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Garage Find! 1974 Bricklin SV-1

This Bricklin is the proverbial “driven by a little old lady on Sundays” kinda car. It was purchased new as one of a pair – his and hers – in 1975. The wife drove it on weekends until 1989, accumulating only 21,000 miles. Then it sat until 2023 when our seller found it while passing by on his way to look at a Corvette. He was able to strike a deal with the original owner – actually for both cars – and after some mechanical refurbishment, he is offering this 1974 Bricklin SV-1 here on eBay. The bidding has reached $11,600 in a no-reserve auction. The car is located in Clermont, Florida. Malcolm Bricklin’s aim was the creation of a safe, affordable sports car with gullwing doors. The car’s name – “SV-1”- stood for Safety Vehicle 1. Its composite acrylic/fiberglass body panels were infused with colors called “Safety Yellow”, “Safety Red” and so forth. Its bumper was designed for a 20 mph impact. Gestation was unusually long, involving the choice of St. John, New Brunswick, Canada to site the Bricklin manufacturing plant, massive subsidies by the New Brunswick government which were misused, and technical problems ranging from complete re-engineering as a result of mechanical changes to poor bonding of the body panels to their metal frames.

Meanwhile, under the hood of the ’74s was AMC’s 220 hp, 360 cu. in. V8 paired with a three-speed automatic or a four-speed Borg Warner manual. This car is equipped with the automatic. The seller has flushed fluids, rebuilt the carburetor, and fired it up. He reports that the engine runs well, and the transmission is in good shape. The brakes, however, will need attention. In the day, performance comparisons to the Corvette were inevitable – an exercise that did not flatter the Bricklin. Bricklins weigh almost 3500 lbs, can barely reach 60 mph in 10 seconds, and suffer a lower top speed than any contemporary ‘Vette.

The interior is in average condition, with a clean dash and good upholstery, but wear is evident on the steering wheel and sills. The carpet is ill-fitting both front and rear. From the factory, the gullwing doors took 12 seconds to open, and the hydraulic pump could break if one door was opened while the other was shut. The drain on the electrical system while the doors opened was significant. I have no idea how one would exit in the event of a dead battery. The seller indicates that the shocks supporting the doors need replacing, but most owners switch to a compressed-air system to prevent the many problems posed by the hydraulics.

Fewer than 3000 Bricklins rolled off the line before the government of New Brunswick put the company into receivership in 1975, ending yet another ill-fated venture directed by Malcolm Bricklin. The retail price of the cars had doubled in two years, and production problems plagued the company to the end. Today, Bricklin SV-1s usually sell between $10k and at the very top end, about $17k. For fans of oddball cars, this Bricklin represents a good start on a car that can be much better with a bit of work.

Comments

  1. Avatar photo bobhess Member

    Never did see the Bricklin as a viable car due to all the problems Michelle pointed out. Do have to wonder how may rear tires “the wife” went through while putting 21K miles on it.

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo bobhess Member

      That’s “many” tires.

      Like 1
  2. Avatar photo Randall

    Bricklin. Bradley. Autism on wheels.

    Like 5
  3. Avatar photo Claudio

    This is a new one for me , i have never seen a black interior, always that ugly beige setup !
    This looks better but i still don’t want it !

    YOLO

    Like 4
  4. Avatar photo Truth

    Well, already way above what I think is reasonable. Yeah it’s a little rare, but you could put together a much nicer kit car too and get the same head turns for a little less.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Al

      Plus there’s always 2 head turns & no one wants the latter. ‘Wow, that’s awesome!’ & ‘WTF was THAT??’

      Like 2
  5. Avatar photo Big C

    The “safety” car with the 100lb. gullwing doors. And did AMC use Ford blue on their engines?

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo TFChappell

      Valid question but no. AMC did use a metallic blue of a similar tone from 1968 on no matter what size the engine. 😸 Looking closely at the rounded valve covers shows the AMC style fasteners on the bottom edge as well, tiny bolt heads with half moon washers. Plus the bypass hose to the water pump, the oil fill tube and the location of the dipstick… yeah, it’s an AMC engine.

      Like 4
  6. Avatar photo Howie

    I had a red 75 for a few years, i am very surprised that it still has the stock hydraulic system. These are not a rare exotic sports car.

    Like 7
  7. Avatar photo steve

    The rear tires extending beyond the wheel wells look ridiculous. And it’s not a car I’ve ever want in my garage.

    Like 3
  8. Avatar photo BA

    I’ve always liked these quirky things. I’d rather have a Ford powered one though. And those goofy doors, you’d have to figure out something to open them, maybe an electric actuator would work better. Still be screwed if you ended up on its top.
    Think I’ll just keep my money in hopes a cheap Pantera comes along.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Claudio

      Good luck on that cheap pantera but i do wish you the best chances

      Like 4
  9. Avatar photo JoeNYWF64

    Why is the fan shroud missing, & with such low miles, why would a lot of the interior have to be replaced?
    What happened to the original wheels?
    This one has 63 miles to compare it to …
    https://amp.guideautoweb.com/en/articles/67937/une-bricklin-sv-1-n-ayant-roule-que-100-km-vendue-pour-136-000/

    Like 0
  10. Avatar photo Eclectic Collector Member

    Neither the interior color nor the upholstery are original to this car. They were never black. Nor were the exteriors yellow.
    Red, white, orange, green or tan only.
    There are 3 ways to exit the car if power was lost. The window, the rear hatch or the emergency release for the door, the latter being the most difficult due to the 90 pound weight of the door.
    Once again, people who have never been around one, in one or most certainly never driven one always make the most uninformed comments about these cars.
    They’re certainly not perfect but they are a lot of fun. They do have plenty of power whichever of the two engines are in it and our cars are very popular whenever they’re shown.
    And I must say, who cares what a car’s top end is or isn’t. Are they ever driven to those extremes anyway? Let’s look at it for what it is. They’re just a fun collector car for those who appreciate them, nothing more, nothing less. Just like all the others.

    Like 7
    • Avatar photo PRA4SNW Member

      Eclectic, I could never recall seeing a “suntan” SV-1, but searching the BF archives reveals one that appeared here many years ago;
      https://barnfinds.com/rare-and-clean-1975-bricklin-sv1/

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo Eclectic Collector Member

        Yes, it was definitely the least popular of the colors. Odd that they chose to produce it when labeling their colors as Safety Orange, Safety Green etc. Safety Suntan? Lol. But back in the day when we were doing pre-delivery work on these cars the suntan was less often seen. The order of popularity was white, orange, red, green, suntan.

        Like 1
  11. Avatar photo Barto

    I didn’t realize the performance numbers were quite that anemic. I lived in Phoenix as a kid and remember when the Scottsdale PD briefly used them. More of a publicity stunt than anything else. I wonder if those “police” cars had more oomph?

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Eclectic Collector Member

      Well anemic as compared to what? Certainly if comparing it to cars produced 5 or more years earlier that can make sense, but as of the start of the Bricklin’s two and a half year run starting in ’74 we all know what was happening to performance.
      Having put a lot of miles down the road in these cars I can tell you that they are very responsive, good performing cars that handle quite well. Reported specs on any car is not always a good representation of the driving experience that they offer. As I say with any of our classics, to drive them is to know them.

      Like 1
  12. Avatar photo Howie

    Sold $16,150, 52 bids.

    Like 1

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