Vintage Review: 1981 DeLorean – The Future Didn’t Quite Turn Out As Planned


(first posted 10/23/2015)       So much for Back to the Future Day, October 21, 2015.  The Cubs certainly didn’t win the World Series this year, as I so painfully observed over the past few days with their shut-out versus the Mets.  And of course we all know that the DeLorean in no way became a vehicle of the future.  But the entertainment value lives on, and few things provide a more entertaining read to car enthusiasts than the introduction of an all-new car company.  In 1981, Car and Driver and Motor Trend were eager to get their hands on the wonder car from John Z.  Were any of their predictions correct?  What did they actually think of the car?  Read on!

In their May 1981 issue, Car and Driver offered a preliminary glimpse of the car, as well as interesting overviews both on John Z. DeLorean as well as how he assembled the funding for his dream.


So the dream aspect of the DeLorean–a new car from a new car company–was certainly compelling to the editors.  If nothing else, it made for a great story.  And, as befitting automotive journalists, they noted their eager anticipation in getting to wring out an actual unit for testing.  A complete road test, coming soon…

Or maybe not.  In a harbinger of things to come, no buff book got their hands on a car for a thorough test and detailed article in a timely manner.  Cars just went directly to customers, as the DeLorean Company dodged and ducked and pushed their new babies into the market.


The next opportunity to read about an actual DeLorean on the road did finally come with the December 1981 issues.  This time Motor Trend pitted the DeLorean against some of its rivals, both exotics like the Ferrari Mondial and Maserati Merak, along with more traditional sports cars like the Corvette and Porsche 928.


All in, the article was an interesting summation of the challenges and charms of the super car set circa 1981.  As for predictions of the future, well it’s no surprise that DeLorean didn’t make it–the flaws were all too evident, no matter how desirable the dream.  Though there was a bit of a correct glimpse into the future in the article–after all, the 928 did set the template for successful, front-engined Porsche models.  No one, however, could have possibly imagined those best-selling Porsches of the future would be SUVs and misshapen sedans…