Among phrases that stay in the mind, a chairman of Rolls-Royce saying: 'We don't make cars, we're not part of the motor industry. We're in the toy business, making toys for big boys.' John DeLorean intended to do the same: to build a sports car of polished steel for, as he put it, 'the horny bachelor who's made it'. But the toy market is demanding and capricious and the car failed to please. The Belfast factory making it had no sooner opened than it closed with the loss of 2500 jobs and £85 million of British government money. Such are the bones of a bizarre and discreditable story. The authors, both financial journalists of repute and long standing, place the discredit on John DeLorean. I think they are unfair. Not because DeLorean emerges as likeable. He lacked, as they say, the gift of friendship - although his third and most beautiful wife has been loyal to the last. But unfair because he could not have embarked on five years of self-indulgence and self-destruction, ending in charges of drug trafficking, if he had not been bankrolled by the British Government and in particular by the Labour Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Roy Mason. Mason put up the loan that brought the factory to Belfast. He gets off lightly.
LRB 1 September 1983 | PDF Download