Kate Bachman Kate Bachman
Senior Editor

Paving the Road for Dad DeLorean’s Next Influential Vehicle … and writing the final, happy ending

March 29, 2024

He created an iconic vehicle that ignited the imaginations of millions and propelled them back to the future. Now his daughter is setting the course to pave pathways and make inroads for young minds to connect their dreams with possibilities—especially when they don’t see a way.

DeLorean. Rarely has a name been so recognizable, or its namesake vehicle so enamoring. Defying convention, the DeLorean DMC-12 probed, “Why not?” Why do the doors have to open sideways? Why can’t the doors open like gull’s wings? Why shouldn’t the body panels be made of unpainted stainless steel? Why not fashion the rear windows with louvres? As a General Motors engineer, John Z. DeLorean defied a company rule about mounting high-powered engines in small cars and created the first American muscle car, the Pontiac Tempest LeMans GTO. 

The features of DeLorean’s car continue to reappear, remastered—in the movie Back to the Future, in the stainless steel-bodied CyberTruck, and in the gull-winged Lamborghini and Tesla Model X.

Next-Gen DeLorean Vision

Kat DeLoreanAs CEO of DeLorean Next Generation (DNG) Motors, John’s daughter Kat DeLorean is claiming her birthright. The not-for-profit company seeks to defy the dream-suppressing conventions that impede some young people from realizing their dreams. That mission drives DeLorean now. She questions:

Why can’t public high school students learn how to build vehicle components in a classroom? Why can’t a teen in rural America move into manufacturing? Shouldn’t everyone have access to STEAAMM education so they can become automotive engineers or designers if they wish? Why not?

“DeLorean Next Generation is a dream-empowerment company fueled by automobiles,” DeLorean states. 

“We are a socially conscious portfolio driven to provide the next generation of changemakers with the resources, opportunities and support to pursue their passions. Our sole mission is to create a program of support and opportunity that allows us to change the world—one person at a time,” DNG Motors’ mission statement reads.

Despite having ample opportunities herself that her father’s fast-car-designer lifestyle and her mother’s (Cristina Ferrare) glamorous fashion-model world gave her, DeLorean saw—with empathetic eyes—that many talented young people just don’t get the opportunities to pursue their dreams. She maintains that this perspective originated with her father. 

“DNG Motors is set up to champion and drive the social programs that my father believed in,” DeLorean says. “If you read his books, his writings … or grew up with him … you know some of the things that he really wanted to see happen in this world. One of the things that he wanted to change is the lack of opportunity for everybody.” 

How You Can Drive a DeLorean

“DNG believes that if students are provided pathways to their passions through exciting and hands-on learning experiences integrated into the public school ecosystem—we can help kids replace loss of hope and fulfill their dreams for the future,” the company states. “Our program captures engineering, manufacturing and design.” DeLorean believes that it’s critical for high school students to be able to see and participate in car-manufacturing right in their schools. DNG has formed alliances with Drive One Academy and a school district in Anderson, IN, to connect with students, and is reaching out to others across the country. In addition, DNG is working with the Pontiac Transportation Museum on an automotive restoration program for area students with its partner, the RPM Foundation.

DeLoreanHere is where metal forming and fabricating manufacturers come in. “By blending our program with existing factories, DNG Motors will help make students aware of the career opportunities right in their backyards,” DeLorean explains. DNG seeks manufacturers as partners to foster the students in their plants, giving them hands-on work and skill-building, mentoring them, and giving them an opportunity to witness how engineering and manufacturing work in real time.

DNG invites local manufacturing shops to participate in this community-partnership model by offering apprenticeships and internships to its students—at no cost to them. 

Hand in hand with the in-plant training, the students get to create a full-sized 3D representation of the next-generation company’s DeLorean. “The Model JZD is an aftermarket C8 equipped with a rolling chassis intended to pay homage to John Z. DeLorean. My dad wanted to build his DMC-12 on a mid-engine Corvette platform but was not able to secure the engineering from GM,” DeLorean relays.

Financial support comes from people who were involved with or inspired by John DeLorean and his creations. “I’m building an education program and everybody said, ‘if you build the car, we’ll pay for the education program,’” she says. In addition, 100% of the resulting special edition vehicle sales, according to DeLorean, directly fund DNG Motors’ efforts in curriculum development, student programming, scholarships, and the DeLorean Legacy Project—creating the first not-for-profit automotive company that will sell cars to fund education, founded by a woman. 

Writing the Last Chapter

DeLorean reflects that there was a time when she repelled the DeLorean DMC-12. “If you had an iconic representation of your life falling apart,” she asks, “would you park it in your driveway?” 

But over time, as she encountered throngs of DeLorean fans who relayed that her dad’s work inspired them, powered their aspirations and shone a light on their life course, she embraced it. “I came to realize that it’s the car that love built,” DeLorean says. “That car represents many people’s dreams.”

DeLorean seeks to create the car—and the life-altering opportunities—that her dad always wanted to make and close his story with a happy ending.

“They see the movie, become inspired by the car, and then their whole life is somehow defined by that moment in ways you never would have thought of,” DeLorean concludes. “There’s this whole inspiration behind the car. I want to capture that.”

Manufacturers interested in hosting DNG Motors students can glean more details at deloreannextgen.com or contact me. MF

Got thoughts? I’d love to hear from you. 

Industry-Related Terms: Forming, Model, Stainless Steel
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms

Technologies: Training


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