By on September 11, 2017

Image; 1983 DeLorean DMC 12

The DeLorean DMC-12 is forever linked to the classic film Back to the Future, where the stainless steel wonder was converted into a conveyance for the purposes of time travel. But the silver screen was not the only place the DMC-12 underwent a transformation. A certain credit card company had a PR stunt in mind that saw the DeLorean plated with 24-carat gold.

Our Rare Ride today is what happens when a private owner attempts the same thing.

Image; 1983 DeLorean DMC 12

Stepping back for a moment, a quick overview is necessary. The DeLorean DMC-12 was the brainchild of former General Motors executive John Z. Delorean. The DMC-12 was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro himself, and built at a factory in Northern Ireland by people who used to be farmers. Featuring a stainless steel body and two gullwing-style doors, the futuristic looking coupe hid its engine (a Peugeot-Renault-Volvo V6) in the back.

Image; 1983 DeLorean DMC 12

Build quality, money troubles, production delays, personnel strikes, mechanical woes, you name it — all of these issues beleaguered the DMC-12 throughout its introduction and short life. On sale in 1981, the DeLorean carried a price tag of $25,000 when equipped with a manual, which is around $66,000 in today’s money.

Image; 1983 DeLorean DMC 12

The aforementioned issues meant DeLorean produced only 8,583 examples between 1981 and 1983. John DeLorean was also having a few legal issues of his own in the latter part of 1982, adding to existing problems and spelling an (initial) end for the company.

Image; 1983 DeLorean DMC 12

Before all those issues surfaced, buzz around the introduction of the DMC-12 was substantial. American Express planned a promotion for Christmas of 1980. Exclusively offered to Amex Gold Card customers, the company commissioned gold-plated DMC-12s. With intention to sell 100 examples priced at $85,000 (over three times the standard price), American Express managed to shift only two.

Image; 1983 DeLorean DMC 12

One factory gold example is in the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The other is in the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada.

Image; 1983 DeLorean DMC 12

One final gold-plated DMC-12 was compiled from leftover golden parts in 1983. Completed in Ohio, it was later raffled off at a Big Lots store. Consolidated International, owner of the discount retail chain, purchased over 1,300 DMC-12 examples when DeLorean entered bankruptcy in 1983. They couldn’t resist a bargain! Here’s where our Rare Ride enters the picture.

Image; 1983 DeLorean DMC 12

What we have here seems to be a privately created gold-plated DMC-12. While the two official cars had saddle brown interiors (never installed in any other examples), this one has the standard black.

Image; 1983 DeLorean DMC 12

Other noticeable details missing from factory gold examples include gold color-matched front and rear bumpers, gold DMC badge in the front, and gold tone on the multi-spoke alloys.

Image; 1983 DeLorean DMC 12

Never titled, this DeLorean has just 156 miles on the clock. The eBay sale listed the car at $150,000, and indicated the last time it sold (in 1990) it fetched $100,000. Since that time, the car has been in the private collection of someone who must certainly love gold.

The listing ended with no sale, so wait eagerly for its return to the classified ads soon.

[Images: eBay]

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33 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1983 DeLorean DMC-12 – a Gold-plated Opportunity?...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Auric Goldfinger – your sports car is ready.

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Great find .

    Those seats look comfortable.

  • avatar
    arach

    Enter Conspiracy Theory:

    I have seen TWO gold DMC-12s at the headquarters for the Delorean Club of America.

    This has always intrigued me, as at least 1 has all the supporting paperwork and is stored in a vehicle storage garage.

    If only 2 were formally produced in museums, and 1 was sort of real but fake, what are the other 2 that were supposedly formally produced also?

    are they dealer-made gold versions? Are there fakes floating around? or are there more than 2 but just a few that are not paraded around and are therefore underground?

    I may never know the truth, but its something that’s perplexed me since I first saw those two gold examples back in 2002.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    So sad that John Z is primarily remembered for this and his entrapment.

    Despite or perhaps due to his massive ego, John made some significant contributions to the automotive industry.

    On A Clear Day You Can See General Motors which he helped to ‘co-author’ (originally) should be required reading for those entering into or commenting on the auto industry.

    It is not truly accurate to describe the plant workers as ‘ex farmers’. Belfast is not a farming community. Belfast was a manufacturing centre, focused primarily on shipbuilding (ever hear of the Titanic?). Many however had never been previously gainfully employed and had to learn the discipline required to work on an assembly line. And eventually they did as this 2015 article demonstrates, that for over 2 decades they have been successfully manufacturing auto parts in the ex-Delorean plant.
    https://www.irishtimes.com/business/manufacturing/bright-future-at-old-delorean-plant-in-belfast-1.2397970

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    One of the wealthier families in the suburb I grew up in had a Delorean. The son I knew described it – once the doors were closed – as “like riding in a coffin”.

  • avatar

    When I visited the Petersen Museum, they graciously gave me a private tour of the basement vault.

    Here are photos their American Express gold DeLorean. It appears to have a black interior but it’s hard to tell from these shots. Yes, that’s the Dale prototype in the background.

    http://www.carsindepth.com/?p=16046

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    For $150,000, they should include a Flux Capacitor.

    (Hey, it’s not a DeLorean post without at least two “Back To The Future” quips.)

    Seriously, once the initial quality issues were ironed out, these were actually very decent cars. Imagine how good this’d have been with a small displacement V-8.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I never could understand why they put such a lackluster engine in an otherwise very sporty car. I’m guessing it was related to affordability, but could sourcing a 302 from Ford (or a V-8 from Chrysler assuming GM wasn’t an option) had been that much more? Maybe a heavy V-8 would be detrimental to the handling, but the PVR V-6 was the single biggest let-down of the car, IMO.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    It looks like the voltmeter no workee.

  • avatar

    The DMC-12 was a rear-engine car. Not a mid-engine car, but a true rear-engine car, like a Corvair. By the 1980s, rear-engine cars were a thing of the past. Only Porsche stuck with the concept, and even they must have had second thoughts; witness the front-engine Porsche 928, which journalists thought to be the intended successor to the 911. It is also ironic. John DeLorean made clear that he and Bunkie wanted nothing to do with the still-born rear-engine Polaris, which was a badge-engineered Corvair offered to the Pontiac Motor Division around 1960.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Just googled the Polaris. Very interesting, especially the proposed OHC version of the Corvair six. Thanks for the info!

      • 0 avatar

        Hi JohnTaurus,

        Yes, I’ve seen that article on the internet, too. Actually, there was only one OHC Corvair engine ever built and, from what I have read, it was never installed in a car. It was just an experimental exercise. It was designed in the mid-1960s, long after the Polaris project came and went.

        Allan Lacki
        Eastern Division Director
        Corvair Society of America

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Who wants to address the most important question, which was a better car, the Delorean or the Bricklin?

    • 0 avatar
      bluegoose

      The Delorean. It starred in its own blockbuster major motion picture.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Malcom Bricklin was a better showman and salesman. :-)

        Delorean actually knew a thing or two about engineering.

        • 0 avatar
          bluegoose

          You have to give Colin Chapman an assist on the DMC-12 when it comes to engineering. He re-engineered the car and it does look a lot like the Lotus Espirit.

          • 0 avatar

            Under the stainless steel skin, a DeLorean is essentially an early Esprit with the drivetrain flipped around, using the PRV six instead of the Lotus 2.2 four.

            If Chapman hadn’t died, he quite possibly would have gone to prison over financial dealings with DeLorean. As it was Fred Bushell, Lotus’ financial director spent time in jail over the matter.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            However regarding the Bricklin (using Wikipedia here which I realize is not the ‘best’ reference to use) the engine and performance appear to have been better than that of the Delorean:

            Power came from a 360 cu in (5,899 cc) AMC 360 V8 for 1974. Later cars used a 351 cu in (5,752 cc) Ford Windsor V8. Performance figures rated favorably against the contemporary Corvette, which most auto magazines used as a point of comparison.

            The Bricklin is the only production vehicle in automotive history to have factory powered gull-wing doors that opened and closed at the touch of a button as standard equipment. (The later DeLorean DMC-12’s gull-wing doors operate manually, and the Tesla Model X’s rear doors are referred to as falcon-wing doors rather than gull-wing due to the extra hinge.)

            The Bricklin was designed for safety with an integrated roll cage, 5 mph (8.0 km/h) bumpers, and side beams.

            The front suspension used A-arms and coil springs, while the rear used leaf springs on a live axle. For the 1974 model year, 772 cars were produced, 137 of which had four-speed manual transmissions. All 1975 and 1976 cars had automatic transmissions.

  • avatar
    bluegoose

    I hate to see tribute cars that get the details wrong. They need to paint the front and rear end pieces Gold. As well as the rims. It looks incomplete otherwise.

  • avatar

    A used car lot in my area – Central Iowa (Ames specifically) – had a DMC-12 for sale after the first BTTF movie became popular. It sat on the lot for a month or so before it disappeared. Don’t know if it sold or was whisked away to a storage facility. Always liked the look of this car. In the extra features of the anniversary edition of BTTF, Michael J. Fox mentions the car was a pain to drive and somewhat unreliable. Thanks for the article, Corey!


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