This 5-speed 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 was bought new by legendary comedian and host of the “The Tonight Show” Johnny Carson. Carson was a friend of John DeLorean and an early investor in the DeLorean Motor Company.
This car now benefits from a $50,000+ USD restoration earlier this year and it comes with a six month or 6000 mile major systems, mechanical warranty.
Fast Facts – The DeLorean DMC-12
- The DeLorean DMC-12 was the brainchild of John DeLorean, a former General Motors executive known for his work on the Pontiac GTO and Chevrolet Vega. He wanted to create a distinctive sports car that was safe, reliable, and long-lasting. The design was led by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign, featuring a sleek, futuristic look with gull-wing doors and a fiberglass body structure with a steel backbone chassis, similar to the Lotus Esprit.
- The DMC-12 was produced in a factory in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland, a location chosen partly due to significant financial incentives from the British government. Production began in 1981, but the company faced numerous challenges, including quality control issues, cost overruns, and less than expected performance due to its underpowered Peugeot-Renault-Volvo (PRV) V6 engine and relatively high weight.
- Despite the initial excitement and pre-order success, DeLorean Motor Company struggled financially. The high production costs, coupled with lower than expected sales, led to financial difficulties. In 1982, John DeLorean was arrested for drug trafficking in an attempt to raise funds for his company, although he was later acquitted. These events, however, further tarnished the company’s reputation, and by late 1982, production ceased with about 9,000 cars built.
- The DMC-12 may have faded into obscurity if not for its starring role in the “Back to the Future” film trilogy (1985-1990), where it was featured as a time-traveling car. This appearance forever cemented its place in popular culture and revived interest in the car, making it a highly sought-after collector’s item.
Who Was Johnny Carson?
Johnny Carson was a leading American television host, comedian, writer, and producer, best known for his 30-year tenure as host of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” from 1962 to 1992. Born on October 23, 1925, in Corning, Iowa, Carson grew up in Norfolk, Nebraska, and discovered his love for entertainment at an early age.
Above Video: This is an episode of the “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” from December of 1976 starring Frank Sinatra and Don Rickles – two of the biggest stars of the age.
Before embarking on his television career, Carson served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war, he pursued a degree in radio and speech from the University of Nebraska. He began his career in radio and then quickly transitioned to television, hosting several shows before landing “The Tonight Show.”
Carson’s tenure on “The Tonight Show” transformed late-night television. His combination of comedic timing, affable personality, and quick wit endeared him to millions of viewers. He became known for his monologues, celebrity interviews, and comedic sketches, creating a lasting legacy in American pop culture.
In addition to his television work, Carson was also known for his philanthropy. He was deeply private about his personal life, preferring to keep his off-screen life out of the public eye.
Carson’s impact on television and late-night talk shows was profound. He won multiple Emmy Awards, was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992. After retiring from “The Tonight Show,” Carson largely stayed out of the public eye, passing away on January 23, 2005. His legacy continues to influence comedians and talk show hosts to this day.
The Ex-Johnny Carson DeLorean DMC-12 Shown Here
The ill-fated story of the DeLorean DMC-12 has been told and retold countless times over the decades since the automaker first burst onto the scene. The company was founded by larger than life automotive executive John DeLorean, a man who is credited with overseeing the creation of the Pontiac GTO, the XP-833 Banshee sports car project, and his most famous creation – the DMC-12.
DeLorean was unique in that he was arguably the first automotive executive to cross-over into the public consciousness in his own right. He became friends with the likes of Roy Clark, Sammy Davis Jr., and Johnny Carson, all of whom also became investors in his namesake company when he founded it in 1975.
By 1982 the company would be defunct and the story of its collapse would be a story known to almost the entire western world.
As a major investor in the DeLorean Motor Company, Carson received an early production car, chassis number 2439 which arrived from Ireland at the Port of Long Beach aboard the Continental Highway in 1981.
Carson’s time with the car wasn’t particularly positive, he famously became trapped in it, which resulted in a fire department rescue and many barbs directed at his DeLorean’s electrical system on his show. He was later sent another car as a replacement for this one.
This car was later returned to DeLorean, in the years since it has acquired 89,680 miles on the odometer. Earlier in 2023 it was subjected to a restoration costing over $50,000 USD at the DeLorean Motor Company Florida, a process that took 6 months.
This original Johnny Carson DeLorean is now being offered for sale on Hagerty out of Orlando, Florida with a clean CARFAX Vehicle History Report. It has air conditioning, power windows, power locks, power side mirrors, a Dolby sound system, an early digital clock, and it comes with two keys and a six month or 6000 mile major systems, mechanical warranty.
At the time of writing the bidding is in the high $80,000s with a few hours left on the sale. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Hagerty
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Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.