C.R. "Dick" Brown
With over 25 years experience and understanding in automotive design, CR ‘Dick’ Brown had previously set up the Mazda dealer network in the United States in the early 1970s. It took Mazda just 2 years to achieve what took Volkswagen and Toyota 11 to 14 years to achieve. By 1972, Mazda was the 4th largest importer in the United States.
Dick Brown joined early in DMC’s history and became crucial in the early financial stages of the company.
John DeLorean hired Brown based on his reputation with Mazda and with the prospect of raising as much money as possible for the new venture. Dick Brown was a man who could get things done. He was also responsible for arranging some of the key financing loans for the company, most notably a Bank of America loan in the region of 18 million dollars - and crucial to DMC’s survival.
Working with his team, Brown explained to the SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission that he could have in place, within four months, 150 dealers located across the United States. After this was approved, Brown had to fulfil this obligation, which was a difficult task, as dealers were each asked to invest $25,000 dollars into what was a high-risk venture. At best, the company only had a 50/50 chance of succeeding. What Brown and the whole DMC project had in its favour was John DeLorean. DeLorean had been a great asset to the dealers while he was with GM - and the dealers never forgot this. This personal history and credibility helped enormously, but was not the only reason the dealers gave money for this project - the presentation of the prototype was a minor miracle.
The DeLorean Team had many restrictions in place when trying to ‘round up’ dealers. In their promotional video they could not legally state any claims about the car’s abilities or performance or features. The video was presented with a man driving the DeLorean prototype, from the city, through to full panoramic views of beautiful landscapes - all with relaxing music in the background.
The video was a massive success with dealers and so was DMC’s plan of recruiting a dealer network.
Dick Brown had signed up 122 dealers in just two months. In the remaining time DeLorean sent
Roy Nesseth to ‘help’ Brown with the rest of the dealer network. By the time the deadline had passed, between them
Brown and Nesseth had signed 158 dealers in total.
With complex timetables and shipments of cars to the dealers, Brown was faced with not just sales problems, but now quality control. In January 1981, Brown had commented on Pilot 28 being a ‘winner’. However, when the first production cars began arriving in the US, Brown had serious quality problems to contend with, and described the first batch of cars as very rough. (His actual wording was much stronger)! To meet this challenge, Brown had to set up three Quality Assurance Centres (QACs), as quality control quickly became the most pressing issue with the cars.
The QACs were located in Bridgewater, New Jersey, Santa Ana in California and in Detroit, Michigan.
The cars were delivered to either Wilmington, Delaware, or sailed through the Panama Canal to arrive at Long Beach. At one point the QACs were spending 140 hours fixing up and proving each individual car. Later that figure was reduced to 68 hours, but $600 per car was still an extra expense that the company could barely afford.
Dick Brown was also responsible for the banning of the complimentary
DeLorean toolkits, that were originally shipped with the car. He
thought that the kits felt like toys and were more like Christmas
presents than useful tools. Being the main salesman of the car -
he got his way, as he did when he ordered the phasing out of the gas
flap hoods, and later the pleated style hoods.
Brown was involved in an incident in March of 82’ when DeLorean had ordered the removal of 15 DeLoreans from the QAC in Bridgewater, NJ - all of these cars were collateral on the 18 million dollar loan from the Bank of America, which Brown had been responsible for.
Ed Hansen, who was responsible for the Quality Assurance Centre In Bridgewater refused to release the cars on grounds that they were collateral on the loan. The next day Bill Mahr, who managed the DMC New York office, arrived at Bridgeport and demanded the release of the fifteen cars. Again the release of the cars was refused.
Dick Brown had been alerted to an incident at the QAC in Bridgeport, and made steps to have local law enforcement officers at the Quality Assurance Centre in California
- causing friction within the company and ultimately leading to his
Brown should be credited for his major contributions to DMC - and in so many ways if not for Dick Brown, the DeLorean may have never been more than a prototype.