Beverly Hills Car Club each model we buy and sell assumes immediate cult status: in total we have sold 180 DeLoreans, so it is a really hot sales item.
‘And this is due to much more than the car’s appearance, as a time machine, in each of the three Back to the Future films, all of which I loved as a kid.
1981 DeLorean DMC-12 interior
‘With the first production car, made from high-quality stainless steel, completed on January 21, 1981, the design incorporated numerous minor revisions to the hood, wheels and interior before production ended in late December 1982, shortly after DMC filed for bankruptcy and after total production reached about 9,000 units.
‘But John DeLorean had understood pop culture, and the glamour of the American West Coast. When the DeLoreans started rolling off the production line, at least 45 per cent were sold in California.
‘To do this, John DeLorean did a deal with the British government, persuading them to give him $100 million to build a factory in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, a city then blighted by endemic unemployment; Belfast at the time was torn apart by the ‘Troubles’, a euphemism for a full-scale civil war between Catholics and Protestants.
‘DeLorean’s factory was built in the no man’s land between areas controlled by these two religious factions, obliging them to work together, a successful effort at integration. It was a very big deal that there were Roman Catholics and Protestants working together: schools were not even integrated in Northern Ireland, where the DeLorean factory was an oasis of peace.
‘Accordingly, John DeLorean was seen as the saviour of the jobless in West Belfast, giving a great sense of confidence, self-esteem and euphoria to the locals. He was a true local hero.
‘Unfortunately it was not to last.
1981 DeLorean DMC-12 engine
‘The company turned out to be too underfunded to fulfil its ambitions. But its achievements were nonetheless impressive. The DeLorean car that emerged from the Belfast factory had taken only 27 months from its first design to a completed model appearing in dealerships: the time arc for a similar development of a new Porsche model in that age was nine years. To achieve this, however, money was spent as though it was pouring out of an open tap. By 1982 John DeLorean was forced to file for bankruptcy. And all the people working in the DeLorean factory unfortunately lost their jobs.
‘Yet the legend of the DeLorean DMC-12 endures. Around 6,500 were believed still to be on the roads in 2015.
-Alex Manos, Owner
DeLorean DMC-12 buyer Alex Manos

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