He began life in a crummy little house in a tough Detroit neighborhood but grew up to become one of the most colorful, successful auto businessmen in the country.

Even if the only time you ever heard the word “DeLorean” was in the film Back to the Future, you should find out just a little bit more about the man behind the car...and see the depressing Detroit childhood home where he lived many years ago. This little house and one of his later Michigan mansions are seen in the gallery below. But first.....

John De Lorean (his last name originally had that space between syllables; from here on I'll spell it as one word) was born January 6, 1925 in Detroit. The DeLorean family lived in a small dwelling on Marx Street on Detroit's east side. It was in a lower-class neighborhood with its share of crime and delinquency.

99.1 WFMK logo
Get our free mobile app

Living there during the Great Depression, they were still able to get the food they needed and extras as well...like music lessons that got John started in college.

The music lessons paid off – that, along with his excellent grades snagged him a scholarship at the Lawrence Institute of Technology. In 1947, he landed a part-time job at Chrysler, where he was encouraged to enroll at the Chrysler Institute.

Next, he was off to Packard – and after four years, he became head of research and development.

Offered more money, he went to work for General Motors as the assistant to the chief engineer. While at GM Pontiac, many of his ideas were patented and John was soon promoted to division chief engineer in 1961. His greatest achievement was the Tempest, which morphed into the Le Mans, which turned into the GTO, undoubtedly the most popular sports cars of the 1960s.

During the 60s, he was really enjoying being a celebrity, flying here and there, meeting girls, appearing in magazines, hobnobbing with famous actors...not to mention the reputation he garnered for himself as a non-conformist.

In 1973 when John was 48, he quit GM, saying "I want to do things in the social area. I have to do them, and unfortunately the nature of our business just didn't permit me to do as much as I wanted." In the mid-1970s he designed a new car he called the De Lorean Safety Vehicle. It had the soon-to-be-famous winged doors, and the body was stainless steel. The DeLorean started production in 1981, squirtin' out approximately 9,000 cars in under two years until the British government ordered it closed in late 1982.

Then in 1985, John DeLorean was in the headlines again when his unique creation was used as the time machine in the film Back to the Future.

On March 19, 2005, John De Lorean passed away at the age of 80  in New Jersey due to a stroke. He was cremated and his ashes and headstone are in White Chapel Cemetery in Troy, Michigan. Now see the gallery below.

John DeLorean's Michigan Homes and Gravesite


Lily Tomlin's Childhood Home in Detroit

Sonny Bono's Childhood Homes

Ray Parker Jr.'s Michigan Childhood Home

More From 99.1 WFMK