The following is a secret project that I've been working on for almost a year. The subject matter is near and dear to my childhood, and I felt it vitally important to get it right before making anything public. The following will be a three part blog entry. Hope you guys enjoy.
I'm fairly certain most are aware of John DeLorean and the car company which bears his name. His story has been re-emerging in recent years with the release of Driven and Framing John DeLorean. If you are unfamiliar with him or his work, allow me to clarify.
John Zachary DeLorean was born in 1925 to immigrant parents [you know where this is going]. Throughout his education, he showed an interest in cars and the automotive industry. In 1956, DeLorean accepted a job from General Motors (GM) and personally requested a role in Pontiac (one of GM's divisions). At the time, Pontiac (for all intense and purposes) mostly focused on selling to an older customer base. This would completely change in the early 1960s with the release of the Pontiac GTO. By encouraging change and manipulating its release, DeLorean had (effectively) kick-started the muscle car craze of the 1960s.
His mechanical and marketing prowess quickly put his name on the map. He quickly rose the ranks of General Motors, becoming Vice President by 1972. However, an internal conflict was brewing between GM's leadership and DeLorean, who became critical of GM's poor decisions and efforts to limit his involvement in new projects. The following year, he resigned from GM and established the DeLorean Motor Company (DMC). Creating a car company from scratch was almost certainly a death sentence by this time. But for DeLorean, he was well beloved by the public. Ignoring his contributions to the automotive industry and being the VP of GM, he regularly made appearances on TV and established an image of himself that was more flamboyant and open to the public (compared to other company heads). His marriage to model Cristina Ferrare only cemented the DeLoreans as a kind of royal family.
John DeLorean was (effectively) the Elon Musk of his time.
The DeLorean Motor Company would receive enough financial backing to get off the ground. A deal was reach with the United Kingdom (then headed by the Labour Party) in which the the government would give financial intensives and property for a factory, in exchange that it's built in Northern Ireland. At the time, Northern Ireland was the epicenter of The Troubles. It was hoped that building the plant here would help bring jobs to the area (which was going through high unemployment) and bring communities closer together. Ironically, this would be the outcome, as both Catholics and Protestants worked together and established friendships. For the Northern Irish, DeLorean was almost a savior.
Despite the early positivity, things would quickly go south. The first vehicles to come of the line had many issues and complaints. While this could be simply chalked to a new car and a new assembly line finding their footing, other issues would come into play. The United Kingdom was now under the leadership of the Conservative Party and Margaret Thatcher, whom didn't wish to continue offering incentives to DMC if they weren't succeeding. Along with poor decision making (or, at worst, fraud) by DeLorean himself, the company was quickly loosing money. This would all culminate in October 1982 with the arrest of DeLorean by the FBI. He was arrested trying to acquire and sell cocaine. While DeLorean would be acquitted a few years later, his arrest and trial was more than enough to end his car company, his marriage, and his reputation.
The following year, the film Back to the Future was release, which has DeLorean's creation as a time machine. The film's global success would (effectively) make John DeLorean and his car immortal. For the rest of his life, DeLorean lived a mostly quiet life. He had ambitions of resurrecting his motor company and was even working on new project until his death in 2005.
The Ancestry of "Delorean"
As I mentioned above, John DeLorean was born to immigrant parents: Zachary and Kathryn DeLorean.
John's father was born in Șugag, Romania. At the time, this part of Romania (known as Transylvania) was part of the Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen (i.e., Hungary) of Austria-Hungary. John's mother was born in "Austria." The location given was likely taken from either her immigration papers or the US Census (which would simply label Austria-Hungary as "Austria" for simplicity). Wikipedia states that she too came from the Hungarian portion of the empire. Her younger brother (Earl) was born in "Romania." Her maiden name is Pribak, which appears to be a surname of South Slavic origin (suggesting that she's Slavic).
As mentioned in previous blog posts, I believe Alaska would be the preferred destination for immigrants of Romanian and Yugoslav ancestry (due to the Eastern Orthodox Church and Pan-Slavism). Because of this, I believe both Zachary and Kathryn may choose to settle in Alaska instead of the United States.
I also wanted to
show off how obsessed I can be over something as esoteric as a surname clarify that the DeLorean surname is technically incorrect. Given the emphasis on the "De", as well as early sources spelling the name as "De Lorean" (two words), this gives the impression that John is actually of Western European ancestry (e.g., French or Italian). John's original surname was "Delorean" (no capitalization of "L"). While not a common surname, "Delorean" does appears to be of Romanian origin and does have more concentration in Eastern Europe.  
I haven't been able to pinpoint the meaning of the surname, but I can confirm that it does follow the trends of Romanian surnames. The suffix "-ean" is pretty common (e.g., Muntean). The suffix "-eanu" is also common, so the surname "Deloreanu" also exists.
The surname goes through more
nitpicking changes when translated into Russian. Because Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet, surname transcriptions tend to focus more on being phonetically similar to their original. This is in contrast with English, which keeps the original spelling but tends to pronounce them to their standards (e.g., Wazowski instead of "Vazovsky"). When it comes to Romanian surnames ending in "-ean", Russians tend to transcribe this into "-yan" (e.g., Muntean → Muntyan).
Following the naming rules of Russian, John DeLorean's [Alaskanized] name would be:
- Ivan Zakharovich Deloryan (Иван Захарович Делорян)
Because his father's name happens to be Zachary, his name is not completely changed here.
I also wanted to add this (mostly for anecdotal yucks). When I first saw pictures of DeLorean from the 1960s, he looked so out of character. I almost got a "communist party official" vibe from him. I don't know if that's a good thing for a bad thing (in the context of this alternate history).
An Alternate Deloryan
When I began looking into the ancestry of John DeLorean and his potential place within the Russian America timeline, a big question had to be answered: should history repeat itself or should I go full parallel universe? In the end, I've chosen the latter and have worked out a timeline where DeLorean's company is successful.
Now born in Alaska, the young Deloryan would still show interest in cars. Because the United States dominated the automotive industry in North America, he would likely travel/immigrate to the USA. Much like OTL, he would work his way up through General Motors. Though the company was American, non-Americans also played a big role in its leadership (e.g., William S. Knudsen).
For the same reasons as OTL (perhaps with a touch of xenophobia), Deloryan leaves GM and creates his own company. While the United Kingdom could still offer incentives to open a plant in Northern Ireland, this would not happen. Instead, his native Alaska (or one of the governorates) offers a better deal and he goes with them. The Alaskan government and people would love to see their "son" return and bring his skills into the country. Deloryan may also see this as another step away from GM. He still receives backers from both Alaska and the United States (among others).
The company plant would be built in central Alaska, most likely Telegrafny Ruchey (being a hub). Because Deloryan is in Alaska, a lot of things could easily change. The Alaskan government may look more favorable towards their "son" (as opposed to Thatcher and the Conservatives). Even if the first cars off the line are not up to par, there could exist enough funds, backers, and support for the company to move along. No cocaine deal, no arrest, just a slow start. With the release of Back to the Future, the game changes greatly.
All-in-all, I could see this company being far more successful. Once all the kinks are sorted out, the cars should turn out well. The brand recognition would help keep sales high and alive. New models added and locations acquired (more about this in my second installment).
The Motor Company Named After Deloryan
The Russian translation for "DeLorean Motor Company" would be:
- Motornaya kompaniya imeni I. Z. Deloryana (Моторная компания имени И. З. Делоряна)
Which directly translates back as:
- "Motor Company named after I. Z. [Ivan Zakharovich] Deloryan"
Because of this stark name difference, the iconic "DMC" logo would (unfortunately) not exist (in order to keep things consistent). One way to abbreviate the Russian company name would be "MKiD," but this seems too ugly to work out.
Instead, I decided to look outside the box and go in a different (and more Russian) direction. The logo for Deloryan would be stylized "De". I chose this for several reasons. First, it is in homage to John's obsession with emphasizing his surname as "DeLorean" in OTL. Second, a "De" in the logo's style (at least in my opinion) is not too far off from following the mirrored look of the original (a decent compromise) and is already in use on the bumpers of DeLoreans IOTL (so I'm not creating a logo from scratch). Third and finally, this patter is also very common for machines produced in the Soviet Union and Russia. Major companies tended to use the first letters of their name in their logos and products. For instance, Tupolev uses "Tu" (e.g., Tu-144). Ilyushin uses "Il", Yakovlev uses "Yak", etc. When it comes to cars, I've only been able to find one that follows this pattern: Lada Izhevsk, which used "Izh" for its model names and on the grill of their cars.
By the same logic, the gull-winged beauty we know of would be known as the "De-12" (Де-12).
I also wanted to share a funny rabbit hole I fell down in relation to the Russian name and logo. I came across a man by the name of Peter Kalikow (spoilers, he's of Russian-Jewish ancestry). Like DeLorean, he too tried to start a car company that made a single car, the Momo Mirage (German Wikipedia Only). The car had the performance of an Italian sports car, but the style of a German luxury car. It too failed, but it was more of a passion project compared to the ambitions of DeLorean. Kalikow was one of the backers of DMC in the beginning. Because both men would be Alaskan and would've developed cars, I considered the possibility of both creating a joint car company, with the name and logo reflecting this. I was inspired by the Russian company MiG (which is short for "Mikoyan and Gurevich").
Going alphabetically (and since DeLorean was the public face), the obvious name for this joint company would be "Deloryan-Kalikov", which would be abbreviated... DiK... oh... um... yeah. You can see why I gave up with that, LOL.
This part focuses on John DeLorean the man and his company. The next installment will look into the potential vehicles of a successful DMC would look like. Thank you for reading.