John Z. DeLorean
John Zachary DeLorean - born 6 January, 1925 in Detroit, Michigan - started his brilliant career as an engineer by joining The Chrysler Institute. DeLorean become disillusioned when he heard a speech from top executive James Zeder, who explained to the class that team work was the only way forward within the company. DeLorean, a true individual, found this hard to comprehend and with a lot of regret he started looking elsewhere for a career move.
DeLorean was offered a job at Packard Motor Company, which took him in a new career direction. It was not long before John was establishing himself within the company.
One of John’s designs early on was to play a part in the development
of the (Ultamatic) an automatic Transmission unit. After successful designs were in incorporated into the Ultamatic, Johns ideas and designs were being noticed for the first time.
However Packard was a struggling company and when Packard merged with the Studebaker Corporation, John was left with the choice of relocating to Indiana, or looking for another job. Fortunately, John was approached by the engineering vice president of General Motors, Oliver Kelley, who offer John his choice of job across five
divisions of the GM group. It was a choice that would set John DeLorean on the path of a true maverick, for the rest of his career.
DeLorean Joined The Pontiac Motor division of GM, in which he excelled – most notably for being the design of the GTO muscle car
with Bill Collins. DeLorean continued to impress with his engineering abilities and his unique design ideas, and played a large part in turning around the division, both in terms of their image and their profitability. As a result, John DeLorean was ‘fast-tracked’ within the company, and was appointed as General Manager in 1965.
In 1969 John DeLorean was promoted to head of the Chevrolet division, which at that time was the largest motor division in the world. Although Chevrolet was making money, the division was out of control and it was the hope of GM’s senior management that DeLorean could rearrange the division and gain back control. It was not long after Johns appointment that many changes started to occur within Chevrolet, from tightening parts inventory, to smoothing and building relations with the GM dealer network.
GM senior management realised that John DeLorean was making positive changes to the business, but was hard to control. Faced with an invaluable asset which they couldn’t control, GM did the the only thing they could, and in 1972 DeLorean was promoted to head of North American car and truck operations.
John DeLorean soon discovered his new life on the GM 14th floor was powerful in many ways, although he also realised that he was no longer playing a part in the actual build and design of the work which he so loved. (Even after years as a senior manager he always thought of himself as an engineer). His position now was part of the decision making process and while it was a highly important job within the company, for DeLorean it meant that he had little say, and his methods which had been tried and tested and made GM millions of dollars, had to be held in constraint. It was not long before DeLorean had reached the point of leaving GM.
While DeLorean was in line for promotion as the next possible President of GM, it was not to happen.
In 1973 he left General Motors and become the head of the National Alliance of Businessmen (NAB). After a successful year held in this office, DeLorean for the first time was unemployed after many years in the automotive business.
Soon enough DeLorean started talking to other engineers about the possibility of starting a motor company from scratch - The DeLorean Motor Company. DeLorean asked Thomas W Kimmerley to start up a new company with him and after many discussions, both men agreed that the basis for the business was sound enough to proceed.
DeLorean set himself and Kimmerley the task of raising the money needed to keep the project going. Kimmerley created the DeLorean Motor Company in January 1974. DeLorean later founded his own personal venture ‘The John Z DeLorean Corporation’ in 1975.
In 1974, John DeLorean and Bill Collins (DMC’s newly hired Chief engineer) went to Europe and visited the Turin Auto Show to find a designer for their new sports car. They had visited four different design companies before they selected Ital Design.
DeLoreans attention turned to financing his new project. Many possible finance and investment deals had been arranged including Puerto Rico through to Detroit,- although ultimately the most attractive deal was tabled by Northern Ireland, and Belfast was to be the ‘home’ of the DeLorean Sports car. While troubles persisted in the war torn Belfast area at the time, it was not long before the state of the art production plant was being constructed in Dunmurry, with the promise of thousands of jobs for local Catholic and Protestant workers alike.
Problems began for DMC from the very beginning - finances for the company were always to the last dollar and DMC had agreements with the British government which they did not honour due to a change from a Labour government to a Conservative government at the mid point of the DMC project in Northern Ireland.
DMC found itself struggling for money and for its very survival. Nonetheless, DMC pushed forward and with occasional injections of money into the project by the British government, the company started to show profit in potential sales in the United States.
However with a recession in the United States, unfavourable exchange rates and one of the worst winters on record, DMC sales were hard hit. The British government slowly backed away from the whole project seeing nothing but troubles ahead and without the backbone of the British Governments financial support, the Belfast plant was doomed from that day on.
DMC was put into receivership in 1982, and later to declare its bankruptcy.