What Car Would You Be Happy With Even If You Could Never Drive It?

One of the original promotional shots for the DMC-12 launch.
One of the original promotional shots for the DMC-12 launch.
Image: DeLorean Motor Company
CountersteerYour true stories of good and bad things that happen in cars.

I own a 1993 Mazda MX-5. I’ve had it for around five years now, and I’ve driven it around northern Europe enough to know I really like driving it. Currently, for some unfathomable reason, it gets neither fuel nor spark, and instead of successfully fixing it I just pushed it to the garage before winter to wait for more diagnosing time and eventual repair. I’ve already gotten two other automotive journalists to look at it, and while we replaced the main relay and forced the fuel pump on, the correct answer to “How many autowriters does it take to get a Miata to run” seemingly isn’t “three”. Anyway, while the NA Miata is certainly a nice enough car to look at, it’s good enough to drive that it’s really a shame it doesn’t currently run. I’ll fix it, I promise.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is a possible future world order where it’s simply not possible to get into your car and go for a drive, or it’s not allowed to do so, or there’s no fuel available, or I’ve listened to Red Barchetta too often. While I don’t really like to entertain these scenarios and at a time of a certain global pandemic it would actually do me good to go for a drive, snugly in my cocoon, it did give me a big galactic brain idea.

Which car is simultaneously entertaining enough just to look at but unspectacular enough to drive that it would not meaningfully degrade the ownership experience not to be able to drive it? Or more simply: which car would you rather keep than drive?

Having spent an entire day thinking about this on a long walk around a nearby river, I’m ready to say that my answer for this is the DeLorean DMC-12. While I’d happily defend the DMC-12 when it’s listed on yet another “World’s Worst Cars” list, I’ll readily admit it’s underpowered as stock, the build quality isn’t stellar and its design and cultural impact far outweighs its merits as a real, functioning car. I can also say I’ve never driven one on the road, but the last time I rode in one the cabin filled with smoke due to some molten wiring and we had to walk back to the garage, so that’s a great omen for the future.

Just like that Ferrari 512 BB featured on Petrolicious a few years ago, some cars make fantastic living room sculptures. If I’d have to choose a car to be shut inside my house just to admire forever, the DMC-12 would be the immovable object for me. I’d probably just keep opening and closing the gullwing doors. And DeLoreans, while not bargain-priced, are still cheaper than most Ferraris.


What’s your choice?

Automotive writer based in Finland. Never paid more than two grand for a car. Currently drives a manual turbodiesel wagon.

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Probably any old Delahaye... especially one like this one:

Old cars like this are better for looking at and *imagining* what they drive like... since cars this old are typically crap to drive by modern standards in one way or another.

You can kind of see what I’m talking about by watching this video:

Or this video: