Lot 587

1976 DeLorean DMC-12 Original Prototype

  • Chassis no. 0726015143

Sold for $110,000

To be auctioned on


Specifications:
Two litre, four-cylinder engine by Citroen, mounted transversely, amidships. Four speed manual transaxle. Fiberglass monococque tub with front and rear stainless steel subframes. Four wheel independent suspension and four wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 96 inches

The ethical sports car. Such was the blindly ambitious vision of John Z. DeLorean upon departing General Motors in 1973 and leaving his illustrious executive career behind, even though his eventual rise to the GM presidency was presumed to be inevitable. Two years later, after a stint heading the National Alliance of Businessmen, he launched the DeLorean Motor Company to achieve the lofty ideal of automotive perfection – and to change the world in the process.

To manifest the dream, DeLorean’s first step was to hire the celebrated designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, who, after distinguishing himself at Bertone and Ghia, became the most successful and innovative stylist of the era at his own firm, Italdesign. The futuristic stainless steel sports coupe with gullwing doors caused a sensation when first shown to the public at the Detroit Auto Show in January, 1977, after more than a year in development. The traffic-stopping prototype graced the covers of Car & Driver and Road & Track magazines in July, 1977 followed closely by a Motor Trend cover in September, and many other publications.

This was indisputably the most provocative new product announcement of its time and its media impact cannot be overstated.

Dubbed the DMC-12 (a reference to its target price of $12,000 – a figure which was to more than double by the time of the production car’s release), it created tremors within the ‘Big Three’ automakers with its mid-engine configuration, dual airbags, side impact protection, four-wheel power disc brakes and an extraordinary tire pressure monitoring system – all unheard of from an American manufacturer in 1977.

However, this pervasive initial excitement and anticipation were to erode over the next four years as the gestation period dragged on until the first cars rolled off the Belfast, Northern Ireland assembly line in 1981. And it wasn’t only the time lag but the fact that the production models failed to live up to the promise of the original prototype in many significant ways. Although the bodies retained the same basic shape and were rendered in the signature stainless steel, none of the body panels would be interchangeable with those created for the 1977 concept. Moreover, the chassis and drive train were subject to many compromises, notably that the frame construction was no longer made from stainless as well, but was produced in conventional steel. More distressing yet was that the mid-engine concept was altered to a rear-engined arrangement, due to the replacement of the planned Citroen power unit with one sourced from Renault without an appropriate transaxle for the mid-engine design.

Despite the commitment of a £100M incentive package by an agency of the Northern Ireland government, funding ran out soon after production began and the company was in receivership by the end 1982. The factory was ordered closed by the British government in 1983 after some 8500 cars had been built. The dream was over.

Notoriously, John DeLorean’s troubles did not end there (but that’s another story!). However, the DeLorean car enjoyed a auspicious encore when it was featured in the influential ‘Back To The Future’ movie series, as the vessel for the time-travel enabling ‘flux capacitor,’ thereby cementing the image of this unusual car unalterably into the minds of millions.

Uncompromised Vision
The DMC-12 prototype is truly a matchless icon, an inspiring concept that established the ideals of safety and longevity with features decades ahead of their time. With its stainless steel chassis, the car is virtually rust-proof, and its Citroen engine mounted amidships creates better weight distribution and superior handling characteristics. The interior is unique and suggests a more advanced and stylish design than the production models. The sophisticated dashboard incorporates gauges for an air bag and tire pressure sensors.
Shortly after the dissolution of the DeLorean Motor Company the prototype appeared for sale at the Rick Cole Newport Beach Collector Car auction, in November, 1984. William Yacobozzi, a young lawyer, acquired the car after outbidding Don Williams of the Blackhawk Classic Car Collection and put it into long term storage, effectively shielding the car from public view for nearly 20 years.

DeLorean Owners Association member Sascha Skucek uncovered the prototype in 2004, following the trail of Mr. Yacobozzi from California to Nevada. The car had only been moved twice in the past two decades and hadn’t been started since the day it had crossed the auction block in 1984. And notably not a single mile had been clocked since the days when John DeLorean and his engineers had put 741 miles on the odometer.

In January, 2005 Mr. Yacobozzi agreed to sell the car to knowledgeable DLOA member Tony Ierardi who had recently opened a DeLorean specialist repair and restoration shop near Naples, FL, one of only six sanctioned facilities in the U.S . In the prototype, Mr. Ierardi found his flagship.

Over the next year, the devoted Mr. Ierardi painstakingly and sympathetically restored DeLorean’s dream car to correct, as new specification and condition. With very few exceptions, each operational component on the car was restored -not replaced. (For example, the fuel lines were replaced with fresh rubber for safety reasons.) The stainless steel body panels were removed to repair imperfections then the stainless was regrained back to its original patina. The door struts were refurbished and refitted. The Goodyear bladder-style fuel cell and carburetor were removed, inspected and cleaned, the fuel pump was rebuilt and tested. The brake calipers were also rebuilt and the master and slave cylinders were resleeved. The wheels were remachined and refinished. Inside, the color on the facias was matched and painted with correct single-stage lacquer and the rest of the interior was removed and extensively cleaned.

The result is a stunning but also fully sorted and very drivable vehicle, a rare example of a functional seventies concept car. A piece of history with movie star glamour – long live the dream! Please note the DeLorean is being sold on Bill of Sale only.

Addendum

Please note that this vehicle is a prototype and therefore offered on a Bill of Sale. The specifications outlined in the catalog are incorrect for this particular make and model, please dismiss them and replace with the following specifications: 2.0 liter, Citroen four-cylinder engine mounted transversely amidships, four-speed manual transaxle, fiberglass monococque tub with front and rear stainless steel subframes, four-wheel independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 96"

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Sotheby's in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in Histo... read more

Alex Classick

aclassick@rmsothebys.com

+ 44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

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+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby's in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born ... read more

Annette Abaci

aabaci@rmsothebys.com

+49 (0) 40 441 95 737
Germany

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Barney Ruprecht

BRuprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Barney Ruprecht graduated from Boston University in 2013 with a degree in Hospitality Administration. In ... read more

Dan Warrener

dwarrener@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a car specialist in May 2015. He is a lifelong automobile enthusiast and g... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Sotheby's in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and re... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

jboxstrom@rmsothebys.com

+1 818 703 2816
Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Sotheby's in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in ... read more

Jonathan Sierakowski

JSierakowski@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a restoration shop as a teenag... read more

Max Girardo

mgirardo@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby's, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Gra... read more

Pete Fisher

PFisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his ho... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more