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Random DeLorean From 'Back To The Future' Has An Even Crazier Real-Life History Than We Imagined

  • By The Time 'Back To The Future' Came Out - The Car's Shining Moment - The Company Had Already Shut Down on Random DeLorean From 'Back To The Future' Has An Even Crazier Real-Life History Than We Imagined

    (#14) By The Time 'Back To The Future' Came Out - The Car's Shining Moment - The Company Had Already Shut Down

    John DeLorean declared bankruptcy in 1999, but the DeLorean Motor Company had long since been defunct. In 1982, the British government investigated allegations of financial misappropriation, but no charges were ever brought against DeLorean. A few hours before DeLorean was brought in on substance charges in October 1982, the factory in Northern Ireland had been shut down.

    In the midst of DeLorean's legal woes, his car was about to gain widespread attention because of its central role in the 1985 movie Back to the Future. According to Bob Gale, co-writer and producer of the movie:

    There was something dangerous, something counterculture, something so very gorgeous about just how beautiful that car was. And we loved those gull-wing doors.

    The choice of the DeLorean coincided with its namesake's legal troubles and the aftermath of the company's bankruptcy, but it also revitalized the car itself. John DeLorean even sent a letter to the film's director, Robert Zemeckis (who had originally wanted to use a refrigerator to travel in time), thanking him for using - and saving - the car.

  • The Company Unveiled A Crazy-Expensive 'Gold' DeLorean As A Promotion - And Sold Two on Random DeLorean From 'Back To The Future' Has An Even Crazier Real-Life History Than We Imagined

    (#11) The Company Unveiled A Crazy-Expensive 'Gold' DeLorean As A Promotion - And Sold Two

    Sales of the DeLorean didn't meet expectations, with only about 6,000 finding their way on the roads by 1982. In addition to the standard DMC-12, the company also produced an even more expensive version of the car - this one plated with 24-karat gold.

    According to the original ad for the gold-plated DeLorean, it was "the car of the future - a sports car so spectacular that it surpasses the imagination." DeLorean indicated it would make 100 of the gold-plated versions, telling consumers that time was limited on such an exclusive luxury car. The DeLorean was equipped with...

    A richly appointed Connolly English and Italian glove leather interior, multi-speaker high output stereo system, air conditioning, full instrumentation and electrical locking, a rear-mounted, light alloy overhead cam PRV V6 2.85 litre engine, Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, Lambda Sond/catalytic emission control, 5-speed manual, or 3-speed automatic transmission, counter-balanced gull wing doors with cryogenically pre-set stainless steel torsion bars - to name just a few of its features.  

    The price tag was $85,000 - "chargeable, of course, on your American Express Card account." For comparison, a Porsche 911 ran for $27,700 in 1980, while a Corvette cost just over $16,000 in 1981.

    Only two gold-plated DeLoreans were sold, one to a buyer in California and the other to a customer in Texas.

  • John DeLorean Was An Eccentric Engineer Who Soared Up The Ranks At GM on Random DeLorean From 'Back To The Future' Has An Even Crazier Real-Life History Than We Imagined

    (#1) John DeLorean Was An Eccentric Engineer Who Soared Up The Ranks At GM

    Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, John Z. DeLorean demonstrated technical acumen from a young age. He attended Cass Technical High School before serving in WWII, and later earned master's degrees in automotive engineering and business administration from the University of Michigan.

    DeLorean briefly worked for Chrysler before accepting a position at Packard Motor Car Company in 1952. In 1956, he took an engineering job at General Motors, helping GM revitalize the Pontiac division. By 1961, DeLorean was made chief engineer of the Pontiac division, a title that helped him move head with his sporty, fast-driving, powerful muscle car designs.

    DeLorean introduced the GTO in 1963, a car that essentially put a bigger engine into the Pontiac Tempest model. The GTO proved successful and DeLorean continued to rise within the GM ranks. He became a general manager in 1965 - the youngest ever at the age of 40 - and headed North American operations for GM in 1972

    As he rose to the top, DeLorean made few friends. He pushed boundaries and found loopholes when it came to car design and production, but after the success of the GTO, he took on a persona that made other executives uncomfortable. Long sideburns, dates with supermodels, and flashy clothes - all behaviors that tapped into the young culture he hoped to bring to the automobile industry - were physical representations of his rebellious spirit, narcissistic tendencies, and defiant personality.

  • DeLorean Burned Through The Money At An Alarming (And Highly Suspicious) Rate on Random DeLorean From 'Back To The Future' Has An Even Crazier Real-Life History Than We Imagined

    (#9) DeLorean Burned Through The Money At An Alarming (And Highly Suspicious) Rate

    Even with the massive amounts of money put into the DeLorean factory and production of the DCM-12, it wasn't enough to prevent financial strife. Barrie Wills, former director of supplies and CEO, explained: 

    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... 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 forthcoming.

    One of the hurdles to receiving more funding from the British government was Margaret Thatcher. Never a supporter of the factory, Thatcher was aware that DeLorean took roughly $18 million from company finances before the factory was underway. Wills confirmed: "Even before I had started - and I was employee number 12 - John had siphoned off around £18 million of investors' money."

    John Lisners published an article in 1981 revealing DeLorean's plans to restructure the company, a move that would enrich stockholders but leave stock-less investors in financial straits. Thatcher, by then Prime Minister, withdrew promises to provide DeLorean with additional funds, leaving DeLorean desperate to keep his company afloat.

  • DeLorean Set Out To Start His Own Company And Make The Small, Sylish, Fuel-Efficient Cars That GM Was Against on Random DeLorean From 'Back To The Future' Has An Even Crazier Real-Life History Than We Imagined

    (#5) DeLorean Set Out To Start His Own Company And Make The Small, Sylish, Fuel-Efficient Cars That GM Was Against

    In DeLorean's words, GM "had a moral responsibility to build smaller cars, especially in GM's case as America's major supplier of transportation equipment... We had a responsibility to do that - whether it was profitable or not. And what happened is that we didn't, and we left those cars to overseas."

    Where GM failed, DeLorean was determined to step in. DeLorean founded an automobile company, aptly named the DeLorean Motor Company, in 1975. By 1977, DeLorean, assisted by former collaborator at GM, William "Bill" Collins, and Italian designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro (of Alfa Romeo fame), had created an "ethical" sports car. Collins was soon replaced by Colin Chapman, engineer and founder of Lotus Motors in the UK.

    The DMC-12 was supposed to weigh less than all other sports cars - only 2,200 pounds - and get far better gas mileage. It had numerous features, including wing-like doors  - to "add sex appeal" - and, despite a smaller engine, could go from "0 to 60 mph. in less than eight seconds." According to DeLorean, the car would be made in a factory absent "spray booths and paint ovens" to protect employees from "[finding] out 20 years from now they have some funny lung disease."

  • Against GM’s Wishes, DeLorean Created A Workaround To Put Big Powerful Engines Into Smaller Cars on Random DeLorean From 'Back To The Future' Has An Even Crazier Real-Life History Than We Imagined

    (#2) Against GM’s Wishes, DeLorean Created A Workaround To Put Big Powerful Engines Into Smaller Cars

    The GTO - short for the Italian phrase gran turismo omologato - was DeLorean's biggest success. The design, however, was one that went against GM policies and standards of practice. DeLorean wanted to put a big, powerful engine into a small automobile frame, something GM executives were ardently against. To get around this, he devised a plan with Pete Estes, the head of the Pontiac division, to get around the policy. Instead of designing a new car that featured a V-8 engine, they'd simply offer an upgrade on the current Pontiac Tempest model. 

    The Pontiac Tempest was introduced in 1961 as a model that, according to Motor Trend magazine, had superior, "riding qualities... probably the best in its class... [with] a precise feel at highway speeds... [and] better than average handling at all speeds." When Pontiac presented the Tempest LeMans later that year, it was a sportier version of its predecessor. Continued tweaks and options on the design in 1962 and 1963 made the midsize Tempest the perfect candidate for even more innovation.

    While DeLorean and other Pontiac team members - namely Bill Collins, Russell Gee, and Jim Wangers - looked at the chassis of a Tempest one Saturday morning, Collins said, "You know, John, with the engine mounts being the same, it would take about 20 minutes to slip a 389 into this thing." In that moment, the GTO was born.

    Pontiac sold the Pontiac Tempest GTOs - the first of the so-called muscle cars - as a version of the standard 1964 Tempest. The bigger V-8 engine was a $295 upgrade.

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About This Tool

DeLorean Motor Company is a mysterious automobile company in the United States. The special thing about the company is that it has only produced one model of car, called DeLorean.In the science fiction movie "Back to the Future", the car DeLorean that can travel through time and space, was mass-produced in real life, but the company went bankrupt before the movie was released. The founder of the company is John DeLorean. This Englishman was once known as the most daring car businessman in history, and may also be the biggest car liar in history.

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