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Lotus 'Pilot Build' Pre-Production Delorean DMC-12 For Sale (1980)This sale is for an extremely rare Lotus built Delorean prototype car.
To my knowledge, there are only 4 of these left in existence today and this is the only fully restored and working example.
Any serious Delorean enthusiasts will know exactly what this car represents.
In the late 1970s, John Delorean won UK government funding to build the Delorean DMC-12 vehicles at a purpose built facility in Northern Ireland.
The company partnered with Lotus Engineering in Hethel, Norfolk, to design and build a series of pilot cars to prove the design and key systems of the vehicles based on two US built prototypes (ex GM engineer Bill Collins) ahead of full scale production in the Northern Ireland plant.
These pilot build cars were hand-made vehicles using a combination of Lotus Esprit parts along with hand made sub frames, under bodies, stainless steel body panels, etc in order to test various parts of the design.
The history of the pilot cars built by Lotus can be read on this website Pilot Car Chronology , but in essence, after completing the tests, each car was dismantled and the parts were used to help construct the next round of pilot builds. In total there were 19 Lotus pilot builds, although the later cars were really incarnations of some of the earlier redundant pilot vehicles with new parts added.
The last 3 Lotus pilot DMC-12 cars were D19, D20 and D21 and these cars were built and shipped to the US to undergo US EPA emissions testing in California, a key requirement in DMC gaining the license to sell the DMC-12 vehicles into the US market and a critical element of the entire business plan. Each of the cars were subjected to various emissions tests on laboratory rigs, simulating different speeds/idling at different ambient temperatures.
They all passed.
The car went into full production the following year (1981), although a number of the features of the pilot built cars were revised/simplified for mass production due to cost. The obvious differences are the frame and under body where the hand built pilot pieces were replaced in production with frames from GKN and under bodies created in the Dunmurry factory using a production set of moulds. The hand made custom interior pieces were simplified and produced locally in Belfast.
However, the company that carried out all of the US emissions testing, Olsen Engineering, were never paid for their work and after lots of threatening letters (I have copies) they took a lien out on the test vehicles they had possession of and sold them at a public auction in January 1982.
Amazingly, the lien actually saved these cars, as the pilot vehicles were never intended to be sold to the public and would have been destroyed like all the previous models. The view was that these were pilot cars built for internal use within Lotus and were not built with the general public in mind.
That aside, the 3 cars were sold as one lot for a pitiful amount of money and were sold on again to 3 different owners as fixer uppers.
This car, D20, was painted black after the auction, but otherwise remained largely unchanged. The car changed hands a couple of times and the previous owner before me kept all of the original parts for the car and only replaced service items (clutch plate, etc).
I purchased the car back in 2007, at which point over £25,000 of workshop hours were spent removing the paint and restoring the unique body panels to top condition.
The body panels are hand formed by Lotus, so are irreplaceable. The bonnet/hood alone was over 100 hours of effort.
The front and rear fascias were carefully paint stripped to reveal their original colour and were professionally repainted twice at a cost of £1,000 in order to get the exact original colour.
The original interior was hand built by an expert Lotus trimmer and had been damaged during shipping. I was fortunate enough to track down the original trimmer 30 years later, and he remade the damaged pieces with the original material he had kept in his store room for over 30 years!
He even used the same sewing machine. That was a further £2,500, and £500 to recover the seats.
The car was first shown at the National Car Show at the Birmingham NEC in late 2007, after which further restoration work was carried out including a full mechanical check, and everything that needed doing was done.
A video of the show can be seen on Youtube (search for Pilot 20 Delorean) and 2010 at the Eurotec Delorean show in Norfolk and has remained in dry storage since.
As this car was built in 1980 (a year before the DMC-12 went into production), there are a number of differences from the production model;
•Interior is very different as it is largely hand-made, professionally trimmed in black.
•Seats are different from production, more padding and side bolsters.
•Windows are slider design instead of the production toll booth style.
•Various fitments are different (bonnet pull, etc).
•Fascias do not have the word Delorean stamped into them.
•Fascias are finished in a different colour from production.
•The body panels are all hand formed stainless steel
•Side markers are located different from production
•Hood swage lines are round bar pressed.
•The sub frame is hand made and is slightly different from production.
•The under body is also hand made and is not cast from the production body moulds.
•The engine is largely stock (as was required for emissions certification) although layout is slightly different.
This is an extremely rare Lotus Delorean hand-built prototype/pilot car that has been fully and painstakingly restored regardless of cost.
I am looking to sell the car as I really do not have the time to use the car, and I would like it to be enjoyed by an owner who understands the history of the car.
I am not one for stashing cars away for decades in order that they may gain some value. I would rather they be displayed, admired, enjoyed. I have other cars that need to be restored and space is a premium.
However, I will not sell the car (regardless of money) to anyone that wants to use this historic car for Back to the Future purposes, performance enhancing, etc.
There are loads of cheap project Deloreans that can be used to bolt BTTF kits, turbo kits, etc to. Just not this one.
Here are some more specifics of what you are buying;
•1980 Pilot Lotus Delorean DMC-12
•Left Hand Drive
•2.8L V6 Engine
•Brushed Stainless Steel Bodywork
•Full UK MOT
•UK V5 Logbook and paperwork to show full customs clearance all duties paid
•All original paperwork that accompanied the car.
•Copies of early Delorean documentation (emissions test printouts, Olsen Engineering documents, lien auction adverts)
•All retained original parts (mostly service items)
•CD of images covering the UK restoration work
Before selling this vehicle, I will commission a full service, safety check and a full UK MOT, as the car has been in storage for 2 years.
If any potential buyers would like to organise any independent checks, the car is well known to members of the UK Delorean Owners Club and members of the UK Delorean Club.
I can also help facilitate any checks you want to arrange (at your cost) for independent vehicle inspections.
I can also help with organising professional collection of the car from its location in the UK and any assistance if the car is to be shipped internationally.
Some answers to questions I am expecting to be asked;
Q. Is the car a prototype or a pilot?
A. It is referred to as a pilot. Pilot builds were based on two original prototypes. Essentially a pilot is a hand built representation of how the car may look but was primarily for testing rather than styling.
Q. Can I visit for a test drive?
A. Only if you can show that you are a serious buyer with the necessary insurance. No test pilots or tyre kickers please.
Q. Will you ship the car to the US/Australia, etc?
A. Shipping to anywhere in the world will be at your cost but I can certainly help organising shipping as we have a network of contacts and partners for this.
Q. What is the bodywork like? Any rust/scratches/dents/corrosion?
A. The bodywork is immaculate. Hundreds of hours of painstaking restoration work from Chris Nicholson, who is renowned for his stainless expertise.
Q. How is the engine/transmission? Any issues?
A. Both are in great shape as the car is hardly used. Last drive was a 200 mile round trip and the engine was very strong.
Q. What about the frame? Any rust to worry about?
A. The frame is in great shape. It was fully checked and repainted as part of the restoration.
Q. Any issues with the gull wing doors?
A. Doors are both in great shape and close as they should. The sliding windows mean the doors have a little more flex than a regular Delorean but no issue.
Q. If I ever need parts for this car in the future, what can I do?
A. Most mechanical parts are the same as stock Deloreans so can be purchased from any of the main vendors. Any custom pilot parts can be provided by us as we have a selection of pilot spares and would be happy to template anything that you may need in the future.
Q. What paperwork do you have with the car?
A. All necessary UK registration and customs documentations, UK MOT test certificates. Some US paperwork and lots of historic paperwork from DMC, Olsen Engineering and Lotus.
What happens at 88mph, can I travel through time, where is the flux capacitor, etc?