Everyone knows the DeLorean. And it may be solely for the model’s leading role in Back to the Future. It seems many owners have embraced the car’s status as a pop icon; the seller of this week’s eBay listing certainly did with his personalized TIMEKAR plate. Why pretend otherwise? Might as well preempt the inevitable joke. At least it’s a joke about time travel rather than the 1980s drug trade (A reminder: John DeLorean was acquitted. Sadly, it was too late to save the brand).
Try looking at the car in another context. History is filled with unsuccessful new car brands. Certainly an oversized personality is required to start your own luxury car company, and DeLorean reportedly had that in spades. We wish that with his car-guy cred and extensive history at Pontiac, DeLorean could be among the exalted names of automotive success—like Pagani, Lamborghini, von Koenigsegg, and Musk. Sadly, a series of business mistakes and horrendously bad timing conspired against him and, to be fair, the book has yet to be closed on the others. DeLorean production lasted three years, so failure only seems certain with our benefit of hindsight. If only we had a time machine so we could go back and warn him (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Then there is the car itself. It was a truly international effort: built in Northern Ireland, body designed by Giugiaro in Italy, engine from France, and aimed at a primarily American market. What could possibly go wrong?
The stainless steel bodywork is still striking and unique, and those gull-wing doors weren’t nearly as cliché in 1981 as they are now with today's plethora of supercars and their “billionaire doors.”
This example does indeed appear to be extremely well preserved and mechanically sorted, after its (claimed) early life sequestered in a museum. On a stares-per-dollar basis, there are few options left on the market with this sort of value proposition. Add the desirable manual transmission to help make the most of the car’s original 130-horsepower V-6, and this seems like the DeLorean you want…if you want one, that is. I do. But maybe not for a Buy-It-Now price of $45,000. According to Hagerty Valuation Tools, a 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 is worth $46,500 in No. 1 (concours) condition and $36,000 in No. 2 (excellent) condition. You be the judge.