John Z DeLorean, founder of the DeLorean Motor Company, was born on this day in 1925. A native of Detroit, the engineer and automobile executive blistered up the General Motors foodchain when he reinvented their Pontiac brand in the 1960’s. He embraced the Hollywood lifestyle and dated models and actresses like Ursula Andress, Tina Sinatra, and Kelly Harmon, who would become the second of his four wives. In 1972 he founded the DeLorean Motor Company and along with Bill Collins, created the iconic DMC-12, which was to be manufactured in Belfast, Ireland.
Production and quality-control issues meant that the first cars were not available to buy until 1981, and in a depressed market the company was failing desperately to recoup its investments in the poorly-received car. The withdrawal of loan guarantees from the British government meant that money needed to keep the company afloat quickly dried up. By 1982, DMC was insolvent and $17 million in debt.
In October of that year, DeLorean was arrested on charges of taking part in a cocaine deal worth $24 million, of which he was acquitted. In 1985 he faced trials for embezzlement and fraud, accused of diverting money raised for his company directly to himself. He was again acquitted of all charges. His company did not survive his legal woes, and eventually in 1999, DeLorean had to declare himself bankrupt.
He died at the age of 80 in 2005, and his tombstone depicts the car that will forever be associated with his name.
Have a good day, everyone!