The Legacy Of John DeLorean
by Jackson Porter
John DeLorean is probably most remembered as the creator of the time traveling car in the 'Back to the Future' movies. Many will also recall that his gull winged car failed miserably on the open market and as a result he turned to illegal and shady dealings to try and save his company.
DeLorean DMC-12, photo courtesy Christian Carollo
Lost in the glitter and drama of such a legacy, his important contribution to the world of sports cars is often overlooked. Without DeLorean's influence, sports car design and production would most likely have taken a different course.
In 1964, DeLorean practically single handedly started the muscle car movement when he put a massive V8 engine into a Pontiac Tempest and produced the GTO.
The GTO became the most loved of the muscle cars and was a big seller for Pontiac.
Because of his great success with the GTO, he was rewarded with rapid advancement through the ranks of automobile executives. Eventually however, he decided to leave it all behind and break out on his own.
He took his ideas to Northern Ireland where he set up shop and hoped he could compete with the big three auto makers in Detroit. The DeLorean Motor Company was the result and it produced the infamous DMC-12. This was his famous gull wing door car. It's doors flipped up stead of opening out, the car was futuristic in appearance with its brushed stainless steel body.
The car never achieved the success that DeLorean had dreamed of. In fact, only 9000 ever made it onto the road. However, its memory will always live on thanks to the Back to the Future' films. Although not a success in and of itself, it inspired many new designs and refinements later adopted by other car manufacturers.
DeLorean was an outstanding business success not only in the automotive world, but also with hotel investing and NFL franchising. DeLorean's fall from grace was aired publicly and shocking to many. He was accused of financial misconduct and cocaine trafficking. His empire was soon decimated and he filed for bankruptcy.
It wasn't the end of DeLorean however. In 1999, he announced he would be producing a new affordable sports car made of plastic. Even with all his faults, he still drew much interests based on his previous important contributions to the sports car industry. Unfortunately DeLorean passed on in 2004 before work was completed on his new vision.
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