A Demon Underneath
December 12, 2018 6:05 PM   Subscribe

Long before Elon Musk, a visionary automaker showed how ugly the American Dream could be. Long before the rise of utopian tech billionaires and Silicon Valley mountebanks, John DeLorean blazed the trail they would eventually follow. The Outline explores DeLorean's apocalyptic, quintessentially American life.
posted by Naberius (27 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite


 
In a similar vein, before DeLorean, there was Tucker.
posted by darkstar at 6:18 PM on December 12, 2018 [2 favorites]


That was a real good article Naberius, thanks for sharing.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:46 PM on December 12, 2018 [1 favorite]


Still waiting for my Vector W-2.
posted by symbioid at 6:59 PM on December 12, 2018


Adding details about the greenbriar that nobody knew at the time seems a little disingenuous.
posted by Dr. Twist at 7:28 PM on December 12, 2018


If you've never heard Neon Neon's concept album Stainless Style about John DeLorean you are seriously missing out.

(Neon Neon is a collab project from Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip.)
posted by elsietheeel at 7:44 PM on December 12, 2018 [4 favorites]


The 1980 American Express Christmas catalog features an $85,000 limited-edition DeLorean DMC-12 electroplated in 24-karat gold. It looks like something a decadent prince might buy and get bored of and shoot up with a long rifle that is also plated with gold. In a sense the gold DeLorean is the quintessential DeLorean — an absurdly expensive Christmas toy for hypothetical rich people buying things on credit. Only 100 of them are offered in the catalog; only two are ever sold. The Daily Mirror claims Rod Stewart bought one, which turns out not to be true.

I wonder what happened to those two gold DeLoreans?
posted by octothorpe at 8:09 PM on December 12, 2018 [2 favorites]


I wonder what happened to those two gold DeLoreans?

Here you go.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:22 PM on December 12, 2018 [3 favorites]


the internet knows octothorpe!
posted by Wretch729 at 8:22 PM on December 12, 2018 [1 favorite]


I mean, honestly if someone told me Elon was using his tunnels to shift cocaine in order to keep Tesla afloat, I wouldn't be very surprised...
posted by madajb at 8:37 PM on December 12, 2018 [9 favorites]


At one point, Clive Sinclair was going to build his electric vehicles in DeLorean's factory, and after DeLorean went down Sinclair had an option in 1983 on buying the factory outright.

So in a parallel universe, DeLorean/Sinclair could have been Tesla 35 years earlier... (and the C5 was the best-selling electric vehicle for a surprisingly long time.)
posted by Devonian at 5:53 AM on December 13, 2018 [1 favorite]


Nice article, but I don't really like the shade being thrown in Musk's direction by the framing of this post (mountebank, etc). Musk has plenty of flaws but his motives with Tesla and SpaceX are very clear and he's explained them many times.
posted by memebake at 5:54 AM on December 13, 2018 [3 favorites]


My own home province of Canada boasts the Bricklin, another short-run fiasco (although it's reliance on standard parts supposedly makes it surprisingly easy to maintain).
posted by Mogur at 6:59 AM on December 13, 2018


DeLorean lives in an America that will wait forever for a white man to make good on his potential.

Yeah, not much has changed.

Fabulous article, though
posted by teleri025 at 7:19 AM on December 13, 2018 [1 favorite]


That was a surprisingly good article, thanks for sharing it.

John tells one reporter he’s writing a novel about nuclear war.

Somewhere in this world, there is a box that contains a manuscript that contains more than you ever knew you wanted to learn about the John DeLorean's id.
posted by compartment at 7:34 AM on December 13, 2018 [2 favorites]


(But the car LOOKED awesome)
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:23 AM on December 13, 2018


Musk has plenty of flaws but his motives with Tesla and SpaceX are very clear and he's explained them many times.

Did his explanations include why he committed blatant securities fraud to manipulate Tesla's stock price in September (and why earlier this week he bizarrely seemed to repudiate the sweetheart, handslap settlement the SEC gave him for it)? Or why Musk has attacked unions for years (and subsequently began attacking the news media when stories about his labor and business practices started gaining traction)? Or why a whistleblower alleged that Tesla lied to investors and released unsafe products (and who is now being sued by Tesla for $167m dollars)?
posted by Sangermaine at 9:28 AM on December 13, 2018 [7 favorites]


Sangermaine - those are all valid criticisms, in the sense that its reasonable to bring all those things up. There are also various counterarguments of varying quality. We could get into all that but I have a feeling its all been said before here.

But some people take it further than that with the claim that Tesla as a whole is a giant scam or ponzi scheme and that Musk is a giant scammer. I take issue with it when it gets to that point. Its pretty easy to show that Musk is not doing all this for money (he had that before it all started). I think its clear that he wants to make vehicles greener, and make humans a multi-planetary species. But I agree there's lots of room to argue about whether the means justify the ends.
posted by memebake at 9:37 AM on December 13, 2018 [1 favorite]


... and whether those ends are worth aiming for in the first place, I suppose.
posted by memebake at 9:38 AM on December 13, 2018


Its pretty easy to show that Musk is not doing all this for money (he had that before it all started).

And yet he felt the need to manipulate the stock price of a company where he is the majority shareholder and rants endlessly about short sellers.

Plenty of tycoons (if not all) were stupidly rich and continued to be awful, grasping monsters focused on getting richer without end. Musk is behaving exactly like every awful businessman in history; "but it's really about the vision" becomes less and less tenable as time wears on and his behavior becomes more brazen and bizarre. If any other business owner behaved as he has we wouldn't hesitate for a second to decry him, but he's managed to wrap himself in a vision of The Future to insulate himself against bog-standard criticisms.

I don't doubt his sincerity when he makes these claims about his motivations, but somehow those motivations just happen to coincide with making him richer and more powerful. Convenient, isn't it? I suspect every owner tells themselves and others that their actions are really about some greater good.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:50 AM on December 13, 2018 [9 favorites]


I will never understand why not-1% people feel compelled to apologize for, or defend, people like Elon Musk.
posted by salt grass at 10:06 AM on December 13, 2018 [6 favorites]


Elon can’t handle his weed.
posted by bigbigdog at 11:38 AM on December 13, 2018 [2 favorites]


I like to think that, in an age when we've lived with the fingerprint-smeared existence of idiotic "stainless" steel appliances for long enough to understand that "stainless" means "won't rust" and not "won't show every single fingerprint unless you constantly polish it with what is essentially sewing machine oil," we'd at least know better than to wrap a car in such a silly material.

It is at least a minor miracle, though, that it somehow did not also include the idiocy of retractable headlights.

Such a dreary car, though, and with a story to match.
posted by sonascope at 11:56 AM on December 13, 2018


The defense’s closing argument in United States v. DeLorean is a magic trick. It will later appear in the book Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury: Greatest Closing Arguments in Modern Law, alongside Vincent Bugliosi’s summation from the Charles Manson trial and William Kuntsler’s defense of the Chicago Seven.

I don’t have this book, but I was able to find Bugliosi and Kunstler’s closing arguments online, but not DeLorean’s. Would it have been Donald Re or Howard Weitzman that would’ve delivered the closing argument? Also, I thought there was a centralized website that has these sorts of things?
posted by gucci mane at 12:11 PM on December 13, 2018


He understands that business in America is whatever you can get away with. He builds himself a gilded life and finds bigger and bigger suckers to pick up the tab.

Something something late capitalism.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 12:27 PM on December 13, 2018 [3 favorites]


This is mesmerizing. Thanks.
posted by clockwork at 4:00 PM on December 13, 2018


“You made a time machine out of a Tesla?”
posted by octobersurprise at 9:16 AM on December 14, 2018


Something something late capitalism.

"You made a time machine out of a Trump
property?"
posted by otherchaz at 9:50 AM on December 14, 2018


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