If you own and have read my book, I'd like to offer you a chance to win a cool little piece of DeLorean memorabilia. Simply write a review of the book at Goodreads between now and April 5th at 9pm Central Time for a chance to win! I'll compile the names of the reviewers and pick one at random. Thanks, and good luck!
Today I'm turning the tables and telling people how to SELL their DeLorean. Since the book has been released, I've gotten a number of questions from people who want to *sell* their DeLorean, and ask for advice and tips on doing so. Just as the process of buying a DeLorean requires some homework, selling a DeLorean takes some advance thought, too.
Why do you want to sell?
Maybe you've inherited (insert relative-type name here)'s DeLorean and you neither need nor want it. Maybe you bought it and didn't realize it needed more work than you thought. Perhaps you've lost interest in the car or your circumstances (finances, storage, family) have changed and you need to sell the car.
If you've inherited the car and have no interest in it, you're probably in the best position as other than the fact it belonged to a now passed relative, you have no financial or emotional investment in the car. If you do have an emotional investment in the car, you'll need to be able to separate those feelings from the selling process or you will never be able to let it go. Odds are that if that happens, the car and its value will continue to deteriorate (any car does with or without use, if not maintained) and you'll get even less for it when you do sell it.
If you bought it and realized it needs work than you have the time/skills/money to make it right, I hope that you bought it "right" as you will probably be lucky to get out of it what you paid for it. Most owners in this position didn't know as much as they should have during the buying process and probably overpaid.
What do you want to get out of the car dollar-wise?
While everyone wants to get out "everything" they've put in to the car, that's typically unlikely to happen. Some things you shouldn't realistically expect to get back include:
In today's market, the only cars that can pull more than $25,000 or so are those cars with less than 40,000 or so miles and have a good, strong, recent service history from a reputable DeLorean-specific center. The current NADA numbers can be found here. Bear in mind that the values shown are retail prices, and your private party selling price will be less, and if selling outright to a dealer (more on that below), it will be still less.
Super-low mileage cars are not necessarily worth more for at least two reasons:
First, there are a lot of low mileage DeLorean cars out there. Many people bought and stored them after the original DMC closed, thinking they would be worth much more money years in the future.
Second, now we're here in that future, and all these cars have suffered from decades of storage neglect and literally need thousands (most often tens of thousands) of dollars in parts and labor to bring them up to safe, reliable driving condition.
Additionally, the factory original part of the car that drives the odometer (and records mileage) has a fairly high failure rate and when it does fail, mileage on the car is no longer being recorded. An owner may not be motivated to replace this part for a number of reasons, so smart buyers are more concerned with the recent service history using reputable, correct parts supplied by a reputable DeLorean parts/service center as opposed to how low the mileage is on the car. Smart buyers also look for unusually high wear on certain parts to help judge the accuracy of the indicated mileage.
How quickly do you want to sell the car?
At the end of the day, the old saying is true - "price sells cars" - if you have the luxury of time, you can hold out for your price and hope someone will pay it. However, most people who are selling a car need to sell it for a reason - moving, lost storage, need cash, etc - and that means you've got to give up some price to get it to move.
Where to sell the car - eBay, Craigslist, AutoTrader, Hemmings, live auction (RM, Kruse, Barrett-Jackson, etc), club/enthusiast organization/website or locally.
Nowadays, these are pretty much your only options for selling an exotic/collector vehicle.
Ebay Motors is probably the path of least resistance for most, both in terms of the amount of effort required to list the car for sale and the overall low cost of completing a sale. Ebay offers a "classified" ad option that costs nothing, but only displays the car to potential buyers within 200 miles of the listing zip code. If you live in or near a major metropolitan area, that may work for you. But if you live in a rural area, or want broader exposure to potential buyers, you'll want their "national" option where you can offer it at auction or for a "fixed-price" with no cost to list, and a max of $125 selling fee based on the selling price of the car when sold.
Craigslist is a modern variation of your local classifieds. Listings are free, and typically only easily searchable by people looking in your particular region where you've posted the ad.
AutoTrader no longer does a print edition for "classic cars", but sells everything through the web now for a flat fee of $60 or so and it stays listed until sold.
Hemmings Motor News has been around for over 50 years, and in addition to a a monthly 500+ page publication they also have a website with thousands of listings for cars. parts and accessories. Ads there go from anywhere between $50 and $200 per month.
Higher caliber cars may be best sold through a live auction, like Kruse, Mecum, RM or Barrett-Jackson. Many of the auction sites are now pushing "no reserve" consignments, meaning that whatever the high bid is for the car, that's the selling price. They'll also charge a seller's commission of anywhere from 3% up to 10% which varies by the auction company, the time of day/day of week when the car crosses the auction block and more. Transportation to the auction site (and return from, if it doesn't meet reserve) are always the responsibility of the seller.
Selling a car through a DeLorean club or DeLorean-specific web site is an option for some, but unless you are a seasoned DeLorean enthusiast, most of the people who frequent these forums will see your ad and know more about your car than you do. Most of these people probably already own a DeLorean, so it may be like selling ice to an ice salesman. He's already got one so he'll only take another if it's better than his and the price is right or if can get it at a good price and either part it out or fix it and re-sell it for more money.
Consignment through a local car lot can be an option, as well. Your local consignment sales lot - unless they specialize in exotics - will most likely charge you 10% or so, and how much exposure you'll get will be largely dependent on the methods and activities that they utilize to market their cars.
Finally, a consignment or outright sale at one of the DeLorean-specific service/restoration centers rounds out the list of options. Each location has its own criteria and fees for accepting/selling cars on consignment, so you're best to check with the location closest to you for details if you are considering going that route.
An outright sale to a DeLorean service center is just like a private party sale - you agree on a price, they pay you, and you give them the title. Typically the center will want to inspect the car in person before the price is finalized, and they'll also arrange shipping once the sale is complete. You'll most certainly get a lower price selling your car this way, but you avoid all the hassles associated with selling the car yourself - including people who want to come see your car, take pictures of it (or have you send them photos of it), go for rides/drives, scam artists, and more. The center will have to bring the car up to their standard for re-sale (and to offer a warranty on it), so they'll naturally pay less.
Okay - still with me? Let's say that you've decided you want to sell the car yourself via Ebay, Craigslist or anything *other* than a wholesale transaction with a DeLorean-specific service/restoration center. The key to getting top dollar for your car is all in the presentation.
All that said, the single largest thing that impacts the value of the car is whether or not the engine is running. A car with an engine that doesn't start and run is a very expensive question mark. It's not unusual to see a non-running car sell for less than half the price of a similar DeLorean in running condition. Don't worry about making it street-legal (brakes, etc), but if prospsective buyers can hear it start and run, they'll know brakes (and everything else) are fixable.
That said, before you do a "quickie" and throw a battery in it and dump some gas in the tank to get it going, read this article about fuel contamination - you don't want to turn a $400 problem into a $2000 problem for you (or the next owner). Expect a smart buyer to want to see documentation of any pre-sale service/parts that have been done, especially if you're touting that you've done this work as part of your advertising.
Finally - locate the title and keep it handy. Many times I've been ready to buy a car from someone and they can't find the title. Depending on where you live, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few weeks to get a replacement certificate of title from your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Have it handy, and make sure that if it's not in your name, you have a clear, legal chain of documents that prove you are the owner. Note that some states will insist that you put the car in your name before you can sell it to someone else - find out ahead of time and be prepared.
So, you've decided why you want to sell the car, decided on your asking price, know where you're going to sell it, you've done some work to it to get it in the best cosmetic and mechanical shape as you can for what you have to spend on it in order to get top dollar for it, and you've got your title in hand and ready to transfer to the new owner. People are calling, emailing and asking questions - now what?
Answer all calls and emails as soon as you can, particularly if you have the car on eBay - don't wait until the last minutes before the auction ends to answer peoples' questions. You'll lose potential buyers that way. If you don't know the answer to their question, be honest and tell them you don't know - just don't ignore them. Of course, if it's someone asking you to give it to them for free or if it has the "hover conversion" option, you can safely ignore them.
People may want to see specific photos, or come for a personal inspection. Accommodate them however you can - these are your potential customers. Use good judgment when inviting strangers to your home, I like to get a copy of their I.D. (camera phones are great for this) so I know later who was in my garage/at my house.
I almost *never* let strangers test drive my car. Sit in it? Sure! Hear it run? Fine. I'll even take someone who presents themselves as a serious adult buyer for a ride. But only very rarely do I let someone drive, and never without me along for the ride. I may turn off some potential buyers by doing this, but I've also never had a car abused, damaged or stolen by someone who "wants to take it for a drive", either.
Good news - you've got a buyer, and you've agreed on a price. If there is a lien on the car (you still owe a bank or some other financial institution money on the car), you'll have to coordinate between the seller and whomever you owe on the car to get the lien settled, title released and transferred to the new owner. If you don't have the money to settle the loan without the payment from the buyer, there's a high level of trust that needs to be established for the buyer to give you the money and not immediately receive the title and the car.
If you've got a "clear" title to the car - no liens - then it's much easier. Typically, it'd be best to do the transfer in person - you get cash and the buyer gets the title. However, if the buyer wants to pay with anything other than cash or a bank-to-bank wire transfer, make sure you're aware of the various scams regarding checks, cashiers checks, certified checks and Western Union transfers. Play it smart, you'd be amazed how many people fall for these types of scams everyday.
Almost there! You've been paid and in the instance that your buyer is not local to you, they will need to arrange to get the car from you. If the car runs and drives, they may choose to fly in and drive it home - please be up front with the buyer if you think they might have any problems doing so. The buyer doesn't want any problems and you don't want any after-sales hassle with them.
Regardless of if the car runs/drives or is immobile, the buyer may choose to come and get it with a trailer or they may choose to send a truck to come and pick it up. The buyer will typically coordinate and pay for this service, but will rightfully ask for your cooperation with getting the car handed off to the driver. Just in case the buyer has not read my book, and the driver has never moved a DeLorean before, if the DeLorean will be shipped in anything but a completely enclosed trailer, make sure the buyer/driver knows that the car must be transported with the front of car forward on the trailer. Towing or trailering the car backwards can allow the wind the lift the rear louvres and wrap them catastrophically over the roof/doors, windshield and hood of the car causing potentially thousands of dollars of damage.
And that's about it! If you have any questions, email me directly at jvespey(at)gmail.com - replace the (at) with the "@" symbol. Good luck!
Here's an ad that was forwarded to me by a potential DeLorean owner and reader of The Illustrated Buyer's Guide to DeLorean Automobiles. This person asked me my thoughts about the car, based on the ad alone.
This ad represents a number of the things that could be wrong about most DeLorean cars for sale. Many are the result of the owner just not knowing enough about the car they own, or the owner could be purposely misrepresenting the car as they know most buyers won't know the difference.
The seller writes:
"It has only 36000 original miles"
Readers of the book know the angle drive (which is how the odometer records mileage) is a very high failure item, and that mileage is to be viewed as suspect. Quality and quantity of recent service history documentation has more impact on true value than does mileage. Especially with DeLorean cars, the accuracy of the indicated mileage can only be accurately judged by close examination of the car and its condition.
"The original tires are still on the car and still in good condition"
They may be the tires that were on the car when the current owner bought it, but they are absolutely not the "original tires", and I would want to check them over very carefully (including the date codes) before I felt they were good enough to be used for regular driving.
"The last time I drove the car was to a local car show in the summer of 2011 so it's been sitting a little over a year"
This is a red flag that storage-related issues may be at play here. Fuel system contamination is a distinct possibility, and it's very likely that brakes, cooling, and clutch systems will need attention. While one wouldn't normally see problems after just 1-1.5 years of storage, in the absence of service history saying otherwise, you must presume that it's not had any other maintenance prior to this that would prevent damage from occurring. It's also unlikely - and hard to prove one way or the other - that the car was properly prepared for storage, as well.
"Last time I drove the car, it ran and drove fine, however, it's going to need some tlc"
Another red flag here - ask the buyer what they mean by "some tlc". After reading the book, you'll have an idea what is real and what is nonsense from the seller. An in-person inspection is important here.
"The body and interior are original and in good condition"
The very first photo posted shows a significant crease in the passenger rear quarter panel. That disqualifies the body, in my opinion, as "good condition". Worst case scenario is that the new owner will have to replace that panel, or at minimum transport the car to a trained stainless repair specialist or remove the panel and ship it to and from. Figure a minimum of $1,000 and upwards of $2,000 for these options.
Even worse, and harder to see in the photos, is the drivers side quarter panel (better seen in this second posted photo) shows lots more damage and replacement probably the best option here, with either a good used or new part. Don't forget to factor in swapping the glass/vent/side marker lens/moldings if your used part comes without it. A new panel will not come with any of those parts included either, so they will need to be swapped over or purchased, as well.
The car is very wet in all these photos, which is an old trick to make any car look "better" - it hides lots of minor imperfections that might be visible with a dry car. This is where, at the very least, you'll want more/better photos of the car, and a personal inspection is strongly encouraged.
The interior, unfortunately, is not much better. This photo of the drivers side interior shows a saggy door headliner, so you can expect the other three pieces to be about the same and in need of recovering or replacement.
The rear shelf carpet is ajar and the cargo net not visible - unless someone was working in the electrical compartment (why?), there's not many other reasons to be in there. The cargo net may just be under the shelf carpet, but it's be nice to know if it's there and its condition as they are more than $60 new.
Hard to tell in this same photo, but it appears the drivers inner door seal is torn/damaged, and at minimum you'll get wind noise there, at worst case a water leak. Another photo shows the passenger side, with similar damage.
Again, hard to tell in this photo, but the rearview mirror on the windshield doesn't appear to be "right" - remember that an improperly installed mirror can (and will) crack the windshield.
Also none of the door lights appear to work - it's likely that the fuse has been pulled or the battery dead/disconnected, but a later photo shows the upper and lower interior door panels removed from the passenger door, so tread carefully.
The drivers seat leather is typical for a 36K mile DeLorean, which is good as it helps to validate the mileage claim, but doesn't help the cosmetics of the car very much.
Here we can see the original Craig radio still fitted, which gives a little hope that the wiring behind probably hasn't been hacked up, but it's also likely that the speakers are still original, and their cones have probably disintegrated. Replacement of the fronts is typically no big deal, but the rears are bit more involved and require some care as not to damage the rear trim panels. We're seeing a comeback in popularity with the original Craig (and ASI) radios, so check to make sure the display is good, too, if you plan on keeping it.
A strange looking aftermarket switch (?) under the drivers LH kneepad is not original and would dash my previous hopes that the wiring hadn't been hacked up, but again, a personal inspection is the only way to know for sure.
This passenger side interior photo shows the passenger seat, with a seat back that looks original (much like the drivers side) but the seat cushion on the passenger side appears to have been recovered at some point as it looks "too new" in contrast to the rest of the seats. If it has been recovered, it doesn't appear to be the right material. The missing center cap on the adjustment knob where the seatback and seat cushion meet is a clue that someone probably had the seats apart at one point, probably to replace the covering on the seat cushion. Also of note is the missing blanking cap on the glovebox latch - but these are readily available, as are the later style that do away with the cap entirely.
The "doors up" front view photo shows the common warping over the headlights on the front fascia and perhaps some paint damage just right of center. Repair or replacement and repainting here will set you back anywhere from $500 to $2000.
A lot of people might overlook the missing (or at least removed) upper and lower door panels from the passenger side door. That raises another red flag and more questions. Why are the panels removed? Door jamming shut? Has someone been fooling with the lock/latch rods in the door? Bad window motor?
The one photo of the engine compartment offers some more insights into the past maintenance history of the car - original hoses, detectable by their unique shape and pronounced "ribs" mean that a hose kit will be in someone's future soon. The addition of the metal coolant overflow bottle is nice, but it's got the wrong cap on it - needs to be 15lb. Not the end of the world, but safe to assume that regardless, a lot of cooling system work is overdue on this car.
The missing coil cover in the back right corner is a $120 part, so hope it's with the car as it's best to keep those electrical connections clean and dry. Some odd looking wiring in the back left corner merits attention, as well.
A little bit of black clothes dryer ducting showing between that RH coolant pipe and the air filter box is unoriginal, and the silver ducting itself seems to be out of place, as well.
The absence of the "de-ice recall" should prompt any potential buyer to check if the other recalls have been completed. If any cold/winter weather driving is planned, this is a must-have addition.
A closer inspection of the louver would be in order, as well. Many are cracked along the center spine and require a reinforcing brace or replacement. A broken/missing engine cover stay assembly means at minimum $65 in parts and probably at least some repair (if not outright replacement of the engine cover itself).
Rust is evident on the fuel lines at the fuel distributor, air filter box hardware, ballast resistor and other components, and is the biggest red flag - check for rust all over the rest of the car, especially the undercarriage.
Lots of other photos I'd have liked to see (and would ask to see) before I scheduled a trip to go see this car - hopefully the seller is cooperative and will provide good quality photos - are things like the rest of the engine compartment, luggage compartment, damage to stainless, dash/binnacle, wheels, undercarriage and relay compartment, to name the biggies.
Many more questions remain to be answered before anywhere near $15,000 is paid for this car. What's the VIN? Copies of all service records? Name/contact info for previous owner? Inspection of the undercarriage? Hearing the car start and run (cold engine)? Hot start and run, as well? A test drive is in order to check out the shifting (second gear roll pin, anyone?) and check out things like heat and A/C. A heater core or evaporator can be an expensive, time consuming, and frustrating job - especially for a beginner.
Based on the ad alone, the car isn't worth more than $7,000 - $8,000 as it needs an easy $10K in parts and labor to just be a reliable driver - cosmetics will add to that about the same amount, in my estimation. So you'll have at least $20,000 in it on top of the price of the car, and possibly more if the frame needs work. Of course, if you do any of the work yourself, or are able to obtain good "used" parts where appropriate, that may lower the costs overall.
There are lots of things I didn't go over here, but I think you get the idea that a $15,000 DeLorean is rarely the best deal for your money.
Educate yourself, inspect personally, and don't fall in love with the first (or even second or third) DeLorean you find. There are lot of them out there - buy the best car you can for the money you have to spend. If you've only got $15,000 - keep saving and get a better car, you'll be much happier in the long run.
Working on a reader-requested evaluation of car they were considering buying - until they read the book, at least. This particular Craigslist ad is a potential disaster in the making - stay tuned!
"This 9 x 6″ softcover is small and light enough to fit into a coat pocket when you hit the road to examine your dream car. It is, much like the original car in its day, not cheap...but the information it contains may well be priceless if it saves you from buying the wrong car!"
Read the full review here, and let me know what you think in the comments!
One of the questions I get asked from time to time is "what documents came with the car when new?" In this posting, I'll show these documents and briefly describe them.
There were two significantly different versions of the handbook, and the valet (vinyl pouch/handbook holder) that should have accompanied it. These were put into the cars not at the factory, but at the QAC as part of the final inspection.
A complete handbook/valet for a 1981 model (VINs ending in 000500* to 007199) should contain:
- Fifty (50) page, 5" x 9.25" 1981 Owners Manual, spiral bound across top
- Goodyear Tire warranty tri-fold
- Craig Sound System Warranty for DeLorean Vehicles tri-fold
- Notification of Ownership and/or Address postcard
- 1981 DeLorean Consumer Information tri-fold
- 1981 Vehicles Maintenance Schedule/Record
- Warranties 1981 New Vehicles/Emission Warranties 1981 New Vehicle pamphlet (two sided)
* Note that VIN's assigned to DMC employees would typically not have had these with the car, as they were not intended for retail sale as new cars. By the time these cars made it to the retail market (via Chestnut Fleet Leasing), DMC was in financial trouble and probably didn't supply them.
Some people believe the "National Dealer List" booklets were part of this package. This does not seem to be the case after speaking with some of the original owners and reports that they were given to owners at the dealerships. There were several different versions and styles of these.
Some cars MAY have the "Pre-Delivery Inspection Checklist", either intact or with one more of the three "carbon" copies, possibly blank (typically on cars that went to dealers after DMC closed in late 82) or completed on earlier cars.
These items were placed inside a black vinyl pouch, foil stamped in silver with the DMC DeLorean Motor Company logo.
A complete handbook/valet for a 1982/1983 model (VINs ending in 010001 to 020104) should contain:
- Forty (40) page,5.75" x 8.25" saddle stitched DeLorean Owner's Handbook*
- Goodyear Tire warranty pamphlet
- Notification of Ownership and/or Address postcard (typically 2)
- Consumer Information tri-fold pamphlet (no year on it, but a 1982 copyright date on back)
- 1982 Vehicle Maintenance Schedule/Record
- Warranties 1982 New Vehicles/Emission Warranties 1982 New Vehicle pamphlet
- National Dealer List booklet
As with the 1981 versions, some people believe the "National Dealer List" booklets were part of this package. This does not seem to be the case after speaking with some of the original owners and reports that they were given to owners at the dealerships. There were several different versions and styles of these.
*There were two different versions of this 1982 Owner's Handbook. The earlier version had a black and silver cardstock cover, while the later one (possibly printed/distributed with the cars sold by Consolidated International) was printed on a thinner, glossy paper without the cover, presumably as a cost saving measure.
For either 1981 or 1982 models, some cars MAY have the "Pre-Delivery Inspection Checklist", either intact or with one more of the three "carbon" copies. As many of these cars were sold after DMC closed or sold directly by Consolidated, this document is unlikely to be present.
The valet for the 1982/1983 Owner's handbook was markedly different than the 1981 version. Made of a thin vinyl over foam front and back cover, the valet opened like a book (to accomodate the new design of the handbook) instead of having a flap at the top. A silkscreened line art drawing of the car with the doors up and the repeating DMC logo were on the cover.
And what about 1983 versions? Well, as there were no DMC/factory built 1983 models (all 15XXX, 16XXX, and 17XXX 1983 models were originally built as 1982 models and given 1983 VINs by Consolidated International - see page XX in The Illustrated Buyer's Guide to DeLorean Automobiles) and the 20XXX VINs were built under the control of Consolidated International from partially assembled cars left on the line when the factory closed in late 1982, if they came with anything, it would most likely be what you see above for the 1982 models.
The operating controls for the ASI radio are not covered in the 1982 owner's manual, either. I once saw a little 8.5" x 3.5" leaflet that showed the operating controls, but have never been able to confirm if it was a DMC produced document or produced later by a club or Consolidated International.
The 1981 manual has not been reproduced, most likely due to the fact that it's use of halftone photographs as illustrations makes creating a quality reproduction more difficult. The 1982 manual has been reproduced, though with a simpler, less expensive cover and is available through DMC dealers. In the mid-1990s I created a PDF version of the 1982 manual and made it available through the DeLorean Mailing List web site (www.dmcnews.com) where it can still be downloaded today.
Reproductions of the 1981 valet were created and offered by DMC (Texas) several years ago and are still available from DMC dealers. In order to preserve the values of the original and to accommodate the slightly larger 82/83 style reproduction handbook, they are made a bit larger and have their own contact information underneath the flap. Reproductions of the later, 1982/1983 style valet would be expensive and due to the smaller number of cars these would be applicable to probably not justify the cost.
From time to time, individual pieces and complete sets of the materials described here are offered on eBay and other sites like DMChelp.com and DMCtalk.org - values are pretty much all over the place and vary based on completeness, condition and what the seller thinks they are worth. It comes down to what you are willing to pay, in the end, but for a mint, complete 1981 valet/manual/documents I'd expect to pay $150-$200 and $200-$250 for a mint, complete 82/83 valet/manual documents with the black and silver printed manual cover - less for a plain white cover version.
Take a look over at the right side of the screen - just below the "Free Preview" text is a link to a PDF preview of the book, just in case you haven't seen any part of it yet. Check it out.
I'm doing the final edits to my next posting here, and should have it ready this weekend - several people have asked about this subject, so I'm hopeful that many of you will also find it interesting.
A couple readers have emailed and asked me to post my thoughts and evaluate various DeLoreans available on eBay based strictly upon the ad and the photos supplied by the seller. If that's of interest to you, let me know by posting a comment below. If there is a particular car that you'd like me to evaluate as I've just described, post a link or the auction ID number.
Over the course of DeLorean production, there are five (5) known, different, HVAC panel decals used on the cars. I have been able to locate photographs of all five and I've displayed the photos below in what I feel is "reverse chronological order". Read on to learn more...
This one pictured above is perhaps the most common. It appears to have been used towards the end of production, and indeed, is the only style that remains available as an NOS (new old stock) part. UPDATED MARCH 2017 - NOS labels are no longer available though the style BELOW has been reproduced by DMC (Texas).
This one (above), is very similar to the one above, but the white outlines around the red/blue temperature knob on the left side are missing, the typestyles are slightly different, and the icon for the "defrost" indicator light is in added in white.
Above we see another version, with white outlines around everything and no icon for the defroster.
And, what I believe is the second one used in production is shown above. Again, outlines around everything, but more details have been added to the three indicator lights across the bottom in the middle. You see words added for the "Cooling Fan Fail", "Rear Def." and "Lock Doors".
Finally, what I believe is the FIRST decal used is one that is ALL BLACK in appearance, with the colors and indicators underneath. The flash in this photo allows the colors underneath to be seen, but without that, it would appear to be all black. Special thanks to Tony Swann, who provided this photo and is a noted collector of 500-series VIN cars. Tony is also well-versed in the unique production quirks of these early cars, and notes that this photo was taken of VIN 500, now in the Crawford Auto Aviation Collection in Cleveland, Ohio.
The HVAC panel is backlit with four incandescent bulbs (plus the three for the indicator lights). On a stock, production, car the four lights are illuminated anytime the key is on, regardless of whether or not the running lights or headlights are on. So, unless the car has been modified, anytime the key is on, engine running or not, day or night, these lights are on.
The earliest decal was designed to allow these lights to illuminate all the controls from behind. It would've looked cool had it worked, these controls coming at you in living color from a solid black panel (see Note #1 near the top center) in the drawing above. Unfortunately, the technology wasn't there yet and people couldn't see anything unless it was at night, and even that was iffy.
As you can see above, one of the items on the 12 page, 162 item QAC checklist (download one here - courtesy of the DeLorean Museum) was "Install A/C control decal on console". This jibes with the story that the early ones were replaced at the QAC with one that was more legible. Company records indicate there were at least two suppliers of these in the USA, and purchase orders for 1,ooo of them that were delivered in late October of 1981.
Click here to download a free PDF (5mb) preview of "The Illustrated Buyer's Guide to DeLorean Automobiles"
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