Home » Johnny Carson’s Restored 1981 DeLorean Is up for Auction—but You Better Hurry

Johnny Carson’s Restored 1981 DeLorean Is up for Auction—but You Better Hurry

by multimill
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Johnny Carson may have been a funny guy, but he was serious about supporting the DeLorean Motor Company. The late legendary Tonight Show host invested $500,000 (slightly more than $2 million in today’s dollars) into the Michigan marque. In return, DeLorean gifted him a DMC-12. That very car, chassis number 2439, has just been listed for auction with Hagerty.

Penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign, the original DMC debuted in February 1981. (Carson and John DeLorean can be seen at the car’s unveiling in the above picture.) The angular four-wheeler was considered to be at the bleeding edge of automotive design at the time and was equipped with a range of innovative features, including a rear-mounted engine and dramatic gullwing doors.

In 1985, the wedge-shaped sports car co-starred as a futuristic time machine in Robert Zemeckis’s classic Back to the Future. A-Listers of all stripes had to have one—Sammy Davis Jr., Kenny Rogers, Patrick Swayze, and, of course, Carson all became proud owners of the DMC. The ‘80s icon remains an indelible part of automotive and cultural history. So much so, in fact, that DeLorean recently announced the DMC-12 will be reborn as an EV next year.

Jonny Carson's DeLorean DMC-12

The angular front of the DMC-12.


This particular example traveled from Belfast, Ireland to the Port of Long Beach aboard the Continental Highway vehicle carrier. Carson promptly took the early production model for a spin but got trapped by faulty mechanics. (The car’s battery reportedly died on the highway, preventing the electrical system from opening the doors.) The comedian had to be rescued by the fire department. Carson later received another DMC-12 (chassis number 4523) as a replacement.

The DeLorean Motor Company Florida completed a six-month restoration of this vehicle earlier this year, spending roughly $50,000 to get it back to its former glory. The car sports the classic brushed stainless steel exterior and an optional gray leather interior. At the rear lies a “PRV” 2.85-liter V-6 that delivers a peppy 130 hp and 153 ft lbs of torque. The manual has been put through its paces, too, with a total of 89,680 miles on the dial.

Carson’s car has attracted 34 bids and is sitting at $47,000 at the time of writing. The auction wraps up on December 8, so you have three days left to put an offer in. Happy bidding.

Click here to see all the photos of Carson’s DeLorean.

Johnny Carson's 1981 DeLorean DMC-12


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