March 21, 2005

"Father" of the Pontiac GTO

"Father" of the Pontiac GTO Died

The "father" of the Pontiac GTO and auto mogul of his namesake company after leaving General Motors, John Z. DeLorean, has died. The 80-year-old executive passed away on Saturday from complications suffered after a stroke last week, near his home in Summit, N.J.

DeLorean made his early career in Detroit, where as the head of the Pontiac division, he presided over the creation of the GTO and triggered the musclecar era in Motown. The Detroit native, known for his glitzy taste in jewelry and distinctly un-Detroit lifestyle, had joined GM in 1956 and left the company in 1973 to start his own car company, DeLorean.

After winning financial incentives from the government of Northern Ireland and developing a stainless-steel-bodied sportscar, DeLorean began production of the cars and launched a downward spiral that included the demise of the sports-car project and federal drug charges in the early 1980s, when DeLorean was arrested in Cailfornia and charged with conspiracy to sell cocaine. After his acquittal on the charges in 1984 DeLorean kept a low profile in the automotive industry but the popularity of his cars experienced a brief surge when they were featured in the Back to the Future movies in the latter part of the decade.

DeLorean declared bankruptcy in 1999, the Associated Press adds, as he cleared the legal tangles left in the wake of the collapse of his car company. "John DeLorean was one of Detroit's larger-than-life figures who secured a noteworthy place in our industry's history," GM CEO Rick Wagoner said in a statement Sunday. "He made a name for himself through his talent, creativity, innovation and daring. At GM, he will always be remembered as the father of the Pontiac GTO, which really started the muscle-car craze of the '60s."

Posted by Quality Weenie at March 21, 2005 11:40 AM