1975 Bricklin SV1
Ardell Brown Classic Cars in Midvale, Utah one of my favorite places to go on my lunch break and bum around. For the most part, their cars are generally older, with mostly muscle cars and classic 1950s rides comprising the bulk of the collection. Some are for sale, and some are not. Unfortunately, today’s hatchback is not one of those available for purchase. Sad too, since it’s rare enough to be the only one I’ve ever seen in person.
That car is the Bricklin SV1. The dream of entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin,
The original idea for the Bricklin SV-1 was a safe and economical sports car, but due to the added weight of the safety features, the car was inefficient and simply a safe sports car.
Such a description doesn’t really bode well for blistering sales, and Bricklin only sold about 2800 examples. The styling was unique – but to be fair, the mission of this vehicle was not to be a sleek and beautiful sports coupe. The marketplace dictated otherwise however – Car and Driver tested the SV1 against a contemporary Corvette. The Bricklin came up short in that head-to-head comparison, as it did in the showroom. When faced with the choice between the $9800 Bricklin and the $8300 Corvette, most buyers picked the Chevy and spent that $1500 elsewhere (presumably on life insurance). Even 37 years ago, it appears the car buying public loved safety features and gadgetry, but were simply unwilling to pay extra for it.
Nagging quality issues such as poor panel fit (as seen on the Ardell Brown example) also conspired to doom the upstart Bricklin. In the long run, it was an interesting experiment for the man who brought Subaru to the United States before the SV1 and the Yugo after, but ultimately a failure. The government of New Brunswick where the Bricklin was assembled was left on the hook for over 20 million dollars when the venture failed.
More recently, Malcolm Bricklin entered into an agreement to import Chery vehicles manufactured in China to the US – an agreement that fell through, and is now working on a prototype for an electric vehicle. Even at 70-plus years of age, and a string of high-profile failures behind him, Bricklin continues to live a dream of creating the ideal automobile, and Hatchtopia applauds him for his effort. Without people like Malcolm Bricklin in the automotive world, cars would certainly be much less entertaining.