Have you seen the classic movie Back to the Future? If so, you know what the title of this article is all about. As Michael J. Fox finds out in the movie, it’s an important part of a Delorean automobile; at least one capable of time travel. Back to the Future was a great movie but did you ever wonder whats the story is behind the automobile? It’s quite a story too. With the help of Suburban Chrysler of Farmington Hills, MI, a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer, we got the whole story concerning John Z. DeLorean and the car that bears his name.
John Z. DeLorean was born in 1925 in Detroit. He was the son of a Ford Motor Company employee and grew up immersed in the automotive manufacturing world. Many of the big shots at Ford were trained engineers so that is what young John DeLorean aspired to become. He eventually realized his dream and graduated with a master's in mechanical engineering from the Chrysler Institute. Soon he was working in the Packard research and development department developing new automotive technologies. Another more exciting position appeared at General Motors and he left Packard to go to GM. After a decade of moving up the corporate ladder at GM, DeLorean was promoted in 1969 to the head of the Chevrolet Division.
The late 1960s were difficult times in Detroit. After leading the world in car product for decades, suddenly Detroit had competition. This created some difficult environments within the car manufacturing companies. Delorean in his autobiography, DeLorean, wrote that the ethical and business problems he had with GM had become so big that he simply needed to resign. In actuality, this allowed him to become an independent consultant where he could raise funds to do what he really wanted to do: design and build his dream car.
In 1975, the DeLorean Motor Company was founded. That same year, DeLorean created a separate company, Composite Technology Corporation, to develop cutting-edge automotive construction materials. This is what Delorean was working on at GM so he had background in the technology. Naturally, some of it would go into his own car.
To build his dream car, the DMC-12, DeLorean hired the Giorgetto Giugiaro of Ital Design and Colin Chapman of Lotus. Both of these men were well known in the car business and at the top of their game. After looking into Puerto Rico and Ireland as sites for a factory, he settled on Northern Ireland, which offered him the best business deal. Delorean opened his factory in 1981 and soon started making the Delorean DMC-12. As the story goes, the first 70-80 cars to roll off the line were so bad they were parked, unfinished, along the factory's fence. DeLorean actually had to set up rebuilding facilities on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. to fix completed cars before they could be delivered to dealers. Not helping the situation were the troubles between the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland and the tanking of the financial exchange rate during this time.
Despite all the setbacks, there were orders on the books for thousands of DMC-12s. Why? The DMC-12 was a gorgeous car to look at and very unique and was receiving a lot of press. The result was that DeLorean tried to ramp production up to 14,700 a year. Unfortunately, this created massive cash flow problems. In his desperation, John Z. pursued “questionable sources of funds” and ended up in a DEA cocaine bust in October 1982. His company collapsed but in 1984, he was found not guilty of all counts against him.
Today the DeLorean Motorcar legend is kept alive by a company in Humble, Texas. They have purchased the DeLorean trademark and most of the original parts left behind when the company went out of business. Today, you can buy a remanufactured Delorean from them or select from a number of fine used Deloreans.\