Dream car creator
On October 19, 1982, John Z. DeLorean, the automotive engineer responsible for creating iconic sports cars including the DeLorean DMC-12 featured in the movie Back To The Future was arrested carrying a suitcase filled with 59 pounds of cocaine and charged with drug trafficking.The FBI claimed that DeLorean planned to help smuggle the drugs, which had an estimated value of $24 million, in order to keep his cash-strapped company afloat.
Before his legal troubles began, DeLorean enjoyed massive success working for General Motors, where he designed a number of iconic vehicles including the Pontiac GTO muscle car and the Firebird.
In 1973, he left GM to found the DeLorean Motor Company where he focused on building his dream car: The DMC-12, complete with stainless-steel body, gull-wing doors and 130-hp Renault engine.
The DMC-12 immediately captured public imagination and became a huge hit after Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) drove the tricked-out time-machine version of the car — complete with fictional flux capacitor — in the 1985 smash hit Back To The Future.
Alas, in real life, not many people could afford the DeLorean, which was priced at a then-astronomical , 000. As such, the car failed to recoup $175 million in investment costs.
in August 1984, DeLorean’s lawyers successfully argued that the FBI and DEA had unfairly targeted and illegally entrapped the car designer. His attorneys also claimed that the FBI informant only knew DeLorean casually, and targeted him because he was financially vulnerable. As a result, Delorean was acquitted of the drug charges.
Despite his acquittal, DeLorean’s financial problems continued to mount. In 1999, he declared personal bankruptcy and was later forced to sell his 434-acre estate in Bedminster, New Jersey — which Donald Trump eventually purchased and turned into a golf course.
DeLorean’s private life made headlines, as well, as he dated a string of high-profile beauties that included Raquel Welch and Ursula Andress. He married a total of four times.
John DeLorean ultimately died from a stroke in 2005.
Still, DeLorean’s cars continue to capture the public imagination. The DeLorean Motor Company name has been bought by a Texas-based firm, and it recently announced that it is taking orders for people who are interested in buying a DMC-12 when the car is re-released in 2017.