£14m DeLorean loan was just the start of car trouble for Margaret Thatcher
AN international row was sparked when the DeLorean company decided to build cars in Northern Ireland.
The details of the diplomatic spat reveal tensions between Britain, America and Puerto Rico over the decision, as well as how the Government worried about its international image after giving DeLorean £14m towards the manufacture of the DMC-12.
The official files show how then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was reluctant to give DeLorean the substantial loan, but felt pressured into keeping a promise made by her predecessor, Labour PM James Callaghan.
In notes from a meeting between the Secretary of State and Mr DeLorean it’s noted: “If the Government had been presented with a proposition such as that put to their predecessors, they might have said no.”
After negotiations it agreed to a loan of £14m, with DeLorean to raise a further £6m from private sources in the US. The files also reveal how the Puerto Rican government planned legal action against the company when John DeLorean chose Ulster over the Caribbean. In a letter to the Secretary of State, the reaction in the US is described as “lively”.
“(The US government) has not yet reacted to the news other than to express surprise,” writes the Central Secretariat official.