1982 DeLorean DMC-12 – Project Profile

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By Chris Pollitt

There are few cars as captivating as the DeLorean DMC-12. As a car, it really wasn’t very good at all. Plagued with issues and known for frankly abysmal build quality, it was a huge swing and a miss for John DeLorean. A terrible shame, really. DeLorean was a bright star in the automotive world, famed for being the father of the muscle car (the Pontiac GTO was his idea) and he was one of the youngest to dominate the industry. When he opted to go it alone, the world waited with bated breath. Surely the car he would create would be revolutionary? 

It was. It was made from stainless steel, it had gullwing doors and it looked like nothing else. It was a spaceship of a car in terms of its aesthetic. However, it was ponderously slow, and the unskilled workforce that built it caused millions of dollars of warranty claims. The car bled money, and in the end, John DeLorean found himself in a room with undercover FBI agents as the unwitting pawn in a drug smuggling entrapment scheme. And with it, the dream ended. 

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Then, of course, the juggernaut that was the Back to the Future franchise happened, and the DeLorean became a pop culture icon overnight. Love or hate (is it possible to hate them?) the films, there is no denying that they secured the future of the car. And this is your chance to own one. Flux Capacitor optional. 

What is it?

It’s a 1982 DeLorean DMC-12, complete with manual transmission. It is the exact same car used in the movies, which is important if the movie is your motivator to buy this rare beast. The DeLorean was only built for three years – 1981, 1982 and 1983 – meaning this one is from right in the middle. This is good, as the ‘81 models were (even more) known for build quality issues. Not that this 1982 model is a Bentley by comparison, but small mercies, eh? 

The advert is light on detail, but the car looks to be largely complete and while tired and a bit battered, it does indeed seem to still be DeLorean shaped, which is always a good thing. Though make no mistake, there is a lot of work that needs to be done here. This car has been left neglected for a long period of time by the looks of things, so expect it to be a nut and bolt job.

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Why is it a project? 

As you can see, this particular DeLorean has had a rough few years. The listing is light on information, so we can only really go off the pictures (we normally prefer an advert with lots of information, but it’s not every day a project DeLorean comes up). The car looks straight enough, with no massive dents or bends in that all important bodywork. And it sits on the right set of DeLorean alloy wheels, which again is important. 

The interior looks tired, but seems to be all there and original, even down to the factory fit stereo. So if you’re looking for a DeLorean to restore back to original condition, this one could well be it. Though it’s not all good news, as the grille and rear louvres are missing. 

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It’s tired, it’s described as being a non-runner and it definitely needs a lot of passion and love. But, and this is the important bit, it’s a DeLorean. The market for these cars is always active, and as such, it’s a project worth taking on. Especially if you’re willing to do some of the labour and grunt work yourself. 

 

The other thing to consider is that the support network for the DeLorean is massive. Out in Texas, the DeLorean Motor Company still exists, and is full to the brim with myriad new old stock parts. They have so much stuff, in fact, that they can build you an entirely new DeLorean. This means that while this car is indeed a project, parts and expertise on this model will never be hard to come by.

Five things to look for:

1) Body

The body is important. Made from stainless steel, it can’t rust. However, it’s also not painted and as such, any dents or dings are going to need specialist attention. 

2) Engine

The car is described as a non-runner, but why? Has the engine locked up, has it been left for years, is there a con-rod hanging out of it? It’s a common Renault V6, so not too hard to replace, but better to go in knowing what’s up. 

3) Wheels

The alloys on the DeLorean are highly sought after, and while you can still get them from the states, they are costly. Check the condition of what’s fitted. Fingers crossed they just need a refurb. 

4) Parts

There are some missing parts in the images – the grille, the rear louvres etc – is anything else missing? It’s all still available, but it won’t be cheap. You need to factor this in. 

5) Paperwork

Is there any paperwork to go with the car? Has it even been registered in the UK? Has it been declared on the NOVA system? If not, it would be best to walk away. 

What should you do with it? 

Being eternal optimists, we like this DeLorean. We can see through the dust and the shredded tyres that it has some serious potential. If the body isn’t beaten to death and riddled with dents, then we’d go down the road of restoring it back to its former glory. The DeLorean, for all its faults, was not a bad looking machine. To have this one shining bright and running sweet would make for quite the spectacle. 

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Then of course, there is the other option. It’s a rough old bus, so why not use that as an excuse to cover it in replica props and wires. You can buy all the time machine kit from the states, so why not? You could build this into a full time machine replica, which would be immense fun. Plus, it would provide all kinds of earning potential for proms, films shoots and so on.

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