Prime Example: 18k-Mile 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 5-Speed

  • March 10, 2021
The Rundown
  • John DeLorean’s Famous Launch Model
  • Amazing Development History, Including Lotus
  • Just 18k Seller-Stated Miles
  • Cultural Icon w/ Futuristic Design & Construction
  • 2.6L 130hp PRV V6 Engine
  • Rear 5-Speed Transaxle
  • Includes Window Sticker, Factory Books & Manuals
Why We Like It

If ever there was an American auto executive capable of taking on the “Big Three” at their own game, John Z. DeLorean was that person. A professional engineer and innovator, DeLorean progressed from Chrysler to Packard and then made Pontiac America’s third-best selling marque throughout the 1960s before turning a troubled Chevrolet around in the early ‘70s. Growing tired of GM’s conservative management and political matrix, DeLorean started his own car company in 1973 and began development of a prototype two-seat sports car called the "DeLorean Safety Vehicle," renamed “DMC-12.” Colin Chapman of Lotus fame invested heavily, and his company provided significant chassis development expertise, while production was organized in Belfast, Northern Ireland, with heavy support from Margaret Thatcher’s UK government. Even though its run was short, the DMC-12 took on a life of its own almost immediately after the brave venture failed in the early 1980s with nearly 9k cars built in all.

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prime-example-18k-mile-1981-delorean-dmc-12-5-speed00g0g 5Wpxi4ahAYSz 0CI0pS 1200x900Original and unrestored, this 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 is described by the seller as remaining in excellent condition with only 18,500 original miles of use and three obviously caring owners since new. As the seller relates, this DeLorean was purchased new from a Toyota dealership in Portland, OR on 6/24/82, and over the past year-and-a-half, extensive service and maintenance work was performed using parts sourced from the marque specialists at DMC Midwest and from From the photos posted online, the car’s air-conditioning compressor appears to have been updated with a current-spec unit, relieving the buyer of that issue, and in addition to the original window sticker, this quality DMC-12 includes factory-issued books/manuals and a clean title.

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Valuation Verdict

With a brief 3-year production run and no variations, valuations are easy to triangulate for these technically and historically fascinating sports/luxury coupes. Even without Back to the Future blockbuster movie use, the DMC-12 stands as a significant automobile that’s totally on its own merits, and had production continued, it would’ve been a treat to see what might have come from this brave multinational venture. Values from Hagerty’s Price Guide look robust, ranging from $22,900 for a #4 “Driver”, all the way up to $63,200 for a #1 “Concours” example. While the asking price of this unrestored and very well-maintained example is indeed significant, it actually represents a solid fair market bargain at just below the advertised price, in our opinion.

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