John Z. Delorean, the former GM executive whose private venture into car building ended in a corporate and personal disaster, but not before he created an automotive icon, died at 80 from complications following a stroke. DeLorean will be remembered by enthusiasts as a true car guy, an engineer whose sole corporate desire was to build cars with a high quotent of excitement, not mere vessels to be picked up and dropped off at airports like luggage.
As head of Pontiac in the 1960s DeLorean is remembered as the guy who inserted a race-bred V8 into a bland "teacher's car," creating the affordable GTO, arguably the first youth-oriented muscle car. Although he grated at times on a staid corporate culture, which he felt was more interested in bean counting than car building, DeLorean's success at Pontiac propelled him up the ranks at GM, with which he split in 1973. Eight years later, the first gull-winged DeLorean DCM-12 — a car from a company he had created to compete with European automakers like BMW — left a factory in Northern Ireland. In the years that followed, DeLorean the car was plagued by quality issues, a high price and an economic recession, and DeLorean the man was accused of attempting to finance his company's recovery by selling $24 million worth of cocaine. After a lengthy trial and ensuing media circus, he was acquitted on a technicality, though many still believe he was the victim of a set-up.
John Z. DeLorean, Father of Glamour Car, Dies at 80 [The New York Times]
Long Island Delorean Medical Center [internal]