Skip to main content

I’m not willing to say whether or not this 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 can actually take you back in time or not, but I am willing to say that it’s extremely badass. Time travel aside, this 1981 DeLorean was painstakingly customized to mimic Doc Brown’s time machine in the 80’s hit film Back to the Future. Clearly, this is a common film car to reproduce, but not many are done quite so finely as this. Even more to the point, you can buy this one. 

DeLorean DMC-12 built to look like the Time Machine from Back to the Future
DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine | Mecum

Everything you need to know about the DeLorean DMC-12

Despite the fact that the DeLorean is so 80s-looking it hurts a little, John DeLorean began the creation of the iconic DMC-12 in the 1970s. DeLorean left  GM to create his own thing, and boy, did he ever. According to Silodrome, the goal was to create a fast, stylish, and affordable car for everyone. I’m not sure he landed a single one of those goals, but his car eventually became a hit nonetheless.

Where was the DeLorean made? 

DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine parking in front of a house
DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine | Mecum

DMC-12 production began in 1981 in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland. DMC chose this location for production because this region was known for its strong workforce, and Great Britain offered strong incentives for production there. 

Why did the DeLorean fail?

In a strange mirroring of our time and back then (time travel?), the DeLorean Motor Company struggled with production delays and going over budget. This eventually led to higher-than-anticipated prices for the cars.

Despite being styled by the great Giorgetto Giugiaro and engineered by Colin Chapman and the team at Lotus, auto journos gave it mixed reviews. The stainless steel body panels and gullwing doors were had to dislike, but the quality and performance were widely criticized. 

The DMC-12 was powered by a fairly weak 2.85 liter V6 engine from Peugeot-Renault-Volvo. Most people felt the DeLorean was far too slow for its aggressive looks. A bum engine was only the begging of John’s troubles. 

According to Silodrome, DMC-12 sales looked promising for a brief moment, with approximately 6,000 units sold in 1981. However, the company couldn’t maintain sales as the automotive market got hit with a downturn in the early 1980s (hmm?). The deathly combo of economic recession (!), high-interest rates (wait a second), and negative press coverage killed DMC-12 sales, and DMC ultimately killed its one car in late 1982. In total, roughly 9,000 DeLorean DMC-12s were produced. Why does the DeLorean’s time feel a lot like ours?

How about a time machine? 

Unrelated to the previous paragraph, this 1981 DMC-12 is fully dressed like Doc and Marty’s time machine from the film. Part of what films like Back to the Future so impactful was the use of practical effects. This means instead of green screens, CGI, and other bits of movie magic, props were real things that were actually built and even sometimes, somewhat functional. 

This is why people love the time machine DMC so much. All the lights, wires, hoses, vents, ports, and other such doo-dads were real things that shot out smoke or lit up or beeped. These effects, while a touch cheesy today, bring a certain level of reality to films. It also makes for recreateable set pieces and, in this case, tribute cars. 

This recreation is special because it is not only a perfect recreation of the hero car from the first film, but it can also modulate to become a replica of the slightly altered DMC-12 from the second film. It even comes with a copy of Gray’s Sports Almanac. IYKYK. 

The car comes with the original V6 mated to the original 5-speed manual transmission, the more desirable of the two options, the other being an automatic box. 

The DeLorean time machine will cross the block at Mecum this May. You can view the listing here and learn more about the auction. 


Be Like Marty McFly and Go Back to the Future to Buy This 1986 Toyota Hilux Pickup