John DeLorean movie still in development hell

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Unfortunately, the fabled John DeLorean movie is still rotting in development hell. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Unfortunately, the fabled John DeLorean movie is still rotting in development hell. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

For years, various parties in the global film industry have been trying to make a John DeLorean movie, as the story of the car impresario is and would be pretty compelling. However much the man was a legend, it hasn’t amounted to as much as a trailer.

John DeLorean movie stuck in neutral

A John DeLorean movie would make an outstanding biopic is the legendary subject. DeLorean was an innovator, a rebel, and a flamboyant playboy in an era of extremely stuffed shirts in the car industry. He enjoyed the good life, shot for the moon and missed as much as he hit it; imagine “The Aviator” with cars.

However, the movie is in what the film industry calls “development hell,” meaning no one has been able to get greenlit for production. While a couple TV movies and TV documentaries have been done, various parties have been trying to get him on the silver screen for years. The man himself was at it before his death, according to Jalopnik, and at least one production got the nod of approval from his fourth wife (and widow) in 2009, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

At that time, the film was supposed to be released by 2015.

Would make for a great flick

Aside from the typical “high flying executive” element, a John DeLorean movie would have some of the great stories from automotive history.

John DeLorean began as a Chrysler engineer in the early 1950s, soon switching to Packard for a few years. He joined Pontiac just before Packard went belly up. He was a masterful innovator, improving existing GM products and inventing new ones, such as the overhead cam straight-six, recessed windshield wipers and electric rear-window defrosters.

In the early 1960s, he was put in charge of a project to create a performance variant of the GM A-Body architecture. Basing the car on the Pontiac Tempest coupe, they stuffed a 389-cubic inch V-8 in from the Buick Skylark as the drivetrain (among other optional engines) and as tribute to the Ferrari 250, they named it the GTO, or “gran turismo omolagato.” He was also helped develop the Pontiac Gran Prix and the Firebird.

During this time, DeLorean garnered a reputation as a maverick compared to the more button-down executives GM preferred. He flew in private jets, dated actresses and models, bought shares in sports teams and hob-nobbed with celebrities. Sammy Davis Jr and Johnny Carson were some of his best friends.

GM made him a VP at Chevrolet in 1971, according to Road and Track, but didn’t last long as he rubbed other suits the wrong way and was out by 1972, with a Cadillac dealership as a parting gift.

Then he got an idea for a sports car.

Great Scot!

Of course, a John DeLorean movie is going to involve the failed DeLorean Motor Company. He started the venture for an ethical sports car in the early 1970s, based on the idea of a car that is great to drive but practical and economical. Production finally began in the early 1980s, and didn’t continue for long.

The political situation in Northern Ireland, where the factory was based, didn’t help. Add in shoddy production when it was actually happening and poor sales (thanks to an MSRP greater than a Corvette) for a car about as powerful as a station wagon with it’s anemic Renault-sourced drivetrain and DMC was doomed. Then-British PM Margaret Thatcher balked at requests for a bailout.

Then there was the coke bust. DeLorean was trying to find any means to restore funding to DMC, and he was caught offering to bankroll a cocaine smuggling operation. He beat the rap by arguing entrapment, but the damage was done. John DeLorean was out of the car business by 1984 and died of a stroke in 2005, at the age of 80.

In all, John Z. DeLorean was one of the great pioneers in the automotive industry and Hollywood has already made his car an icon. Would make for a great flick.

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