A Blend of Classic Automotive and TV History.
In a striking fusion of classic car allure and television history, the 1981 DeLorean DMC-12, once owned by the legendary TV host and comedian Johnny Carson, is now on the auction block. This iconic vehicle, part of the Hagerty Marketplace, not only represents a storied piece of automotive design but also carries the legacy of one of the most beloved figures in American television.
Johnny Carson, renowned for his role as the host of the "Tonight Show," was not just a fan but also a significant investor in the DeLorean Motor Company. As a token of appreciation and recognition of his investment, Carson was gifted this particular car. Currently, the bidding for this historic vehicle has surpassed $50,000, reflecting its unique value.
Kevin Kovac from Hagerty Marketplace in Chicago shed light on the auction, which began on November 22, 2023, and is set to conclude on December 8, 2023. Kovac emphasized the DeLorean DMC-12’s status as a cult classic, noting its stainless steel body, distinctive gull-wing doors, and its association with the iconic ‘Back to the Future’ film franchise.
The DMC DeLorean, the only production model by the DeLorean Motor Company, was a brainchild of former General Motors executive John DeLorean. The vehicle's engineering by Lotus, its angular design by Giorgetto Giugiaro, and its futuristic features, including the rear-mounted engine and gullwing doors, made it a sensation upon its 1981 debut. Even a gold-plated DeLorean was advertised for $85,000 in the 1980 holiday season American Express catalog.
Carson's DeLorean, chassis number 2439, has an interesting story. It arrived from Belfast, Ireland, at the Port of Long Beach and was an early production model. Carson famously got trapped in this car, leading to a fire department rescue and subsequent jokes about the DeLorean’s electrical system on his show. Later, Carson received another DeLorean as a replacement. While the car initially failed to meet its high expectations, its celebrity associations and cinematic fame cemented its place in automotive and cultural history.
This auctioned DeLorean has undergone a meticulous six-month restoration in 2023 by The DeLorean Motor Company Florida, costing over $50,000. The vehicle features a 2.85-liter V6 engine, a brushed stainless steel body, alloy wheels, and a range of high-end features including air conditioning, power windows, and a Dolby sound system. The odometer currently displays approximately 89,700 miles.
This DeLorean DMC-12 stands as a remarkable testament to the intersection of automotive innovation and celebrity culture, offering collectors and enthusiasts an opportunity to own a piece of both automotive and television history.