Delorean Engine Concept

**Note: This entry was written before the feature, exclusive write up on The pictures are therefore removed as the Jalopnik feature does a much better job of explaining them. —Sam Hill

“I was a pretty talented engineer,” John Delorean once said of himself, “and I think I still am.” While given to flights of engineering fancy, JZD did focus like a laser on a few remaining engineering concepts. One of those is below. In 1980, JZD attempted to invent a better mousetrap in 1980 in the form of a “swash plate engine with Aspin type rotary valve and variable compression.”

Full disclosure: the author is not an engineer, so I will explain the concept as best as I understand it. What had caught JZD’s attention was a paper published by Andrew Frank and Norman Beachley from the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. They claimed unbelievable efficiency and power in “Flywheel Transmission Automobiles.” This concept was to “operate the engine at minimum brake specific fuel consumption or not at all, eliminate engine idle, and recover energy from braking, since these are all prerequisites to good fuel economy.” The car would be driven by the flywheel, clutched by the flywheel and used to recharge it. JZD sought to then couple this idea with the advantages of using an Aspin rotary valve (by then, a 40 year old invention) which would (supposedly) allow the car to run very clean, cool and on low-grade fuels. Okay, if I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but that’s what I think he was going for. By examining the documents below, you can see that JZD noted the concept had problems in lubrication and reliability: advancement in more durable materials was necessary, which is probably where his questions on “ceramics” come into play.

As seen in the preceding letter, JZD was concerned with getting his ideas down before collaborating with Smokey Yunick (see VIN 1585,) whom JZD was courting for input and expertise.

JZD was granted patent 4,515,113, which later expired.


In August of 1997, JZD told People Magazine that he had plans to introduce a new car by 1999. Many people speculated that this engine was going to power it. Instead, 1999 saw a personal bankruptcy after fighting scores of creditors. Again, I cannot judge the concepts. I have no right; I’m not an engineer. Whether or not JZD was a genius based on the following sketches is for you to decide. Discussion of these sketches is invited on DMCTODAY.COM. –Sam Hill


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