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DeLorean movie won’t be dull

It is sometimes said that ‘art mirrors life’, and this might well apply to a possible movie based on the life of John DeLorean. The Troubles were at their height and new jobs and inward investment were almost non-existent.

Suddenly, a truly exotic figure called John DeLorean was given the money and the space in Northern Ireland to turn his dream of a revolutionary “gull-wing” sports car into a reality.

At that time, hardly anyone here had heard about DeLorean and his impressive record with General Motors in the United States. When this newspaper broke the story, few people in the Province could even pronounce his name properly. Nevertheless, DeLorean came, and he saw, but he did not conquer.

His concept for the DMC-12 car was radically different, to the point where the British government — desperate to create jobs — virtually threw money at his new venture. He received around £80m from the public purse, a new plant was built at Dunmurry, and workers were specially trained, but only 9,000 models of the all-steel car were made.

The project should have taken to the road with style and profitability, but due to a complex multiplicity of factors, it crashed spectacularly.

John DeLorean, moved on and the government was left to pick up the pieces. Later on, the sombre Public Accounts Committee at Westminster sternly described the project as “one of the gravest cases of the misuse of public resources in many years”.

It is a supreme irony now that the governments in Europe and America have been pouring vast sums into saving some of the world’s greatest car-manufacturers. John DeLorean, who died some years ago, would have smiled, as the “black sheep” who might have been ahead of his time, after all.

The DeLorean project is one of the great “might have beens” of our recent history.

Perhaps with much tighter government controls, and even a little more integrity from DeLorean and his associates, the project could have survived.

Most certainly the jobs were badly needed, and the failure was most painfully felt by those with much to lose — the workers themselves. Despite the enormous blunders, the British government deserved at least a little credit for trying to turn steel into gold.

There was more to John DeLorean’s life than cars. He was a tall, charming, fast-talking and extraordinary figure who lived in the world of jet-setting, glamourous women and high-finance.

Towards the end, he moved into the low-life of an alleged and massive cocaine-deal, to try to save his business empire. He bounced back, to a degree, after his acquittal and continued to create headlines.

Certainly there was enough in his life to make several films, but it remains to be seen whether he is depicted as an anti-hero or not. His story has all the ingredients of a hero, and the truism remains that failure is often much more interesting than success.

Northern Ireland film-watchers will have their own take on a John DeLorean film, and particularly those who knew him personally. Either way, fact or fiction, it is unlikely to be boring.

DeLorean may have been a rogue, or a not entirely bad man who faced insuperable challenges, but one thing was certain — he was never, ever dull.

Belfast Telegraph

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