The DeLorean Sports Coupe
The DeLorean Sports Coupe is a solid automobile, powered by a rear-mounted, 130-horsepower Peugeot-Renault-Volvo fuel-injected, aluminum, 2.8-liter V-6 engine with a Bosch K Jetronic fuel-injection system. It sits on a Lotus-designed, double-Y, backbone-frame chassis and features independent four-wheel suspension. It has a wide, 62-inch track, and its front wheels are an inch smaller in diameter to minimize over steer and offer better overall handling. The DeLorean purrs like a kitten yet runs like a scalded dog. There's no doubt this car was engineered for the driving enthusiast.
The DeLorean's most recognized feature is its gull-wing doors. Fully opened, the doors give the car the look of an X-wing fighter from Star Wars. Unlike the gull-wing doors of the 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL or the Bricklin, DeLorean doors require only 14 inches of swing space, which comes in handy for tight parking or opening the door into traffic. Such economy, compared with the 40 inches or more required by most conventional car doors, makes the doors not only distinctive but also practical.
When you slip into the leather bucket seats of the DeLorean, the roominess of the cockpit tends to surprise. Unlike other sports cars even drivers over six feet tall aren't cramped for space. Every inch of the interior is designed to give maximum comfort and easy access to controls. The seats are fully adjustable, and the steering column both tilts and telescopes for a customized feel and fit. The DeLorean also is a surprisingly quiet car given the proximity of its power plant, which is just behind the seats.
The DeLorean accelerates from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than eight seconds with nearly effortless shifting. Once on the road, you begin to appreciate the thought and imagination that went into the engineering. The DeLorean is not simply a well-built driving machine; it's an experience. You're sitting a mere six inches above the asphalt in a vehicle that despite its tight engineering tolerances is very forgiving in its handling. The superior rack-and-pinion steering makes cornering and maneuvering a breeze. One ride, and you'll never want to leave the cockpit.
That's why the DeLorean is not a car that sees the road only on Sunday afternoons or on the way to the annual car show. A large portion of DeLorean owners drive them daily, and it's not unusual to find the cars in mint condition, even with more than 200,000 miles on the odometer. You can find DeLoreans advertised for sale in newspapers, in car magazines, and on the Internet, with lots and lots of miles accrued and still commanding $20,000-$40,000. And those prices are going up.
Why are so few DeLoreans on the road?
There are several reasons: One is availability. Only 8,583 DeLoreans were manufactured in 1981, 1982, and 1983: 6,539, 1,126, and 918, respectively. Of those, about 6,000 are believed to be in circulation - a few hundred of them outside the United States. Many have been squirreled away in garages by those interested in the cars' future value; its scarcity makes the DeLorean appealing to those who invest in exotic cars.
Another reason you don't see many DeLoreans on the road is the unfounded fear that service and parts are unavailable for a car that ceased manufacturing in 1982. Several repair facilities for DeLoreans are still in business, and true to his vision, DeLorean created a vehicle whose components are still available today. In part, he accomplished it by using components that remain industry standards and are built by several automotive parts companies. In addition, organizations exist to assist DeLorean owners. The DeLorean Owners Association is the largest of them.
But the main reason a DeLorean encounter is so rare has to do with taste. The DeLorean is simply not the car for everyone. Even the exotic sports cars introduced during the past decade by the major automotive companies lack boldness and individuality of design. The soft, rounded lines of new cars invoke the shape of a newborn baby as a design paradigm - something simple, soothing, and relaxing. The sharp, distinctive lines of the DeLorean, however, leave no room for doubt: this car is a high-tech machine, a stainless steel interface between you and the road, a reliably engineered machine that will take you wherever you want to go.