| Wednesday, March 23, 2005
| jOHN DeLOREAN DIES; ONETIME GM STAR FAMED FOR 'BACK TO FUTURE' CAR
John Z. DeLorean, an automotie innovator who left General Motors Corp. to develop a radically futuriostic sports car, has died at age 80.
He was among just a handful of U.S. entepreneur to start a car company in the last 75 years.
While apt to be remembered as the mand behind a car modified for time travel in the "Back to the Future" movies, Mr. DeLorean left a powerful imprint in automaking built in unique, souped up ears.
Mr. DeLorean, died late Saturday at Overlook Hospital in Summit, N.J. of complications from a recent stroke, said Paul Connell, an owner of A.J. Desmond and Sons Funeral Directors in Royal Oak, Mich. which was handling arrangements.
A Detroit native, Mr. DeLorean broke the mold of staid Midwestern auto executives by "going Hollywood", and pushed GM to offer smaller models, auto historians said.
While at GM, he created what some consider the first "muscle car" in 1964 by cramming a V-8 engine into a Pontiac Tempest and calling it the GTO.
Built only 8,900 cars
"John DeLorean was one of Detroits larger-than-life figures who secured a noteworthy place in our industry's history," GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said Sunday. "He made a name for himself though his talent, creativity, innovation and daring..At GM he will always be remembered ad the father of the Pontiac GTO, which really started the muscle car craze in the '60".
Mr. DeLorean was a rising executive at GM who many believe was destined for tis presidency before he quit in 1973 to launch the DeLorean Motor Car Co., in Northern Ireland. Eight years later, the DeLorean DMC 12 hit the streets.
Its hallamrks, such as an unpainted stainless steel skirt and the gull wing doors, have been ignored by mainstream automakers. The angular design, however, earned it a cult following, and the car was a time traveling vehicle for Micahel J. Fox's character in the "Back to the Future" films of the late 1980's.
But the factory produced only 8,900 cars in three years, said John Truscott, membership director of the DeLorean Owners Associations.
Mr. DeLorean's company collapsed in 1983, a year after he was arrested in Los Angeles and accused of conspiring to sell $24 million of cocaine to salvage his venture.
Mr. DeLorean used an entrapment defense to win acquittal on the drug charges in 1984.
The British government lost $94 milion over its heavy subsidies for the plant in West Belfast, granted with the hope that the venture's 2,000 jobs would weaken support for the Irish Republican Army.
Mr. DeLorean was later cleared of defrauding investors, but continuing legal entanglements kept him on the sidelines of the automotive world.
(abstracted from CHICSUNTIMES/Jeffrey Gold)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 4:27 AM