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Archive for the ‘People’ Category

DeLorean Motor Company

25 Jul

On summer weekends, many car clubs will tour along the peak-to-peak highway. This morning I saw about 60 cars mostly made up of Porsches. But mixed in were a few others such as a Lotus and a DeLorean.

I became familiar with most of these high-end cars when I was a kid and seeing them at car shows.  For whatever reason Porsches never grabbed my fancy.  Cars such as the Lamborghinni Countach, the Lotus Espirit, and the DeLorean were my favorites.  And even today, 30-40 years later, these cars still look beautifully futuristic.

Countach LP400 1974

Lotus Esprit S2 1980

DeLoreans were a favorite of mine even before a modified version appeared in Back to the Future.  Not only was I intrigued with the engineering and design, I like the idea of brushed stainless steel instead of paint for the body finish. The chassis of the DeLorean was designed by Lotus.  The style was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, who also did designs for Lamborghinni and Maserati among many others.

  • Only about 9000 cars (the only model was the DMC-12)  were produced by DeLorean before going bankrupt.  About 6500 still exist.
  • DeLorean Motor Company was headquartered in Detroit, but the factory was in Northern Ireland.
  • Early production runs had many quality issues.  This was remedied in later years once the factory workers had more experience.

 
I can’t help but wonder how much the US Federal government was responsible for the demise of the DeLorean. The original high performance design of the DeLorean was sacrificed in order for the car to be sold in the US.  The car had to be raised to meet federal bumper guidelines, thus ruining the handling of the car.  To meet EPA rules, a catalytic converter had to added to the exhaust system which caused a decrease of 40-50 horsepower in the engine.  And finally, the FBI entrapped founder John Deloreanin a drug smuggling case as he was trying to raise money for the company, which was the final nail in the coffin.

Before starting the De Lorean Motor Company, John Delorean worked for Packard Motors and then various divisions in General Motors.  In addition to developing many engineering patents, he might be most noted for the Pontiac GTO.

I am somewhat heartened to learn that a Texas company has purchased all of the remaining parts and assets of the old De Lorean Motor Company, formed a company using the old name, and that a new updated DeLorean can be purchased.

 
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Joe

05 May

It was about 15 years ago, maybe 20, that I met Joe. I was leaving a forgettable art show opening one night at the Denver Art Museum. As I made my way back to my car, I passed this short old man wearing pointy cowboy boots and a big cowboy hat. I thought he looked quite out of place in the downtown landscape of skyscrapers. I noticed when I reached my car that he had followed a short distance behind me. He asked if I would help him. I was somewhat wary, but I heard him out.

His 20 year-old pickup truck was down at the end of the block and he needed a jump start. I walked with him back to his truck to assess the situation, his worn boots seemed permanently attached to his legs and it sounded like he was walking on wooden pegs. I determined the problem probably wasn’t his battery, but that we could give it a try anyway, so I pulled my car around and we tried to get his truck running.

After a number of tries, we agreed the problem was with the alternator. I asked him if I could drop him someplace. He said no, but proceeded to tell me he was in Denver for a mayors meeting with the governor. He asked me if I had ever heard of the small town of San Luis. I said yes, but I had never visited. Joe was the mayor of San Luis and also the owner of a saloon. His wife, Emma, had a restaurant next door. He appreciated my help and said if I was ever in San Luis to stop by the saloon and he’d buy me a beer.

I never forgot that old character and our meeting in the middle of downtown. It was always in the back of my mind to get down to San Luis to collect my beer. San Luis is about 6-7 hours from where I live, not exactly someplace you can just go visit in a day.

The years went by.

Last September I had the opportunity to get down there. I didn’t have any expectation of actually meeting Joe. I figured he was long in the grave and felt guilty for waiting so long. But I did find his saloon, the front door padlocked. Emma’s restaurant next door looked like it had seen some more recent activity, but boxes were stacked on the tables which still had salt and pepper shakers on them. It looked as though the place was being packed up.

Joe’s Saloon

Emma’s Hacienda

 
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