Pilots & Prototypes
Every effort has been made to make this as accurate as possible, we are aware of a few other prototype/mules cars. However at this time we cannot confirm where they join this chronology - further information will be added in the future.
If you have pictures and stories to help update this chronology, please contact us and we will include them after research has been carried out.
D1A was the name given to the second Bill Collins prototype which was shipped from the US to Lotus for evaluation. After test drives, the Lotus assessment was not favourable of the second DeLorean prototype. It was decided to make serious changes in the fundamental aspects of the car from a steel backbone chassis through to the dropping of Delorean's ERM (Elastic Reservoir Moulding) to the eventual use of VARI (Vacuum Assisted Resin Injection) for the body tub.
We have been told that the car had a less than impressive silver interior that appeared to have been sprayed on - and was cracking and leaving bits of silver all over anyone who sat in it. The car itself was stripped down to its bare bones by Lotus as they wrote up a full assessment. The shell that was left sat for a number of years in a storage area in Hethel - before eventually being destroyed.
D2 was Lotus' first in house prototype and was a manual transmission. The purpose of this car was to test drive train durability. The car was run extensively in reverse with all of the linkage disconnected - without any issues reported.
It is undecided if the actual body panels on D2 and D3 and D4 were fiberglass, steel or stainless, but most likely were of Fibreglass construction due to the time scales/ costs involved.
This car was a red stainless steel painted automatic and was used in testing for the middle tolerance change speeds. This pilot ended up with the same step-gear ratios as standard Renault transmission. In the picture below, note that the styling has remained the same as the Collins prototypes - however as mentioned, the Lotus influence had made serious changes under the skin.
PJ Grady Europe has purchased the featured original DMC instrument cluster! This cluster was used with 176 miles showing as tested! We know from research that P3 when finished showed 148 miles on the Instrument cluster. We have stripped down the unit and carefully cleaned and restored it. For more details please visit our rare items page.
This car was constructed not long after D3 in 1979. It was a yellow stainless steel painted Bill Collins styled DeLorean. Basically the same as the previous prototype D3.
D4 was an automatic transmission and amongst other things, was being used to prove the electrical harnesses that Lotus were developing for the DeLorean. The paperwork we have from Lotus shows that in September 1980, they were installing the new windshield wiper mechanisms and air conditioning units. The centre console design was pretty poor and was earmarked to be replaced.
This car was another step forward in testing and development, however at this point in early production, DMC management decided on a change of design and the Epo-wood body car was sent back to Giugiaro for a styling tweak. Lotus named this car “Doris 3” as at that time it was the third prototype they had. Prototype one was still in the US. We believe our steering wheel as seen in the lower picture come from this car. Further pictures on this rare item can be found on our rare items section of this website.
D5 First Production Style Car
This car truly broke the mould! It was the first to feature production lines by the Giorgetto Giugiaro updated look. At this point Lotus’ workload had doubled and the previous prototypes had almost become useless over night - only certain amounts of data could be brought forward to the new pilots.
From talking to Jim Prentice who provided these pictures, and other Lotus employees, we have discovered that our rare hood (Painted green/yellow) was intended to have been crash tested! This hood was made before P5 and used in design work. Notice that the hood is exactly the same; there are no return sections to hold on the fuel flap lid! This hood is identical to those on D19, D20 and D21.
The rear fascia while identical to P5 (with the exception of the Delorean logo formed in the left hand side) was most likely produced before the one seen on P5. Our fascia was held onto the car in a completely different manner. Screws on the outside fixing into the rear quarter panel fix points!
‘Work in progress’ marks can be found on this piece. Jim Prentice also told us that the car featured in the pictures is the first production car that Lotus made and was shipped to the US.
D5 was a manual transmission and was developed for NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) testing. Our paperwork indicates that the development of the car was delayed by a shortage of rear hubs, trailing arms and stub axle nuts - so the team were asked to help the Lotus power train team with other prototype car builds.
D? - Unknown Pilot
This car is a bit of an enigma to us. It's obviously very early - and is a fibreglass body. It's at Lotus...but that's about all we know. It's hard to tell where this car fits into the chronology - although the assumption is that it is a true pilot rather than a mock-up. As ever, our thanks go to Chris Parnham for allowing us to use this picture.
D6 was an automatic transmission car and was the second 1982 development vehicle. It was fitted with an engine from a white Volvo and completed in November 1980.
D7 was a manual transmission and was in an almost completed stage by June 1980. It was at this point in the pre-production stage that a DeLorean engineer Peter Allinson brought to Loasby’s attention that all preceding Lotus prototypes were gaining in weight, by the time P7 had been assembled.
It was feared that the car would not meet its weight class. The car was to weigh no more than 2400 lbs in weight, however D7 was weighting in at 2,614 lbs, with many additions still to be made in following prototypes.
Our paperwork also shows that the car was sent to brake specialist Mintex to investigate some unusual brake noises.
D7 was road tested heavily by Lotus engineers around the Scottish highlands. The drivers were really throwing the car into corners! When they got back to Lotus, they complained that the seats were too slippery - and that they kept sliding out of their chairs! Nick Fulcher was asked to look at the problem, and decided to use a different squab for the seats - which provided side bolsters to stop the driver from moving around so much.
The picture above shows a prototype seat (notice the side bolsters) - and the seat squab used to make it. On a production seat - the bars go straight up, so there are no side supports.
A manual DeLorean which was sent over to Renault on 24th November 1980 for assessment and fine tuning between the transmission and drive train.
D9 was an automatic transmission and was sent to Bosch in Stuttgart, Germany for assessment. Bosch reset the ignition timings and cured some of the earlier engine problems.
This car has recently resurfaced in the US, having been stored away for a number of years.
D10 was a manual transmission and was used for testing the 1982 fuel economy.
D11 was a manual transmission and was used for testing in Luxembourg. The car was fitted with new construction rear tyres - and tested for ride and handling. A number of the new tyres were bought back to England to equip the 50,000 mile endurance cars.
D12 was an automatic transmission and was shipped to the Harrison's in Buffalo, New York for testing in climatic chambers. This car was then transported to the New Jersey Quality Assurance Centre where it was eventually used to provide parts for the later cars.
Was a manual transmission and was used for PAVE testing. PAVE testing uses an artificial road surface that simulates 100 miles of regular road use for every mile travelled (e.g. 500 miles on a PAVE test is the equivalent of 50,000 miles of regular road use). This car was assembled and then robbed of many of it's parts in order to get D18, D19, D20 and D21 ready for emissions testing. This car was reassembled for use in early September 1980.
The car was returned to PAVE testing on November 17th 1980, and after 360 miles (36,000 regular miles) the front mounting points in the body required repair.
Was an automatic transmission and was used for 50,000 mile durability testing. The car had some issues with tyres rubbing against the front fenders - which meant the car was called back to Lotus for adjustments to the panelling. This car was also the first to trial the new style hood latch mechanism - which was taken from Fiat. Other points of note about this car are the location of the battery (at the front of the vehicle) and the fact that the frame was still using the old design trailing radius arms and brackets.
After 29,000 miles, the car was taken back to Hethel for a new Motorola 90 Amp alternator and new rear construction tyres. The car was later recalled again to replace the rear shock absorbers.
The car also featured stainless steel internal doors and had the sliding window design, as featured on many of the mid pilot cars. This door is marked as 14LH. However after the recent restoration of D20, it is our belief that this door was the 14th drivers door made (rather than for the 14th car). D20 has the first rear quarter panel fitted (#1), which suggests that as the pilot program progressed, the panels were reused for later pilot builds.
Was an automatic transmission and was also used for 50,000 mile durability testing as with D14. D15 was completed slightly after D14 due to parts availability.
After 13,000 miles of testing, the car was taken back to Hethel and had a new 80 Amp Ducelier alternator fitted along with new rear construction tyres.
Was a completed car - however at some point, the car was cut in half and sent to Legend Industries Inc in Long Island, NY for use in the Twin Turbo/Single Turbo project. Only the rear half of this car is known to exist today.
Was used for crash testing at Lotus. The car was attached to a 'rotisserie' type machine, which suspended the car upside down. The car would fail the test if a single drop of fuel leaked out. It passed.
The car was then used for side impact testing. It failed due to some small fuel leakage around the filler cap (proprietary port) and the sender unit screw ring.
D18 was originally intended for US EPA emission testing, but developed a fault with the drive train, so was substituted with D19 at the last minute.
It is believed that this car was used to provide some key parts for D19, D20 and D21 - and was then destroyed - as Lotus had come to the end of their prototype build programme.
D19 is a manual transmission and was shipped to Olsen Engineering in the United States for US EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) emissions testing for the 1981 certification along with D20 and D21. D19 was actually a replacement car due to a fault with D18 which had been intended for testing.
The car was later sold off by auction, along with D20 and D21. This car now belongs to PJ Grady Europe - see News for details.
Below are some pictures of the car as it appears today, and also some pictures of the car before she was painted in 1985. The car will soon be undergoing a full restoration by PJ Grady Europeduring 2009/2010.
D20 is a manual transmission and was shipped to Olsen Engineering in the US EPA emissions testing along with D19 and D21. The car was later auctioned off after the companies collapse. This car now belongs to PJ Grady Europe - see News for details.
The pictures above show D20 before our restoration started. The pictures below show D20 at a recent Delorean Car show Summer 2008).
Is an automatic transmission and was shipped to Olsen Engineering in the United States for US EPA emissions testing along with D19 and D20. The car was later auctioned off after the companies collapse.
After US EPA testing, the car was also used to provide correlation testing between Lotus, PA and Triumph.
This car has recently been purchased by Ken Koncelik - a well known member of the DeLorean community in the US.
It is our belief that D22 was the very first DMC Built in Ireland. From looking at original Lotus manifests - the Lotus build program ended with D21 - at which point a smaller scale 'trial-build' pilot program started over at the Dunmurry plant. It is our belief that D22, being the first Irish build Delorean, was taken to a high standard by DMCL - as any company would if it was their first built car inhouse. Also notice the sliding window, which shows some continuity with the design as it was inherited from Lotus. D19, D20 and D21 which were made at Lotus also originally had sliding windows (although these were flimsy and impractical, and were replaced with fixed plexi-glass on some of the cars). We are speculating that this design was carried forward for the first DMCL Delorean, and then dropped due to it's impracticality during the DMCL pilot process.
It is also our belief that this vehicle was painted gold as part of a proof of concept, or perhaps in advance of the possible 'gold card' marketing campaign? The pictures below show the car painted gold and what we believe to be the same car with it's stainless finish. Both pictures show a very well finished example, with the unique tailpipes, sliding windows and even the same show plate. The quality of finish is beyond what Lotus would have been working towards (as they were proving the mechanics - not the cosmetics). It fits well with a first Irish build pilot.
No Information is known on this car....yet.
The car was a test car very similar to VIN 514 - the 50,000 mile test car. It was a manual transmission, black interior. It was assigned the registration plate RIA 7123. The pictures above and below were supplied by Chris Parnham via Brendan Montgomery (who worked for DMCL). Our sincere thanks to them both for helping us with this chronology and allowing us to share these images with the wider Delorean community.
Was a completed car used for publicity in much of DMC’s literature. It was sold in the Dunmurry factory auction when the plant closed. This car exists today, and resides in Ireland.
By the time this car had been completed, the cars design had been decided, notice the normal production toll both windows.
PJ Grady Europe has performed a stainless steel overhaul on the body of this car. The rear quarter panels are very similar to D20’s - suggesting that the panels were reused from an earler pilot.
For more information regarding Pilot 25, please select this hyperlink.
D26 - D27
No further information available about these cars - although there has been some suggestion that they may have been sent to the US as back-up cars for the publicity drive. This makes sense, given that Dick Brown was to use D28 as a test car (see below) to proclaim it's success. It's entirely feasible that D26 and D27 were also there as back-ups.
This car was shipped to Dick Brown in California, where quality assurance testing was undertaken. After completion, the car was hailed as a success by DMC management.
With great regret, we have recently talked to Lotus engineers who told us that ‘some’ DeLorean prototype cars were used as ‘Banger Racers’ by Lotus employees who had reached their limit with the DMC. This information was seconded by Dave Howarth, who also provided this information.
Many of the parts were taken from defunct prototype cars and used again for later build prototypes. Each prototype car was colour coded - and all parts belonging to that car were marked with small dabs of coloured paint. D20 has blue paint - but some of the parts that have clearly been taken from other cars show green or yellow markings.
Many of the other cars were either crushed or scrapped. Some of the cars were crushed at the Lotus plant in Hethel, and were buried on site – used as hardcore for new buildings. Others were driven to a scrap yard nearby, and were parted out or destroyed. PJ Grady Europe has spoken with the owner of the scrap yard who recalled hacking away at the gullwing doors in order to get the stainless steel to sell to a local metal merchant!
PJ Grady Europe are also aware of another prototype car ‘X’, which was acquired by a Lotus engineer, who for reasons unknown, decided to stash the car in his back garden! When the person died, his family found all the documentation for the car and dug it out from under years of shrubbery, etc. By then it was pretty rotten, and was towed away and disposed of.
It’s a sad ending for some of the cars, which made such contributions into the finalised production car.
The two Pilot deloreans D20 & D25 side by side at a recent Delorean car show (Summer 2008).