1975 Bricklin SV1: Supercar Dreams

bricklin

The Bricklin SV1 is a curiosity of automotive history. I remember being drawn in by its profile, with those exotic gullwing doors and turbine-style wheels. But for the most part, it never really took off and is only cherished today by fans of the brand. The Bricklin was packed to the brim with safety features, and its doors operated with the push of a button – despite these neat features, however, the car was a flop and Bricklin went bankrupt owing creditors millions. This particular SV1 is located in Canada, listed for sale here on kijiji for $12,000 (thanks to Barn Finds reader J. Clark for sharing). As the dust will tell you, it has been idled for quite some time, despite being on the receiving end of an engine rebuild before it was parked. This certainly isn’t the only Bricklin that sits unloved today, as any scan of craigslist or eBay will tell you. Will they ever become a cherished collector car?

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Comments

  1. Mark E

    The SV1 stood for Safety Vehicle 1. As such they were supposed to be safe vehicles and incorporated features not used by mainstream manufacturers. Still, I heard enough stories about them I don’t think I’d want one. For example, the doors are in the 150-200 pound range and are opened hydraulically. Think about that for awhile. There have been more than one owner who was trapped in the car because the mechanism failed and, sitting in the car, there’s no way you can get enough leverage to lift that kind of weight.

    • Mark E

      The ad does not show the front of the car, which has to be the most unflattering side. The bulbous nose is made to absorb impact in a crash.

      If you ever see one in person you’ll never confuse it with a Delorean. The Bricklin has the feel of a reasonably well built kit car… -_-;

  2. Mark E

    Just checked Hemmings and there’s half a dozen Bricklins for sale ranging from $10,500 to $22,500 so there MUST be a market for them. I’m personally shocked. I thought the market value was in the $7500-$10k range…

  3. jim s

    they do interest me, but i would go for a stock one with a manual transmission. prices for them do seem to be on the rise.

    • Mark E

      No doubt! Out of 2,854 cars made, manual transmissions were only offered the first year and so only 137 were manufactured with a manual. That’s less than 5% of total production! It might not be hard to convert one over though. Especially the ones with the Ford drivetrain…

      • Stephen

        The 1974 models were AMC powered and offered a choice between manual and automatic transmission. The 1975 model offered only a Ford 351 with automatic. Wonder how hard it would be to turn one into a quick, fun car with aftermarket parts?

  4. Tirefriar

    Just noticed that it has tail lamps from a second generation of Alfa Romeo Berlina. These tail lights have been used by other italian manufacturers (Maserati ??) but I am much more familiar with the Berlinas.

    MarkE, the nose is…well, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

  5. Fred

    My uncle bought one of these when he lived in Canada in the late 1970s. If I remember correctly, his has a Ford 351 Cleveland in it and was safety orange. The last time I saw the car, it was partially disassembled in his garage in California. The last time I rode in the car, he was living in Texas. Watching him fold his 6′ 4″ frame in half to fit behind the wheel was an event in itself.

  6. blindmarc

    Remember seeing what appeared to be a new owner, pull into a parking space, and not be able to open the doors. He had to park waaaay out in the lot just to get out of the car.

  7. JRHC

    Saw a car just like this one on Main Street, Summerland BC this morning. I could hear it coming from a mile away, what with all the clanging and rattling the motor was making. Owned by one of the old car guy’s here in the Okanagan.

  8. Tom Stewart

    They leaked like crazy in the rain. It got so bad that the dealers were thinking of drilling holes in the floor to let the water out. And yes, the door frequently malfunctioned, trapping people either in or out of their cars.

    Bricklin started with not enough money, BS’d his way into production with a prototype not ready, and then hired his relatives in ‘special’ positions at big salaries. It was doomed from the start. There’s a good book about the Yugo that covers this and other episodes Malcolm Bricklin was involved in, all doomed.

    • NickF

      Ha! I left university looking for a job. They conned me into applying. Gave me a half hour presentation on how smart they were and why Canadians (Maritimers) didn’t know anything about building cars. During the interview, some kid in an expensive suit entered to ask the interviewer where he could buy some bolts (sample in hand). It was obvious I had wasted a tank of gas on this interview. As a gesture, they agreed to give me a plant tour :). The assembly line (for which Mac paid his Dad $1M) was stopped with vehicles in various stages of incompletion. At each stage I grilled the host over what component came from where (ie engines, transmissions etc). Finally we came to the most complete car. Two guys were sitting on the floor with jigsaws trying to trim the rear bumper cover to fit. I headed for the door! Sorry it didn’t work out for them … all in all, for the amount of money they had and the number of cars they actually produced … they weren’t far off their target pricing. Had the government continued to pump money in (arrrrgghhh!) MAYBE they would have reached a sustainable point – but I doubt it – Mac had a propensity for sugaring off early. This car is not more than a 100 miles from the factory in which it was assembled and less than 50 miles from where the body was manufactured. I might go have a look.

      Like 1
  9. Jason

    The poor man’s Delorean.

    (Love the vanity plate!)

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