Born the son of a Ford foundry worker, John DeLorean rose to become heir-apparent to the General Motors dynasty. In 1973, he quit GM to start DeLorean Motor Company. This film, shot 1979-81, is an inside view of DeLorean and his team as they take his vision of a stainless steel gull-wing-door car from the boardroom to the assembly line in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His new sports car would be the first new American car design in memory. When British Television (ATV) asked us to make a film in Ireland we envisioned misty Sligo and Yeats poetry set to music. However, when we heard that John DeLorean was thinking of setting up his factory in Northern Ireland, we forgot our Leprechaun fantasy and began our great automotive adventure.
It was an adventure that took us to the auto show in Geneva, where John and fashion model wife, Christina Ferrare, showed his new car for the first time to the excited world of car buffs; to car-designer Giorgetto Giugiaro’s huge studio-factory in Turin, Italy where full-size wooden replicas of Lotuses, Ferraris and now DeLorean’s design-accurate models are locked away in secret vaults accessible only to a designated few; and to John’s modern assembly plant outside Belfast, Ireland which remained an island of calm, unscathed by the periodic exchange of gunfire and fire-bombing that took place in the nearby streets of Belfast. Here both Catholic and Protestant workers came to work every day through the same doors and peacefully—even as comrades—built the car that became legend in the movie Back To The Future. When you see how close it all came to working, you wonder how it could have gone wrong. And so, we guess, did John. But it was certainly a great try, and the lovely stainless steel, gull-winged DeLorean will live forever, if only on our motion picture screens.
D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus
- By D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus 1981, 53 min., color.