The DMC DeLorean was an American sports car that was manufactured from 1981 until 1983. In that time frame, only 9,000 units were produced, making DeLoreans extremely rare to find. Although the DeLorean was a commercial failure due to lack of demand and its high price tag, the car cemented itself as a piece of pop culture history when it was converted into a time machine for the “Back to the Future” film trilogy. The films starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd put DeLoreans on the map, and die-hard fans have been searching far and wide for the obscure vehicle ever since. Since so few of these cars exist, locating one in working condition is the equivalent of finding buried treasure.
Mike McElhattan is the proud owner of DeLorean Midwest, a unique business that services and sells DeLoreans. He recently received a phone call about a DeLorean car that was for sale. While McElhattan is no stranger to these kinds of calls, this one was different. The person on the other end of the phone told him that the car only had 977 miles on the odometer. McElhattan and his business partner, Kevin Thomas, immediately took a trip to Wisconsin to meet with the car’s 90-year-old owner named Dick. That’s when the men discovered the car buried under two decades worth of dirt and dust as it sunk into the floor of an old barn. To say the car was in poor condition would be an understatement. The interior was filled with rodent droppings and there were even live mice living inside the DeLorean.
Despite the car being run down and unkempt, McElhattan and Thomas knew that they were in the presence of a true diamond in the rough. The car was manufactured in April 1981 and still featured all of its original parts – even a blue oil filter that likely came straight from the DMC DeLorean factory. McElhattan was thrilled with the find, saying, “It’s an absolute time capsule.” He continued to explain his excitement by saying, “To me, what’s cool about it is it’s completely original down to the original tires that rolled out of the factory in Belfast, Ireland.”
The professionals at DeLorean Midwest are experts when it comes to restoring old DeLoreans, but they have their work cut out for them this time. The car needs its interior fully cleaned and sanitized from the rodent infestation. Since the car has been stationary for decades, it will surely need mechanical maintenance as well. McElhattan expects the repairs to take around six months to complete. “It’s very rewarding to take a filthy car like this and really transform it. People just want to see it brought back to its full glory,” he said.
The DeLorean enthusiast revealed that the famed cars typically cost anywhere between $65,000 and $85,000 these days, but some can sell for much more than that. He anticipates that his latest find will get a lot of interest from potential buyers. “I’ve sold cars well into the six figures when there’s something special like this,” he said. Having spent the last 16 years working in the DeLorean industry, McElhattan has virtually seen it all. He even once stumbled upon a DeLorean that only had 14 miles on it.
If you’re wondering what the appeal is of owning a vintage DeLorean, McElhattan has all the answers. “They have a vintage feel to them, but they kind of drive like a modern car,” he said. The businessman further added that DeLoreans offer a sense of nostalgia. “If you could pick one car to sum up the 1980s, the DeLorean is the quintessential car.”