GM Vice President John Z. DeLorean was appointed general manager of Chevrolet in 1969, a year prior to the Chevrolet Vega introduction. DeLorean oversaw the Vega launch – directing the Chevrolet division and the Lordstown Assembly plant. He promoted the car in Motor Trend and Look magazines. DeLorean also authorized the Cosworth Vega prototype, later requesting initiation of production. His 1979 book, On A Clear Day You Can See General Motors, included a chapter on the Vega program.
By DeLorean's orders, tens of extra inspectors were assigned on the Vega assembly line and the first two thousand cars were road tested. But in 1972, General Motors Assembly Division (GMAD) took over the Chevrolet Lordstown assembly plant and adjoining Fisher body plant. Their main goal was to cut costs and more than 800 workers were laid off, many of which were additional inspectors. This led to assembly-line vandalism, with workers intentionally slowing the line, leaving off parts and installing others improperly. Incomplete and often non-functioning cars soon filled the factory lot, which then had to be reprocessed and repaired by a team assigned to this task by DeLorean. A one-month strike followed and dealers didn't receive enough cars for the demand in 1972. DeLorean regrouped for the 1973 model year with Vega sales of 395,792. The one millionth Vega was built in May 1973, a month after DeLorean's resignation from General Motors.
Motor Trend Interview-1970
In Motor Trend's August 1970 issue, DeLorean discussed the upcoming car, touting its quality of assembly and its handling capabilities.
DeLorean said, "Our design concept was we wanted to build a car that does everything well, and if you drive the car you really will be very impressed. It has far and away the best handling of anything in its class. In fact it handles better than many sports cars. The performance is excellent. There is nothing that comes within a mile of the Vega for performance and handling. It out-performs any car in its price class in accelerating. This car will out-handle almost any sports car built in Europe. Not just little cars, but sports cars too. This is quite an automobile...The Vega is going to be built at a quality level that has never been attained before in a manufacturing operation in this country, and probably in the world. We have automatic inspection of virtually every single engine part and so we know it is going to be right.. I think the ride and handling of some of the imports is quite mediocre. But some of them are extremely well put together. The Vega has good craftsmanship, without the faults of the imports."
DeLorean's Look Inside GM -1979
On A Clear Day You Can See General Motors - John Z. DeLorean's Look Inside The Automotive Giant by J. Patrick Wright was written in 1974, a year following DeLorean's resignation from GM, and finally published in 1979.
In "The Vega" chapter, DeLorean was critical of the corporate control of the Vega program and discussed his decisions in regards to launching the car. DeLorean said, "This program produced a hostile relationship between the corporate staffs, which essentially designed and engineered the car, and Chevrolet Division which was to sell it. From the first day I stepped into Chevrolet, the Vega was in trouble. Engineers are a very proud group. They take interest and pride in their designs, but this was not their car and they did not want to work on it. My most important problem was to motivate the division to get the car into as good shape as we could before introduction."
"So we made the Vega the first project of the new Planning Committee and gave it top priority with the revised marketing department. As the Lordstown Ohio assembly plant was converted to Vega production, I initiated an intense program for quality control with the target of making the first cars off the assembly line the best quality cars, from a manufacturing standpoint, ever built. As the starting date approached, we put tens of additional inspectors and workers on the line and introduced a computerized quality control program in which each car was inspected as it came off the line and, if necessary, repaired." "While I was convinced that we were doing our best with the car that was given to us, I was called upon by the corporation to tout the car far beyond my personal convictions about it." "I said with a clear conscience that it was a quality car, and I believed it was because the first 2,000 cars were road tested off the assembly line with a sizable proportion thereafter, and millions of dollars was spent to reinspect and repair each vehicle." "In naming the car one name stood out - Gemini. When pronounced it almost said "G-M-ini. Marketing studies notwithstanding, Ed Cole liked the name Vega and so did top corporate management, who disregarded our test results."