The DeLorean Story – Back to the Future or Forward to the Past?

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Remember “Back to the Future” – a science fiction film released in 1985, produced by Steven Spielberg. The story revolves around a teenager named Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) who is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean car invented by his eccentric friend, Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd).

The film was a major box office success, leading to two sequels, “Back to the Future Part II” (1989) and “Back to the Future Part III” (1990), forming a trilogy. The DeLorean car, specifically a DeLorean DMC-12, became iconic due to its distinctive gull-wing doors and stainless-steel body. It was modified with a flux capacitor, which made time travel possible when the car reached 88 miles per hour.

“Back to the Future” has had a lasting impact on popular culture, influencing various media and spawning merchandise, an animated series, theme park rides, and a stage musical. The film is celebrated for its imaginative plot, memorable characters, and innovative special effects.

This story is about John Zachary DeLorean who created the famous “Back to the Future” car. DeLorean was an American engineer and automotive executive, born on January 6, 1925, in Detroit, Michigan. He is best known for founding the DeLorean Motor Company and developing the iconic DeLorean DMC-12 sports car, which gained fame from its appearance in the “Back to the Future” film trilogy.

Early Life and Education

  • Education: DeLorean studied at the Lawrence Institute of Technology, earning a degree in industrial engineering. He later attended the Chrysler Institute of Engineering and received a master’s degree in automotive engineering. He also earned an MBA from the University of Michigan.

Career

  • Early Career: DeLorean began his career at Packard Motor Company in the 1950s, where he quickly rose through the ranks. He later moved to General Motors (GM), where he made a significant impact.
  • General Motors: At GM, DeLorean worked his way up to become the youngest division head in the company’s history. He was responsible for some of GM’s most successful models, including the Pontiac GTO, Pontiac Firebird, and Chevrolet Vega.

DeLorean Motor Company

  • Founding: In 1973, DeLorean left GM to start his own company. The DeLorean Motor Company was founded in 1975.
  • DMC-12: The company’s flagship model, the DeLorean DMC-12, was known for its unique stainless steel body and gull-wing doors. Production began in 1981 in Northern Ireland.
  • Challenges and Bankruptcy: Despite initial excitement, the company faced numerous challenges, including financial difficulties, production issues, and an economic recession. In 1982, DMC declared bankruptcy.

Legal Troubles

  • Drug Trafficking Scandal: In 1982, DeLorean was arrested in a sting operation for attempting to sell cocaine to save his company from financial collapse. He was acquitted of all charges in 1984 after a high-profile trial, as the jury found he had been a victim of entrapment.

Later Life and Legacy

  • Post-DMC: After the collapse of his company, DeLorean faced several legal and financial challenges. He attempted various business ventures, but none achieved significant success.
  • Death: John DeLorean died on March 19, 2005, at the age of 80.
  • Legacy: Despite the failure of his company, the DeLorean DMC-12 remains an iconic car, largely due to its role in the “Back to the Future” films. John DeLorean is remembered as a visionary and a maverick in the automotive industry.

For you auto aficionados and investors:

The DeLorean debuted at around $25,000 in 1981. Today, you should be able to find a DeLorean is great shape for about $50,000. Adjusted for inflation, not such a bad price.

My prize auto, a 1965 Austin Healey 3000 which I bought for around $3,000 sells today for around $200,000. “You gotta know when to hold ‘em…..”

Excelsior, friends. Old Doc Granger says, “At today’s prices, I can’t afford to buy homes I used to live in or cars where I learned many of my social skills parked somewhere under the moon and stars!”

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