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1994 s600 coupe
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Discussion Starter #21
Delorean at Pontiac, copy Ferrari's racing image, and Lamborghini's body style, and mass produce it, sell it to the public.
that move took Pontiac to 3rd place automaker in sales in the entire world, right behind Chevrolet and Ford.
so...it plain works.
 

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1994 s600 coupe
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925 Posts
Discussion Starter #22
His education was interrupted by World War II (he served in the Army), but he eventually earned a master’s in automotive engineering and, later, an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan. He officially began his automotive career in 1952, joining the research and development team at the Packard Motor Car Company. Before long, he became a rising star in the company—and in the industry.

In 1956, DeLorean took a position at General Motors as an engineer at the Pontiac division. At the time, GM was the biggest company in the world and the place to be, but Pontiac struggled with its brand identity and wasn’t connecting with America’s youth—suddenly a huge new consumer force driving the country’s emerging car culture. Pontiac seemed to make only stuffy cars for older adults.

Pontiac was “really in trouble,” says J. Patrick Wright, author of On A Clear Day You Can See General Motors, the bestselling tell-all book about the auto giant. It was “like an old person’s division.”

1964-Pontiac-GTO


A 1964 Pontiac GTO.
Newscom
“When DeLorean left,” he says, it “had become the third-best nameplate in the auto industry, right behind Chevy and Ford.”

While other GM executives focused on building stately automobiles that seemed to float down the street on a cloud, DeLorean had different plans. He wanted to replace those sedate rides with sportier vehicles, machines that embraced a youth culture more interested in going fast than being cozy. When Pete Estes took over the reins of Pontiac in 1961 and DeLorean was named the division’s chief engineer, he seized the opportunity by having his engineering team throw a big, 389-cubic-inch V8 engine from the full-size Pontiac Bonneville into the midsize Pontiac Tempest. The result was a maneuverable but brawny car with a racing-friendly surplus of power and torque.

DeLorean called it the Pontiac Tempest LeMans GTO, and it created a new category of automobile that would come to be known as the muscle car.

But GM had a strict mandate prohibiting its engineers from sticking big engines in smaller cars to make them go fast. So the top executives at GM would never have approved the GTO as conceived. As captured in Framing John DeLorean, a new film directed by Don Argott and Sheena Joyce and told in a documentary style with dramatic reenactments starring Alec Baldwin as DeLorean and a supporting cast of top Hollywood character actors, the engineer came up with a loophole—with Estes’ approval, of course—to justify the high-performance aspect of the car. Instead of selling the car as a stand-alone model, the larger engine would be offered as a $295 option package on the 1964 Tempest. GTO-equipped coupes started at $2,852; convertibles started at $3,081.

The GTO package was an instant hit. Orders poured in. GM went on to sell 32,450 GTOs in its first year in production.
1967-Pontiac-Firebird


The 1967 Pontiac Firebird.
Pat McNulty / Alamy
For this blatant act of defiance, DeLorean was handsomely rewarded, leapfrogging in 1965 ahead of several promising engineers with more seniority to become the youngest general manager of Pontiac at age 40. Four years later, he was named the youngest manager of Chevrolet, and in 1972 he was made the head of GM’s North American car and truck operations.

Not only was DeLorean a great engineer, he cultivated a talent for marketing as well. He understood something other auto industry executives hadn’t yet grasped: Automobiles were just as much about style as they were about nuts and bolts. “None of these guys were paying attention to the fashion side,” Wright says. After DeLorean gave us the Firebird, his reputation took flight well beyond Detroit.

Before the GTO, DeLorean’s lifestyle had conformed to GM’s image of an executive: He kept his hair short and clean, wore conservative three-piece suits, was married and attended the right social functions. That all changed after the muscle car was born. Now he was a rock star—making the money of one and living the lifestyle. He started working out and wearing trendy clothes, and in 1968 he divorced his first wife, Elizabeth Higgins, after 14 years of marriage, to spend more time on the West Coast. There, he hobnobbed with Hollywood’s elite and dated models and actresses like Ursula Andress, Joey Heatherton and Tina Sinatra.

This new DeLorean was brash, even more arrogant and turned his nose up at GM’s elite—and they had a love-hate relationship with him because of it. He was successful for “not doing what they told him to do” and instead following his own instincts, Wright says. “The divisions were making money, and a lot of the profit ended up in the bonuses [of those executives] at the end of each year. They loved their bonuses” even as they grew to dislike DeLorean. It became a Catch-22 of greed.

In 1969, DeLorean married actress Kelly Harmon, the sister of actor Mark Harmon (of NCIS fame) and the daughter of Tom Harmon, a college-football legend, war hero and sportscaster. Kelly was 20. He was 44. The couple adopted a son, Zachary, but continued to live a jet-set lifestyle, shunning the social scene in Detroit.

"Even at $650,000 a year, if the job is not satisfying, you do something else,”
—John DeLorean, after leaving GM.
If his lifestyle hadn’t rankled his colleagues already, his push for significant changes at GM—such as abandoning big cars in favor of smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles—was sacrilegious.

But by the spring of 1973, it all changed. Harmon and DeLorean had divorced. Then came the infamous Greenbrier presentation. DeLorean was set to give a confidential speech to 700 top GM executives at the triannual Greenbrier Hotel GM management conference in West Virginia. Topic: How the poor quality of cars they were producing was hurting GM’s bottom line. The speech was very critical. His staff insisted he tone it down, which he did—but an unedited copy of the presentation mysteriously leaked and was published by the Detroit News. Both his supporters and his detractors at GM turned on him. DeLorean resigned in April 1973.

Six months later he told the New York Times that “he didn’t want the job anyway because a top management post at GM consists of sitting in meetings all day. Even at $650,000 a year, if the job is not satisfying, you do something else,” he said.
 
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