October 19, 2004

Today in Automotive History 1982

Today in Automotive History

1982 The Fall Of An Automotive Star

John DeLorean began his automotive career with Packard in the 1950s, and was recruited to Pontiac in 1959. A rising star at Pontiac, DeLorean pioneered the successful GTO and Grand Prix, and by the late 1960s had risen to the top position in a company that was behind only Chevrolet and Ford in sales. In 1970, DeLorean was moved to manage the Chevrolet Division, and by 1973 Chevy was selling a record 3,000,000 cars and trucks, with DeLorean seeming a top candidate for General Motors' (GM) next presidency. But in late-1973, he walked away from his $650,000 job at GM, boasting he was "going to show them how to build cars." After raising nearly $200 million in financing, DeLorean formed the DeLorean Motor Company in 1974, and constructed a car factory in Northern Ireland. Interest in DeLorean's sleek and futuristic DMC-12 car was high, but by the early 1980s the company was in serious financial trouble. Failing to find additional investors, the proud DeLorean became involved in racketeering and drug trafficking in a desperate attempt to save his beleaguered company. On this day in 1982, after being caught on film during an FBI sting operation trying to broker a $24 million cocaine deal, DeLorean was arrested on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering. But two years later a federal jury ruled that he was a victim of entrapment, and DeLorean was acquitted of all charges. Nevertheless, the debacle ruined his credibility, and John DeLorean's fall from the top of the automotive industry was complete.

Posted by Quality Weenie at October 19, 2004 08:12 AM