Leave a three-piece polyester disco suit in the closet long enough and maybe, just maybe, it’ll eventually come back in style (or, hopefully, not). What could be considered the automotive equivalent, however, is certainly back in the crosshairs of collectors—the DeLorean DMC-12. Of course, some enthusiasts would say that it has never gone out of style, as a coterie of die-hards have kept John DeLorean’s flame alive with reproduction parts, restoration shops and a worldwide club of admirers and owners since his marque’s official demise in 1982.
Rarely do such pristine examples of the controversial model come to market as this one from 1982, offered through Worldwide Auctioneers at the online and in-person sale taking place at its headquarters in Auburn, Ind., from September 1 through 3.
John Z. DeLorean was a Detroit maverick whose Pontiac GTO and Grand Prix earned him wide recognition, but in 1973 he left GM to start DeLorean Motor Company, engaging none other than Giorgetto Giugiaro to style a car that was light-years ahead of its time with its body formed in unpainted, brushed stainless steel and whose panels were affixed to a fiberglass underbody on an epoxy-coated steel chassis.
The DMC-12, which debuted to the public in 1981, had a base price of $25,000 (upped to $29,825 in 1982). The two-passenger coupe featured gullwing doors and a rear-mounted engine. Lotus contributed expertise to the engineering of the car, and the British government offered generous tax advantages to the new company for locating its manufacturing facilities in suburban Belfast, Northern Ireland.
If the DeLorean had an Achilles’ heel, it was the lackluster 2.85-liter V-6 engine sourced from Renault. The mill made 130 hp and allowed for a leisurely zero-to-60 mph time of 10.5 seconds in the automatic version. The manual was slightly better, but only by a second. Its unbeatable looks and luxurious interior were the car’s strong suit, and the fully equipped DeLorean’s only options were a choice of black or gray leather seats and a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission.
Sadly, performance and build quality didn’t live up to the promise, and fewer than 9,000 units were made by the time the entire operation was shuttered following John DeLorean’s white-powder peccadillo. Despite a production life as short as a fruit fly’s, the lure of the DeLorean DMC-12 endures today.
This example, owned by a single family since 1983, is a time-capsule car with 2,891 miles showing on the odometer. Just out of long-term storage, it wears its original October 1981 date-coded Goodyear NCT HR60 tires. Equipped with an automatic transmission, the vehicle features an interior comprising gray bucket seats, power windows, air conditioning and even the original DMC radio with cassette player.
Offered without reserve, the DeLorean presented has such low mileage and is in such original condition that it could bring a sizable premium over the price of No.2-rated examples (those in fine condition), the latter averaging $50,000 to $80,000.
Click here to see more photos of the 1982 DeLorean DMC-12 heading to auction.