Anything But Rusty: Reviewing The DeLorean In 2009 Page 2

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DeLorean DMC-12

DeLorean DMC-12

Inside, John DeLorean's goal of an "ethical sports car" is most fully realized. The ergonomic gray- or black-leather seats hug you snugly through corners and also prove to be very comfortable on extended trips. And the combination of the gull-wing doors and reclining chairs make the DMC-12 one of the most tall-guy-friendly sports cars around -- a design edict that likely came down straight from the top, as DeLorean himself was 6-foot-4. In fact, ingress and egress are easier in the DeLorean than in any other car on the road to this day; Opposite a common misconception, the gull-wings actually swing far more up than out, requiring a mere 12 inches of clearance away from the car in order to fully open and thus rendering them as practical as they are stylish.

The rest of the leather-appointed interior is best described as clean and minimalist. The car's air-conditioning system works laudably well -- a fortunate relief, because the DeLorean's bare-metal body attracts heat in warm weather while its tiny tollbooth windows don't pull much of a breeze into the cabin when lowered. The in-car entertainment (ICE) system, meanwhile, is a worthless 1980s cassette-tape player and equally awful four-speaker array. It's one area of the car most owners have eagerly and willingly upgraded.

Speaking of improvements, the DeLorean is, at its core, a well-constructed and reliable car -- provided you address the common issues that DMC didn't stay in business long enough to rectify. The central door lock control module, power window motors, plastic clutch line, and speedometer angle drive are among known these-will-fail parts that should be replaced with updated components from the new (wholly separate) DeLorean Motor Company, who has remanufactured unavailable pieces and improved many others, making the DeLorean a very easy automobile to own by classic-car standards.

DeLorean DMC-12

DeLorean DMC-12

Perhaps ironically, a drivable, decent-condition DeLorean can be had via private sale today for the original sticker price of $25,000. Restored/remanufactured cars -- complete with six-month warranties -- start at $57,500 from the new Humble, Texas-headquartered DMC. The bill can quickly rise, however, when adding in extras such as engine and exhaust upgrades, deluxe ICE packages, and other accessories.

Quirks and faults aside, the DMC-12 is literally among the most unique cars on the road -- just as it has been for almost 30 years -- and it's a heck of a lot of fun, too. Though not fast, it's fantastic on a windy road. And you'd better get used to people pulling up alongside you -- at freeway speeds, even -- to take cellphone camera pictures of the car. Indeed, the DeLorean guarantees you all of the attention normally commanded only by exotics costing five times its price. With the DMC-12, though, you dont get any of the upturned noses or jealousy you might see in a car with an extra zero at the end of the price tag. Magically, the DeLorean seems to elicit nothing but smiles and thumbs-up gestures from observers, either from those who nostalgically recognize it from the "Future" films or those old enough to fondly remember its iconoclastic 1981 debut.

In short, the DeLorean is perhaps the most affordable way to become the star of the road. And thanks to its plentiful parts supply, wide dealership network, and enthusiastic ownership community, the DeLorean dream is more viable and more worth living than ever.

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