The Harder They Fall: The Saga of the DeLorean Motor Company

It was the automotive story for almost a decade: former GM superstar John DeLorean had set out to build his own high-tech sports car, only to end up in handcuffs. This week, we present the complete saga of the DeLorean Motor Company and the DeLorean DMC-12, a strange tale of grand ambition, political intrigue, and cocaine.

1981 DeLorean DMC-12 bumper identification


John Z. DeLorean’s 12½-year career at Pontiac has become the stuff of legend. He joined the division as director of advanced engineering in 1956, playing a key role in that division’s rebirth under Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen and Elliot (Pete) Estes. DeLorean became assistant chief engineer in 1959 and chief engineer two years later, leading the development of the unusual “rope-drive” Tempest, Pontiac’s novel OHC six, and the immortal GTO, along with an impressive array of patents and technical innovations.

By the time DeLorean became the division’s general manager in 1965, Pontiac led the domestic industry in engineering, styling, and merchandising. Nearly all of the division’s many successes, from the sporty Firebird to the stylish Grand Prix, bore DeLorean’s fingerprints.

Along the way, DeLorean had become a favorite of the automotive press. Tall (6’4″/192 cm), lanky, and athletic, he was a striking figure, with an ever-fashionable wardrobe and looks that were variously compared to Tyrone Power and Tom Jones. In a company known for gray flannel suits and stolid Republican values, he was a bit of a bad boy: more outspoken than was customary for a Detroit executive, often called on the carpet for some minor breach of corporate protocol, and prone to raising conservative eyebrows by driving expensive foreign sports cars and dating (and eventually marrying) models and actresses half his age. In short, he was perhaps the ultimate fantasy figure for every underpaid automotive hack or working-class car nut in America.

John DeLorean photo POR-DELOJOH-0002 - Copyright 2010 General Motors LLC. Used with permission, GM Media Archive. (GMMA 14172)
GM publicity photo of John DeLorean, probably from his time at Chevrolet (1969-1972). DeLorean’s shaggy hair and prominent sideburns, very fashionable at the time, sat ill with some conservative GM executives, as did his stylish wardrobe. He also set tongues wagging when he had cosmetic surgery to improve his jawline. He later insisted the surgery was motivated not by vanity, but rather by the need to remove a chunk of impacted bone left over from a surgery he’d had as a child. (Copyright 2010 General Motors LLC. Used with permission, GM Media Archive)

Whatever DeLorean’s conflicts with GM’s conservative upper management — and there were many — no one could say the corporation didn’t reward results. DeLorean was only 40 when he became a GM vice president, the youngest general manager in the corporation’s history. Less than four years later, he was promoted to run Chevrolet, the largest and most important of GM’s automotive divisions. Three years after that, he became a group vice president, responsible for the entire car and truck group, with salary and bonuses totaling $650,000 a year and a $25,000 annual expense account. There was even talk that he would succeed Ed Cole as president of the corporation.

In April 1973, seemingly at the pinnacle of his success, DeLorean resigned. His own explanation was that he quit, frustrated with GM’s monotonous products and insular corporate culture. Afterward, there were rumors that his departure had not been entirely voluntary, but none of these whispered allegations was ever substantiated. The industry and the motoring press watched DeLorean’s exit with great interest, eager to see what he would do next.

1967 Pontiac GTO front 3q

The Pontiac GTO is generally considered the progenitor of the American Supercars of the sixties and early seventies. Although it was not the first of its kind, its success defined the genre. When Pete Estes and John DeLorean introduced this model in 1964, Pontiac sales manager Frank Bridge doubted it would sell 5,000 copies, but by 1966, it was selling nearly 20 times that number, inspiring many imitators.

By his own admission, DeLorean didn’t need to do anything. He was still drawing six-figure compensation from GM in the form of deferred bonuses and consulting fees, and he had enough assets to maintain a comfortable lifestyle for himself, his adoptive son, and new wife Cristina Ferrare indefinitely, without ever having to work again. However, DeLorean was still relatively young, and no one expected him to remain idle for long.

DeLorean spent a year as president of the National Alliance of Businessmen and made vague noises about developing a line of travel trailers. By early 1974, however, his thoughts were turning back to the auto industry and the idea of developing a car of his own.

1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo side
One of the biggest successes of John DeLorean’s tenure at Chevrolet was the new Monte Carlo, Chevy’s answer to the popular Pontiac Grand Prix personal luxury car. The 1970-1972 Monte Carlo was actually developed under DeLorean’s predecessor, Pete Estes, although it didn’t go on sale until after DeLorean took over Chevrolet in February 1969. DeLorean was responsible, however, for the extraordinarily popular 1973–1977 Monte Carlo, which went on sale shortly after his promotion to group VP in late 1972.


Given DeLorean’s tastes in automobiles, which ran to the likes of the Maserati Ghibli, it was inevitable that he would set out to build his own sports car. He saw a viable niche between the Chevrolet Corvette and the Porsche 911: expensive enough to be profitable at small volumes, but not so expensive as to compete directly with the high-end European exotics. DeLorean had tried several times to launch a new sports car at GM, first with the Pontiac Banshee (discussed in our articles on the Pontiac Fiero and OHC six), then with Chevrolet’s ill-fated mid-engine Corvette. On his own, he would finally have his chance.

Maserati Ghibli front 3q © 2008 Randy Stern (CC BY 2.0 Generic - modified by Aaron Severson)
One of the many cars in John DeLorean’s personal fleet during his time at GM was the Maserati Ghibli. Styled by Carrozzeria Ghia, the V8-powered Ghibli was the work of a young designer named Giorgetto Giugiaro, who would become one of the most influential stylists of the seventies — and the designer of DeLorean’s own DMC-12. (Photo: “WOI 2008 16” © 2008 Randy Stern; resized and modified (obscured bystander faces) 2015 by Aaron Severson and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license, with this modified version offered under the same license)

The first problem was that his exit agreement included a non-compete clause. DeLorean apparently hoped that GM wouldn’t consider an expensive, limited-production sports car to be a threat to their business, but as soon as he began talking to dealers, GM terminated his bonus payments. In response, DeLorean commissioned Business Week editor J. Patrick Wright to co-author a scathing tell-all memoir, entitled On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors: John Z. DeLorean’s Look Inside the Automotive Giant.

In the past, DeLorean’s public statements had often been characterized by a curious ambivalence. He would be frank and impolitic in one breath and in the next would studiously uphold the corporate party line. Now, he was positioning himself as the ultimate insider rebel, challenging GM on everything from its minority hiring policies to its attitude toward safety. Among other things, his book would include a condemnation of the controversial Chevrolet Corvair that would have gladdened the heart of Ralph Nader. DeLorean got cold feet about the book shortly after its completion in mid-1975, but Wright finally opted to publish it himself.

If DeLorean was to be the consummate foe of Detroit hypocrisy and shortsightedness, his car would have to be the perfect exponent of DeLorean’s purported values. It would be sporty, since DeLorean’s reputation had been built on sporty cars, but it would also be rationally sized, durable, fuel-efficient, and safe — the thinking man’s Supercar for the post-OPEC age. DeLorean called it an “ethical sports car.”

Maserati Merak side © 2008 Brian Snelson (CC BY 2.0 Generic)
Another Giugiaro creation of the early seventies was the Maserati Merak, a cheaper, six-cylinder version of the Giugiaro-styled Maserati Bora. Like the DeLorean DMC-12, the Merak was powered by a 90-degree V6 engine — a 2,965 cc (181 cu. in.) version of the Maserati-designed V6 from the Citroën SM. (Photo: “Maserati Merak” © 2008 Brian Snelson; used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)

To engineer his new car, DeLorean hired a former colleague from Pontiac, Bill Collins, then leading the development of GM’s downsized 1977 full-size cars. For the exterior styling, DeLorean turned to Giorgetto Giugiaro’s Italdesign, whose resume included the Maserati Bora and Merak, the Volkswagen Golf and Scirocco, and the Lotus Esprit. DeLorean specified that the car should have a mid-mounted engine, a plastic body, and stainless steel exterior panels. A target weight of only 2,200 lb (1,000 kg) would allow both sports-car performance and economy-car fuel economy. Despite its lightweight construction, the new car would have neatly integrated 10 mph (16 km/h) bumpers, with a bank of airbags providing 40 mph (64 km/h) barrier crash protection, far better than federal law required. The body would even be impervious to rust.

Early on, DeLorean called the new car the DSV, DeLorean Safety Vehicle, in part to secure an investment from the insurance company Allstate. The commercial failure of the Bricklin Safety Vehicle (SV-1) led him to deemphasize the safety aspect and by 1976, the car had been rechristened the DeLorean DMC-12.

1974 Bricklin SV1 front 3q © 2007 Thomas doerfer (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)
John DeLorean wasn’t the only entrepreneur interested in safety-oriented, plastic-bodied sports cars in the early seventies. This is Malcolm Bricklin’s ill-fated Bricklin SV-1, offered from 1974 to 1976. Only about 3,000 copies were sold before the venture collapsed, at considerable cost to the Canadian province of New Brunswick, whose government had partially funded the SV-1’s manufacture. (Photo: “Bricklin SV-1 AMI” © 2007 Thomas doerfer; resized 2010 by Aaron Severson and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license)


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  1. I understand that while the Mercedes 300-SL had gull-wing doors for legitimate engineering reasons, on the DeLorean (and Bricklin) they were pretty much for the sake of cachet.

    Both the latter cars were pitched as being safe, but I wouldn’t want to be in an overturned car with gull-wing doors.

    DeLorean’s hair and sideburns don’t look that outrageous today, but the photo is ~40 years old, and GM was a conservative company.

    1. Believe me you wouldn’t want to be in any car upside down, On the Delorean, the top structure was strong, So it would be be a matter of kicking ore breaking out the big window, and being pulled to safety, or crawl to safety, far far safer than any American convertible

      1. I have no doubt that the DMC-12 had better rollover protection than a convertible. Rollover accidents are relatively infrequent, compared to other types of accidents, and with a car with as low a center of gravity as the DeLorean, it would probably take some effort to actually end up on the roof.

    2. The GM Media Archives photo was an official portrait (I don’t know its original date; GMMA did not specify), so DeLorean may have opted for a more conservative haircut specifically for that photo shoot — it looks less shaggy than in other contemporary photos of him. By the general standards of early-seventies coiffure, it was hardly outrageous, but it was notably shaggier than I suspect was customary for senior GM executives.

      DeLorean told [i]Car and Driver[/i] in 1977 that one of the purposes of the gullwing doors was to allow a much higher sill than would have been practical with conventional doors, allowing better side-impact protection. Mercedes adopted them because the sills of the 300SL’s frame were so high that conventional doors would have basically necessitated stuffing the driver through a tiny slot, and hinging the doors at the roof was simpler than redesigning the frame. Both were legitimate enough engineering goals, although in DeLorean’s case, it’s reasonable to assume showmanship was also a factor.

      The DeLorean’s doors were at least more reliable than the Bricklin’s, which were power-operated. Bill Collins said in 2008 that they deliberately avoided power assistance to keep occupants from being trapped with the engine off, although when the hydraulic struts where out, keeping the doors open is a pain, just as it is on an old hatchback. (In their [i]Back to the Future[/i] commentary, Bob Gale and Bob Zemeckis said that was a persistent problem with the movie car, especially in cold weather.)

      1. The Delorean Doors were counter balanced by a torsion bar, the hydraulic struts were just to make the doors move more smoothly to simulate electric doors, and to cushion the beginning and end of their movement. The struts could be totally removed and the torsion bar could be used to lift small children off the ground. Bob Gale and Bob Zemeckis were not mechanics or engineers, I could have totally fixed that ‘problem’ in less than 20 minutes for both (not each) doors.

        1. I’m sure that Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale would be the first to admit that they’re not mechanics, and they do acknowledge in the same commentary track that movie cars tend to be “cursed” — suffering mysterious infirmities and generally not performing as desired.

          In the [i]Back to the Future[/i] commentary track, they said that during cold night shooting, the doors would slowly flop down between takes, and that the prop guys would have to heat the hydraulic struts (with a hair dryer, if memory serves) to keep them pressurized. What ailments the film car’s doors may have suffered, I don’t know, but having owned several hatchback cars with failing hydraulic struts, my assumption was that worn struts were to blame; that was my diagnosis, not Gale’s and Zemeckis’, and if it’s wrong, the error is mine, not theirs.

        2. Don’t be fooled by that cryogenical torsion bar. The torsion bar helped with the doors being counterbalanced as you stated. I owned a Delorean for five years. These doors are HEAVY and provide stability to the structure when closed, (Like a targa top on a corvette does when in place) Those Hydraulic struts greatly assist in lifting the door and keeping it in an open position. The torsion bar makes it possible to open the door with the struts otherwise it would be extremely difficult to open these heavy doors.

  2. As a technician in San Luis Obispo Ca. in the 80s and 90s, I spent a lot of my career working on Volvos, including the (in)famous PRV V6 models. Through patience and dogged persverance, I wrongly or rightly developed a local reputation of being able to make them run as they were more or less intended. This reputation led to several local DeLorean owners seeking out my help when there versions of that “ahem” POS began to give them grief. The well known laundry list of maladies plaguing the PRV is too long to go into here so I wont even attempt it. I did, however, have the opportunity to work on and drive one example that had been massaged with a pair of Garrett turbos at one point. Having experienced the stock models on many occasions, the turbo version was a welcome change. While not neck snapping by any means, it probably would have been what John Z. was looking for all along. Low rpm performance was virtually unchanged from the stock model, but the fun really began at about 3000. From there to the redline (about 5500 as I recall, but it could have been more)it would really press you back into the seat, giving the impression of the kind of performance one would expect for the price and sporting pretentions associated with it.
    Beyond that though, it was still just… a Delorean. All the problems mentioned in your article were still there. The doors, the outward visibility. (Seating position was so low, you could not see the hood or the front corners of the car. Sort of like looking out the view slot of a tank battened down for combat.) Rear visibility was even worse. The 5 speed shift linkage was heavy and sluggish, and the unassisted steering was slow and heavy, in spite of the lightly loaded front wheels. Another feature not mentioned in your article (although visible in the photos) was the “toll booth window”. Because of the extreme tumblehome of the door glazing, roll down windows were an impossibility. To allow at least some access through them, they were fitted with small access “window within a window” glazings that could be lowered to allow one to drop coins into toll booth baskets. They were pretty much useless for anything else. The aforementioned tumblehome of the side glass, in conjunction with the dramatic rake of the windshield meant that the cabin became a solar oven anytime the sun was out. This meant that one pretty much had to run the A/C all the time as there were no windows to roll down. This served to sap away another 5-7 HP from the already anemic engine. I could go on but the rest of the problems have all been well documented by your story and elsewhere.
    Sadly, the entire debacle was the product of a grossly inflated ego, however passionate JZD may have been.

    Thanks again for another great article.
    Joe Dunlap

    1. One of the sources I read was an article by David Freeman in [i]AutoWeek[/i] (5/17/82) about a turbo installation by Mike di Gonis of MD Engineering. It was an aftermarket thing, but it seemed like a reasonably good comparison for a production DMC-12 turbo. It was moderately boosted — perhaps 8.5 psi (0.59 bars) — and di Gonis claimed a power increase of 30% (i.e., about 40 hp). It was not a blazingly fast car, but [i]AutoWeek[/i] found it cut more than a second off the 0-60 mph times, and it was much stronger in the midrange. That sounds similar to the one you drove.

      Sadly, the poor outward visibility is all too common in modern cars. The last time I went to the L.A. Auto Show, I was dismayed to find that there were very few modern cars in which I could see any of the fenders from the driver’s seat. Having been spoiled by the low cowls of cars like eighties Hondas, I am waiting eagerly for the trend to go back the other way…

    2. The rotary engine is still the best HP(horsepower for all you brainiacs) per lb, smooth running engine. GM and Japanese finally resolved the seal problem, GM thumbed their nose at Delorean for wanting to use their wankel engine seal design, because of bad blood from JZD’s expose book of the inner working of GM in his book, On a Clear Dat,etc. If JZD had been half the ‘engineer he was purported to be, he would have added a supercharger, and gone for performance instead of economy in a new expensive $1.60/gal world. karma!!

      1. Seal integrity and horsepower/pound (or horsepower per liter) are not the only measures of engine efficiency. The reason rotary engines are not more common is that despite their excellent specific output, they have lower thermal efficiency than a good Otto-cycle engine, which is reflected in high specific fuel consumption and higher levels of some exhaust emissions. Even the current Mazda Renesis is very thirsty, both for gasoline and for oil.

        As the article states, DeLorean hoped to launch a twin-turbo version, but it was not the first priority. I believe the reason for the concern with fuel economy was CAFE. DeLorean Motor Company didn’t have other models to balance a thirsty sports car, and its financial situation was precarious enough that CAFE fines would have been a problem; if they’d had deeper pockets, they could have simply paid them and passed the cost on to customers, but I’m not sure they could have afforded that at the outset.

  3. Perhaps only a few people know John owned a mercedes gullwing. He owned a few exotic cars.
    The italian cars of the day were beautiful but not always reliable. The German cars were rock solid but not always beautiful. At the time there was one car in the world that was both.

    The Mercedes c111 concept car was breaking world records and wowing people in automotive shows around the planet. The idea of an aerodynamically stable triple digit vehicle was far reaching for the times. When mercedes canceled the project the italdesign company cropped the front and that was the beginning of the dmc12. Although the gull wing doors were a great gimmic to sell the car, the reality is they were in the design because the original design was a replacement for the 300sl. When the c111 project was scrapped there were people all over the planet that had written them blank checks to try to get them to produce it in some fashion. John may have even been one of those people. At the very least he would have been keenly interested in the mercedes development. There is no way John would have missed out on such a gold mine.
    If Johns version had been produced as he had intended instead of re designed out from under him it would have been a rocket just like its German predecessor. The DMC was never designed with a dogbone frame,clunky fiberglass/plastic moldings,and that damned over engineered frenchified prv engine. Those were all forced on Delorean by outside factors he could not controll. As a business man he wasn’t great but as an engineer he was. The theory was sound. Even in its asthmatic form the giugiaro design gives inklings of greatness. The mercedes fuel injection system is solid and reliable. The interior is part porsche part lancia, comfortable for a 6 footer like me.

    In THEORY the practical Germans and the passionate Italians should have made for the greatest car the world would ever see. Fitted with correct suspension, and better engine….and the car does handle deceptively well.

    The irony is the car ended up like the bismark.
    Percieved as the greatest of its time, feared by its competition, sunk by the british, captivating subject of discussion for the rest of time.

    1. The DMC-12 does have a certain general resemblance to the second C111, although other than the gullwing doors, it also bears a broad resemblance to various other mid-engine cars of the period (including Giugiaro’s own Maserati designs). It’s hard to imagine that either Giugiaro or DeLorean was unaware of the C111, which, as you note, was big news at the time. I don’t know of either acknowledging the relationship, but it’s not implausible.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if DeLorean had tried to get a C111. Interestingly, he did say that at one point that he tried to get GM to sell him the prototypes of the abortive mid-engine Corvette, but they wouldn’t bite.

      It’s true that the PRV was not the originally planned engine. As best as I could determine, the earliest plans involved the Comotor 624 rotary, based on the one in the Citroën GS Birotor and related to the one in the NSU Ro80. (Perhaps Bill Collins will chime in on this point.) The two-rotor Wankel would not have been any more powerful than the PRV — the 995 cc engine made 115 hp in the Ro80, 105 hp in the GS Birotor — and it would not have been nearly as reliable. On the other hand, it would have weighed less; even with only 115 hp, a 2,200-lb DMC-12 would have had a somewhat better power-to-weight ratio than the production car.

      While the production DMC-12 is quite a bit different than even the 1976 prototype, and that it was not really the car DeLorean originally envisioned, it seems a stretch to say those changes were imposed upon him. He chose the PRV V6 because it was the best deal available for an off-the-shelf engine; from what he told [i]Car and Driver[/i] in 1977, the leading alternative at that point was Ford’s Cologne V6, but Renault had excess capacity, and was more amenable to a deal. DeLorean also commissioned Lotus to do the production reengineering; that was not imposed on him by others, either. Unlike at GM, DeLorean was the final arbiter of those decisions.

      While the VARI fiberglass/steel backbone structure had its limitations, the original plan would also have been fiberglass, albeit not the same kind. The ERM process DeLorean originally planned to use was basically a core of urethane, impregnated with resin, layered with fiberglass and then compressed to about a tenth of its original thickness. It was a very new technology, and it’s an open question whether a two-piece ERM structure (with a steel front suspension crossmember and steel powertrain cradle) would have been strong enough and rigid enough. The main reason Lotus opted for the Esprit-style backbone is that they had tried the all-plastic monocoque on the original Elite, with very mixed results. ERM was an ambitious idea, and it might eventually have worked great, but working out the bugs would have been a daunting task, particularly with DMC’s resources. The old cliche about champagne tastes and a beer budget seems to apply…

      1. May be if you were taller than 5ft 1, you could see better. Get a VW cc, sorry bro, but a Delorean in a handicapped parking place at least won’t get door dinged by idiots…….

  4. Thank you for this in depth article on the Delorean saga. I’m a member of the Delorean Club of Fl and have driven 3 Deloreans so far. I drove 2 5 speeds and a auto. The 5 speed is the quicker of the 2, although the auto has it’s good merits as well. Deloreans aren’t super fast, but they are fun to drive. I had no problem with the visibility myself. Backing out you have to pay attention close. I heard soo many negative things about these cars from critics. I got in it and drove it and was very impressed.

    1. It must be said that very few mid-engine coupes do particularly well in rear visibility. I don’t know that the DeLorean is any better than its mid-engine contemporaries, but it probably isn’t any worse, either.

    2. The DMC made the Bricklin seem like a kit car, had JZD been a good person, he would have stayed with Bill Collins, but JZD was enamored with Collin Chapman,of lotus fame, and was willing to cast the the genius in his life (Bill Collins) that made him great to the curb, what an egomaniac loser…Karma sucks sometimes…….

  5. [quote=Administrator]The DeLorean’s doors were at least more reliable than the Bricklin’s, which were power-operated. Bill Collins said in 2008 that they deliberately avoided power assistance to keep occupants from being trapped with the engine off[/quote]

    I’d think that if the car went greasy side up, its weight would hold the doors shut whether they were power-operated or not.

    1. Two different issues. If I interpret Bill Collins’ remark correctly, he wasn’t referring to rollover safety, but rather the possibility of the power mechanism failing and keeping the doors from opening, even with the car right side up. (I’m not that familiar with the Bricklin SV1, so I don’t know what kind of backup mechanism was provided, if any, but the electro-hydraulic mechanism on the production cars was very troublesome.) With the DMC-12, a worn or failed hydraulic strut would keep the doors from [i]staying[/i] open, but it wouldn’t [i]keep[/i] them from opening.

      Of course, that doesn’t help if the car is on its roof, but for a low-slung, limited-production sports car, a mechanical or electrical failure (whether resulting from an accident or not) might well be more likely than a rollover accident.

  6. The Petersen Museum has one of the three American Express 24 karat gold plated cars in their collection. It’s on display currently with a Mercedes McLaren SLR and a Bugatti EB110

  7. I showed my Delorean in the Hillsboro concours d elegance, next to a ferrari testarosa, and a lamborghinni countach, people ignoned the farrari, and the crowd was almost equal for the Delorean and the Lambo,sounds stupid but it was true. Just a door for a Ferrari costs more than the whole Delorean did, a beefier suspension on the DMC and a Ford indy engine, with a supercharger would have made it a success in spite of JZD………..why is this all so obvious to me??????

  8. just look at the cars you’re comparing it with, where’s the lotus esprit, Jaguar XKE, both still more expensive than the ill fated Delorean, comparing it to a Bugatti, you could have bought all 7500 Deloreans for about the price of a Bugatti.

    1. The article does not compare the DMC-12 with Bugatti. The commenter was just pointing out the space where one of the gold cars is on display; the Bugatti Veyron and Mercedes SLR next to which the Petersen has parked it were not even conceived when the DMC-12 was launched.

      The article makes the comparison with the Corvette, the Porsche 911SC, and the Lotus Esprit. The 911SC was a little more expensive than the DeLorean, the Esprit a lot more expensive. The Jaguar E-Type was long gone by then, but the XJ-S (which was roughly $5,000 more than the DMC-12) is not an unreasonable comparison. The XJ-S was not pitched as a sports car, of course, although it was faster than the DeLorean, and would probably have appealed to a similar clientele.

  9. I’ve driven more than 50 Deloreans, I drove 15 brand new ones at the dealer in Palo Alto,CA to pick the best one, to buy, each one drove slightly different, thank Collin Chapman, and unskilled Irish labor, and a guy with too much ego to properly take care of business…….The automatics were crap……

  10. It was an early 1020 HARLEY EARL hand pounded aluminum design, from Don Lee Cadillac in movie center, LA. I also hand the original cancelled check from a woman buyer in Oakland CA, for $7,100. in 1920, it even had roll up windows, try to find another 1920 car with roll up windows, this was one of two remaining Harley Earl designs, in the world. Cadillac hired Harley Earl from Don Lee in 1926. Harley was the design guru at GM, thru the fins of the 50’s,up through the sting ray corvette…….

  11. In the book Corvette From The Inside by Dave McLellan he mentions a supercomputer crash simulation of the Delorean prototype. The results show the first design was extremely bad. I saw an interview somewhere with I think Bricklin where he said something about Delorean poaching his engineers and design for the original Delorean prototype. Funny how it all ties together.

  12. [quote=pcintex]I saw an interview somewhere with I think Bricklin where he said something about Delorean poaching his engineers and design for the original Delorean prototype. Funny how it all ties together.[/quote]

    Bricklin’s assertion was made in an interview that is excerpted here: In the 2008 DMCTalk interview/chat cited in the sources for this article, Bill Collins said he didn’t know one way or the other if DeLorean had had any business dealings with Bricklin, but he strenuously denied Bricklin’s claim that the DMC-12 prototype was copied from the SV-1.

  13. The Bricklin SV-1(safety vehicle) has a Hatch with the cabled release right next to the Drivers also has MANUAL roll down windows..and a Truck like heavy duty Birdcage style Roll cage…also the Mercedes 300SL and the bricklin SV-1 NEEDED the gullwing doors as the Bricklin Has a Massive Square tubing Frame..running along the side of the car,giving it a rather high belt-line..with No room to put regular if a conventional door were put on a bricklin..unless you are under four feet tall,you just could not get into a Bricklin.

  14. The PRV V6 was a great sportscar engine when fitted in a proper sportscar, viz the Alpine A310, Alpine GTA(in NA or turbo format) the Alpine A610, and the Venturi. It was a successful engine in family cars for all three of the collaborators in the European market: maybe the federalized version gained a bad reputation but I don’t know

    1. Its reputation here is really quite dismal, both in terms of repair records and in terms of power and general demeanor. It didn’t cover itself in glory in the Volvo 260 series, certainly.

  15. I can attest to the engines dismal reliability. The shop I worked at in the 1980’s was called upon to fix timing chains, worn camshafts, bad head gaskets, and other maladies on Volvo, Renault and Peugeot cars with this engine. Most often we gave a quote and the owners scrapped the car…..


  16. 9,080 DeLoreans were built in total. I say that as the longest serving employeemail of DeLorean Motor Cars Limited.

  17. Another great, behind-the-scenes article on yet another automotive icon. I grew up in the ’80s and remember the DMC being just plain cool but also having a Greek tragedy angle attached via that other ’80s icon: cocaine. I encourage my fellow readers who enjoy this site to Paypal some appreciation to Aaron for his intriguing reads.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Steve.

      I think the DeLorean saga is one of the quintessential stories of that period, encompassing many different cultural and historical trends. It’s one of those stories that tells you about far more than just its individual subject.

  18. The company in Utah was a manufacturer of tracked snowcat vehicles, not snowplows, was previously a division of rocket manufacturer Morton Thiokol, John DeLorean bought it with the GPD/Chapman money and renamed it DeLorean Manufacturing Company, using the same DMC logo as the badge on the DMC-12. When the car company collapsed, management tried to buy it off of him, but he refused, though he did change the name to Logan Manufacturing Company to create some public distance from the failed car company. DeLorean also briefly used the factory to build home exercise machines and aircraft tugs alongside the snowcats at different points in the ’80s. JZD ended up selling Logan Manufacturing to an investment group in the early 1990s for less than he had been offered for it ca 10 years earlier, and it folded in the early 2000s. Still used the old DMC font in their logo up until the end.

    1. Thanks for the clarification! I’ve amended the reference to Logan Manufacturing in the text. (I did not know they had been a Morton Thiokol division!)

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