A look at the 1981 DeLorean DMC-12
by Jeff Barnes
There was a fellow at the 2015 Joslyn Castle Classic Car Show in 2015 with a DeLorean. You don’t see those all that often in Omaha and I asked about featuring it for the World-Herald. He didn’t want any attention for himself (that’s kind of what goes with the story) but was happy to let me photograph the car itself.
Please click through the photos – I’ll have a little on the car with each image.
Probably the most distinctive feature of the car is the gull-wing doors. You only need 14 inches of clearance to open them, so they’re actually easier to navigate next to a parked car.
The car was named for John Z. DeLorean, an automotive engineer who developed more than 200 patents still used in cars today. He became known for his development of the GTO, Firebird and other cars that started the “muscle” car revolution.
No, no flux capacitor! The DeLorean was powered by Peugeot/Renault/Volvo V6.
The DeLorean became even more popular after it was used in the movie “Back to the Future” and the owner has a couple plates reflecting that cinema heritage.
DeLorean left GM as a vice-president to create a new “ethical” sports car that was practical, safer, stylish, long-lasting, affordable, and easy to maintain. There were those who said that didn’t sit well with the Big Three auto makers.
About 9,000 DeLoreans were built and around 6,500 still exist so they aren’t particularly hard to find and parts are fairly accessible.
The stainless-steel car is very easy to keep clean, requiring Dawn dish soap, a sponge, and warm water. You can also use gasoline or paint thinner to remove the occasional tar spot.
The owner is sometimes asked if he goes back in time when he hits 88 mph. “No, I usually get a speeding ticket,” he says. That’s him at right with my son and son-in-law.
The wheels of early-model 1981 vehicles were painted grey. These wheels sported matching grey centre caps with an embossed DMC logo. Early into the 1981 production run, these were changed to a polished silver look, with a contrasting black center cap. The embossed logo on the center caps was painted silver to add contrast.
The maximum speed for a DeLorean is about 135 mph. Its tall gears were meant for cruising the highways and long curvy roads, not racing.
The DeLorean was built in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The factory originally was planned for Puerto Rico, but then the Northern Ireland Development Agency offered 100-million pounds to locate there with its high unemployment. production was scheduled to start in 1979, engineering problems and budget overruns delayed production until early 1981.
The DeLorean Motor Company went bankrupt in late 1982 following John DeLorean’s arrest in October of that year on drug trafficking charges. He was later found not guilty, but it was too late for the DMC-12 to remain in production given the worldwide slump in auto production.