It would be impossible to narrow down which, of all the countless cars I've driven, I would name as my favourite – but people do ask. Constantly.
Let's just say that I have so many personal favourites, for just as many reasons – but there are a few that are especially memorable.
Not the fastest, nor the prettiest, the DeLorean is nonetheless, one of the most compelling vehicles I've ever experienced.
The DeLorean DMC 12
(DMC for DeLorean Motor Company, 12 for its originally projected price of $12,000) is the embodiment of a long-held, but short-lived dream.
The brainchild of John Z. DeLorean, a controversial playboy executive who left General Motors to build the ultimate sports car, the Northern Ireland based DeLorean Motor Company produced just over 8,000 cars between 1981 and 1982, when the company folded amidst allegations of drug money funding.
Although charges against John DeLorean were later dropped, it was too late for DMC which had been plagued by production problems and claims of inflated performance figures.
But the DeLorean remains a pop culture icon thanks to its starring role as the time machine in the movie "Back to the Future
" and a symbol of the flamboyant lifestyle of its creator.
The Italdesign body isn't what you'd call conventionally pretty. Angular, wedge-shaped with a rakish fastback and louvered rear window, it uses every design cue of its era. Its most famous visual elements are of course, the signature gullwing doors and brushed stainless steel body panels. It rides on a Lotus-designed frame and suspension.
Ducking my head and dropping into the seat, I tug on the leather strap to lower the gullwing door. The seats are well cushioned and upholstered in leather that's finely cracked and burnished with the patina of age.
Driving position is somewhat reclined – since the seat has minimal adjustment fore and aft, and being short, I found myself stretching for the pedals. At only 44 inches tall, this is not a car that accommodates an upright seating position!
The headliner is indented to allow more head clearance – sort of an interior variation of the Gurney bubble.
Everything is upholstered in stitched grey leather, including the vertical, flat dash and the high-walled centre console which runs like a spine through the car, bisecting the cockpit.
By today's standards, the interior is dated and kitschy, but for 1981, it must have seemed futuristic indeed. The small windows inset into the gullwing door's larger glass are a late add-on, allowing for North American toll booths. And thankfully, Tim Horton's drive-throughs!
Available with either a 5-speed manual, or 3-speed automatic, the DeLorean's powered by a 2.8L 130 hp V6 developed jointly by Renault, Volvo and Peugeot. Located under the angular hatch, its placement behind the rear axle makes this a true rear-engined car.
The steering wheel is leather-wrapped, and has a nice feel, although the lack of power steering makes turn-in a bit heavy. The brakes, however, are decidedly vague. The Lotus derived suspension is firm and there's not much roll. By today's sports car standards, the DeLorean is underpowered at 130 hp. But who cares? Grinning ear-to-ear, we managed to achieve the magical 88 mph mark, but unfortunately remained firmly planted in this decade.
There's no question that the DeLorean is still a fan favourite: everywhere we went, people slowed down to point, wave or give us the thumbs up sign.
A beloved pop-culture icon, the DeLorean transcends its past to become perhaps a more fitting tribute to its creator than even he intended.
And certainly remains one of my most memorable.