Why wasn't the Delorean a successful car

“First design a car like the Fiat Panda!” - a conversation with the car designer of the century

You have just celebrated your 80th birthday and look back on a wide range of life's work: In addition to the Fiat Panda, your most famous designs also include the VW Golf, the BMW M1, the Maserati Ghibli and the DeLorean DMC-12. Which is more difficult to design, a compact car or a luxury body?

The sports car is always easier. The shape is proportional to the product if you have 12 cylinders and need a special length for aerodynamics. When I make a Ferrari, it becomes a luxury product because of its content. But design a car like the Fiat Panda: First you get a long list from the designers and you have far fewer options. It's about aerodynamics, length, weight, trunk size, safety standards. Regulations regarding the protection of pedestrians. More and more conditions have to be met. Everything has to be right, only then will it be approved.

That sounds indignant.

No no. There are good reasons that society keeps passing new laws. Where would we go if everyone could do what they want? In an increasingly mobile world, the product is of course becoming more and more complex. But this challenge stimulates and motivates the designer in every way. Every obstacle motivates us to find new solutions.

John DeLorean and his wife Cristina Ferrare in front of their car, which they had designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. (Photo: Tony Korody / Getty Images)

What role does design play in the automotive industry?

The task of design is to give the vehicle an economic value, but also a certain character. A person's purchase decision is often instinctive, which is why the product has to be attractive - after all, it should be sold. Ideally, a car has something that models from other manufacturers don't have. One aspect needs to be highlighted that is attractive and meaningful: this car and no other. Whoever does not create attraction has not done his job.