Member Stories: Discovering the fifth gold-plated DeLorean

In 1980, to promote its Gold Card, American Express partnered with DeLorean to sell gold-plated cars. Only two of them sold, however, and both are in museums. Two other DeLoreans were plated after the fact, and for years most people agreed there were four gold DeLorean DMC-12s. Then in August 2017, not knowing whether I was brilliant or foolish, I took a chance on what turned out to be the fifth gold-plated De Lorean.

My wife found the car in an auction on Facebook. The description said it was a 156-mile car. I quickly dismissed it, but my daughter searched the car’s VIN and found two references—a 1990 duPont Registry ad and a letter written in 2000 by DeLorean Motor Company Vice President James Espey on a DMC tech-support website—indicating this could be the fifth. Having read all the books and technical publications on the marque, I politely but with great certainty explained that there were only four gold DeLoreans. Still, rumors of a fifth gold-plated car intrigued me, and I agreed to buy it.

My son and I drove to Flint, Michigan, with a flatbed trailer and found the car covered in thick dirt and dust. We couldn’t tell if it was plated or painted. On the drive home to Pennsylvania, we went through heavy rain, and once it cleared, we stopped for fuel. What we saw shocked us. The rain had washed off most of the filth, and the De Lorean gleamed in the sun. That was no gold paint; it was indeed gold plating.

We spent weeks cleaning the car and fixing minor issues from its long slumber. In 2018, we displayed it at the Philadelphia Auto Show, where it received a lot of attention. Now we are working to get our car recognized for what it is: the fifth gold DeLorean, privately plated by its original owner, and the only 1983 gold DeLorean in existence.

The article first appeared in Hagerty Drivers Club magazine. Click here to subscribe to our magazine and join the club. 

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