Automotive historians generally agree the depths of the Malaise Era were plumbed (probed) around 1979-1981. This was a time when the vaunted Trans Am was saddled with a 301 cubic inch pingmonster engine, and a 1980 CA spec Corvette could only be ordered with a 180 HP 305. Into this Dark Age rolled a ray of light….
The DeLorean DMC-12. John Z. Delorean was the former head of Pontiac Motor Division, the whiz kid who invented the musclecar era by creating an option package for the Tempest consisting of the big poncho motor and three teeny letters: G. T. O.
The rise and fall of the DMC-12 is literally straight outta Hollywood. John Z was a high profile guy, so he literally went to Hollywood to raise money for the sports car to end all sports cars : Mid engine, composite chassis,
Gull wing doors reminiscent of a Mercedes 300 SL,
And an industry first: a production car with exterior body panels fabricated from brushed stainless steel.
It was Hollywood’s darling. Celebs were falling over themselved to give John Z. money. On top of that, Ireland kicked in about $180 million in incentives to build the plant there – so he did.
All in all, John Z raised something north of $300 million to build his dream car. It had some teething problems, but they were sorted out and production commenced on what was essentially a good car.
Three little problems sank the DMC-12 in a few short years, though. First, production started just as the auto industry entered a deep recession. It’s hard to sell a high end sports car when no one is buying cars.
Second, there’s this funny thing about sports car buyers – they like their cars to be fast. Because DeLorean had to abandon the composite chassis, the car was heavier than originally intended, and the V6 automatic’s 0-60 performance was on par with say, a slant six Plymouth Valiant. Looking fast and not going fast is okay in an inexpensive car, but these weren’t inexpensive.
The torpedo which sunk the ship, however, was John Z getting busted for allegedly moving an insane amount of cocaine in an attempt to raise money for his foundering company. While he was eventually cleared of all charges, the court of public opinion found him guilty and the name DeLorean faded from the public eye – save for a few odd folks who keep the DMC-12 torch lit. Scott Slaughter of Iowa is one of those fellows. Here’s his story:
Here’s the history of my DeLorean. Its,an early production model with a build date of April 1981. Being early it has some features eliminated as production ran on – hood with gas flap, dark gray wheels, antenna embedded in the windshield. It was originally sold by a dealer in Illinois to an owner in Minneapolis area. 2nd owner also in Minneapolis area, now I am the 3rd owner in Des Moines, Iowa. I purchased the car in June 2013 from a collector car dealer in Minnesota. It currently has just under 31,000 miles. It is all original. After purchase, fuel system needed cleaned out as it had sat for some time. It’s also had many new mechanical and electrical parts – things that should have done some time ago but previous owners never had. Only cosmetic work has been a new shift boot and fixing warping on the front fascia above headlights. This is typical of these.
Now a history of my love of DeLorean. I was 10 when they came out in 1981 (interesting side note I was born April 1971 my car was produced April 1981). Been my dream car ever since. Owned other cars over the years but was finally able to make it happen. I have an extensive collection of memorabilia as well.
Interestingly, since production was halted so suddenly, there are a plethora of parts available to keep these on the road ,as John Z planned on making tens of thousands of them, instead of the 9000-ish which rolled off the line. They’re still reasonably inexpensive collector cars, maintainable and fun to drive.
The best part? Scott will never pass himself on the highway!