Rare Rides: The 1983 DeLorean DMC-12 - a Gold-plated Opportunity?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1983 delorean dmc 12 a gold plated opportunity

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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]

Join the conversation
3 of 33 comments
  • Bluegoose Bluegoose on Sep 11, 2017

    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.

    • Steve65 Steve65 on Sep 11, 2017

      Who says the intent was a "tribute" to the factory cars? Maybe somebody just wanted a gold one.

  • THX1136 THX1136 on Sep 13, 2017

    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!

  • SCE to AUX Love it, and the price is a bargain, actually. The clean exterior is nice.Also, this caught my attention: "105mm throttle body"... that's a lot of air flow.
  • Tassos I predict this will be a big hit and conquer new markets. Housewives will be lining up to grab them, and the dealers will charge $200k a unit. Why? Because they already buy SUVs and crossovers they never needed, which have much less interior space than their minivans. So they will sacrifice a bit more of that space, but at least they will not drive identical looking crossovers with their accursed neighbor's wife.I also predict the Tesla Plaid and even lesses Teslas will beat the living daylights of this idiotic vehicle, and without even breaking a sweat.
  • Bobbysirhan I fully expect to be reading about the last-of-the-line Challenger Demon 170 Redeye Widebody three years from now.
  • Dougjp Finally, luxury/strong performance in a compact size car. Unlike the Civic R, the market for this segment has predominantly automatics buyers. Yet year after year, it appears Acura can't make such a car. They did have a 10 speed with torque (Accord), which counters the thought that they can't make a torque capable automatic.Oh well, look elsewhere I guess.
  • Analoggrotto The real question, how many years or months after the end of production will this vehicle be completely eliminated from the street? Neon lights, yellow spoiler covers, idiotic stripes, brazzers license plate frames, obnoxious exhausts and all.