John DeLorean, RIP

John Zachary DeLorean, a handsome chap who gave innocent amusement to millions (and relieved the British taxpayer of quite a lot of dosh), has died at the age of 80. His company, DeLorean Motor, produced only one model, the DMC-12, but it made a lasting impression as an unpainted, stainless steel-bodied sports car with gull-wing doors. (It was the car in the Back to the Future movies.)

DeLorean Motor corporation had a hectic but brief life. Its founder set it up in Northern Ireland during the height of the ‘troubles’ when nobody would invest in the embattled province. The UK government, unable to believe its luck, gave DeLorean massive subsidies and tax-breaks to come to Northern Ireland. He produced about 9,000 cars before going bankrupt in 1982. Soon afterwards, US authorities charged him with selling cocaine to prop up its finances. This led my fellow-countrymen to propose a new marketing slogan for the company: “Things go better with Coke”. (JZD was acquitted in 1984 after a sensational trial.) The taxpayer may be richer as a result of his passing, but the world is poorer! The NYT says that restored DMC-12s sell for $30k. Wonder if there’s one on eBay.