Pricey Time Machine: 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 – Sold?

by | Feb 2023 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Free For All Friday

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March 17, 2023, Update – While this “Classifind” expired recently, given the seller’s history, we suspect it may not actually be sold yet.  For now, we’re labeling this ride “Sold?” However, we will keep an eye out for an updated listing. In the interim, please reach out either by email or call Rudy directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

February 11, 2023 Update – After sitting out the holidays and the month of January following the expiration of their original listing, the seller of this automatic-equipped 1981 DeLeorean DMC-12 just posted a new Craigslist ad.  This time, the seller lowered their asking price from $75,000 to $59,000.

November 25, 2022, Update – We just confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found, we’re assuming this ride is “Sold?” unless we come across a replacement listing.

Of all the cars you expected would fade over time after the novelty wore off, the DeLorean DMC-12 has seemingly proven it has tremendous staying power versus other models that have drifted into obscurity (I’m looking at you, Bricklin). The stainless steel bodywork, the gullwing doors, and of course, the big screen fame has given a car with serious shortcomings a pass, allowing the DeLorean to command high sale prices despite not being much of a driver’s car. This 1981 model has just over 17,000 original miles and is equipped with an automatic transmission; it was listed on Craigslist in October 2022 in Montclair, New Jersey $59,000 (the original ask was $75,000). Comparing that price against the model guide shows us that the seller is asking for quite a bit more than the going rate, which is listed as $53,633:

The DeLorean certainly had the credentials to become a memorable vehicle for more than its looks. Still, the PRV engine it used – shared with models built by Renault, Peugeot, and Eagle – doomed the gull-winged wonder to nothing more than a piece of shiny eye candy. The cinematic achievements certainly helped bolster the car’s reputation, and whether that placement was at the urging of the producers or the car company, it was a good decision. I often wonder what would have become of the DeLorean’s place in automotive history if it never found its way into Hill Valley with Michael J. Fox behind the wheel. Would it have gone the way of the Bricklin? An interesting oddity that doesn’t do much more than look good when parked in a garage? It’s hard to say, but today, there are legions of DeLorean faithful that stand by these cars and nurse them back to health when found in rough shape.

The MotorWeek RetroReview YouTube Channel features this test drive of the then-new DeLorean DMC-12 in 1981:

The seller’s asking price makes me curious. Is this the number you use when your wife demands you sell a toy or two, so you can come back in a week and say, “Nobody wants it?” While some DeLoreans have achieved very impressive sales results, those were generally low-mileage, time-capsule cars with three pedals. This DeLorean is equipped with an automatic transmission, and while it does claim to have under 20,000 miles, the cosmetics look quite shabby. In fact, the seller even seemingly goes out of his way in the photos to show you all the flaws in the body panels. This is a credit to the seller for the honest presentation, but it’s also why I feel like it’s a listing belonging to a jilted spouse not working all that hard to sell their car. Regardless, my experience riding in a DeLorean has left me somewhat jaded, as it was downright unpleasant, with the tractor-like sounds of the PRV behind you and a cramped cockpit in front of you. But don’t let me stop you: the brand has a very loyal legion of followers that can make money off their hobby cars by leasing them out for special events and productions; I don’t know that any of them are willing to pay $75,000 for one.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“Number 3533. Just spent $10k on new fuel system, brakes all around, electronics upgrade, audio, ac, frame, tires.

Includes flux capacitor. Time travel not guaranteed.

Time travel optional: is this DeLorean DMC-12 worthy of the ambitious asking price?    


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