What was the first DeLorean sold?

The first shipment of cars from the factory to the USA In April of 1981 contained 379 cars and arrived on May 15, 1981.

All the cars on this shipment were processed through the Quality Assurance Center (QAC) in Long Beach, California.

Dozens of these cars were intended for company use in the States. These are cars like VIN 614 which were designated as "Training Cars". These cars were sold directly by DMC (not though a dealer) to a leasing company and then immediately leased back to DMC. This allowed DMC some quick cash from the sale of the cars and then they were able to get a tax deduction based on the lease payments. These cars, at the end of their lease about a year later, were sold by the leasing company as "used cars" and without warranty.

The rest of the cars, after passing through the QAC, were shipped out to dealers for retail sale. Obviously, 379 cars less the company cars didn't leave enough for even 1 for each dealer at that time. The date these first cars were shipped to dealers is unknown.

Surviving company records show, however, that the earliest reported sales date by a dealer was June 17, 1981. Four cars were reported by dealers to DMC as being sold on that date.

  • VIN 910 - sold to a buyer in California by Don Darr Pontiac in St. Louis, Missouri
  • VIN 1050 - sold to a buyer in Arizona by Scottsdale Datsun in Scottsdale, Arizona
  • VIN 1114 - sold to a casino in Nevada by Las Vegas Dodge in Las Vegas, Nevada
  • VIN 1398 - sold to a buyer in Minnesota by Key Cadillac in Edina, Minnesota
That said, the earliest VIN sold at retail, per surviving company records was VIN 635, sold on August 31, 1981. It was sold to a buyer in Colorado by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado. One theory for the late date of this sale on this car is that the dealer kept it on display until they had received another or more cars for sale - it's easier to sell more of something if you have at least one people can look at!

And what about VIN 500, the first DeLorean built? It stayed at the factory in Northern Ireland until early 1983, when it was shipped to the States and later donated to the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Written by James Espey, DeLorean Motor Company (Texas)
Revised 7/23/2021