<VV> Re: John Delorean dies

Tony Underwood tonyu at roava.net
Tue Mar 22 03:06:26 EST 2005

At 12:52 hours 03/21/2005, ronchoy at comcast.net wrote:
>When Delorean's car was under development there was talk of using Corvair 

Are you sure about that?   I'm involved with CORSA, the national Corvair 
organization (there actually is one) and an officer of a regional chapter 
and a bit of a Corvair historian and this is the first I ever heard of this.

JDZ was *not* a fan of Corvairs, what with their cutting into early Pontiac 
Tempest sales even though the early "tuckunder" Tempests were roughly based 
on the GM Z-body/Corvair platform.   Besides, GM was disgusted with the 
Corvair by the time the '69 model year came around and was only too glad to 
rid itself once and for all of the Corvair seeing as how it was a loss 
leader which was expensive to build and GM made less money on each Corvair 
sale than any other car they produced... and of course the bastard 
stepchild of the Corvair (The Camaro, which was a development of the 2nd 
Gen Corvair) was marketed to the same consumer group as the Corvair, and 
each Corvair sold was cutting onto Camaro sales which made more money for 
GM/Bowtie than Corvair sales.   So, in May of '69 the Corvair was dropped 
and the line converted to Nova production and GM immediately dumped its 
Corvair foundry/engine works at Tonawanda NY and stopped ordering molten 
aluminum in vats for injection molding crankcases and heads... which for an 
air cooled engine is a rather complicated and expensive process compared to 
pouring cast iron into sandcast molds.    GM actually had to transport 
molten aluminum in large vats via trucks to the foundry for injection 
molding the engines, since it cost so much to heat the aluminum to melting 
point... so when  the refinery finished blending the molten metal, it was 
poured into insulated vats and delivered in liquid form to Tonawanda and 
then to the molding department where it became Corvair cylinder heads and 
crankcases.   The process continued for ten years...  costs were not cheap 
and would have been much worse if the aluminum had been delivered cold and 
then reheated in large electric furnaces again for injection molding.

In short, Chevrolet division was psyched about ridding themselves of the 
expensive Corvair line once and for all and that included the Corvair 
engine works at the Tonawanda engine plant.    No Corvair engines after '69 
although up until then GM did supply the engines to industrial customers, 
the military, and even commercial corporations for powering compressors 
etc.   But by the 1980s the Corvair engine department at Tonawanda was a 
distant memory.

Add to this the fact that DeLorean didn't much care for the Corvair as 
mentioned before, and also the fact that there was absolutely no love lost 
between DeLorean and *Anybody* at GM, following JZD's disgruntled 
disposition after having been dumped by the GM board rather than promoted 
to General Manager as everybody had expected.      It's a wildcard shot 
that DeLorean would ever have used any sort of GM engine for his DMC-12, 
including any Corvair engine...  although it was actually a very good 
powerplant, the Corvair engine was a tad bit small for a car in the weight 
class of a DMC-12.   The engine in the DeLorean was a watercooled joint 
development V6 designed by Peugeot-Volvo and manufactured by Renault.    It 
wasn't a bad engine... until it got loaded down by EPA mandated smog gear 
which dragged it down to 130 net hp.

>I don't remember when it was. Maybe they meant opposed flat sixes in 

They wanted to keep the car low, and a boxer-6 would have been ideal, hence 
the possible confusion over the Corvair boxer-6 engine.   Among the 
available boxers at the time, the pickings were pretty slim...  the Corvair 
engine molds were long since gone and Porsche was just about the only other 
choice... and Porsche wanted too long to gear up for production of the 
engine... so an existing V6 was picked instead.   Porsche had also been 
considered as a possible platform source, but the lead time as dictated by 
Stuttgart was 4 years and DeLorean wouldn't wait 4 years.  He then went 
after Lotus which "needed a job" and they did the DMC-12 body.   The 
original location for DMC corporation had been Puerto Rico but after Lotus 
was selected to do the DMC-12 coachwork, the UK stepped in with some big 
incentives to get DMC located in Ireland...  which was a mistake.   Later 
on, DeLorean would regret the move to Ireland with its union troubles and 
finance woes and interference from the Brit government which was populated 
with people who hated DeLorean and DMC and despised those other elements in 
the UK who had promised DeLorean all sorts of things to get his DMC plant 
built in Ireland.   Later on, when the UK economists began ranting about 
what a blunder it was to put DeLorean in Ireland, trouble began brewing and 
labor disputes happened, economic issues snowballed, additional problems 
with imports to the USA followed, leaving thousands of DMC-12s sitting in 
the lot outside the factory going nowhere...  and eventually the Brit 
government got into the act... and when things went bad, the receivers 
representing the UK banks actually had factory workers load up the DMC body 
panel tooling onto barges and, "in a fit of spite", dumped it all into the 
ocean to insure that no more cars would be built.

A few years ago, there was a documentary about the DMC-12 produced and 
aired on cable TV via one of the documentary channels... excellent stuff 
which outlined many little things about DeLorean and the company that most 
people don't know.

>   I do remember reading a review from either Motor Trend or Car and 
> Driver where the reviewer commented that the car, in its final form drove 
> like a Corvair, and made similar sounds.  -ron 65,66

...not bad praise, since the 2nd generation Corvair had outstanding 
handling and a unique engine exhaust note which was close to the same sound 
that many V6 engines made when coupled to a very short exhaust system such 
as that supplied with the mid-engine DMC-12.


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