Lots of things going on in this thread across a wide swath of history. The ones who were there when it happened got it mostly right, lots of the others got it varying degrees of wrong. I’m sure the same will be said about what I am about to write. George Carlin, I think, said “where you stand on an issue depends on where you sit” – that seems to fit here, too.
Let me start by saying I stepped away from DMCtalk and social media for a good couple years because it was such a time suck, and I/DMC had more pressing matters at hand. Still do, but knowing what’s going to happen in the very near future – related to the recent changes on our site – and the analytics that say where visitors are coming from, prompted me to come here and find this thread.
The C&D’s were sent out without my direct knowledge, so I can’t say exactly why, but many people here are on the mark when it comes to defending a trademark. Was it done with too broad of a stroke? Not for me to say – I am not an IP lawyer,and neither, I think, is anyone else here.
Yes, the whole SonnyV thing was a mistake I made nearly 20 years ago. I’ve apologized, learned from that mistake and I don’t know what else I can do…if you want a personal apology and hear my version of events, call me or see me at the next DeLorean event. In any case, please know that I realized I fucked up and I’m sorry that I did it. I understand why people got upset about it. I understand that I let people down. I have tried in the ensuing years to give back to the DeLorean community in any way I can via other good works wherever I can.
The DMCnews.com site is not controlled by DMCH nor was it shutdown at SW’s request.. I was able to re-acquire it personally a couple years ago – but never got a full and complete backup of the site. I had hopes of having time to rebuild the data, move it to a different, modern platform, but never have had time. I am supportive of the other DML archives.
DMC/DMCH is in a good financial position – all locations are loaded up with cars for sale, cars to be serviced and the new online store is benefiting all dealers as we give them the orders from their region that they can fill, to further reduce shipping times to customers. That said, Florida does not handle any of the web orders placed by customers in their region – if you want them to, reach out to Tony and Robert! Also, with regards to the store, I hope people are enjoying the larger and 360 photos. We do it all in house, so it’s going slower than I’d like. On that subject, we’re hiring in just about all areas for in-person positions here at DMCH. Come work here and see for yourself what it takes to keep this going! Company paid medical, dental, vision, HSA/HSA, paid holidays/vacation, 401k and more!
Parts availability is very good with new parts coming though keeping stock on the shelf has been a challenge with longer lead times and shortages from assorted suppliers in the US and abroad. We’ve not had a wide-ranging price increase in more than five years, preferring to raise prices where deemed required due to supplier price increases to us.. That will likely have to change this year. Costs are going up left and right on everything for everyone as we all know – fuel, utilities, wages, benefits, etc. DMC is not an exception.
As far as new cars go, yes, we’ve often spoken before we should have. The Pontiac Solstice thing was likely the first, most public, misstep. And it actually started as the Saturn Sky. We had been approached by a company (AMP Motors) that had been building some battery powered Skys (https://uncrate.com/the-amp/) and was making a play for the GM plant where the Sky and Solstice were built when GM shut down Pontiac and Saturn as they filed for bankruptcy. They knew they couldn’t use the Pontiac brand and Roger Penske was making a play (that also fizzled out) for Saturn. AMP reached out to us about licensing the DeLorean brand for their planned continuation cars, using the thread of a DeLorean/Pontiac connection as the tie-in. In the early days of the Obama administration, a top donor to their campaign (and Fisker investor) called in a favor to Biden (connected to Delaware, where the Sky/Solstice plant was located) and AMP lost out to Fisker. You can read on your own how that ended. Spoiler alert: Fisker never built anything there and the plant was demolished a few years ago.
The EV that we showed at the 2012 New York Auto Show and our 2011 Open House was built by an ex-Aptera guy who started a battery company and also had a company that made electric ski boats nearby in Louisana as he was (and still is) a composites whiz. We made a deal to buy it from him as part of a plan to work with him to build more. Neither of us were capitalized for it and the EV thing in 2012 was far different than it is today. As an aside, he made a couple complete composite underbodies for us using the factory molds we own. He ended up shutting down the boat company and he’s now back at a newly-formed Aptera company.
Low-volume, after being signed into law in late 2015 is STILL stuck at NHTSA. Trump never had a fully Senate confirmed Director at NHTSA (though I got to sit in on the confirmation hearing for the woman who came closest) so there was a leadership vacuum there that put lots of things behind, including Low Volume. The Trump administration did try to ram a number of pending regs – including Low Volume – through the Federal Register (which would have allowed the Low Volume program to kick off) on the day before Biden’s inauguration. But as every incoming administration does, especially one from the other party, Biden’s team put all that on hold until they could review it. As of last month, it is still being reviewed.
Why is a completely written regulation still under review, even after mostly all positive public comments during the process? We’re told it’s a number of things – NHTSA has a lot on their plate (autonomous is a hot topic now) and still no confirmed Director. Off the record comments are also that no one wants to sign off on it due to the risk of being associated with this legislation if a HNWI or celebrity gets killed in the one of these Low-Volume cars (DeLorean, Cobra, etc) that was not made to modern safety standards as they were not legislatively mandated or required by this NHTSA regulation.
The point being is that these were all honest intentions, but none of them has ever “stuck” for lots of different reasons. It certainly hasn’t been for lack of trying. I hope this added detail about “new cars” gives some background to the “farts in the wind”.
Moving along, over the years we have given very low cost licenses (~$1) to people in the DeLorean community who wanted to make stuff with the logo or use it some other way. At the same time, we have also done a few larger deals and these licensees the biggest part of why we prefer to give licenses rather than just say “sure” when asked. We also also have to show we are protecting the IP to these larger licensees.
Events of the past two years – pandemic, and the legwork resulting in the coming news about the changes to our website – have put the club program on the back burner, but it was far more than just a waiver – lots of nice “value-added” benefits to being a member of an organized local/regional DeLorean club – and I hope once the dust settles in the coming months we are able to re-visit and implement that. I, for one, am anxious to get back out to club events around the US.
SW bought out the inventory of DeLorean parts from Kapac in 1996, not 1998. In the early days DMC owning the Kapac inventory, the goal was to get more service centers, not more mail-order parts sellers. What the DeLorean community needed was DeLorean-specialized service, not more ads in the back of DeLorean World from people selling parts from their homes. We continued for many years to sell to Dave Bauerle and Rob Grady.
We stopped selling to Rob when he would badmouth the products we were selling when in some cases he was buying those same parts from us and selling them and as the years went by, and we had the other locations his purchase volume dropped to the point where he was buying less than the “minimum” required even in the Kapac days. We really wanted Rob to come on board with DMC like Dave and Julee and Tony and Don, but he wasn’t interested in improving his facility to meet the standards that FL, MW and CA had done, nor was he interested to move to a location more convenient to the majority of owners in the NE USA. Midwest also sold to Josh for a while. There were a couple of reasons why we stopped doing business with Josh, and the biggest was likely that he was in the same territory as they were. I like the analogy that McDonald’s doesn’t sell french fries to Burger King.
As far as our ending of our relationship with Toby, in general terms, we discovered he was grossly violating the terms of agreement he signed when he came on with DMC. He was unable or unwilling to remedy those violations in a manner that would allow him to continue as a DMC dealer. For the record, Toby insisted on non-disclosure terms with regards to the settlement that legally ended our relationship – not us.
At the time of our big 2017 inventory, we had about 3.5 million parts in the warehouse. That number continues to grow as whenever we go out and do a parts buy – either a repro part for something that has gone out of stock or something totally new – we have to buy at minimum hundreds and often thousands. With more or less 3,000 SKU’s, there’s a high cost associated with keeping those parts on hand – whether we sell one a day of that SKU or one every five years (or longer). Think property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, wages, and on and on and on.
And actually, we did get rights to certain IP from Kapac, which they acquired from Consolidated when they got it from the DMCL Receiver. The stylized DMC logo, of course, was not part of that and was acquired through an application approved by the USPTO. Over the years we have added to the IP portfolio to protect the brand from uses that could have been inconsistent with the direction in which Stephen (as owner) wanted the business to go. That’s why it’s a Deluxo in GTA and not a DeLorean, for example.
I don’t know why Sally Baldwin agreed to a settlement, but I have to think that her attorney likely advised her to do so in light of the costs associated with going to trial. We were insured for legal fees for this, and our insurers also encouraged a settlement to keep their costs low. Such is the legal system in America – SW wanted a trial, but he also didn’t want to get dropped by our insurance company at renewal time.
As an aside, at the time, we knew the JZD estate still had a multi-million dollar judgment against it by JZD’s former attorney, Mayer Morganroth. One can make the connection that whatever award or settlement the estate might have received would be attached by Morganroth. Perhaps the settlement amount Sally agreed to was below a threshold that made it unattractive to Morganroth to pursue. Or perhaps her lawyer advised her to settle after the discovery part of the legal proceedings were filed by both sides and they realized it was better to settle than take their chances at a trial.
Also, JZD had also filed for personal bankruptcy in the early 2000s, or perhaps late 90s. Either way, he claimed no assets in the bankruptcy as did the estate after his passing during probate. For the Estate to now claim certain rights (read: assets worth fighting for) could be construed as fraud at a trial, or so we were told at the time. Again, I am not a lawyer..
I consider Marc a long time friend, too. Marc, lmk if you still need Purflux filters, I recently found some in an old box while looking for radio manuals for you in my storage unit from when I moved.
See you all around here again in a couple years. Call me if you’d like to chat – 281/441-2537, just ask for me with whomever answers the phone…
Last edited by DMCH James; Yesterday at 07:05 PM. Reason: This post and the views contained herein do not necessarilty reflect the views of DMC or DMC Classic.James Espey, Vice President
DeLorean Motor Company (Texas)