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1981 DeLorean DMC-12 is our auction pick of the day to bring a trailer

• Every DMC-12 is an icon of its time, but this DeLorean biturbo made up the 1980s while once owned by the late actor Jim Varney, who played Ernest P. Worrell in a series of beloved films.

• DeLoreans are often unfairly derided for the modest 130 horsepower produced by the 2.85-litre V6. Here, a twin-turbocharged system boosts power to a healthier 200bhp.

• Due to their popularity, the availability of parts for these cars is quite good. This example has the potential to be a great weekend driver and comes with a great story for your local Cars and Coffee meetup. Auction ends Friday, May 27.

If you’re a kid of the 1980s, the first rubber-faced comedian you fell in love with wasn’t Jim Carrey, but Jim Varney. Despite training as a serious Shakespearian actor, Varney enjoyed resounding success with the goofball slapstick of Ernest’s films. Ernest goes to camp. Ernest saves Christmas. Ernest and the flimsy pretext for another oddly profitable film. The DeLorean shown here belonged to the late actor, and it is currently listed on the Bring a Trailer auction site, which, like Car and driveris part of Hearst Autos.

By all accounts, a kind, deeply intelligent, and sensitive man, Varney made his fortune by posing as a complete idiot. But at least one lovable idiot. Armed with his catchphrase, “KnowhutImean, Vern?” he blundered in life, destroying everything before putting everything back in order. When you’re eight years old, there’s nothing funnier than watching an adult spectacularly fail to unplug the toilet. Ernest was a household name and Varney was making millions.

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Since he was born and lived in Kentucky, one would expect the money to have gone towards a sprawling ranch and some sort of pickup truck. It was, but Varney clearly had more elegant tastes. At one point he bought this 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 and then fitted it with an Island Twin Turbo system from Turbo Manifold Inc, New York.

In 1981, Car and driver tested the DMC-12 against the Ferrari 308GTSi, Porsche 911SC, Datsun 280ZX and Chevrolet Corvette. The DeLorean was the slowest, but not by a huge margin, and the car’s unique exterior design and interior appointments impressed. “What DeLorean has here is nothing less than the executive sports car,” we gushed.

Unfortunately, this conclusion was based on wishful thinking. “Its performance is likely to be about-turned if John Z.’s deal with Legend Industries, the makers of Fiat’s turbo roadsters, bears the twin-turbo fruits he’s been counting on.” This was not the case.

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John Z. DeLorean’s dramatic fall from grace has been well documented and has been the subject of two films in recent years. In a way, this car is the answer to the question, What could have been? Turbo Manifold Inc. was born from the ashes of Legend Industries, after the collapse of DeLorean bankrupted that company. Although the system is relatively simple and safe for low-boost operation, 200 horsepower with a DMC-12’s 2700 pounds would have been great performance for the mid-1980s. That’s not far off what you got in the previous generation Subaru BRZ.

While Varney was clearly enjoying his DeLorean, and there are pictures of him with it, at one point the car parked. But just as Jim Varney was more than a snag in a denim vest and khaki cap, the DMC-12 is better than its reputation suggests. This example with its vintage turbos allows us to imagine a world where, perhaps, Ernest saves DeLorean. Knowhut I mean, Vern? As of May 21, with six days left in the auction, the bid was $32,000.

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