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Thread: Considering buying, want fun ownership experiance

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date:  May 2017

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    Considering buying, want fun ownership experiance

    I am considering buying an 81 Delorean. VIN 2294 because owner lives close (in Phoenix, AZ). I am not really a car collector, but like owning cars that either stand out or are special, without being ridiculously expensive exotics. I like cars, but I don't work on cars with the exception of changing a flat tire. This particular car has low mileage (unless the odometer rolled over), of 14,000. I have read that this could be bad, meaning the car could have been sitting for most of the past 30 years. The owner said it was restored, but he has had it mostly stored, starting and occasionally driving it over the past 7 years. Says he is selling because he just doesn't us it enough. He replaced the door shocks (and the doors open well). The car started fine and ran what seemed to be fine, I have no benchmark to compare it to in terms of what to expect. I owned a lexus LS400 from new for 21 years, and it was 21 years old and had 130,000 miles and started and ran much more smoothly than this 36 year old Delorean, but they are completely different cars. I had a Lotus Elise and it was much faster and handled much better than the Delorean, but it was only a few years old and was designed to be close to a race car experience. The seller is asking $35,000 but said he would take $30,000, but below $30K he would just keep it.

    I had a Tesla Model X signature which I sold back to Tesla. I have a Tesla Model 3 on order, but after my model X experience I don't want one of the first ones, and figure I will be waiting 8 months to a year before I can get that car. That will be my primary driver. I was planning on getting maybe a 5 year old Prius, or a newer SmartCar. Something where I won't loose my shirt in depreciation if I only own the car for 1 year. If I get a collector car like the Delorean, then I could see keeping it as a collector car, Driving it regularly, but not dependent on it. I work mostly out of my house, be don't want to be stuck home because my car is always in the shop.

    I have seen posts recommending the buyers guide to other buyers. I would almost certainly buy this book before making an offer on the car.

    One questions that keeps popping to mind is that on first glance this seemed like a great price because Delorean on autotrader nationwide was considerably more, $49,000 to $70,000. But people selling on the this forum, have cars that seem have lots of extras, have been more meticulously restored, but are still not considered Concourse cars, and they seem to be listed for months and months and either not sell or sell for significantly less than this guy is asking. Also, I think it was Humphreys that showed expected expected value for Deloreans and it said $35,000 - $40,000 was a concourse price. Why are the cars on Auto trader so expensive, are they actually special or are they just looking for suckers.

    If $30,000 is not outrageous for this car, then I would want a mechanic to check the car out. Do I need a mechanic who has special knowledge of Deloreans, or will any mechanic experienced with 40 year old cars be able to tell me if it is likely to be a money pit or not.

    Current owners of cars in good running conditions, assuming you drive the car at least several miles at least once a week, what would you expect to pay in a year to keep it in the same good running condition, (best case, and worst case), assuming no accidents.

    Sorry, I do not have pictures. I would certainly post pictures before I buy to get community advise.

    Thanks, I look forward to hearing from true enthusiasts.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Rich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eredleaf View Post
    I am considering buying an 81 Delorean. .....I owned a lexus LS400 from new for 21 years, and it was 21 years old and had 130,000 miles and started and ran much more smoothly than this 36 year old Delorean, but they are completely different cars. I had a Lotus Elise and it was much faster and handled much better than the Delorean, but it was only a few years old and was designed to be close to a race car experience. The seller is asking $35,000 but said he would take $30,000, but below $30K he would just keep it.

    ....If I get a collector car like the Delorean, then I could see keeping it as a collector car, Driving it regularly, but not dependent on it. I work mostly out of my house, be don't want to be stuck home because my car is always in the shop.

    I have seen posts recommending the buyers guide to other buyers. I would almost certainly buy this book before making an offer on the car.

    If $30,000 is not outrageous for this car, then I would want a mechanic to check the car out. Do I need a mechanic who has special knowledge of Deloreans, or will any mechanic experienced with 40 year old cars be able to tell me if it is likely to be a money pit or not.

    Current owners of cars in good running conditions, assuming you drive the car at least several miles at least once a week, what would you expect to pay in a year to keep it in the same good running condition, (best case, and worst case), assuming no accidents.
    In reverse order for the selected questions above:
    Running cost: For a car in Condition 2 (Hagerty rating) or better figure about $1K per year barring catastrophic stuff. That keeps it more or less the way you bought it. Some years might be twice that, others not as high.

    Buy the DeLorean Buyers Guide right now.
    Don't wait until you get close to making an offer. It tells you about whether you need a mechanic or not when assessing a target car. For instance it tells you to be sure the frame isn't a basket case and tells you how to do that.

    I know folks who have used them as DD's without much problem. When the Bosch ignition and fuel/air system is sorted out the car runs great, goes 30K miles between tuneups. Realize that even a sorted-out car that's over 35yrs old can occasionally suffer from aging problems no matter what brand. Your biggest concern might be to be how comfy it is in the Phoenix summers.

    See if we can get some of the Phoenix owners, or others from very hot places, to chime in on that last point.
    March '81, 5-speed, black interior

  3. #3
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  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date:  May 2017

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    Yes, that is the one I looked at. VIN is 2294 if anyone has more detailed information.
    So now there are pictures on the thread. That will be helpful.

    My wife doesn't think I should buy it. She said we have enough clutter in our garage without a third car. She hated my Lotus Elise (because it was too uncomfortable to get in and out of), she does acknowledge that I paid $30,000 for for that car, had it for 4 years, added about 15,000 miles to it, never had any significant repairs and then sold it for $30,000, making it the cheapest car I ever owned.

    My main concern with owning a 36 year old car with hard to find parts is that it is going to be a money pit. My second concern is that everything I have read on this forum seems to indicate that a car like this one should would probably be called a project car and I am guessing that forum subscribers would only be interested if the price were around $20,000 (maybe even lower).

    The one car collector I know said if you want a car that age you should get a Mustang, but I don't want it because of its age.

    Is there anything special about the cars Deloreans on Auto Trader that make them worth $50,000 - $70,000?

  5. #5
    Stupid Newbie DaraSue's Avatar
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    A lot depends on how regularly and recently the car has been driven. Mine has less than 30,000 miles on it, but 1/3 of them were put on since last August when I bought it. And I'm currently on my way back to Salt Lake City from Philadelphia, haven't had to call a tow truck yet. That said, however, it was a hard, expensive slog getting it to this point, and it's spent approximately half the time I've owned it in the shop. I don't foresee that continuing to be the case now that I've had the worst of its issues dealt with, but the original owner had apparently parked it since 1993 and there were substantial problems with the engine block and cooling system even after a make-run service was done by the guy who sold it to me. So definitely be wary of cars that have been abused and neglected if you're not looking for a fixer-upper.

    On the bright side, it's not nearly as hard to find parts as you might think. Almost everything is available either as new original stock from DMC or redesigned from other DeLorean specialist vendors. So don't let the age of the car scare you in that regard because they're easier to get parts for than a lot of newer cars.

  6. #6
    Desert DeLorean Driver burch's Avatar
    Join Date:  Feb 2015

    Location:  Mesa, AZ

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    I'm here in the Phoenix area as well (Mesa). Fully agree on picking up the Buyers Guide, great reference to have. There are a lot of local folks in the Arizona DeLorean Club, and other local owners who are willing to help out when possible.

    As far as owning the car in the heat, it can get a bit rough. Functioning A/C goes a long way, but realistically during the summer, it becomes a night driver. On the occasions that I do drive it when it is over 100 out, it will run warm. Any issues with the cooling system will be magnified pretty quickly

    All in all, I've really enjoyed my ownership experience thus far (about 2.5 years).

  7. #7
    aka RacerX Ryan S.'s Avatar
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    I am not trying to discourage you but I think your wife might be right and she won't be happy. I also had Lotus Elise, added 50K miles, and totaled it a few years ago. At the end, insurance paid me more than what I paid for. Lotus was super fun and easy to maintain. What do you expect from a Toyota motor. My wife rarely complained about Lotus but... with Delorean... well... it's a different story, especially when she sees credit card charges for parts and repairs for Delorean, every month. It seems like I am constantly fixing this car and buying new parts. Unless you enjoy working on cars, Delorean might not be the right car for you. Have you considered used Evora or new Giulia? Used NC3 Miata is also pretty fun and inexpensive to own. Just my $0.02.

  8. #8
    Nothing witty here lest it offend
    Join Date:  May 2011

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    You can't be casual and last very long in ownership. Based on what you've said, overall, I think its a bad match for you. If you're not nuts about it, you will probably be disappointed.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Dangermouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eredleaf View Post

    Is there anything special about the cars Deloreans on Auto Trader that make them worth $50,000 - $70,000?
    No.

    DeLoreans are special cars in terms of all cars out there, but there are few individual "special" DeLoreans inside the flock itself.
    Dermot
    VIN 2743, B/A, Frame 2227, engine 2320

    I don't always drive cars, but when I do, I prefer DeLoreans

    http://www.will-to-live.org

    No-one is to stone anyone, even, and I want to make this absolutely clear, even if they do say "carburetor"

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SamHill View Post
    You can't be casual and last very long in ownership. Based on what you've said, overall, I think its a bad match for you. If you're not nuts about it, you will probably be disappointed.
    I have to agree with Sam from reading your above posts, and if you don't work on cars yourself a low mileage delorean 'could' start costing you in mechanics fees when it starts to be driven regularly

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