Who doesn’t remember the iconic car from Back to the Future? Or should I perhaps say the ironic car from Back to the Future,because although it couldn’t have hoped for a better marketing tool then the movie franchise, the DeLorean DMC-12 completely failed.
Despite it’s ultra-cool appearance not many people actually bought a DeLorean car. They were much too expensive: Each one cost $25,000, compared with $10,000 for the average car and $18,000 for a souped-up Corvette.
Also the wing doors weren’t that practical if you were parked between 2 cars, you couldn’t open them.
John DeLorean,the designer and the founder of the DeLorean company, grew up in Detroit and began to work for Chrysler while he was still in college. His career was a promising one.
DeLorean 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. His academic record and musical talents earned him a scholarship at Lawrence Institute of Technology (now known as Lawrence Technological University), a small college in Southfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, that was the alma mater of some of the automobile industry’s best engineers. At Lawrence, he excelled in the study of industrial engineering.
World War II interrupted his studies. In 1943, DeLorean was drafted for military service and served three years in the U.S. Armyand 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
He worked his way up the corporate ladder at General Motors, where he is credited with designing the GTO and the Firebird, and became a vice-president in 1972, but he left the company just a year later to pursue his own business interests. In 1978, he started the DeLorean Motor Company in Northern Ireland
The British government, along with investors like Johnny Carson and Sammy Davis, Jr., paid the bulk of his start-up costs—to build his dream car: the DMC-12, a sports car that was like nothing anyone had ever seen before. Its stainless-steel body was unpainted; its doors opened up, not out; it had a 130-hp Renault engine and could go from zero to 60 mph in eight seconds.
However John DeLorean got into difficulties.On October 19, 1982, he wass arrested and charged with conspiracy to obtain and distribute 55 pounds of cocaine. DeLorean was acquitted of the drug charges in August 1984, but his legal woes were only beginning.
He soon went on trial for fraud and over the next two decades was forced to pay millions of dollars to creditors and lawyers. Nevertheless, DeLorean occupies an important place in automotive history: Thanks to its starring role in the 1985 film “Back to the Future,” his gull-wing sports car is one of the most famous cars in the world.
DeLorean was already mired in legal problems by the time Steven Spielberg chose a DMC–12 to serve as Marty McFly’s time machine in “Back to the Future.”
Spielberg had originally planned to use an old refrigerator instead of a car, but had changed his mind at the last minute. (The director liked the DeLorean’s futuristic look, but more than that he was worried that young fans of the movie might accidentally get stuck in refrigerators and freezers while playing make-believe.) While the DeLorean’s instant celebrity did not do much to revive its creator’s fortunes, it granted him a permanent footnote in pop-culture history.
DeLorean died at Overlook Hospital in Summit, New Jersey from a stroke, on March 19, 2005 at age 80. He was a resident of Bedminster, New Jersey. His ashes are interred at the White Chapel Cemetery, in Troy, Michigan. His tombstone shows a depiction of his DMC-12 with the gull-wing doors open.At the request of his family, and in keeping with military tradition, he was interred with military honors for his service in World War II.