The DeLorean phenomenon was allies and hype (though John Z. may have believed some of it himself), two financial journalists...


DREAM MAKER: The Rise and Fall of John Z. DeLorean

The DeLorean phenomenon was allies and hype (though John Z. may have believed some of it himself), two financial journalists have decided--fostered by American weakness for a maverick entrepreneur and British eagerness to create jobs in Northern Ireland. Though the authors' outrage may be justified, it takes the form of tacky, she-was-lucky-to-escape-his-clutches horrifics (as well as petty jibes), and makes for a story that's more distasteful than dramatic. The bill of particulars: DeLorean didn't grow up poor, he grew up working-class (and ashamed of it); he didn't dream up the dragster-modeled Pontiac G.T.O., ""the basic root of the John DeLorean myth""; he didn't leave GM in disgust and disillusion, he was sacked for assorted ""irregularities""; he wasn't the people's (or the black people's) champion, he was a Sixties midlife swinger enamored of the media; his ""ethical car"" has hot air, his business partner was a vicious crook, his US business deals were frauds, his DeLorean Motors operation was kited on a miniscule investment, his extravagances (the penthouse office, the Concorde flights, the posh estates) were paid for by British taxpayers, his own interest in the project flagged, his DMC-12 was a disaster. And when the British had lost $150 million, and were still trying to keep the company afloat, he had the gall to say: ""I probably made a mistake in going to Belfast."" (In his favor: he was once a skillful engineer, and ""no one has ever disputed DeLorean's affection for his children,"" or for gorgeous, loyal third wife Cristina.) The greater part of this overlong (400 pp.) book concerns DeLorean's money-raising schemes--a con, as it looks, of the Northern Ireland Development Agency, US financiers, and assorted investors. The DNC-12's design and production problems come in for some overhauling too. The liveliest bit, though, is a cliffhanger episode (strung out and pumped up, but TV-worthy) involving a British-born secretary who patriotically tried to blow the whistle. Other angry DeLorean associates, Fallon and Srodes are good enough to tell us, are writing about him. Somebody's going to put the man-and-myth into fuller, deeper perspective. But the image isn't likely to recover, whatever happens to the drug charge (Fallon and Srodes have some background on the others indicted, but nothing really new on DeL)--while financial types will be curious to find out who-all was taken in . . . and who wasn't.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1983


Page Count: -

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983