The DMC DeLorean is one of the most iconic cars of the 20th century, but it was also a huge flop, remaining in production for just 2 years. This unique car had a lot going for it, including a futuristic design and top-of-the-range digital technology, but pretty much everything else about the car was flawed.


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Combine this with a high production cost and some behind-the-scenes issues that included drug trafficking charges, and it’s no wonder that the DeLorean failed. But this car did roll off the production line; it still exists in the thousands, and in this guide, we’ll look at those cars and their history in more detail.



1. About the DeLorean


Manufactured by the DeLorean Motor Company, this car was given its moment in the spotlight in the Back to the Future franchise and since then it has become the must-own car for countless kids who grew up in the 80s.


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We sell a lot of classic car parts here at Clasiq and we’ve seen some beautiful machines over the years. But few cars compare to the DeLorean when it comes to cultural impact.


2. The History of the DeLorean


The DMC DeLorean went into production in 1981, with the backing of many celebrity investors and some of the best designers in the automotive industry. Although an exact number is hard to pin down, it is claimed that over 8,500 of these cars were manufactured, over 6,000 of which are believed to still exist.


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The car went on sale for a suggested retail price of $25,000, which is equivalent to around $70,000 in 2019. What’s more, this price was set to increase to $34,000 within 2 years. Despite this, there was a long list of buyers waiting to get their hands on it, lapping-up the extensive PR that had focused on the unique design and on the DeLorean name. Some of these prospective buyers were willing to pay up to $10,000 more than the already-high sticker price, but by the time production had gotten underway, the demand had plummeted, and countless cars went unsold.


3. Who Was John DeLorean?


Prior to the launch of the car that carried his name, John DeLorean was the golden boy of the automotive industry, with experience that included spearheading the design of the Pontiac GTO. He was an innovator, a genius, but he was also notoriously stubborn, insisting on doing things his way.


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Many believe that this was the main driving force behind the downfall of the DeLorean and his company the DeLorean Motor Company. His reluctance to take the company public likely hastened its downfall, and he made many other mistakes as well, but the real issue came when he was charged with cocaine trafficking in 1982.


John DeLorean was eventually acquitted, but the damage had already been done, with DeLorean quipping, "Would you buy a used car from me?"


4. What Happened to the DeLorean Motor Company?


John DeLorean went all out promoting the DeLorean because he wanted the backing of investors and buyers. One of the ways he did this was to promote a 24-karat gold version of the car, one that would be produced in limited numbers and sold for nearly 4x as much as the steel version. This limited-edition vehicle was promoted heavily in 1980 and landed at a time when everyone wanted a piece of this car.


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Time said that it "appeared to break the speed limit even when standing still", and that was ultimately the main issue, as this car was all about appearances. John DeLorean was accused of running high expenses on the company’s dime and he also insisted on manufacturing the cars in Northern Ireland, even though they ended up hiring many workers who had never worked before let alone worked in automobile manufacturing.


DMC was quick to fold, with the aforementioned cocaine bust being the straw that broke the camel’s back. They came back in 2016 in the form of DMC Texas, but while it uses the same name as the original company and produces cars, parts, and merchandise, this company is not connected to the original DeLorean Motor Company founded by its namesake.

5. Buying a DeLorean


There are many original DMC DeLoreans on the used market. As is to be expected, these come in various states of disrepair, so you should do your research in advance and make sure you know what to look out for. Even if you know your stuff about classic cars, it will benefit you to do some research about buying a DeLorean as they are unlike anything else on the market.


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6. Where to Find a DeLorean for Sale?


There are many specialist DeLorean clubs and sellers. However, you can find these cars for sale anywhere you can find other classic vehicles. Take a look at the classic cars on our site to see if any catch your eye. If you can’t find a DeLorean, you may find something just as impressive, only a little lighter and faster!


7. How Much is it Worth?


These cars typically sell for around $30,000, but it depends on the condition. The manual versions tend to sell for a little more, as they are rarer, and you can also find non-running DeLoreans for sale. If you have the time and money to invest in restoring a DeLorean, or you’re on a budget and are desperate to own one, this can be a great option.


It won’t zap you back to the future. It won’t even take you to the gas station and back. But it’ll look cool sitting on your driveway and when your budget improves you can start piecing it back together. It’s a project car like no other.


8. The DeLorean Car


The DMC DeLorean is often seen as being ahead of its time, an innovative, futuristic, super-fast, and super-unique sports car. The truth is, it was none of these things. In fact, it was a seriously flawed, overpriced car.


The reason the DeLorean failed is because its performance didn’t match its design. Buyers thought they were getting a flash, high-performance sports car, but what they were actually getting was anything but. In Back to the Future, the DeLorean could travel through time when it hit 88mph, but in real life the speedometer maxed out at 85. It could crawl above 100mph, with some suggesting it could hit 130mph, but it couldn’t get there very quickly.


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The body of the DeLorean was the most unusual aspect. It was paneled with brushed stainless steel (several gold-plated versions were also made) and featured gull-wing doors, which are perhaps the most memorable feature of this classic car. The doors were actually developed by an aerospace firm and could lift straight up, requiring less side-clearance than usual.


9. DeLorean Parts


DeLorean parts are not easy to come by and restoration work is also made difficult by the unique parts and exterior. However, there are over 6,000 of these cars out there and many of these are owned by collectors who also dabble in parts.


10. DeLorean Specs


The specs were ultimately what let the DeLorean down. It was expensive and it wasn’t what buyers expected or had been promised. It was very heavy, weighing over 2,866 pounds, yet it managed just 130bhp.


Engine: PRV 2.85l V6


Style: 2 door Coupe


Power: 130bhp, 5500rpm


Acceleration: 0 to 60 in 9.6 seconds


Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.5 gallons


11. DeLorean Interior


The original DeLorean was manufactured with either black or grey interiors, with the dash, console, and seats all finished in the same color. Initially, DMC had planned additional colors, including blue, burgundy, and tan. However, most of these weren’t produced commercially, and it’s believed that only tan ever made it off the production line.


12. The 2017 DeLorean


Back in 2007, DMC Texas announced that they would be producing around 20 new DeLorean cars in 2008, a production that would appeal to collectors and fans of this iconic vehicle.


But as with the original manufacturers, they soon encountered a number of issues, including production problems and lawsuits from John DeLorean’s widow. This seemed like it would end with the production of a 2017 DeLorean, but again there were issues and production was moved back.


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If you want to buy a functioning DeLorean because you love the aesthetic, then waiting for one of these new builds could be the best option. If, however, you want a real piece of history, something that could significantly increase in value and continue to be seen as a collector’s edition, then opt for the originals.


After all, not only is the DeLorean iconic, but it was produced in small numbers and those numbers are dwindling every year, making this automobile rarer and rarer with each passing generation.

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