1981 De Lorean
|MODEL:||LK Sport Coupe|
|BUILT BY:||De Lorean Motor Co.|
| ||Dunmurry, Northern Ireland|
|ENGINE:||SOHC Fuel Injected|
| ||V-6 Cylinder, 130 H.P.|
|Displacement:||174.0 Cu. In.|
John Z. De Lorean began his career in the automotive industry with Chrysler in 1948, later serving Packard and General Motors. After a remarkable record of achievement during a sixteen year career with GM, De Lorean left that company and began raising money to build a revolutionary sports car to rival the Corvette. Between 1974 and 1981, he conceived, financed, and launched an independent, mass-production automobile manufacturing facility in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland. It was called the De Lorean Motor Company. Production of "De Loreans" began early in 1981, with a first shipment of 500 cars to the United States taking place in April. The De Lorean cars were styled by Giugiaro and featured gullwing doors and unpainted stainless steel bodies. The cars had a low center of gravity "backbone" chassis allowing the occupants to be seated quite low. The rear-mounted engine was a Renault OHC V-6 with electronic fuel injection, delivering power through a Renault five-speed transaxle. The engine location, however, gave the De Lorean somewhat disappointing handling characteristics, including understeer when cornering. In spite of engineering faults, sales for the $25,000 De Lorean cars were good. However, in January, 1982, unsold cars began piling up and the company ran out of money. By late February, the Dunmurry factory had passed into receivership and De Lorean attempted unsuccessfully to raise more funding.
The gold car displayed here is the first of two 24-karat gold-plated De Loreans built. The cars were offered as part of a promotional campaign for American Express "Gold" cardholders, appearing in the December, 1979, American Express Christmas catalog. Cost, a princely $85,000! Insurance rates at that time amounted to approximately $1,000 a month. A mere "door ding" had a potential repair cost of $24,000!