Most people are drawn to the DMC DeLorean because of its famous legacy as a star-crossed car and/or a movie star car.

The unique limited production sports car was the brainchild of John DeLorean, a talented General Motors designer and executive who carved his name in muscle car history when he spearheaded the campaign to build the Pontiac GTO.

Jim Sutherland

Eventually, DeLorean set his sights on creating his own iconic sports car as an independent builder. The net result was the DMC Delorean, a car that submerged the ambitious car builder in a sea of debt that got even stormier when DeLorean was arrested on conspiracy to distribute cocaine charges in 1982 and further tarnished the image of his upstart car company.

DeLorean beat the charges, but his struggling car company was unable to recover from the negative publicity and succumbed to bankruptcy in the early 1980s. The DeLorean was well on its way to becoming a sad footnote in automotive history until the ‘Back to the Future’ movie franchise turned the doomed DMC DeLorean into a full-blown Hollywood star in 1985.

The movie trilogy offset the DeLorean’s troubled past in the real world and helped transform the stylish car into an automotive legend.

MyStarCollectorCar spotted a 1981 DeLorean at a car show and located its owner, a young woman named Dessislava Gavrailova. We naturally assumed Dessislava was either a movie fan, a DeLorean fan-or both-but she had her own reason for ownership: sentimental.

The previous owner was Dessislava’s late husband, and he was a huge fan of the DeLorean sports cars. He undertook a lengthy search to find one of the limited production cars and finally found his ’81 DeLorean in California.

Dessislava’s husband subsequently bought the 1981 DeLorean and decided to drive it back to his home in Alberta, no small trip for a 31-year-old car (at the time) saddled with the infamous DeLorean history of build quality issues.

However, most car guys are very aware of old car misadventures on long trips and would heartily applaud her husband for his spirit of adventure. We at MyStarCollectorCar heartily agree with those car guys, so we were very onside with his decision to drive it back to Alberta.  

Like every DeLorean, the car was not perfect, but Dessislava’s husband managed to get it back to his Canadian home and assess its mechanical issues.

Unfortunately, his health began to fail after he became the DeLorean’s latest owner, and he was unable to repair the car before he passed away in 2019.

Her husband’s death prompted Dessislava to honor his request not to sell the car. “The car came to me”, in Dessislava’s words, and she decided to make her DeLorean ready for the road. The repair process was difficult because Dessislava was not a car girl and had no experience in the mechanical field, but she searched for two years before Dessislava finally found the right mechanic.

She also took advice from a family friend who was able to gather NOS (new old stock) DeLorean parts from a California supplier.

The net result is a car that garners an enormous amount of attention whenever Dessislava hits the road in her very cool 1981 DeLorean. One woman asked her what it was like to drive the sexiest car on the planet. Her answer: “I feel like a queen”, the right answer for driving a car that is now Hollywood royalty. 

Dessislava not only kept the car–she kept her late husband’s unique license plate after a complicated battle with the Alberta registry people. Her husband was an inspector with his city’s Land & Development department and was able to get the custom plate for his DeLorean.

The car and the plate are still together because of Dessislava, the reluctant car girl who wanted to honor her late husband’s memory by restoring his beloved 1981 DMC DeLorean. Mission accomplished.           

Jim Sutherland

BY: Jim Sutherland

Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.