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View Full Version : Why Delorean failed (original posting three years ago)



nick sutton
07-12-2011, 07:38 AM
I have just registered to DMCtalk.com and as a former employee that was made redundant from the factory in Belfast 26 years next week I'd like to make a few comments about the company and the car.

I was employed by DMC Belfast for just over four years and only one of a handful of employees to have achieved the four year milestone. Starting in December 1978 and finishing January 1983.My job as Purchasing Manager was to procure the parts designed by Lotus and to undertake the daily relationship with Lotus and the DMC supply base. Initially also procuring the basics for the Belfast DeLorean facility and the early commitments on specialist equipment to be used in the factory including the Tellus carriers. My activities after Receivership (February 1982) was to assist in any possible rescue plan and assist in communicating with the supply base.

After a short wait following my redundancy from DMC in 1983 - twenty five years to be exact - The DeLorean theme came alive again when Ken Koncelik invited me to Gettysburg for the June 08 DeLorean Show. Apart from being overwhelmed with the show, its format and the professional way in which the event was organised I was also impressed by the enthusiasm of the attendees. The cars were amazing! Not given to being easily impressed I can not remember an event in my adult life where all my dreams came together in four short days. It was a terrific experience. The highlight for me apart from seeing so many DeLoreans was Matt Summer's Museum a collection of information about DeLorean I didn't think would exist in one place -superb!

Since that trip I have trawled many of the DMC web sites reviewing research, opinions and theories but most of all I have been impressed with the detail knowledge by many members of various organisations regarding their knowledge of DeLorean Motor Cars, the Car and the Development of the product at Lotus Cars.

However, there is one posting on this and other DMC web sites that repeats and doesn't seem to be answered unequivocally " Why did DeLorean fail" there are many theories and opinions.

And there are no postings that I can see that ask why did "DeLorean succeed". Building a factory on a seventy two acre site, training a workforce of two thousand five hundred people and procuring over two thousand individually designed parts doing all of this in the epicentre of an area of conflict in a region of the United Kingdom generally regarded as being in civil war - all this in twenty four months - from the start to the shipment of the first cars - and making over eight thousand vehicles in it's short life. The opposition would take double this time and probably double the budget. Modena and Stuttgart must have been envious!

The book Stainless Steel Illusion is probably the best I have read describing the plant and facilities in Belfast but mentions very little as to how the car and factory were built - John DeLorean's book rarely mentions the plant - I have read it twice and can find few references to the achievements of 1978 - 1982 in Belfast.

Even the film by Pennebaker is flawed - there is one scene shown of the Belfast plant in mirror image the editor had not checked the detail - and other parts of the film were certain meetings were cut and pasted.

Bill Haddad's book "Hard Driving" was I am sure, typed at least in part, as I can still see him in my minds eye at his Remington Rand typewriter in the Training Building in Belfast at a window on the ground floor facing the main Assembly Building with his coat on the back of his chair and the ubiquitous suspenders (English bracers) over his shoulders. What story was he writing as I seen him typing oblivious to anyone around him?


The documentary "Car Crash" released in 2004 and Robert Lamrock's earlier documentary were both excellent and factually correct but due to time and the other sensational aspects of the story that needed to be covered couldn't really fit in detail of the incredible achievement of the two thousand five hundred people who made John DeLorean's "Dream" happen.

Ivan Thallon's book "Dream Maker" fails to emphasise the good in what turned out to be a very sorry story. His Belfast sources for the book located within the plant appear to have a negative view of the company. In reality most of these sources must have seen very little after five o'clock in the evening just before most of the fun started at the outside the security gates just near to the Training Building. This entertainment supplied by the protestors and rioters occupied considerable energy and patience of the DMC Security, police, army and local DMC management that gathered inside the plant to protect the occupants and buildings. The nocturnal events of March 1981 to late summer inside and outside the plant were extraordinary to say the least and go unrecorded and the management unrewarded for their considerable efforts.

My ex DeLorean colleagues who were Senior Managers at DMC have similar views as my own regarding the lack of history or to put it correctly accurate history associated with the building of the plant and the making of the car in this period .All have remarkable stories of endurance and fortitude in the face of enormous difficulties. Some amusing others sad, some quite remarkable some heart rendering.

The legend and integrity of John DeLorean remains intact in Northern Ireland and it's difficult to find a person here in Belfast, other than, quite naturally Government officials that would say a bad word against him. The reasons for failure of DeLorean Motor Cars deserve many more pages but the main theories posted on web sites and some of my own are:-

. The original deal with the British Government being flawed as it gave credence to high levels of employment via grant aid and promoted excessive employment
. The dollar pound exchange rate adversely affected profitability.
. A world recession
. Bad weather in North America
. Unrestrained optimism regarding volumes
. A plot by the "Big Three"
.The real killer being the ramp up to 80 cars per day which was John's attempt to make a profitable company to assist his Public Stock offering

However, given all these issues it's the man in charge that takes the wrap quote Harry S Truman "The buck stops here". So the blame for the initial failure of DMC and it's entry into Receivership has to be with John DeLorean for that and no other reason.

But failure is one thing - to correct a wrong is another.

A further posting on your web site could be "Why wasn't the DeLorean factory resurrected from the ashes of failure?" That's the real story and should answer most of the questions and queries the reader has about John DeLorean, The British Government, The Receivers and Directors of the DeLorean Motor Company. The heroes and villains come to the front when this question is answered.

To try and then fail is human and in most part admirable - but why didn't the factory start up again with new finances new management if necessary - it was all there in many guises and many attempts - the failure to take advantage of these late opportunities is the real sin and is unforgivable to me and the people of Dunmurry and Twinbrook in Belfast who for us DeLorean Motor Cars was not just a dream but the reality of hard currency a livelihood, and a hope for a better future.

Every rescue plan that appeared and this included the one where I was a member failed because the UK Government refused to back new investors. Why?

Sir Kenneth Cork the Receiver tried hard to keep the plant alive and there was no plot by the big three and the recession didn't help. Greed or pride was the overwhelming factor in the failure of DeLorean Motor Cars both the initial and ultimate collapse. The man responsible for this was John DeLorean. Perhaps it is better summarised by a quote from the bible Job 1:21 "The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away"

I remain immensely proud of my part in the building of the plant and car.

Nick Sutton
DeLorean Motor Cars 1978 to 1983

Copyright 2010 - Nick Sutton

content22207
07-12-2011, 07:57 AM
... Every rescue plan that appeared and this included the one where I was a member failed because the UK Government refused to back new investors. Why?....

A) They were already in financially too deep already. Sometimes it is better to know you are going to lose $186 million than to gamble losing $286 million (like pushing yourself away from the Black Jack table at a casino before you end up mortgaging your house hoping to eventually get a winning hand).
B) The recently elected conservative government was unlikely to invest any more money anyway, for philosophical reasons if nothing else (not unlike conservative congresspeople in this country refusing to negotiate our upcoming debt ceiling on principle alone, irrespective of any practical implications)
c) The British didn't own the car -- only the factory in which it was built. Had it been possible to evict JZD and build some other *SALABLE* product , without investing much/any more money, the conservative government might have considered that.

Bill Robertson
#5939

nick sutton
07-12-2011, 08:35 AM
[c) The British didn't own the car -- only the factory in which it was built. Had it been possible to evict JZD and build some other *SALABLE* product , without investing much/any more money, the conservative government might have considered that.

Bill Robertson
#5939[/QUOTE]

Correct - the Oppenheimer group of Investors owned the design of the car - JZD the Sales rights in the USA.

The new plan was to build DMC's for the USA and the rest of the world plus the TR7 replacement. Most of the Government's concerns re the programme had been answered but still failed to approve the resurrection plan.

Nick

SamHill
07-12-2011, 08:54 AM
Any guesses as to what the TR7 or TR7 replacement might have been like? (Hopefully better than the TR7 that we knew here in the US.)

nick sutton
07-12-2011, 01:52 PM
The revision to the TR7 was to the body - the styling crease on the rear fender, door and front fender now gone. The car would possibly have the Rover V8 (Buick) engine.

I collected a sketch of the styling revisions from a stylist moonlighting at IAD in the UK- very clandestine we met in a pub in Brighton I gave him an envelope containing (I think 200) and he passed on the crayon sketch.

The print that I collected is shown in shown in the book "Triumph TR7: The Untold Story" by David Knowles - it is copyright so I can't show it here.

I worked at Triumph when the TR5/6 was in production and was disappointed when I was first introduced to the TR7 in the development area at Canley Coventry but it outsold all the previous TRs put together. At lower numbers it would have sold well with the DeLorean to be produced at much lower volumes itself.

Nick Sutton

SamHill
07-12-2011, 02:33 PM
I collected a sketch of the styling revisions from a stylist moonlighting at IAD in the UK- very clandestine we met in a pub in Brighton I gave him an envelope containing (I think 200) and he passed on the crayon sketch.



Fascinating. A blunt question: Who requested that you obtain this sketch?

nick sutton
07-13-2011, 11:33 AM
I was a junior partner in a team making a bid to resurrect the company. This bid and all other bids did not get approval from the UK Government. The only bid that was anywhere close to approval was the last one submitted by John DeLorean and his backers.He was arrested before the paperwork was signed.

Nick Sutton