In 1979, John Z. DeLorean was poised for greatness or disaster, having left behind the big automakers to create his own car from scratch, a gigantic gambit that required huge talent and hubris. Esquire writer William Flanagan profiled DeLorean that year, capturing the gambler in mid-deal, still bluffing, soon to be folding. The opening:
“For a man who looks like Tyrone Power, is married to the stunning young model in the Virginia Slims and Clairol ads, and earns six figures a year, John Zachary DeLorean certainly doesn’t smile much. He can’t. Not just yet, anyway. The reason is simple: The most important project in his life has yet to be accomplished. DeLorean wants to make a monkey out of General Motors. He is on the verge of doing it, but he has a way to go.
There will be no rest for DeLorean until he finishes doing what no one else in the history of modern business has dared attempt–to design, build, and sell his very own automobile from scratch, an automobile the world’s largest car company wouldn’t, couldn’t, and probably shouldn’t build.
By mid-1980, either DeLorean will be smiling at last or he’ll be a shattered man. At stake are thousands of jobs for unemployed Catholics in Belfast; the wisdom and reputation of the British government, which, amid howls of protest, has bet about $106 million on the flamboyant engineer; and about another $40 million posted by several hundred U.S. car dealers and other investors, ranging from Merrill Lynch stockbrokers to Johnny Carson.
But most important, John DeLorean’s pride is at stake. If his DMC-12 sports cars roll off the assembly line–and if they sell–he will have been avenged. He will have shown the bastards that they were wrong, goddammit, that General Motors was wrong about him and what you can do with an auto company. He will have shown that you can make a virtually rustproof car with a stainless steel skin and underbody, with air bags, with a reinforced plastic frame–a car that won’t kill you in a sixty-mile-an-hour, head-on crash, a car that can last twenty-five years or more. And he will have shown that you can sell that car, even at about $14,000 a copy. And if the platoons of pinstriped, cordovan-shod executives of GM doubt it, they can go and stick their noses up its tail pipe.”
John DeLorean speaks at the DeLorean Car Show in Cleveland in 2000:
Another John DeLorean post:
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