DELOREAN SKETCHES DRAWN BY JOHN DELOREAN 1977 ORIGINAL fantastic rare vintage for Sale (2024)

DELOREAN SKETCHES DRAWN BY JOHN DELOREAN 1977 ORIGINAL fantastic rare vintage for Sale (1)

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DMC and John DeLorean considered building several vehicles in addition to the DeLorean DMC-12 car. For instance, they worked hard on a sedan and commercial bus (which never came to fruition). Another idea was to build a truck.
These original sketches, drawn by John DeLorean in 1977, are for an idea for a truck. The sketches are originals (not copies) and bear the unmistakable and distinctive handwriting of John DeLorean. (This distinctive style of handwriting can be seen in the photos in DeLorean's autobiography).
John Zachary DeLorean (January 6, 1925 – March 19, 2005) was an American engineer, inventor, and executive in the U.S. automobile industry, widely known for his work at General Motors and as founder of the DeLorean Motor Company.[1]
DeLorean managed the development of a number of vehicles throughout his career, including the Pontiac GTO muscle car, the Pontiac Firebird, Pontiac Grand Prix, Chevrolet Cosworth Vega, and the DMC DeLorean sports car, which was featured in the 1985 film Back to the Future. He was the youngest division head in General Motors history, then left to start the DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) in 1973. Production delays meant that DMC's first car did not reach the consumer market until 1981, when a depressed buying market was compounded by lukewarm reviews from critics and the public. After a year, the DeLorean had failed to recoup its $175 million investment costs, unsold cars accumulated, and the company was in financial trouble.[2]
In October 1982, DeLorean was charged with cocaine trafficking after FBI informant James Hoffman solicited him as financier in a scheme to sell 220 lb (100 kg) of cocaine worth approximately $24 million. DMC was insolvent at the time and in debt for $17 million. Hoffman had approached DeLorean, a man whom he barely knew with no prior criminal record, and DeLorean was able to successfully defend himself at trial under the procedural defense of police entrapment. The trial ended in a not guilty verdict in August 1984, by which time DMC had declared bankruptcy and ended operations.Contents1Early life2Education3Career3.1Packard Motor Company3.2General Motors3.2.1Pontiac3.2.2Chevrolet3.3DeLorean Motor Company41979 book about General Motors5Arrest and trial6Later enterprises7Personal life8Death9Portrayals and coverage in media9.1Feature films9.2Documentary films9.3Television9.4Music10The DeLorean Museum11See also12References13Further reading13.1Primary sources14External linksEarly lifeDeLorean was born on January 6, 1925,[3] in Detroit, Michigan, the eldest of four sons of Zachary and Kathryn (née Pribak) DeLorean.[4]
DeLorean's father was Romanian, born in Sugág village, Alsó-Fehér County, Austria-Hungary (currently Șugag, Alba County, Romania), who worked in a mill factory; Zachary emigrated to the United States when he was twenty.[5] He spent time in Montana and Gary, Indiana, before moving to Michigan. By the time John was born, Zachary had found employment as a union organizer at the Ford Motor Company factory in nearby Highland Park. His poor English skills and lack of education prevented him from higher-paid work. When not required at Ford, he occasionally worked as a carpenter.[6]
DeLorean's mother was a fellow Hungarian citizen of Hungarian origin.[7][8][5][9][10][11] She was employed at the Carboloy Products Division of General Electric throughout much of DeLorean's early life.[7] She took work wherever she could to supplement the family's income.[12] She generally tolerated certain intermittent episodes of erratic behavior by her husband, but during several of the worst times of Zachary's violent tendencies, she took her sons to live with her sister in Los Angeles, California, where they stayed for a year or so at a time.[6]
DeLorean's parents divorced in 1942. John subsequently saw little of his father, who moved into a boarding house, becoming a solitary and estranged drug addict.[13][14]
EducationDeLorean attended Detroit's public grade schools and was then accepted into Cass Technical High School, a technical high school for Detroit's honor students, where he signed up for the electrical curriculum. DeLorean found the Cass experience exhilarating, and he excelled at his studies.[15] His academic record and musical talents earned him a scholarship at Lawrence Institute of Technology in the Detroit suburb of Highland Park (today known as Lawrence Technological University and located in Southfield). The small college was the alma mater of some of the automobile industry's best engineers.[15] At Lawrence, he excelled in the study of industrial engineering and was elected to the school's honor society.[citation needed]
World War II interrupted his studies. In 1943, DeLorean was drafted for military service and served three years in the U.S. Army[16] and received an honorable discharge. He returned to Detroit to find his mother and siblings in economic difficulty. He worked as a draftsman for the Public Lighting Commission for a year and a half to improve his family's financial status, then returned to Lawrence to finish his degree.[13]
While back in college, he worked part-time at Chrysler and at a local body shop, foreshadowing his later contributions to the automotive industry. DeLorean graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering.[citation needed]
Instead of immediately entering the engineering workforce after earning his degree, DeLorean sold life insurance. He developed an analytical system aimed at engineers and sold "about $850,000 worth of policies in ten months".[17] However, he found the work boring and moved on to work for the Factory Equipment Corporation. DeLorean states in his autobiography that he sold life insurance to improve his communication skills.[18] Both endeavors were successful financially, but these areas held little interest for DeLorean. A foreman at Chrysler's engineering garage recommended that DeLorean apply for work at Chrysler and DeLorean agreed. Chrysler ran a post-graduate educational facility named the Chrysler Institute of Engineering, which allowed DeLorean to advance his education while gaining real-world experience in automotive engineering.[18]
He briefly attended the Detroit College of Law, but did not graduate. In 1952, DeLorean graduated from the Chrysler Institute with a master's degree in Automotive Engineering and joined Chrysler's engineering team. DeLorean attended night classes at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business to earn credits for his MBA degree, which he completed in 1957.[citation needed]
CareerPackard Motor CompanyDeLorean's time at Chrysler lasted less than a year, ending in 1953 when he was offered a salary of US$14,000 (equivalent to US$133,784 in 2019) at Packard Motor Company under the supervision of the engineer Forest McFarland. DeLorean quickly gained the attention of his new employer with an improvement to the Ultramatic automatic transmission, giving it an improved torque converter and dual-drive ranges; it was launched as the "Twin-Ultramatic".[19]
Packard was experiencing financial difficulties when DeLorean joined, because of the changing post-World War II automotive market. While Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler had begun producing affordable mainstream products designed to cater to the rising postwar middle class, Packard clung to their pre-World War II era notions of high-end, precisely engineered luxury cars. This exclusive philosophy was to take its toll on profitability. However, it proved to have a positive effect on DeLorean's attention to engineering detail, and after four years at Packard he became McFarland's successor as head of research and development.[20]
While still a profitable company, Packard suffered alongside other independents as it struggled to compete when Ford and General Motors engaged in a price war. James Nance, president of Packard, decided to merge the company with Studebaker Corporation in 1954. A subsequent proposed merger with American Motors Corporation (AMC) never passed the discussion phase.[21] DeLorean considered keeping his job and moving to Studebaker headquarters in South Bend, Indiana, when he received a call from Oliver K. Kelley, vice president of engineering at General Motors, a man whom DeLorean greatly admired. Kelley called to offer DeLorean his choice of a job in any of five divisions of GM.[22]
General MotorsPontiacIn 1956, DeLorean accepted a salary offer of US$16,000 (equivalent to US$150,463 in 2019) with a bonus program, choosing to work at GM's Pontiac division as an assistant to chief engineer Pete Estes and general manager Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen. Knudsen was the son of the former president of GM, William Knudsen, who was called away from his post to head the war mobilization production effort at the request of President Roosevelt.[22] Knudsen was also an MIT engineering graduate, and at 42 he was the youngest man to head a division of GM. DeLorean and Knudsen quickly became close friends, and DeLorean eventually cited Knudsen as a major influence and mentor. DeLorean's years of engineering at Pontiac were successful, producing dozens of patented innovations for the company, and in 1961 he was promoted to the position of division chief engineer.[16]the Pontiac GTODeLorean was widely known at Pontiac for the Pontiac GTO (Gran Turismo Omologato), a muscle car named after the Ferrari 250 GTO. As a slightly bigger Chevrolet, the Pontiac brand reached third place in total annual industry sales in the United States. To highlight the performance emphasis of the brand, the GTO debuted as a Tempest/LeMans option package with a larger and more powerful engine in 1964. This marked the beginning of Pontiac's renaissance as GM's performance division instead of its previous position with no clear brand identity.
The car and its popularity continued to grow in the following years.[23] DeLorean received almost total credit for its success – conceptualizing, engineering, and marketing – becoming the golden boy of Pontiac, and was rewarded with his 1965 promotion to head the entire Pontiac division.[16]
At the age of 40, DeLorean had broken the record for youngest division head at GM and was determined to continue his string of successes. Adapting to the frustrations that he perceived in the executive offices was a difficult transition for him. DeLorean believed there was an undue amount of infighting at GM between division heads, and several of Pontiac's advertising campaign themes met with internal resistance, such as the "Tiger" campaign used to promote the GTO and other Pontiac models in 1965 and 1966. In addition, there was Ed Cole's decision to ban multiple carburetors, a method of enhancing engine performance used by Pontiac since 1956, starting with two 4-barrel carburetors ("2x4 bbl") and Tri-Power (three 2-barrel carburetors ("3x2 bbl")) since 1957.
In response to the "pony car" market dominated by the wildly successful Ford Mustang, DeLorean asked GM executives for permission to market a smaller version of the Pontiac Banshee show car for 1966. DeLorean's version was rejected because of GM's concern that his design would take away sales from the Corvette, their Flagship performance vehicle. Their focus was on the new Camaro design. Pontiac developed its version, and the Firebird was introduced for the 1967 model year.
Shortly after the Firebird's introduction, DeLorean turned his attention to the development of an all-new Grand Prix, the division's personal luxury car based on the full-sized Pontiac line since 1962. Sales were sagging by this time, however, but the 1969 model would have its own distinct body shell with drivetrain and chassis components from the intermediate-sized Pontiac A-body (Tempest, LeMans, GTO). DeLorean knew Pontiac Division couldn't finance the new car alone, so he went to his former boss Pete Estes and asked to share the cost of development with Pontiac, having a one-year exclusivity before Chevrolet would release the 1970 Monte Carlo. The deal was done. The 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix featured sharp bodylines and a 6-foot-long (1.8 m) hood. The interior included a wraparound co*ckpit-style instrument panel, bucket seats and center console. The new model offered a sportier, high performance, somewhat smaller, and lower-priced alternative to the other personal luxury cars then on the market, such as the Ford Thunderbird, Buick Riviera, Lincoln Continental Mark III, and Oldsmobile Toronado. The 1969 Grand Prix production ended up at over 112,000 units, far higher than the 32,000 1968 Grand Prix units built from the full-sized Pontiac body.[citation needed]
During his time at Pontiac, DeLorean had begun to enjoy the freedom and celebrity that came with his position and spent a good deal of his time traveling to locations around the world to support promotional events. His frequent public appearances helped to solidify his image as a "rebel" corporate businessman with his trendy dress style and casual banter.[citation needed]
Even as General Motors experienced revenue declines, Pontiac remained highly profitable under DeLorean, and despite his growing reputation as a corporate maverick, on February 15, 1969, he was again promoted. This time it was to head up the prestigious Chevrolet division, General Motors' Flagship marque.
The 1970 Chevrolet Nova was released behind schedule under DeLorean's leadership of GM's Chevrolet division.By this time, DeLorean earned an annual salary of US$200,000 (equivalent to US$1,394,374 in 2019), with yearly bonuses of up to US$400,000 (equivalent to US$2,788,748 in 2019). He was ubiquitous in popular culture. At a time when business executives were typically conservative, low-key individuals in three-piece suits, DeLorean wore long sideburns and unbuttoned shirts.[24] He invited Ford president Lee Iacocca to serve as best man at his second wedding.[citation needed]
DeLorean was a limited partner in a pair of American professional sports franchises. The first was the San Diego Chargers, as part of a syndicate led by Gene Klein and Sam Schulman that bought controlling interest for $10 million in August 1966.[25][26] The other was the New York Yankees, of which he was one of fifteen investors led by George Steinbrenner and Michael Burke, who completed the purchase from CBS for $10 million on January 3, 1973.[27][28]
DeLorean continued his jet-setting lifestyle and was often seen hanging out in business and entertainment celebrity circles. He became friends with James T. Aubrey, president of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and was introduced to celebrities such as financier Kirk Kerkorian, Chris-Craft chairman Herb Siegel, entertainer Sammy Davis Jr., and The Tonight Show host Johnny Carson.[citation needed]
The executive offices of General Motors headquarters continued to clash with DeLorean's nonconformity. When he was appointed, Chevrolet was having financial and organizational troubles, and GM president Ed Cole needed a manager in that position to sort things out. The new model Camaro was due out for the 1970 model year, and it was rapidly falling behind schedule. Redesigns for the Corvette and Nova were also delayed, and unit sales had still not recovered from the past four years of turmoil, much of that because of the bad publicity surrounding the Corvair and well-publicized quality-control issues affecting other Chevy models, including defective motor mounts that led to an unprecedented recall of 6.7 million Chevrolets built between 1965 and 1969. DeLorean responded to the production problems by delaying the release of the Camaro and simplifying the modifications to the Corvette and Nova. He used the extra time to streamline Chevrolet's production overhead and reduce assembly costs. By 1971, Chevrolet was experiencing record sales in excess of 3 million vehicles, and his division alone was nearly matching that of the entire Ford Motor Company.[citation needed]John DeLorean and the Chevrolet Vega in 1970The Vega was assigned to Chevrolet by corporate management, specifically by GM president Ed Cole, just weeks before DeLorean's 1969 arrival as Chevrolet division's general manager. In a Motor Trend interview in August 1970, DeLorean said, "Vega will be the highest quality product ever built by Chevrolet."[29] By DeLorean's orders, dozens of extra inspectors were assigned to the Vega assembly line and the first two thousand cars were road-tested. He stated, "the first cars, from a manufacturing standpoint, were well built." But in 1972, General Motors Assembly Division (GMAD) took over the Chevrolet Lordstown assembly plant and adjoining Fisher body plant. Their main goal was to cut costs and more than 800 workers were laid off, many of whom were additional inspectors. This led to assembly-line vandalism, with workers intentionally slowing the line, leaving off parts and installing others improperly. Incomplete and often non-functioning cars soon filled the factory lot, which then had to be reprocessed and repaired by a team assigned to this task by DeLorean. A one-month strike followed, and dealers did not receive enough cars for the demand in 1972. DeLorean regrouped for the 1973 model year with Vega sales of 395,792. The one-millionth Vega was built in May 1973, a month after DeLorean's GM resignation.[30]
In 1972, DeLorean was appointed to the position of vice president of car and truck production for the entire General Motors line,[16] and his eventual rise to president seemed inevitable. However, the idea of him assuming that position was almost intolerable to GM executives, and on April 2, 1973, he announced that he was leaving the company, telling the press, "I want to do things in the social area. I have to do them, and unfortunately the nature of our business just didn't permit me to do as much as I wanted." However, it had been rumored that he had been fired.[24] GM gave him a Florida Cadillac franchise as a retirement gift,[23] and DeLorean took over the presidency of The National Alliance of Businessmen, a charitable organization with the mission of employing Americans in need, founded by Lyndon Johnson and Henry Ford II. GM was a major contributor to the group and agreed to continue his salary while he remained president of NAB.[citation needed]
DeLorean was sharply critical of the direction GM had taken by the start of the 1970s, as well as objecting to the idea of using rebates to sell cars:
"There's no forward response at General Motors to what the public wants today...A car should make people's eyes light up when they step into the showroom. Rebates are merely a way of convincing customers to buy bland cars they're not interested in."[24]
DeLorean Motor CompanyMain article: DeLorean Motor Company
DMC DeLorean
DeLorean and the prototype of the DMC DeLorean, 1980DeLorean left General Motors in 1973 to form his own company, the DeLorean Motor Company. A two-seat sports car prototype was shown in the mid-1970s called the DeLorean Safety Vehicle (DSV), with its bodyshell designed by Italdesign's Giorgetto Giugiaro. The car entered into production as the DeLorean. The car's body distinctively used stainless steel and featured gull-wing doors. It was powered by the "Douvrin" V6 engine developed by Peugeot, Renault, and Volvo (known as the PRV).[citation needed]
The manufacturing plant to build the new car was built in Dunmurry, a suburb of Belfast in Northern Ireland, with substantial financial incentives from the Northern Ireland Development Agency of around £100 million. Renault was contracted to build the factory, which employed over 2,000 workers at its peak production. The engine was made by Renault, while Lotus designed the chassis and bodywork details. The Dunmurry factory eventually turned out around 9,000 cars[31] during 21 months of operation.[citation needed] In 1980, an American Express catalogue featured an ad for a DeLorean plated in 24-karat gold. According to the ad, only 100 were going to be manufactured and sold for $85,000. In total, only 4 were actually purchased.[32]
Production delays meant the DeLorean did not reach the consumer market until January 1981[33] (nearly a decade after the company was founded), and in the interim, the new car market had slumped considerably due to the 1980 US economic recession. This was compounded by unexpectedly lukewarm reviews from critics and the public, who generally felt the uniqueness of the DeLorean's styling did not compensate for the higher price and lower horsepower relative to other sport coupes on the market. While interest in the DeLorean quickly dwindled, competing models with lower price tags and more powerful engines (such as the Chevrolet Corvette) sold in record numbers during 1980–81 in spite of the ongoing recession. By February 1982, more than half of the roughly 7,000 DeLoreans produced remained unsold, DMC was US$175 million in debt, and the Dunmurry factory was placed in receivership.[2]
After going into receivership in February 1982, DMC produced another 2,000 cars until John DeLorean's arrest in late October, at which point liquidation proceedings were undertaken and the factory was seized by the British government for good.[citation needed]
1979 book about General MotorsAfter DeLorean left General Motors, Patrick Wright, author and former Business Week reporter, approached him with the idea of writing a book based on his experiences there. DeLorean agreed to dictate his recollections for Wright, who wrote the book. The final product, published in 1979, On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors, sold approximately 1.6 million copies, but disagreements over the content led to a conflict between the collaborators, with Wright eventually publishing the book on his own.[34]
Arrest and trialOn October 19, 1982, DeLorean was charged by the US government with trafficking cocaine following a videotaped sting operation in which he was recorded by undercover federal agents agreeing to bankroll a cocaine smuggling operation. The FBI set him up with more than 59 lb (27 kg) of cocaine (worth about US$6.5 million) in a hotel near Los Angeles International Airport after arriving from New York, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation stated DeLorean was the "financier" to help the financially declining company in a scheme to sell 220 lb (100 kg), with an estimated value of US$24 million.[35] The government was tipped off to DeLorean by confidential informant James Timothy Hoffman, a former neighbor, who reported to his FBI superiors that DeLorean had approached him to ask about setting up a cocaine deal; in truth, Hoffman had called DeLorean and suggested the deal (which DeLorean then accepted) as part of Hoffman's efforts to receive a reduced sentence for a 1981 federal cocaine trafficking charge on which he was awaiting trial. Hoffman (whose name was redacted on the original indictment) also stated that he was aware of DeLorean's financial troubles before he contacted him, and had heard him admit that he needed US$17 million "in a hurry" to prevent DMC's imminent insolvency.[36]
Taken together, these two elements allowed DeLorean to successfully defend himself at trial with the procedural defense of police entrapment. DeLorean's lawyers successfully argued that the FBI and DEA had unfairly targeted and illegally entrapped DeLorean[37] when they allowed Hoffman (an active FBI informant who only knew DeLorean casually) to randomly solicit DeLorean into a criminal conspiracy simply because he was known to be financially vulnerable.[citation needed] Another factor was DeLorean's lack of criminal history, whereas Hoffman was a career criminal who stood to directly benefit if he was able to convince DeLorean to incriminate himself on tape. The DeLorean defense team called one witness, Carol Winkler, DeLorean's Administrative Assistant. Her call log proved that Hoffman made the initial call. DeLorean was found not guilty on August 16, 1984,[38] but by then DMC had already collapsed into bankruptcy and DeLorean's reputation as a businessman was irrevocably tarnished. When asked after his acquittal if he planned to resume his career in the auto industry, DeLorean bitterly quipped, "Would you buy a used car from me?"[39]
On September 21, 1985, DeLorean was indicted on charges he defrauded investors and committed tax evasion by diverting millions of dollars raised for the company to himself.[40] He was acquitted of all charges.[41]
Later enterprisesOn November 1, 1994, DeLorean filed U.S. Patent 5,359,941 with the US Patent and Trademark Office for a raised monorail transport.[42] The transport was never built.
In the years before his death, DeLorean planned to resurrect his car company and gave interviews describing a new vehicle called the DMC2. According to his family, he spent a lot of time in his last years working on this new venture.[43] In an effort to gather funds, he designed and sold high-end watches via the Internet under the name DeLorean Time.[44]
The DeLorean Motor Company name was subsequently owned by a Texas-based firm that provided parts and professional restoration to DeLorean owners. Although John DeLorean was not involved in the business, its vice president James Espey spoke with him on the phone once a month.[24] According to Espey, in their final conversation, DeLorean expressed his dismay at the direction of General Motors, saying "They have too many bean counters and not enough engineers."[24]
Personal lifeDeLorean was married four times.[23] He married Elizabeth Higgins on September 3, 1954; they divorced in 1969.[citation needed] He married Kelly Harmon on May 31, 1969, the sister of actor Mark Harmon and daughter of Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon and actress Elyse Knox; they divorced in 1972. DeLorean adopted a son whom he named Zachary Tavio, 14 months old at the time of his marriage to model Cristina Ferrare, who co-adopted Zachary.[45] They had daughter Kathryn Ann, born November 15, 1977; they divorced in 1985.[24] He then was married to Sally Baldwin who he had daughter Sheila Baldwin DeLorean with on February 19, 2002. He and Sally stayed married until his death in 2005.[46] They lived in Morristown, New Jersey, having previously resided in Bedminster, New Jersey.[4]
DeLorean appeared in a magazine advertisem*nt for Cutty Sark whisky the year before his arrest and the collapse of his company. It was captioned: "One out of every 100 new businesses succeeds. Here's to those who take the odds."[47] The film Back to the Future was released in 1985, featuring DeLorean's namesake car, and DeLorean wrote to writer and producer Bob Gale thanking him for immortalizing the car.
In 1999, DeLorean declared personal bankruptcy after fighting some 40 legal cases following the collapse of DeLorean Motor Company.[23] He was forced to sell his 434-acre (176 ha) estate in Bedminster in 2000.[7] Donald Trump bought it and converted it to a golf course.[2][3][48] DeLorean moved to a condominium in Morristown, New Jersey where he lived until his death five years later.[49] During his marriage to Ferrare, he and his family primarily resided in a 15-room, eighth- and ninth-floor duplex at 834 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan; this apartment was sold to businessman Reginald Lewis in 1992.[50]
According to his autobiography, both DeLorean and former wife Cristina Ferrare became born-again Christians following the entrapment controversy.[page needed]
DeathDeLorean died at Overlook Hospital in Summit, New Jersey, from a stroke, on March 19, 2005 at the age of 80.[4] His ashes are interred at the White Chapel Cemetery, in Troy, Michigan.[51] His tombstone shows a depiction of his DeLorean sports car with the gull-wing doors open.[52]
Portrayals and coverage in mediaFeature filmsDriven (2018), Actor Lee Pace portrays John DeLorean in a film about the FBI sting operation to entrap the maverick car designer. The film was premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival in 2018 and had a wide release in August 2019.Framing John DeLorean (2019), Actor Alec Baldwin portrays John DeLorean. "The extraordinary life and career of controversial automaker John DeLorean -- from his meteoric rise at General Motors Co. to his obsessive quest to build the world's best sports car."Documentary filmsDeLorean (1981), A documentary directed by Academy Award winning filmmakers D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. The film chronicles John DeLorean throughout the launch of his DeLorean sports car in 1981.DeLorean: Living the Dream (2014), Chronicles the history of the iconic DeLorean automobile from the rise and fall of legendary automaker John Z. DeLorean, to the international phenomenon of loyal owners and devoted fans who have kept the dream alive for over three decades.TelevisionMonkeys (1989), A BBC Northern Ireland TV movie based on the book The DeLorean Tapes. It was directed by Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle, and stars Manning Redwood as John DeLorean.Scandal: The Fast Lane (1989) (John DeLorean / Roy Nesseth documentary). An un-aired British television documentary about the DeLorean Motor Company, John Z. DeLorean, Roy Nesseth.[53]Car Crash: The DeLorean Story (2004), a BBC television documentary about the rise and fall of the DeLorean Motor Company.Anything To Win: The Crash of John DeLorean (2006), a TV series produced on Game Show Network.DeLorean: Back from the Future (2021), A BBC Documentary about John DeLorean and his short lived car company.MusicStainless Style (2007) A concept album about DeLorean by the synthpop group Neon Neon.The DeLorean MuseumThe DeLorean Museum, based in Humble, Texas, was established in 2006, to honor John Z. DeLorean through the display, interpretation, conservation, and preservation of DeLorean vehicles, archives, and other objects.[54]
The DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) was an American automobile manufacturer formed by automobile industry executive John DeLorean in 1975.[2] It is remembered for the one model it produced—the stainless steel DeLorean sports car featuring gull-wing doors—and for its brief and turbulent history, ending in receivership and bankruptcy in 1982. In October 1982, John DeLorean was videotaped in a sting operation agreeing to bankroll drug trafficking, but was acquitted on the basis of entrapment.[3]
The DeLorean was memorably featured in the Back to the Future movie trilogy (1985, 1989, and 1990) as the model of car made into a time machine by eccentric scientist Doc Brown, although the company had closed down before the first movie was made.
In 1995, Liverpool-born mechanic Stephen Wynne[4] founded the current DeLorean Motor Company located in Humble, Texas, and shortly thereafter acquired the remaining parts inventory[5][6] and the stylized "DMC" logo trademark of DeLorean Motor Company.[7]Contents1History1.1Beginning1.2Manufacturing facility1.3Downturn and bankruptcy2Vehicles2.1Production vehicles2.1.1DeLorean2.2Concepts2.2.1DMC-242.2.2DMC-442.2.3DMC-803Today4References5Further reading6External linksHistoryBeginningJohn DeLorean founded the DeLorean Motor Company in Detroit, Michigan, on October 24, 1975. He was already well known in the automobile industry as a capable engineer, business innovator, and youngest person to become a General Motors (GM) executive. Investment capital came primarily in the form of business loans from Bank of America and from the formation of partnerships and private investment from select parties, including The Tonight Show host Johnny Carson and entertainers Roy Clark and Sammy Davis, Jr.. Capital was also raised through a dealer investment program in which dealerships offering DeLorean's cars for sale were made shareholders in the company.
DeLorean also sought lucrative incentives from governments and economic organizations to pay for manufacturing facilities by looking to build his first factory in an area of particularly high unemployment. The Republic of Ireland's then Minister for Industry and Commerce, Desmond O'Malley, TD, decided not to support the project. A deal in Puerto Rico was about to be agreed when DeLorean took up an offer from the Industrial Development Board for Northern Ireland. Besides some early seed capital from Hollywood stars, the DeLorean Motor Company relied on the British Government for about $120 million of its $200 million startup costs according to The Times. The British Government was keen to create jobs in Northern Ireland to reduce sectarian violence. DeLorean was under the impression that the British Government, as part of this offer, would provide his company with Export Credit financing. This would provide a loan of 80% of the wholesale cost of the vehicles (US$20,000) upon completion and delivery for shipping.
Manufacturing facilityIn October 1978, construction of the six-building, 660,000 sq ft (61,000 m2) manufacturing plant began in Northern Ireland. It was designed and managed by Brodie & Hawthorn Architects of Belfast, and constructed in 16 months by Farrans, McLaughlin & Harvey. A test/proving track was also constructed next to the factory. Officially known as DMCL (DeLorean Motor Cars, Ltd.), the facility was located in The Cutts in Dunmurry, a suburb on the south-western edge of Belfast.
Unit production was scheduled to begin in 1979, but engineering delays and budget overruns caused the assembly lines to start only in early 1981. Workers at the factory were generally inexperienced; many never had jobs before joining DMC. This may have contributed to the reported quality issues attributed to the early production vehicles and the subsequent establishment of Quality Assurance Centers (QAC) located at various delivery locations. QACs were set up in California, New Jersey and Michigan where some of the quality issues were to be addressed and resolved before delivery to dealerships. Some of the issues related to the fitting of body panels, higher-output alternators, and gullwing door adjustments.
The combined efforts of quality assurance improvements at the factory and the post-production quality assurance done at the QACs were generally successful, although workmanship complaints still occasionally arose; the 1981 DeLoreans were delivered with a 12-month, 12,000 mi (19,000 km) warranty. By 1982, improvements in components and the more experienced workforce meant that production quality was vastly improved. Disputes between dealerships and customers arose later because many dealerships refused to do warranty work because they were not reimbursed.
Downturn and bankruptcyThe lack of demand, cost overruns, and unfavorable exchange rates began to take their toll on DMC's cash flow in late 1981. The company had estimated its break-even point to be between 10,000 and 12,000 units, but sales were only around 6,000. In response to the income shortfall, a restructuring plan was devised where a new "DeLorean Motors Holding Company" would be formed, which in turn would have become corporate parent to DMC and each of its subsidiaries: DeLorean Motor Cars Limited (manufacturer), DeLorean Motor Cars of America (distributor in the U.S.) and DeLorean Research Partnership (a research and development company). In January 1982, due to United States Securities and Exchange Commission questions about the company's viability, the company was forced to cancel the stock issue for the holding company that DeLorean had hoped would raise about $27 million.
John DeLorean lobbied the British government for aid, but was refused unless he was able to find a matching amount from other investors. What followed is a matter of debate between the British government, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, DeLorean, his investors, and the US court system. At some point in 1982, John DeLorean became the target of an FBI sting operation designed to arrest drug traffickers. He was arrested in October 1982 and charged with conspiring to smuggle $24 million worth of cocaine into the US. The key element of evidence for the prosecution was a videotape showing DeLorean discussing the drugs deal with undercover FBI agents Benedict (Ben) Tisa and West, although DeLorean's attorney Howard Weitzman successfully demonstrated to the court that he was coerced into participation in the deal by the agents who initially approached him as legitimate investors. He was acquitted of all charges, but his reputation was forever tarnished. After his trial and subsequent acquittal, DeLorean quipped, "Would you buy a used car from me?"
In the end, sufficient funds could not be raised to keep the company alive. DMC went bankrupt in 1982, taking with it 2,500 jobs and over $100 million in investments. The British government attempted to revive some usable remnants of the manufacturing facility without success, and the Dunmurry factory was closed. DeLorean himself retired in New Jersey, and the dream with which he had mesmerized Britain's Labour government, of industry rising out of the ashes of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, was shattered. He claimed that the DMCL was deliberately closed for political reasons, and at the time of closing was a solidly viable company with millions of dollars in the bank and two years of dealer orders on the books.
Approximately 9,000 cars were made between January 1981 and December 1982, although actual production figures are unclear and estimates differ. Some of the cars manufactured in 1982, but not shipped to the states (as the US arm of DMC had no money to 'buy' the cars from the factory in Northern Ireland), with 15XXX and 16XXX Vehicle Identification Numbers are actually 1982 models that were given later VINs, dated 1983, by Consolidated International (now known as Big Lots), a company that had a buyback program with DMC and had bought out the remaining unsold cars and also the inventory of unused parts left in the factory after the bankruptcy.
The DeLorean assembly plant was eventually occupied by the French automotive supplier Montupet, which began to manufacture cast aluminum cylinder heads for automobile engines at the Dunmurry facility in 1989.[8] As of Monputet's acquisition in 2015, the factory employed more than 600 people.[9] The facility is currently operated as Montupet UK, a subsidiary of Linamar Corporation.[10]
VehiclesProduction vehiclesDeLoreanMain article: DMC DeLorean
DeLorean with gull-wing doors open.The DeLorean was the only car produced by DMC. Reception was mixed. Although the early vehicles had impressive waiting lists of prospective buyers, the MSRP of $25,000 (equivalent to approximately $70,000 in 2019) was prohibitive for most of the market — especially for what many considered an under-powered and impractical plaything. "It's not a barn burner," observed Road & Track, "(with) a 0-60 mph time of 10.5 seconds. Frankly, that's not quick for a sports/GT car in this price category." The stainless steel body panels were attractive and impervious to corrosion, but the sheen surface tended to show fingerprints and meant the car could not be easily painted; every DeLorean looked identical. Some dealerships painted their cars to make them distinctive. DMC tested translucent paint for different color options while allowing the stainless steel grain to show through, but no cars were sold with factory painted body panels. The only factory option initially available was automatic transmission. A grey interior was offered later in 1981 as an alternative to the standard black. Accessories such as pinstriping and luggage racks provided further individuality.[11]
A DeLorean was prominently featured in the 1985 film Back to the Future and its two sequels, in which it was converted into a time machine. The DeLorean time machine entered popular culture and played a major role in the popularity of the model.[12][13]
ConceptsDMC-24A stretched version of the DeLorean, the DMC-24 would have been a 4-seater sedan version retaining the shape and gull-wing doors of the DeLorean. Several designs were drafted. One design, a 2-door, had the doors and cabin stretched to allow rear entry and rear seating. Another design had a separate set of rear doors. The 4-door design was produced as a rolling mock-up by ItalDesign based on the Lancia Medusa concept car. The bill for the ItalDesign version was unpaid by DMC, and ItalDesign modified it to become the Lamborghini Marco Polo.[14][15][16][17]
DMC-44A tubular steel frame prototype DMC utility vehicle, the DMC-44, was produced, and the company produced a promotional video to attract investors to the project. There would have been two versions; one a dedicated off-roader, the other road legal.[14][18][19]
DMC-80A DMC bus, the DMC-80, was mooted in the fall of 1981, with a variety of 6-cylinder engines and transmissions. The company produced a promotional brochure for public transit corporations. The bus would have been an Americanized German low-floor bus produced in the United States.[14][20][21]
TodayMain article: DeLorean Motor Company (Texas)A large number of the original cars are still on the road after over 35 years; most estimates put it at 6,500 cars surviving out of just over 9,000 built. There is an active enthusiast community around the cars, with strong owners' clubs. A number of businesses were set up after the demise of DMC to provide parts and service, and most of those are still in existence. In particular, DMC[7] (based in Humble, Texas), operates under entirely new ownership and with no direct ties to the original DeLorean Motor Company. It purchased the parts surplus from Consolidated International and offers aftermarket parts to replace exhausted stock.
Many aftermarket improvements have been offered over time to address some of the flaws in the original production cars, and to improve performance. A common opinion of the car is that in stock form it is somewhat underpowered, and a variety of solutions have been implemented, from complete engine swaps (either to a larger PRV engine, or to completely different engines such as the Cadillac Northstar engine), turbocharger kits (single or twin-turbo), down to simpler solutions such as improved exhausts and other normal engine tuning work.
The DeLorean Motor Company, the United States distribution company for the sportscar of the same name, filed today for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Act.
The American company has sole distribution rights to the cars, which were made in Northern Ireland until recently by the company's production arm, DeLorean Motor Cars Ltd.
The production company itself has been in receivership for eight months, and was formally closed last week.
The six-page Chapter 11 petition, filed in United States Bankruptcy Court in Detroit, lists major 15 unsecured creditors, Detroit attorney Lawrence K. Snider said. He said there were ''definitely hundreds'' of other creditors.
The company's founder, former General Motors Corporation vice president John Z. DeLorean, was arrested Oct. 19 in Los Angeles on drug trafficking charges, hours after the British Government announced that it was closing his Northern Ireland manufacturing plant.
Among the 15 creditors listed in the petition were Arthur Andersen & Co., Chemical Bank and Prudential Insurance of America. Mr. Snider, an attorney with Jaffe, Snider, Raitt & Heuer, said that three actions had precipitated the filing. The first was that on Friday, Eugene A. Cafiero, who had been president of DeLorean Motor Company, was granted an order prohibiting the company from transferring any of its assets. ''That meant, in effect, they couldn't sell a car,'' Mr. Snider said.
Dig deeper into the moment.Special offer: Subscribe for $1 a week.The second problem, Mr. Snider said, was that Audio Systems Inc., one of DeLorean's creditors, had scheduled a court hearing for Monday afternoon, also seeking a restraining order.
According to Mr. Snider, the third problem was that two Ohio companies that had financed DeLorean inventories allegedly claimed that the American distributor had defaulted on its agreement and were planning to take possession of hundreds of cars.
John Zachary DeLorean was indisputably a brilliant engineer. A flamboyant, aggressive business executive who burst out of the staid, yes-men culture of the 1950s, he would prove to be an early model of the modern American visionary—think Jobs, Bezos, Zuckerberg—who discarded convention in pursuit of a singular vision. In his case, that meant trying to create the greatest sports car the world had ever seen.
He also was accused of being a thief, a fraud, an embezzler and a brazen con man who fooled everyone he ever did business with, from celebrities to superpowers, bilking them out of millions of dollars in the process. DeLorean’s longtime attorney and staunch personal advocate Howard Weitzman told the Los Angeles Times after the carmaker’s death in 2005 that “John DeLorean had one of the most warped views of right and wrong” he had ever come across.
So how did the man behind America’s first muscle car become a figure with such a tortured legacy? Because much like the car he’s most famous for—the DMC-12, a cultural icon thanks to its featured role in the “Back to the Future” movies—he’s both celebrated for his sleek fantasy vision of the future, and widely mocked for his spectacular, and sordid, failures.
The Early YearsThe son of immigrant factory workers, John Zachary DeLorean was born on January 6, 1925, and grew up in a primarily working-class neighborhood on the east side of Detroit. His father, Zachary, was a union organizer and foundry worker at the Ford Motor Company. Drivetribe, an online community platform for auto enthusiasts, reported that his “poor English and problems with alcohol prevented him from ever progressing beyond the factory floor.”
Back-to-the-FutureThe DeLorean and its iconic cameo in “Back to the Future.” ALLSTAR PICTURE LIBRARY / ALAMYJohn’s mother, Kathryn, worked for General Electric and tried to keep things together at home. Hemmings Daily reported that when things got particularly rough, she would whisk the boys away to her sister’s home in Los Angeles. It has been speculated that John developed a love for the California lifestyle during these escapes.
His education was interrupted by World War II (he served in the Army), but he eventually earned a master’s in automotive engineering and, later, an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan. He officially began his automotive career in 1952, joining the research and development team at the Packard Motor Car Company. Before long, he became a rising star in the company—and in the industry.
In 1956, DeLorean took a position at General Motors as an engineer at the Pontiac division. At the time, GM was the biggest company in the world and the place to be, but Pontiac struggled with its brand identity and wasn’t connecting with America’s youth—suddenly a huge new consumer force driving the country’s emerging car culture. Pontiac seemed to make only stuffy cars for older adults.
Pontiac was “really in trouble,” says J. Patrick Wright, author of On A Clear Day You Can See General Motors, the bestselling tell-all book about the auto giant. It was “like an old person’s division.”
1964-Pontiac-GTOA 1964 Pontiac GTO. NEWSCOM“When DeLorean left,” he says, it “had become the third-best nameplate in the auto industry, right behind Chevy and Ford.”
While other GM executives focused on building stately automobiles that seemed to float down the street on a cloud, DeLorean had different plans. He wanted to replace those sedate rides with sportier vehicles, machines that embraced a youth culture more interested in going fast than being cozy. When Pete Estes took over the reins of Pontiac in 1961 and DeLorean was named the division’s chief engineer, he seized the opportunity by having his engineering team throw a big, 389-cubic-inch V8 engine from the full-size Pontiac Bonneville into the midsize Pontiac Tempest. The result was a maneuverable but brawny car with a racing-friendly surplus of power and torque.
DeLorean called it the Pontiac Tempest LeMans GTO, and it created a new category of automobile that would come to be known as the muscle car.
But GM had a strict mandate prohibiting its engineers from sticking big engines in smaller cars to make them go fast. So the top executives at GM would never have approved the GTO as conceived. As captured in Framing John DeLorean, a new film directed by Don Argott and Sheena Joyce and told in a documentary style with dramatic reenactments starring Alec Baldwin as DeLorean and a supporting cast of top Hollywood character actors, the engineer came up with a loophole—with Estes’ approval, of course—to justify the high-performance aspect of the car. Instead of selling the car as a stand-alone model, the larger engine would be offered as a $295 option package on the 1964 Tempest. GTO-equipped coupes started at $2,852; convertibles started at $3,081.
The GTO package was an instant hit. Orders poured in. GM went on to sell 32,450 GTOs in its first year in production.
1967-Pontiac-FirebirdThe 1967 Pontiac Firebird. PAT MCNULTY / ALAMYFor this blatant act of defiance, DeLorean was handsomely rewarded, leapfrogging in 1965 ahead of several promising engineers with more seniority to become the youngest general manager of Pontiac at age 40. Four years later, he was named the youngest manager of Chevrolet, and in 1972 he was made the head of GM’s North American car and truck operations.
Not only was DeLorean a great engineer, he cultivated a talent for marketing as well. He understood something other auto industry executives hadn’t yet grasped: Automobiles were just as much about style as they were about nuts and bolts. “None of these guys were paying attention to the fashion side,” Wright says. After DeLorean gave us the Firebird, his reputation took flight well beyond Detroit.
Before the GTO, DeLorean’s lifestyle had conformed to GM’s image of an executive: He kept his hair short and clean, wore conservative three-piece suits, was married and attended the right social functions. That all changed after the muscle car was born. Now he was a rock star—making the money of one and living the lifestyle. He started working out and wearing trendy clothes, and in 1968 he divorced his first wife, Elizabeth Higgins, after 14 years of marriage, to spend more time on the West Coast. There, he hobnobbed with Hollywood’s elite and dated models and actresses like Ursula Andress, Joey Heatherton and Tina Sinatra.
This new DeLorean was brash, even more arrogant and turned his nose up at GM’s elite—and they had a love-hate relationship with him because of it. He was successful for “not doing what they told him to do” and instead following his own instincts, Wright says. “The divisions were making money, and a lot of the profit ended up in the bonuses [of those executives] at the end of each year. They loved their bonuses” even as they grew to dislike DeLorean. It became a Catch-22 of greed.
In 1969, DeLorean married actress Kelly Harmon, the sister of actor Mark Harmon (of NCIS fame) and the daughter of Tom Harmon, a college-football legend, war hero and sportscaster. Kelly was 20. He was 44. The couple adopted a son, Zachary, but continued to live a jet-set lifestyle, shunning the social scene in Detroit.
“Even at $650,000 a year, if the job is not satisfying, you do something else,”—John DeLorean, after leaving GM.
If his lifestyle hadn’t rankled his colleagues already, his push for significant changes at GM—such as abandoning big cars in favor of smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles—was sacrilegious.
But by the spring of 1973, it all changed. Harmon and DeLorean had divorced. Then came the infamous Greenbrier presentation. DeLorean was set to give a confidential speech to 700 top GM executives at the triannual Greenbrier Hotel GM management conference in West Virginia. Topic: How the poor quality of cars they were producing was hurting GM’s bottom line. The speech was very critical. His staff insisted he tone it down, which he did—but an unedited copy of the presentation mysteriously leaked and was published by the Detroit News. Both his supporters and his detractors at GM turned on him. DeLorean resigned in April 1973.
Six months later he told the New York Times that “he didn’t want the job anyway because a top management post at GM consists of sitting in meetings all day. Even at $650,000 a year, if the job is not satisfying, you do something else,” he said.
The DeLorean EraFive weeks later, the flamboyant automaker had already began a new life, one free from the shackles of Detroit. He married supermodel Cristina Ferrare in a private ceremony in Los Angeles, and they promptly set up house in New York City. She was 23. He was 48. DeLorean also started working on plans to form a car company.
The DeLorean Motor Company was officially founded on October 24, 1975, in Detroit. The plan was to build what DeLorean called an “ethical car,” a car that was safe, long-lasting and sustainable. “He envisioned a car that would be the best of everything,” says Jordan Livingston, a documentary filmmaker finishing a project on the automaker entitled Living the Dream. “He wanted the best style, he wanted the [least] Environmental impact, he wanted the best value for the customer, and he also wanted the best safety.”
1981-DeLoreanThe DMC-12. MOTORING PICTURE LIBRARY / ALAMYWithin two years, the company had created a mid-engine prototype to draw investors. Bill Collins, a former colleague at Pontiac who was a key player in the creation of the GTO, engineered a first prototype for what would become the DMC-12. But DeLorean brought Colin Chapman, the charismatic, flashy founder of Lotus Cars, to reengineer the chassis and suspension. Collins was soon summarily dispatched.
And yet the car’s design drew backers. The coupe’s iconic look was created by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Italian designer and founder of ItalDesign who was behind such classics as the Alfa Romeo Iguana concept car, the Lotus Esprit, the Ferrari 250 GT SWB Bertone, the Techrules Ren and many others. He based the DeLorean on a 1970 concept car he had drawn up for Porsche, which was similarly wedge-shaped and, most importantly, featured a stainless-steel body with gull-wing doors. Its power came from a rear-mounted Peugeot-Renault-Volvo 2.85 liter V6 engine that produced 130 horsepower.
Funding FolliesSeed capital came quickly, as DeLorean took a Bank of America loan and turned to entertainers—like Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, Roy Clark and Sammy Davis Jr.—for additional investors. He also raised money through a program that gave dealerships selling DeLorean’s cars shares in the company. DeLorean went looking for government development funds to build a factory.
Critics were thrilled with how the car looked. But the car was underpowered, offered so-so handling, and was neither as groundbreakingly safe nor fuel-efficient.
In February 1978, Business Week reported that the company had been “flirting with Canada, Spain, Pennsylvania, Ohio and most recently his home town, Detroit.” But after inking a preliminary agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the government of Puerto Rico to build a factory on a former Air Force base, DeLorean received a better offer from the British government to build a factory in Northern Ireland, on a cow pasture in Dunmurry, just outside Belfast, right in the heart of the bloody conflict between Ireland’s Catholic and Protestant communities.
Total investment: More than $1oo million in British government loans and loan guarantees, and tens of million from private investors. Everything seemed to be in place.
Except: All that money would disappear, very fast.
“The biggest problem we had was that the first business plan that was developed once the project had come to Northern Ireland made it quite clear we’re going to run out of money the day we produced the first car,” says Barrie Wills, author of John Z, the Delorean, and Me: Tales from an Insider, who was DMC’s director of purchasing and supply at the time and then its final CEO. “We always knew that. And that’s why we were constantly under pressure to try and persuade the British government to give us just a bit more money. But that wasn’t investor Johnny Carson and John DeLorean. BETTY/RON-GALELLA/GETTY IMAGESSeven months after breaking ground in Belfast, Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative party came to power in Britain. She did not approve of the deal the Labour Party had struck with the American. “She frowned upon any government investment in what she considered to be private industry,” Wills explains.
Then, in January 1981 the first wave of cars had quality-control issues, which led to bad press in the U.S. Critics were thrilled with how the car looked. But the car was underpowered, offered so-so handling, and was neither as groundbreakingly safe nor as fuel-efficient as DeLorean had promised it would be.
The money crisis grew. A plan emerged to restructure the company and take it public as the DeLorean Motors Holding Company. The proposed stock offering would have personally enriched DeLorean, the company’s majority stockholder, by around $120 million, but would have left anyone holding only “options”— like the car dealers who had joined the dealer investor program—with next to nothing. It would be a particularly bad deal for Margaret Thatcher and the British government.
“Thatcher was outraged,” Livingston says, and she cut off any further investment in the American company, placing the Belfast plant in receivership. In the end, only 9,000 DMC-12s were built, approximately 6,000 of which were sold to consumers.
It Hits the Fan BeltEven so, DeLorean assured DMC executives the money was on its way. Back then, Livingston says, the Irish in Belfast would believe anything DeLorean said. “When John DeLorean came to [inspect the troops], it might as well have been George Clooney or Brad Pitt visiting the factory floor,” Livingston says. “Here was this rock star with a supermodel on his arm. People were absolutely starstruck.”
To this day, many still consider the flawed auto exec to be a savior, no matter what he is said to have done. “Everybody—from the taxi drivers to bartenders to hotel clerks, everybody— has something to say about John DeLorean,” says Livingston, who recently attended a reunion of DMC workers and their families. “He left an incredible stamp on the DeLorean under arrest. REED SAXON/APWhy? Working at DMC was not only the first job for most, explains Livingston, but it was also one of the highest-paying and most meaningful jobs they’ve ever had: “He came in to a place that had almost 80% unemployment, created jobs, skilled jobs, jobs these people could be proud of.”
As for investors, Wills says, a group in the U.S. led by financier Jeanne Farnan was allegedly raising money for the company, and according to a report in the Washington Post, Farnan claimed to have located investors willing to put up $10 million as part of a financial package to rescue the firm shortly before government-appointed receivers planned to declare the DeLorean company defunct. She forwarded the final loan documents to DeLorean on the morning of October 19, 1982, the last day for the company to either obtain new financing or face liquidation
It was too good to be true. “It was money the receivers would have never accepted,” Wills says. According to the Washington Post, “Farnan is facing a criminal investigation by the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington.” (Farnan eventually served five months on criminal contempt of court charges.) DeLorean never signed the papers, though. He apparently had another plan.
Wills went home after a long day at the office, had a meal and settled in for the night. He got a call around 8 p.m. from one of the company’s new British government overlords telling him to call the workforce together and close up the shop for good. It came as a shock. “We’d kept all the key people together in the hope that the company would be restructured, that the funds would be found, one way or the other, to bring it back to life again,” Wills says. He knew things were dire but didn’t understand the sudden Agents and cocaine DOUG PIZAC/APHe would come to understand it the following morning. He turned on the BBC and learned that DeLorean had been arrested in a videotaped sting by the FBI, during which he allegedly agreed to a scheme to sell 220 pounds of cocaine, worth an estimated $24 million, in the hope it would provide enough cash to keep his company afloat.
Wills had to face the workers after hearing the news. “There were grown men in tears,” he says. In less than 24 hours, the staff had gone from being told the money was on the way to seeing their boss—whom they adored, either in spite or because of his bravado—arrested on drug charges. A week later, DMC filed for bankruptcy.
During the trial that followed, DeLorean’s attorney, Howard Weitzman, argued that the FBI had been able to entrap the desperate automaker because they knew he would do anything to save his business. And the evidence suggested Weitzman had a point. According to multiple reports at the time, the deal was presented to DeLorean by a paid FBI informant. When DeLorean said he didn’t have the cash to pay for the drugs up front, the informant promised to arrange the financing as long as he would put up his company as collateral. And although he showed intent, he never took possession of the drugs.
It seems he never planned to pay for them either. The cocaine deal was yet another business venture into which DeLorean was not putting a dime of his own money. The government believed his agreement to hand over control of his company constituted proof of his willingness to participate. But DeLorean did not give them control of DeLorean Motor Cars Limited or the DeLorean Motor Company. Instead he agreed to provide them with control of DMC, Inc., a dormant shell company that had no assets. DeLorean was conning the con men. (And he may have been lucky they were fake; the Medellin Cartel, for example, might not have been very amused with the ruse.)
After less than 30 hours of deliberation, DeLorean was acquitted of all charges.
Just Getting StartedHis legal woes, though, were only beginning, and he faced trials for embezzlement and fraud by federal prosecutors and an investigation by British authorities. He was never convicted. But accountants did recover almost a $100 million for the creditors of DeLorean Motor Company in civil court over the course of nearly two decades.
Most of that came from the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, which was found guilty of negligence and breach of contract in its audits of the defunct auto company. The firm was ordered by a New York state jury in March 1998 to pay $46.2 million to the motor company’s creditors and shareholders for delivering misleading audit opinions on the automaker in 1978 and 1979. They later settled for $27.2 million. An earlier, related lawsuit filed against the accounting firm by the British government was settled in 1997, with Arthur Andersen agreeing to pay an estimated $35 million..
Driven into bankruptcy, DeLorean had to sell his home in New Jersey, where his nearly 500-acre estate was eventually purchased by Donald Trump and converted into a Trump National Golf Club, which he frequently visits as president.
Along the way, DeLorean’s family also fell apart, as Ferrare left him after he was acquitted on the cocaine charges, taking her daughter, Kathryn, and Zachary with her. “There were definitely immediate effects,” says Zachary, who’s now 47. “I mean, how the hell couldn’t there be?”
DeLorean died on March 19, 2005, at Overlook Hospital in Summit, New Jersey, from complications after a stroke. He was 80 and had been living in a one-bedroom apartment in Bedminster with his fourth wife, Sally.
“On one hand, I feel proud of my father,” he says. “On the other hand. . . “—Zachary DeLorean
Today Zachary DeLorean no longer blames his father. “We all make decisions in life, and some of them are right and some of them are wrong,” he says. When asked about his father’s legacy, though, Zach is as divided as everyone else.
“On one hand, I feel proud of my father,” he says. “On the other hand, I just want to blow the f—-ing thing up.”
he DeLorean DMC-12 became and remained famous as the time-traveling car in the Back to the Future movies—but the actual automobile was infamous for years before Marty McFly stepped inside one in 1985. And, though the fiction is better remembered today, the real story of the DeLorean is just as dramatic.
First of all, DeLorean was a real person: John Z. DeLorean, who was breathlessly covered by the 1970s press as a renegade General Motors exec who bucked the corporate establishment and set off on his own, and then shared his remembrances of the automaker in a book. A few years later, however, it became clear that he wasn’t out of the auto game: In 1977, DeLorean said that he was hoping to go into business producing his own sports car. Though he estimated at the time that he could have the car ready by the next year, it wasn’t until Jan. 21, 1981—exactly 35 years ago—that the first DeLorean DMC-12 was produced.
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Enter your email addressSIGN UP NOWYou can unsubscribe at any time. By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.Months before the cars would be available, it was clear that DeLorean was going big: for the holiday season of 1980, the American Express catalog advertised a DeLorean plated in 24-karat gold going for $85,000 (versus $20,000—about $54,000 today—for the steel version).
“Shaped like a flying wedge, the DeLorean appears to exceed the 55-m.p.h. speed limit while standing still,” TIME noted. “It is expected to get 22 m.p.g., about the same as a diesel-powered 1981 Cadillac Brougham. Entry to its luxuriously appointed interior is through gull-wing doors that tilt up instead of swinging out. The 24-karat car will pose some special maintenance problems. Owners wishing to get any dents knocked out will probably have to return the damaged part to the factory, where the bumps will be pounded out and the piece refinished in gold.”
By October of 1980, seven people had put down a deposit on a golden DeLorean.
Though the 1980 car market wasn’t exactly solid gold, the lavish DeLorean style didn’t stop at the cars themselves. A 1983 book later charged that John DeLorean ran up expenses on the company’s dime even after it was clear the cars wouldn’t be a big hit. In April of 1981, he bought a new house in what was then one of the largest residential real-estate deals in New Jersey history. But by the time the company hit its first production anniversary, it was in trouble. In October of 1982, DeLorean closed—and John DeLorean was arrested and charged with trying to save his company by selling cocaine.
He was found not guilty—he had been entrapped, the jury said—but in 1985 he was back in court on a number of chargers relating to his handling of company money. He was acquitted in 1986, but it was too late for the car. Only about 9,000 of the cars were ever produced.
It’s still possible to buy a DeLorean. As collector’s items, a top-notch used early-’80s DMC-12 can go for nearly $50,000. But that first DeLorean is out of reach: it’s now held in the collection of the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland.


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