DeLorean Motor Company alive and well in Bonita Springs
By Mark S. Krzos
Originally posted on May 24, 2006
A piece of automotive history — long thought to be extinct — is alive and thriving in Bonita Springs.
The DeLorean Motor Company.
Yes. The same DeLorean Motor Company, which pioneered automotive innovations such as four-wheel disc brakes, low tire pressure monitoring systems and dual airbags. The same DeLorean Motor Company whose car became the time traveling machine in “Back to the Future.”
While the company fizzled in the early 1980s after churning out fewer than 10,000 of its gull-winged stainless steel car, fans of the car and its creator, John DeLorean, have resurrected the company from bankruptcy.
One of those people is Naples resident Tony Ierardi.
“I was 11 years-old when the car debuted,” said Ierardi. “They came out at a time when I was captivated by the Lamborghini Countach and the Ferrari 308. Then this car came out and it just sparked something in me.”
Years later Ierardi would come across a DeLorean at a used car lot. “I was 21 and found out that it wasn’t that expensive to own. I’ve had it ever since.”
That was just how Ierardi became an owner — not how he became only one of three DeLorean remanufacturers in the world.
At the height of DeLorean’s popularity, there were 400 dealerships throughout the world and approximately 8,500 cars were sold shortly after its debut in 1981.
Financial problems and the arrest of its creator John DeLorean on cocaine smuggling charges doomed the company.
“He was set up and he was as good as done,” said Ierardi, adding that DeLorean was filmed appearing to accept money to take part in drug trafficking to raise money for his failing car company. “He was acquitted (on the basis of entrapment).”
But by that time, DeLorean and his company were doomed.
By the mid-1990s, there were approximately 8,000 of the cars left. Some remained inside the garages of collectors, others were trotted out for special car shows. Only four independent car shops survived to service the cars.
Then Stephen Wynne of Texas decided that if he could put together enough money, he could get the company off the ground, explained Ierardi.
After gaining John DeLorean’s approval (DeLorean died in March of 2005), Wynne acquired the original company’s name and logo (the trademark registration had lapsed) and now owns the remaining original factory parts.
Around the same time, Ierardi bought the last DeLorean to be sold by a DeLorean dealer. Nearly a decade later, Ierardi won the 2003 DeLorean National — a DeLorean car show that displays rare and mint condition DeLoreans.
“After winning I made a remark to Wynne that he should open one in Florida,” he said.
Two years later, Ierardi was opening the only DeLorean parts, sales, service and restoration company in the southeast — right on Bonita Beach Road, sandwiched between U.S. 41 and Old U.S. 41.
“We can build one from the ground up for $42,500,” he said.
Used DeLorean’s, depending on condition, range from $15,000 to $35,000.
“The DeLorean is a very nice GT car,” he said. “It’s not very fast, but now we can make it fast.”
So far, business at the Bonita Beach location has been brisk.
“We’ve been open for 18 months and we have a two month waiting list,” Ierardi said. “There’s about 1,800 DeLorean’s between here and North Carolina.”
DeLorean Motor Company (Florida) is located at 9786 Bonita Beach Road. Call 495-8550 or go to http://www.delorean.com for more information.
Tony Ierardi, president of DeLorean Motor Company (Florida), provides parts, service and restoration for DeLorean owners in the Southeast.
FAST FACTS & MORE
• John DeLorean was a vice president for General Motors who designed the Pontiac GTO in the 1960s
• He was considered a rebellious visionary and quit GM in 1974 to start the DeLorean Motor Company in 1974.
• He completed the first prototype in 1976 and it included airbags and four-wheel disc brakes.
• The car debuted in 1981 and closed down operations in 1983.
• 8,500 cars were sold from approximately 400 dealerships.
• Johnny Carson was a major DeLorean investor and was behind the wheel of one when he was arrested for drunk driving in 1982.
Tony Ierardi, the owner of DeLorean Motor Company (Florida) will open Precision Aerospace within the next few months.
The company will repair and supply parts for commercial, military and civilian aircrafts.
“We’re going to be a test station and sell and rebuild parts. We’re going to employ between six and eight people. We should be open in July. Our sign went up Tuesday.”