Sunday, March 24, 2019

Is Elon Musk Following In The Footsteps of John DeLorean

The similarities are superficial. Two guys with revolutionary cars, possible mental illness, early business success, etc.
From The Outline:
John DeLorean and the Demon Underneath
Long before Elon Musk, a visionary automaker showed how ugly the American Dream could be.

The Crash at Lime Rock
In Zachary DeLorean’s little house on Detroit’s Near East side they speak Rumanian. Zachary is from Bucharest. Zachary has a way with machines but his poor English holds him back. He starts and ends his career on the factory floor at Ford. He’s a thwarted man and a payday drunk. He fights in bars and knocks his wife around. Her name is Kathryn Pribak DeLorean. Their oldest son is John DeLorean, born January 6, 1925.

She divorces Zachary in the ‘40s and John never sees him again. When Zachary dies of throat cancer in 1968, the Ford plant calls and asks John to come pick up his father’s toolbox. John lives with his mother until he marries Elizabeth Higgins in 1954. She’s a phone-company receptionist. They never have children.

In 1956, John DeLorean leaves a research and development job at Packard and goes to work for General Motors. At the time it’s the biggest car company on Earth. DeLorean works in engineering at Pontiac. It’s a struggling division with no real brand identity, but John’s new boss, Bunkie Knudsen, is beginning to turn things around. He’s started supplying Pontiac product to stock-car drivers. NASCAR is a decade old and Cotton Owens has just won a title at the Daytona Beach & Road Course in a Pontiac.

Bunkie’s betting that an association with speed and excitement will help move Pontiacs. Implicitly he’s betting on youth. You can’t sell an old man’s car to a young man, Bunkie likes to say, but you can always sell a young man’s car to an old man.

The rest of the industry doesn’t think this way. Bunkie’s superiors aren’t thinking about speed or youth or action. Each day the auto-industry princes of General Motors leave their homes in Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills and drive to work — down Woodward Avenue, which runs shotgun-straight from the Detroit suburbs to GM headquarters — in big General Motors cars built to ride as smoothly as sailboats on glassy water. From where they sit, it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting something different from a car. Former Car & Driver editor Brock Yates will later call this strain of confirmation bias the “Detroit Mind.”

In 1961 Knudsen is appointed general manager of Chevrolet. His chief engineer Elliott “Pete” Estes succeeds him at Pontiac, and John DeLorean takes over for Estes. He’s 36.
After work the Pontiac engineers test-drive prototypes that will never see the floor of a dealership. When the streetlights come on Woodward Avenue becomes one of America’s hottest drag strips. Sometimes kids pull up at stoplights next to shirt-sleeved GM engineers driving cars with code names. Sometimes the GM guys blow the kids off the road.

In 1963, John and his team start to wonder what would happen if you threw a 389-cubic-inch V8 engine fit to power a full-size Bonneville into a smaller car, like the midsize Pontiac Tempest. What happens is you create a maneuverable but brawny car with a race-friendly surplus of power and torque.

There’s a companywide rule capping engine displacement in midsize cars at 330 cubic inches. It exists in part to prevent GM engineers from making a hopped-up car like this one available over the counter. With Estes’ approval, the team smuggles the 389 past GM’s Engineering Policy Committee by hiding it in a $296 option package on the ’64 Tempest. John, a sports-car aficionado, borrows an acronym from a line of limited-edition Ferraris — Gran Turismo Omologato — and christens the option the “GTO package.”

Dealer orders start pouring in and they’ve sold 5,000 before GM figures out what’s happening. John and his team have just put General Motors in the muscle-car business....MUCH MORE
I don't know if Musk even has an interest in DeLorean.
James Bond is a different story.

Musk bought the Lotus Esprit featured in The Spy Who Loved Me for $866,000. From June 2016:

"Tesla’s Model S can turn into a boat (kinda), Musk claims" (TSLA)
Tesla-obsessives may recall last year's "As The Good Ship Tesla Sells Some Equity, A Reminder That Elon Musk Has Exit Options Not Available To The Rest Of Us (TSLA)":
Should Tesla experience what Titanic enthusiasts were calling a "crash floe" problem everyone knows Elon has already prepared one alternative future for himself via Space-X:...
But what many may not remember is that a couple years ago he secured a second, more prosaic, if that's the word, escape vehicle:
James Bond’s Lotus Esprit Submarine Purchased by Elon Musk,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/193hg3hnzai8ojpg.jpg

The sub is electrically powered,
of course.