I can't say he was a one of a kind. The auto industry has always attracted exceptional characters.
I met John DeLorean a long time ago.
It was late at night, and I had stopped by to see Roger Penske at his new dealership near Detroit, and there was DeLorean sitting with his muddy shoes up on Roger's desk. Roger and I sat in front of him, like schoolchildren. It was a strange first meeting.
After John's second wife, Kelly, went back to California, I spent some time with him. He was trying to raise Zachary, his son, and we'd have dinner at his house frequently. John DeLorean was always fascinating. He was running Chevrolet back then.
Once, on a Friday, John told me about some personnel changes that were going to happen at General Motors the following Monday.
We published the changes in Automotive News, and they were all correct except for one fellow who didn't get the job we said he would. I learned later that GM had changed plans just to make sure that we didn't print it absolutely correctly.
John climbed the ladder at GM but finally got off. There were rumors about why he left, and they weren't nice.
The car he built wasn't very good. Aside from the gull-wing doors and the stainless steel skin -- so he didn't need a paint shop -- the car was unremarkable. But the car and the man became immortal thanks to a series of movies.
John DeLorean will be remembered for many good and some not so good accomplishments. Along with Jim Wangers, he was responsible for the Pontiac GTO and the whole muscle-car era, which was created by putting a huge engine into the smallest body possible.
John was arrested for conspiring to obtain and distribute cocaine. By some miracle, he got off. But, as one juror said, they found him not guilty, not innocent. Then he was acquitted of federal fraud charges related to the millions of dollars that disappeared from his car project. But controversy followed John everywhere.
After he was acquitted of the cocaine charges in Los Angeles and fraud charges in Detroit, DeLorean dropped off the face of the earth. He was out of public view for the rest of his life.
DeLorean was a strange combination of genius, huckster and perhaps even thief. But he was exciting and opinionated and had a flair that had been unknown in the car business.
And I'll never forget that snowy day in Chicago, over a quarter-century ago, when he showed up with his new bride, Cristina, when Mary Kay and I were married. He was quite the figure.