1982 DeLorean DMC-12
On loan from: John and Kyle Hanson, Kearney, NE
Original cost: $25,000.00 (In 1982: Average car cost, $7,983.00; average household income, $21,050.00; average home cost, $82,200.00; gallon of gas, 91 cents)
Number made: 8,500, 1981 – 82
Engine, etc.: OHV V-6; 130 hp; 94.8 in wheelbase, 2,840 lbs.
Notable: This stainless steel rear engine gull wing sports car was produced for only one year although the drama seemed to linger for decades. The DeLorean was popularized in the movie “Back to the Future” and idolized by a generation that never even saw the car.
Designed in 1974 as an “ethical sports car”, the 1981-82 DeLorean DMC-12 was designed by Bill Collins, an engineer who once worked for Pontiac. Styling was originally done by Giorgio Giugiaro who had designed the Lotus Esprit. The DeLorean was first shown to the public at the 1977 Detroit Auto Show and appeared on the covers of Car & Driver, Road and Track, and Motor Trend that year. The “DMC-12” name (DeLorean Motor Company) was meant to refer to its target price of $12,000. By the time it went into production, the price had doubled. The first cars came off the production line in 1981.
John DeLorean was trained as an engineer and moved from Chrysler to Packard to GM. He is credited with being the driving force behind development of the Pontiac Firebird, Grand Prix, and GTO. By the time he was 40, he was running GM’s Chevrolet Division. He didn’t fit GM management’s sober-minded mold however with his jet-setting life style. He left GM in 1973 to start his own company.
Very few new car companies had been launched from the ground up in the past sixty years. John DeLorean knew if he wanted to build his own design, creating his own company was the best route. He was willing to build a factory in what ever country offered him the most assistance and settled on Northern Ireland when the British Prime Minister offered about $100 million in support.
The DeLorean was a rear-engine (detuned for American sales) two-seat coupe with gullwing doors (influenced by the Mercedes Benz 300SL), a steel X-member backbone, all-independent suspension, and a fiberglass inner body. The stainless steel outer shell would never need painting and be scratch resistant and corrosion proof but difficult to repair if damaged. It was intended to be safe, technically advanced, limited in production, and high-priced. The engine was from Renault.
Standard features included dual air bags, side impact protection, four wheel disc brakes, a tire pressure monitoring system, electric windows and mirrors, air-conditioning, a Craig stereo, central locking, and leather seats.
It could do 0 – 60 in under 10 seconds. The drivetrain was mediocre and with a rear engine it had “tail-happy” handling. Rear vision was practically nil; there was little luggage space and a tight cockpit.
It was highly promoted but sales never met estimates. Numerous assembly problems forced costly fixes and the firm’s finances were both complex and evidently shady. Funding ran out shortly after production began and the company was forced into receivership by the end of 1982. The British government ordered the factory closed in 1983.
DeLorean was indicted in 1982 on drug charges though later cleared of the allegations. He was also accused of bilking investors including the British government which had bankrolled the plant.
DeLorean Motor Company went bankrupt in late 1982, forcing some 1,200 cars to be sold at $6,000 off the list price to a Columbus, Ohio liquidator.
The DMC-12 was an honest but flawed car. The model remains a classic case of a swinger’s ego overpowering common sense.
See also: http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/DeLorean/1981_DeLorean/1981DeLoreanFoldout/dirindex.html (Original sales brochure, foldout)
http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/DeLorean/1981_DeLorean/1981_Delorean_Brochure/dirindex.html (Original sales brochure; 24 pgs.)
http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/DeLorean/1981_DeLorean/1981_Delorean_Folder/dirindex.html (Original sales brochure, 4 pgs.)
http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/DeLorean/1981_DeLorean/1981_Delorean_Owners_Manual/dirindex.html (Original owner’s manual)