DeLoreans and Fieros Ruled Tuckerton on Saturday
Definitely Two One-of-a-Kind Cars ... Link: http://thesandpaper.village...turday/1646671
It’s not often that you see even one DeLorean. After all, only about 9,000 of the silver sports cars with their signature gull-wing doors, made even more famous by the appearance of one in the “Back to the Future” movie trilogy, were manufactured in, of all places, Northern Ireland in 1981 and 1982 before the company went bankrupt. It is estimated that just 6,000 survive today.
But on Saturday there were 33 of them in Tuckerton, at the Jon Miller Car Care Center on Route 9. There were also 17 Pontiac Fieros and six other “random classic cars” at a show hosted by Miller in conjunction with the DeLorean Mid-Atlantic Club and the Mid Atlantic Fiero Owners Association. There was even an exact replica of the “Back to the Future” DeLorean, built by Miller himself.
Miller was running around so fast it seemed as if he were time-traveling on Saturday. But on Tuesday he said the show had exceeded his wildest expectations, especially considering Saturday was a dreary, rainy day.
“In the planning stage we expected about 20 DeLoreans and 10 Fieros,” he said.
But then it was announced that England’s Chris Nicholson would be there. Nicholson, the world’s foremost authority on repairing dents in the DeLorean’s stainless steel bodies, has been featured on the British TV show “Wheeler Dealers” and, as Miller put it, “many other shows.”
“When that was announced, it helped big time,” said Miller. “It also helped that it was DMA’s spring social and its 25th anniversary.”
The show, said Miller, wasn’t your typical car show. Instead it featured several technical seminars and demonstrations focusing on – you guessed it, considering Nicholson’s appearance – stainless steel dent removal as well as wheel balancing and alignment taught by Miller, and door adjustment, a major concern for DeLorean owners because of the car’s gull-wings.
The DeLorean is certainly a collectors item considering its rarity and its movie star fame.
“I always love it, I always wanted it,” said one DeLorean owner attending the show, Manalapan’s Steven Panza.
Interestingly, the DeLorean has not dramatically appreciated in price over the 35 years since production ground to a halt in Northern Ireland while John DeLorean, founder of the motor company bearing his name, was successfully fighting federal charges of conspiring to smuggle $24 million of cocaine into the United States.
“You can get a good car for $30,000,” said Panza.
A quick check with Hemmings Motor News showed DeLoreans running between $6,600 for a 1981 model with significant body damage to $84,900 for an ’81 “Super Sport” in excellent condition with a steering wheel signed by “Back to the Future” star Michael J. Fox, a door jamb signed by John DeLorean himself, and sun visors signed by movie co-stars Lea Thompson (Marty McFly’s mother in “Back to the Future”) and Christopher Lloyd. Several were being offered for less than $40,000.
Back in 1981-92, a brand new DeLorean had an MRSP sticker price of $25,000, equal to about $68,000 in 2015 dollars, making it, according to Wikipedia, “cost-prohibitive for the majority of the market – especially for what many considered to be an under-powered and impractical plaything. ‘It’s not a barn burner,’ observed Road and Track, (with) a 0-60 mph time of 10.5 seconds. Frankly, that’s not quick for a sports/GT car in this price category.”
The Pontiac Fieros at Tuckerton on Saturday were interesting as well.
Bruce Homeyard, a Fiero aficionado from Gilberton, Pa., was ready with a quick history of the model when asked.
“They were in production from 1984 through 1988. They were the only American mid-engine sports car. Pontiac made them as a car to reach CAFÉ (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. It was the Indy (Indianapolis 500) pace car in 1984. It only weighed about 2,700 pounds. The original was a four-cylinder.”
The price was right – about $7,999 to start – so the Fiero sold well. Pontiac couldn’t keep up with the demand in 1984 despite operating three shifts at the factory. In its first year, Pontiac sold more than 136,000 Fieros, far exceeding expectations.
As the oil crisis of 1979 receded from memory, Pontiac started beefing up the Fiero. From 1986 to 1988, said Homeyard, it had become “a good handling car” capable of getting 25 to 30 mph. A six-cylinder joined the four-cylinder, and a number of transmission options were offered.
Sales slowed over the years, but according to Homeyard, Pontiac sold 370,000 Fieros before discontinuing the model.
“They said they stopped production because they weren’t selling enough,” said Homeyard. “But you know the real reason? The real reason is they were protecting their beloved Corvette.”
Improvements planned for the Fiero, said Homeyard, would have given the Chevy Corvette performance competition at a much cheaper price.
One advantage the Fiero had over the DeLorean is that it was available in more than one color. Alas, the silver DeLorean reminds one of Henry Ford and his Model T – you could get it in any color you wanted as long as it was black.
Panza laughed when I made the comparison.
“The DeLorean had options,” he said, chuckling. “You could get a three-speed auto or a five-speed manual. And you could get a gray or black interior.”
Whatever. DeLorean and Fiero owners are fiercely loyal to their rides. And why shouldn’t they be? The DeLorean, obviously, is rare; the Fiero was the only mass-produced mid-engine sports car ever manufactured in the United States. You can’t say anything like that about your Kia.
— Rick Mellerup
[This message has been edited by CoolBlue87GT (edited 04-27-2017).]