March 19, 2005 – John DeLorean dies

American automotive engineer and industry executive John Z. DeLorean passed away on this day in 2005 at the age of 80. While he is often most famous for founding the DeLorean Motor Company which produced the DMC-12, he worked for a number of other automakers prior to starting his own company, starting with Chrysler in 1952. Less than a year later he would move to Packard and during the time that company was merging  with Studebaker he was offered his choice of five different jobs from GM. He chose Pontiac where he made sizeable contributions, including designing the GTO, widely considered the first muscle car. He is also credited with the design of the Pontiac Firebird and Grand Prix. When he moved to Chevrolet in 1969 was already making an impact in pop culture. His sizeable salary allowed him to invest in the San Diego Charges and New York Yankees and kept a close circle of celebrity friends. He often clashed with fellow GM executives but president Ed Cole trusted him to get things done, which he did, until he left to found DeLorean Motor Company in 1973. The company faced financial difficulty after low production numbers, which led to him accepting a deal to fund a cocaine deal worth about $24 million. He defended himself with police entrapment and was found not guilty, but the trial and accompanied press effectively ended his automotive career. DeLorean Motor Company promotional photo of John Delorean and the DMC-12.

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