A parking lot is a parking lot—unless it’s the Summit Racing parking lot. On any given day or time, the lot outside a Summit Racing store can turn into an impromptu mini car show, depending on who’s stopped by the store. On Wednesday, we often share a notable parking lot find—another benefit of being powered by Summit Racing Equipment.

1981 DeLorean DMC 12 drivers side

Few cars are able to transcend genres and become engrained in popular culture like the DeLorean DMC-12.

Seriously—whether someone’s a gearhead or not, who can’t immediately identify a DeLorean in a parking lot?

Unfortunately, the car’s fame has overshadowed its place in automotive history. That’s a shame, because it’s actually a pretty remarkable feat of vehicle design and engineering.

It was styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro (a guy who also has Ferrari and Lamborghini on his resume) and the chassis tuning was done by Lotus—the same shop that was building Formula 1 cars.

Out back, the rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive DeLorean DMC-12 is powered by a 130-horsepower motor designed in a Peugeot-Renault-Volvo joint venture.

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the stainless-steel body and iconic gull-wing doors.

Unfortunately, the DMC-12 (and ultimately the DeLorean Motor Company itself) was an automotive flop akin to the Ford Edsel.

What went wrong? Though it certainly looked the part of a supercar, the DMC-12 didn’t boast the performance numbers.

Fit and finish also was not on-par with a car in its $25,000 price bracket—the equivalent of about $70,000 in today’s dollars. A host of other issues contributed to the DMC-12’s poor sales.

Fun Fact: DeLorean originally wanted to sell the car for $12,000, hence the name DMC-12.

Regardless of its initial reception, a DMC-12 now gathers a crowd any time it’s parked.

Which is why we ran out to greet this one as it rolled into the Summit Racing parking lot in Tallmadge, OH. Seeing a DMC driven in the wild is always a treat, but seeing one being driven on a less-than-sunny day is even more impressive.

We guessed that it was an early production version, given the fuel door flap in the hood (it was later removed). Our suspicions were confirmed—the owner came out to tell us it’s a 1981.

The owner was also kind enough to open the rear engine bay for us, showing off a seriously clean powerplant. (The owner tells us that he’s upgraded the engine and it makes the car really scoot!)

Check out more pics below.

1981 DeLorean DMC 12 engine bay
Not exactly stock—the owner has modified this DMC-12’s engine for more performance. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
1981 DeLorean DMC 12 front grille
An easy way to differentiate between DeLorean DMC-12 years is to look for the fuel door flap on the hood. Early 1980-81 editions have the small door near the driver’s side wiper like this. Later models removed the door entirely, requiring you to open the hood to fill the front-mounted tank. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
1981 DeLorean DMC 12 rear passenger side
Since the DMC-12’s engine mass is located behind the rear axle, it’s considered rear-engine—as opposed to mid-engine. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
1981 DeLorean DMC 12 passenger side high
1981 DeLorean DMC 12 interior
Another clue of this DeLorean’s year is the speedometer, which wasn’t limited to 85 mph—indicative of a 1981+ model. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
1981 DeLorean DMC 12 front pass side
1981 DeLorean DMC 12 rear bumper logo
1981 DeLorean DMC 12 gull wing door
Of all the DMC-12’s most distinguishing features, its gullwing doors tend to be the most famous. We admit—they’re pretty rad. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
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Author: Paul Sakalas

Paul is the editor of OnAllCylinders. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him fixing oil leaks in a Jeep CJ-5 or roof leaks in an old Corvette ragtop. Thanks to a penchant for vintage Honda motorcycles, he spends the rest of his time fiddling with carburetors and cleaning chain lube off his left pant leg.