Pack Automotive Museum

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DeLOREAN MOTOR COMPANY

Live The Dream

  Founded in 1975 by maverick businessman, innovator and youngest person to become a General Motors executive, John Delorean had a vision for a car of the future.  Funding for this vision came primarily from private investment groups, Bank of America and formation of various partnerships that included notables such as entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr. and Johnny Carson from NBC’s Tonight Show (when Jay Leno was only a guest). Other subsidies came from government and economic organizations who looked to Delorean’s plan to build his production facility in a country where high unemployment meant income for many families as a boost to economic development and as a way of ending sectarian violence.
The first (and only) plant was built in Northern Ireland with the full backing of the British government. As part of this offer, DeLorean was apparently under the impression that the British government would provide his company with export credit financing.  This would provide a loan of 80% of the wholesale cost of the vehicle (US $20,000) upon completion and delivery for shipping and in October 1978 construction began on the 6-building 600,000 sq. foot production facility in Dunmurry Northern Ireland (a suburb of Belfast). In order to keep the peace on the inside of the building the same as was on the outside, two distinct entrances were made. One would accommodate the Protestant workers while the other (on the opposite side of the building) was for the Catholic workers. 16 months later it was completed.
Vehicle production was scheduled to start in 1979 on the all-aluminum bodied sports car but budget overruns and engineering delays pushed the assembly line another two years before the first car was produced. Even then the quality of the cars was less than acceptable, in part because of the inexperienced work force, and QC Centers were set up in the U.S. to overcome the bad build issues before they reached the buying public.  Many of these buyers put a down payment on pre-production vehicles a year before just to be one of the first owners.  By 1982 quality from a more experienced and seasoned work force allowed production of a much improved product but about the same time, John Delorean was going through his own personal hell.
Despite the publicity, sales of the car were going south and the company began to experience severe financial troubles. DeLorean was desperate to keep funding his dream and on October 19, 1982 he was arrested at a Los Angeles hotel on charges of financing a $24 million cocaine deal. That very same day the DMC plant closed leaving everyone out of a job and millions of dollars lost for investors. Delorean, married to Super Model Christina Ferrare at the time, was eventually found to be not guilty of this “sting type set-up” but still took a huge toll in time, health and wealth.  He was sued by everyone, divorced in 1985 and eventually in 2005 passed away from a heart attack.   As a side note to this most brief of automotive manufacturing histories, unfortunately for John Delorean the most memorable thing about his car was its appearance in the science fiction movie hit “Back To The Future” staring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd.

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