John DeLorean in a DeLorean car
Source: Getty

Why John DeLorean’s Net Worth Was $500,000 at the Time of His Death

Kathryn Underwood - Author

Jul. 30 2021, Published 12:27 p.m. ET

If the name “DeLorean” conjures up the image of Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, you aren't alone. However, the man who created the iconic car, instrumental to the time travel in the 1985 film Back to the Future, had a complicated life.

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John DeLorean, the founder of the DeLorean Motor Company and the former leader of a division at General Motors, died in 2005. His net worth might have been approximately $500,000 at the time of his death. He faced legal troubles and his company failed.

John DeLorean's troubles impacted his children.

With his third wife, Cristina Ferrare, DeLorean had two children, Zachary and Kathryn. When DeLorean was arrested for possible cocaine trafficking in 1982, Zachary was about 12 years old and struggled greatly with the aftermath.

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John DeLorean and Cristina Ferrare
Source: Getty

Both Zachary and Kathryn spoke with filmmakers of a 2019 documentary “Framing John DeLorean” about how their father’s fall from grace impacted them, even though he was eventually exonerated.

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While Kathryn talked about how hurtful it was living with constant comments from other kids about her father’s actions, she spent time in therapy to work through the trauma and eventually seemed to find peace with her father.

However, Zachary showed filmmakers a shoddy-looking apartment as a testament to his father’s negative impact on his life. His mother told Vanity Fair that she was “heartbroken” to see the state her son was living in and know that he refused help from the rest of his family. She also said she had urged her son to move on from blaming his parents.

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Lawsuits related to DeLorean rights

Following DeLorean’s death, his widow, Sally DeLorean, sued DMC Texas, which had taken over the DeLorean company name, over improper use of the name and trademarks. In 2015, she settled one of these claims and then sued DMC Texas again in 2018, but that case was dismissed.

What cars did John DeLorean design?

DeLorean designed the famous DMC-12 sports car that transported Marty McFly “back to the future.” Only about 9,000 DeLoreans were made. Eventually, the DeLorean Motor Company sold its name to a Texas-based company.

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Delorean also had a successful career at General Motors before he created the DeLorean. He became the youngest-ever division head at GM. During his time at GM, DeLorean led designs of several well-known vehicles—the Pontiac GTO muscle car, the Chevrolet Vega, the Pontiac Firebird, and the Pontiac Grand Prix.

DeLorean cars arriving at the screening of "Framing John DeLorean" in 2019
Source: Getty
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Did John DeLorean go to jail?

DeLorean faced multiple major legal challenges. In 1982, he was charged by the U.S. government with cocaine trafficking and faced a highly publicized trial. By 1984, he was cleared based on findings that he had been a victim of police entrapment. Therefore, he didn't spend more than a few days in jail.

DeLorean was also charged with tax evasion and defrauding investors. Eventually, he was acquitted of all of those charges as well.

DeLorean passed away in 2005 at the age of 80. His former estate in New Jersey had been purchased by Donald Trump, then primarily a real-estate developer, in 2002 and later converted into a golf course in 2004.


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