DeLorean, John Zachary

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

DeLorean, John Zachary

John Zachary DeLorean, 1925–2005, American automobile executive and entrepeneur, b. Detroit. Son of a Ford Motor Co. worker, he attended the Lawrence Institute of Technology (B.S. 1948) and later earned masters degrees in engineering and business. Beginning his automotive career at Chrysler, he moved (1952) to the Packard Motor Co. as an engineer. In 1956 he joined General Motors (GM), where he was a key figure in creating (1964) the Pontiac GTO, the first muscle car, and by 1965 he was general manager of the Pontiac division. An unconventional and flamboyant executive, he was named a GM vice president in 1972 (and regarded as a future GM president), but differences over his business style led him to leave GM in 1973. He opened his own auto company, based in Northern Ireland, in 1981; it produced the DMC-12, a pricey stainless-steel sports coupe with gull-wing doors. Fewer than 9,000 cars were made before the company closed in 1982, and DeLorean ran afoul of the law, charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine (1982) and) fraud and other financial misdeeds (1985; he was acquitted of both charges.

See his autobiography (1985, with T. Schwarz); memoir by W. F. Haddad (1985); biographies by H. Levin (1983) and I. Fallon and J. Srodes (1985).

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