How This 24K GOLD PLATED DeLorean Became an ’80s Nightmare | Bumper 2 Bumper


– [James] Fyre Festival. It was supposed to be
the pinnacle of opulence, decadence, and hedonism
but everything imploded and it became a big fat joke. And that’s kind of what happened
with DeLorean as a company. This car in particular, this 24 karat gold-plated DeLorean, which was designed as
the ultimate 80s symbol of luxury, wealth, and success, is the biggest failure in
the history of DeLorean. Today, we are going bumper to bumper on this factory 24-karate
gold-plated DeLorean DMC-12. (rock music) We’ve had some amazing cars on this show but this, this is the rarest
car that we’ve ever featured. It is a 1981 DeLorean DMC-12. Now, they only made like 9,000 DMC-12s but this one is very special. It’s one of only three in the world that’s covered in genuine
24 karat gold-plating straight from the factory. It’s the perfect metaphor
to describe John DeLorean and how he ran his business. On the outside, it’s a shiny
attention-grabbing future car, but on the inside, it’s underpowered and ready to break down at any moment. The thing is, everything
should’ve worked out for DeLorean. He knew how to run a company. He knew how to make a great car. He had a great idea to build the world’s first ethical sports car. A safe, fuel efficient, and
long-lasting alternative to the gas-guzzling
sports cars of the time. So how did we end up with this? (electronic music) When John DeLorean worked
at GM, he was a dynamo. DeLorean designed the
Pontiac GTO, the Firebird, and the Grand Prix as well
as the Chevy Cosworth Vega. DeLorean commissioned
famous Italian designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro to draw
up the plans in the 70s. This dude designed everything from Fiats to Saabs to
my favorite, Volkswagen. Literally hundreds of cars. He designed the MK1 Golf
and the MK1 Scirocco so naturally, I wish he was my grandpa. Si Papa. John DeLorean built his career
in Detroit as a young man. When he left Pontiac in 1973 to start DeLorean Motor Company, he
was the youngest division head in GM’s history. He did what any fast track
exec having a mid-life crisis would do, he divorced his
wife, got plastic surgery to enhance his jawline,
and started dating models. Hell yeah. This car was tailor-made
for coked up yuppies. It was a cross-promotion for
the American Express Gold Card and it was featured in their
1980 Christmas catalog. Available exclusively
to Gold Card Members. This thing could be bought for $85,000. Which is about $250,000 today To put that in context, in
1980, you could buy a brand new Ferrari 305 that performed way better than this for around $55,000. American Express had planned
on selling a hundred of these. Seven were ordered but only
three were finished before the plant shut down. There’s this one, which sat in
a bank in Texas for 20 years. It has nine and a half
miles on the odometer. And it’s never been driven. There’s another one that
was bought by a dude up in Northern California
who decided that he was gonna drive his but he dented
the door the first time he took it out. His insurance had to pay
$14,000 to replace it because it couldn’t just be buffed out. That dude gave it away
after his insurance payments went up to $1,000 a month. The third gold-plated
DeLorean was up for sale by a private owner and
it’s unclear whether or not it’s been sold. The asking price was $250,000. I mean Will.i.am probably bought it, but no one will ever know. Unlike Nolan’s heart, the
body isn’t made of solid gold. The body is actually 24
karat gold sheet on top of stainless steel. If you scraped off all
the gold from this car, it wouldn’t even fill your hand. It’s less than an ounce. The steel plates are attached to a fiberglass monocoque underbody. This wasn’t the original concept though. DeLorean had planned to use
urethane foam and fiberglass for the underbody in a process called elastic reservoir molding or ERM. Or ERM. The benefit of this method
was extreme crash resistance with impact being spread
over the entire panel. It was a smart idea but in the end, they ditched the method
for a more conventional and cheaper fiberglass underbody. DeLorean actually bought
the rights to ERM process before it was proven for some reason. It was just one of the
dumber moves in a string of dumb moves that would
describe the DMC legacy. Luckily, DeLorean made a
couple of smart moves too. One of them was enlisting
the minds over at Lotus to look over the earlier,
heavily flawed designs of the DMC-12. Lotus helped with the design. They added larger rear
tires and helped fortify safety features in the DMC-12. Without the help of Lotus,
the DMC-12 might have been much worse than it was. The chassis was completely
redesigned by Lotus. It’s a steel double y
frame chassis that’s shared with the Lotus Esprit. Obviously, one of the most iconic features of the DeLorean are its gull wing doors. They open straight up like how a seagull gets into their car. That’s how they got
their name, true story. Now would be a good time to
mention that I have to wear gloves to open this door. I’m only allowed to touch
certain parts of this car. The main differences between
the normal stainless exterior and this gold-plated exterior
are that fingerprints are super hard to wipe away on this one. And big bros got warrants. (seagull caws) One common misconception
is that these doors require a larger clearance to open, making them useless for
cramped parking lots but that’s actually not true. They only require 11 inches
of clearance to fully open which is less than a
normal car needs to open. So, eff you haters. One thing that’s pretty
cool is that even the inside of the door is gold-plated. And they used gold screws
on the door panels. Nice attention to detail,
in my humble opinion. Despite some small victories,
the DMC-12 was still a huge failure, whether
it’s covered in gold or not. To understand how broken
DeLorean’s system was, you have to understand the circumstances in which it was built. The original DMC-12s
were made in a factory in Dunmurry, Northern
Ireland, a suburb of Belfast. If you don’t know, Northern
Ireland in the early 80s was at the epicenter of a bloody conflict between Loyalists, who
wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK, and Nationalists aka the
IRA, who wanted it to be part of Ireland proper. Listen to “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2 to learn all about it. Long story short, it
wasn’t the ideal situation for a blooming new car company. The location of the factory
had an adverse effect on DeLorean’s price model. The DMC-12 was named that because DeLorean wanted to sell them for
$12,000 but the added cost of shipping them across the Atlantic meant that if they wanted to
make any profit the cars needed to be sold for $25,000. You could get a Corvette
for $16,000 at the time. So DeLorean was already
facing an uphill battle from the moment they entered the market. And let me tell you, I
wouldn’t want to be stuck in a DeLorean going uphill. You see, this sports car’s
engine only makes about a 130 hrsprs, let’s take a look. Which is what I would
say if I were allowed to open this hood. So I’m going to rely on the
talents of my editor Max to make it look like I am opening the hood and we’re putting the engine right there. Whoa. This (eye wink noises) is a 2.85 liter V6 PRV engine. PRV stands for Peugeot Renault Volvo. It wasn’t DeLorean’s first
choice for an engine. It wasn’t even his second choice. He originally wanted to put a 200 hrsprs Citroen sourced rotary into the DMC-12 but
that idea got scrapped. The first prototype had
a four cylinder Citroen, then a Ford V6 and eventually they landed on this leaky PRV. It has a top speed of 110 miles per hour, it can do 0 to 60 in, get ready for it. Hold onto your seat, let
me know in the comments if you’re ready, hit the subscribe button. You ready? You ready? You sure? 0 to 60 in 10.5 seconds. The boys over at DMC
ran into a big problem when they switched to the PRV. The initial rotary took up a lot less room so they had to move it back
and then it went from being a mid-engine car to a rear-engine car and that shifted the weight,
causing massive problems with the handling. That was not their only problem, however. The build quality of the DMC-12
was shotty from the get go. Inexperienced workers
needed to be trained quickly and immediately production
schedules were delayed. Even by the time the factory
was on schedule in 1982, they weren’t producing
enough cars to cover the manufacturing overhead. DeLorean was sinking. He needed to find
investment capital quick. And on October 19th 1982, John DeLorean was busted by
the FBI in a sting operation for bankrolling the transport
of 59 pounds of blow. (upbeat electronic music) – [Reporter] Federal authorities
have finally arrested him earlier this week. – [James] A week later,
the British government pulled the plug on the DeLorean factory and laid off 2500 workers. Now a lot of people say he was framed. I might be one of those people. The big three don’t want to
see a little guy come up. Why do you think Elon Musk is
running into so much trouble? Let’s take a look at the interior. (electronic music) This is the only gold DeLorean
that has black leather. The other two have brown leather. So that’s pretty exciting. I would love to touch this but alas, the Peterson will not
let me sit in this car, but if I could, I wouldn’t
have a problem fitting. John DeLorean was six foot
four and wanted to make sure that he and the rest of us
big boys could sit in his car without having to hunch over. If you’re short, it’s a little harder to yank to doors close
so there’s this loop that you can pull. It’s like a subway loop. All you JDM boys love it. The seats look comfortable. Wouldn’t know, can’t sit in it. They’re tastefully
bolstered and the leather looks nice and soft. It’s really crazy
looking at a car this old with carpet this nice. I don’t think I ever owned
a car with carpet this nice. The gauge cluster is pretty
basic but there is one pretty cool thing about it. The door ajar light has gull wing doors instead of conventional doors. And that’s about all I can
say from this distance. This gold covered car is the
most DeLorean thing ever. The dude was really smart
and was driven to make the coolest car possible. But you can’t produce a car
off of pure determination. There’s so much that goes
into making a great car that DeLorean skipped
over because of his ego or because of mismanagement. Who knows? A few different decisions
or if the cards fell in a different way here and there. We could have been driving
new DeLorean models today. If only Elon Musk had been
born 30 years earlier. Thank you so much to the Peterson Museum. You like this car, you want
to see more cars like this, go to the Peterson. Information is in the description. They’re a huge, huge friend of Donut. We couldn’t do a lot of this
stuff without their support. Thanks for watching Donut Media. If you guys didn’t watch
it, then we wouldn’t get to make it. We got a ton of new shows
coming out this summer. To make sure you don’t miss anything, hit that subscribe
button right down there. If you like this video, let us know by hitting the like button. It’s the one that looks like this. Don’t click this one because
YouTube has a new thing where it just sends a box
of dog poop to your house. It’s weird. Follow me on Instagram @jamespumphrey. Follow Donut on Instagram @donutmedia. If you want to learn more about DeLorean, check out this episode of my
other show, “Up To Speed.” It’s all about the history of cars. I love you. (laughs)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *