17-18 August 2007
1976 DeLorean DMC-12 Original Prototype
To be auctioned on
Sold for $110,000
- Chassis no. 0726015143
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.
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.
AddendumPlease 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"
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