In 1969, when John DeLorean was general manager of Chevrolet Division, he took a group of reporters through the Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant that had been re-fitted to produce the Chevy Vega.
It was the largest, most automated factory in the United States.
After the usual management discussion about this and that, one reporter asked just how big the factory was.
"It's so big you can see the curvature of the earth in here," DeLorean shot back, without batting an eye.
John DeLorean, who died over the weekend at age 80 following a stroke, was never afraid of a little hyperbole. He was larger than life, and he knew it.
Even after he left GM in 1973, DeLorean never lost that GM swagger and sense of self-importance that came from being a ranking exec at what was then the world's largest, most powerful automaker.
In some ways, leaving GM made DeLorean even larger because he became a critic of the auto industry in general and GM in particular. He testified in Washington on behalf of safety, which endeared him to safety advocates and insurance companies.
And he later wrote the book "On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors," with J. Patrick Wright, former Business Week bureau chief in Detroit. Wright published the book without DeLorean when DeLorean got cold feet while trying to launch his own company. Many of DeLorean's criticisms about the automaker's corporate culture are still cited today.
DeLorean and his colleagues spent nearly five years raising the money to begin his own automotive project, which included shopping for the best deal they could get in local tax breaks and grants. Inevitably, every prospective investor wanted to meet the great John DeLorean. His finance man, Robert Dewey, would make the arrangements.
But DeLorean grew weary. "Bob, don't over expose me," he said. DeLorean told Dewey that he should be like the star at the top of a Christmas tree and only brought out when the deal was done.
During a meeting in Washington in the spring of 1977, DeLorean, Dewey and a couple of other lieutenants were trying to explain the details of a pending DeLorean Motor Co. stock offering to officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
DeLorean was in rare form, trying to dazzle the SEC officials with his grandiose view of the big picture.
"You certainly are a very glib man, Mr. DeLorean!" one official snapped impatiently.
"Thank you," said DeLorean.
The criticism was lost. To DeLorean, it was a compliment.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at