07/31/2021 6:00 AM
Updated 07/31/2021 6:00 AM
in the auto industry.
He was the star executive of General Motors who could not stand the corporate world, created his own brand and built an iconic car like the one from the Back to the Future saga.
But that dream was also the cause of his resounding fall, which included cases of
fraud, scams and drug trafficking
All this includes the new documentary series
Myth and Tycoon
, which is already available on Netflix and consists of 3 chapters of just over 40 minutes each.
John DeLorean built a style of his own, far removed from Detroit ties and tight suits.
The streaming platform presents it like this: "In the automotive world, John DeLorean went from engineer to executive to icon and became a legend. But his good name served to cover up fraud and shady deals."
In 1981, John Z. DeLorean introduced one of the most avant-garde cars in the automotive industry: the
, a model that became a myth.
But not for having been a sales success, but because it
was stellar protagonist in
Back to the Future
, the blockbuster that last year turned 35 years after its premiere.
John DeLorean was one of those executives in the automotive industry who did not go unnoticed.
He was a
brilliant engineer and also a flamboyant businessman
, although his fame also fluctuated from having been involved in drug trafficking cases, scams and millionaire fraud.
But how did he go from riding the crest of the wave, being considered the father of the first American muscle car and
Back to the Future
to becoming a figure with such a devious legacy?
The star executive
John Zachary DeLorean was born in Detroit, Michigan, United States, in 1925. His father was a Romanian immigrant, a union steward and Ford employee;
his mother was an Austro-Hungarian immigrant, and worked for the General Electric company.
He grew up in a working-class neighborhood, trained in public education, and graduated as an engineer in 1948, following a break in his studies due to being drafted into the US Army for World War II.
He sold life insurance and took evening classes that gave him a master's degree in business administration.
John DeLorean and Cristina Ferrare, his wife, during a presentation of the DMC-12.
He officially began his automotive career in 1952, joining the research and development team at Packard Motor Car Company, and then went on to Chrysler.
But it was after joining
, a brand that belonged to General Motors, that it became more relevant.
DeLorean was responsible for the success of the
, considered the first
, a category of North American sports cars to which the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro or Dodge Charger would later be added.
The launch of the GTO in 1964 ushered in a new era.
And with it, the brand captured the attention of an audience that until then was indifferent.
General Motors had established a range of engines based on vehicle size for the entire group.
A string of accidents had made auto racing very dangerous and racing was frowned upon.
Under DeLorean's supervision, the GTO was internally homologated with a 5.4-liter engine, however, it
could leave the factory with a larger
powerful (6.4-liter) engine for an option.
John DeLorean got tired of the corporate world and went to create his company, to build the car of his dreams.
The maneuver was a sales success, with 32,450 units sold in its first year.
Starting with the Pontiac GTO, DeLorean became something of a rock star.
He broke the mold of the typical Detroit executive.
He began to dye his hair black and wear it a little longer, he
put down his ties
and dressed his shirts with several unbuttoned buttons.
"Enjoying life was very high on my list of priorities. Even at $ 650,000 a year, if the job doesn't satisfy you, you do something else," DeLorean once confessed.
That is why he tired of meetings in large Detroit offices and forced his exit from General Motors to create his own company: the DeLorean Motor Company, incorporated in October 1975.
DeLorean Motor Company
In the mid-70s his life was pure glamor.
He was a recognized character.
married to top model Cristina Ferrare
and also wanted to create a car that was truly different, but also accessible.
The first part got it.
The DMC-12 was a breakthrough vehicle with that particular gull-wing door opening.
Not in vain that model was chosen to represent a time machine in the movie
Back to the Future
He had hired
, founder of Lotus, to
the chassis and suspension, and Italian bodybuilder
, to design the styling of the car, which was to use polished stainless steel for its bodywork.
All that development already anticipated that there was no way it would be cheap.
For the development of the DMC-12, John DeLorean hired the best in the industry.
And that's partly why the car was so expensive.
It obtained a loan from Bank of America and added television host
Sammy Davis Jr
as investors in the new company
In February 1978, Business Week reported that the company had been "flirting with Canada, Spain, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and most recently its hometown of Detroit."
But after signing a preliminary agreement with the United States Department of Commerce and the government of Puerto Rico, to build a factory on a former Air Force base, DeLorean received a better offer from the British government.
The offer was to
build a factory in Northern Ireland
, in Dunmurry, just outside Belfast, right in the heart of the bloody conflict between Catholics and Protestants.
In total there were
more than 100 million dollars in loans
and guarantees from the British government, plus tens of millions of private investors.
Everything seemed to be in place, but the money would be gone in the blink of an eye.
The dream ended in scandal
Seven months after construction began in Belfast, Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party came to power in Britain, giving a thumbs down to the deal the Labor Party had reached with the American Party.
The dream was short-lived,
the money was gone quickly
and the car did not sell as expected: it had spectacular style but did not have the promised quality, it lacked power and it cost twice as much as advertised.
Although the die was cast, there were many attempts to save the company.
Requests for money loans remained the order of the day, but something worse happened.
In October 1982,
John DeLorean was arrested
conversation videotaped by the FBI, during which he allegedly agreed to a
plan to sell 100 kilos of cocaine
for an estimated value of $ 24 million.
According to multiple reports at the time, the deal had been presented to DeLorean by a paid FBI informant.
John DeLorean passed away in 2005, with a decadent closure, having been on the crest of the wave.
When DeLorean specified that he did not have cash to pay for the drugs in advance, the informant promised to arrange the financing as long as he put his company as collateral.
And although he showed intent, he never took possession of the drugs.
DeLorean was released, but the company was declared bankrupt.
They had only managed to manufacture about
of the DMC-12.
DeLorean filed for bankruptcy and had to sell his home in New Jersey, where his 200-acre property was bought by Donald Trump.
John DeLorean died in 2005, at the age of 80.
And his legacy was breaking the mold of a stiff industry.
Although his rock star pretenses have brought him to a decadent end.
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