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Classic Cars Wiki

Bricklin SV-1

The Bricklin SV-1 was a gull-wing door sports car assembled in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. The body panels were manufactured in a separate plant in Minto, New Brunswick. Manufactured from 1974 until early 1976 for the U.S. market, the car was the creation of Malcolm Bricklin, an American millionaire who had previously founded Subaru of America. The car was designed by Herb Grasse. Due to Bricklin's lack of experience in the auto industry, coupled with the funding problems, the Bricklin factory was not able to produce vehicles fast enough to make a profit. As a result, only 2854 cars were built before the company went into receivership, owing the New Brunswick government $23 million.

The model name (SV-1), stood for "safety vehicle one". 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. The Bricklin was designed for safety with an integrated roll cage, 5 mph (8.0 km/h) bumpers, and side beams. The body was fibreglass with bonded acrylic in five "safety" colours: white, red, green, orange and suntan. The cars had no cigarette lighter or ashtray.Non-smoker Malcolm Bricklin believed it was unsafe to smoke and drive. The Bricklin is the only production vehicle in automotive history to have powered gull-wing doors, that opened and closed at the touch of a button, as standard equipment. (The later DeLorean DMC-12's gull-wing doors must be operated manually.)

The first Bricklin concept car, latter dubbed Grey Ghost, was built by Bruce Meyers of Meyers Manx dune buggy fame in California. Its initial powerplant was a Valiant Slant Six.

Herb Grasse Design Work[]

In 1972 Herb Grasse, the designer of TV's original Batmobile, built three Bricklin styling models to interest banks and other potential investors in the gull-wing safety sports car. The eventual full prototypes one, two, and three were a collaboration by Bricklin Vehicle Corporation, Herb Grasse Design and AVC Engineering.

Technical specifications[]

Power came from a 360 cu in (5,899 cc) AMC 360 V8 for 1974. Later cars used a 351 cu in (5,752 cc) Ford Windsor V8. A high-performance V8 was chosen so that in case of an impending accident, the power of the V8 was enough for the owner to pull away from the potential accident. Performance figures rated favorably against the contemporary Corvette, which most auto magazines used as a point of comparison. The front suspension used A-arms and coil springs, while the rear used leaf springs on a live axle. For the 1974 model year, 772 cars were produced, 137 of which had four-speed manual transmissions. All 1975 and 1976 cars had automatic transmissions. In 1974 potential owners were given a choice of transmission and color whereas in 1975 there was only a choice of color.

In an attempt to reduce production costs, Bricklin attempted to bond fibreglass to acrylic plastic—something the plastics industry had not perfected at the time—resulting in a high failure rate and high production costs (some panels cracked while still in their molds). The acrylic fiberglass body was ahead of its time. It soon became obvious that Bricklin's claims of a "high performance safety car" were made for advertising.

Tended to overheat using a single radiator opening in the 1974 model, and doubling the size of the opening failed to solve the problem. Running examples today generally feature a retrofitted larger radiator.

It is believed that fewer than 1120 Bricklin cars still exist.

1976 models[]

After the Bricklin manufacturer's receivership, George Byers and Sol Shenk of Consolidated Motors, an automotive liquidator from Columbus, Ohio, purchased the majority of the parts and remaining cars left on the line. These cars surfaced later, completely assembled from left-over parts, and were sold as 1976 models.

Financial troubles[]

Under the direction of New Brunswick Premier Richard Hatfield, the provincial government provided financing of $4.5 million for Bricklin's car. The money had been advanced on the assumption that Bricklin needed it to begin the production of cars. In truth, it had paid for the engineering and development of Bricklin's car as well as many of the costs, including salaries of keeping Bricklin's U.S. companies in operation. Also contributing to the company's decline was Bricklin's tendency to assign inexperienced family members to executive positions on his Board. These included naming his father as Vice-President of Engineering, his mother as head of Public Relations, and his sister's husband as company attorney.

During production, the Bricklin manufacturer was constantly in debt, and had relied on provincial government support to keep the company running. One reason is the vehicle was estimated to cost $16,000 to build, but sold for $5000 each to the Dealers, so the company lost the equivalent of sales of more than two Bricklins for every car built. To further complicate problems, Richard Hatfield was discovered to have secretly funded the failing company to win reelection. After the funding scandal, the government turned down a request for an additional $10 million to keep the company running. The factory shut down, and was put into receivership on September 25, 1975.

Bricklin and enthusiasts[]

  • American Motors (AMC) - powered variants are welcomed at AMC club shows (as well as at Chrysler shows by virtue of AMC's purchase by Chrysler in 1987).
  • A Ford - engined Bricklin can be counted by purists as being an "unofficial" Ford. Bricklin owners are openly welcomed into Ford classic auto shows.
  • There are only a couple of Bricklins in the Southern hemisphere. One of note is resident in Christchurch, New Zealand. Another was up for auction in Australia in November 2006.
  • An orange Bricklin is on show as part of the Haynes International Motor Museum collection in Sparkford, Somerset in England.
  • A white Bricklin is on show as part of the permanent collection of the Western Development Museum's location in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
  • An orange Bricklin is on display as part of the permanent collection of the "LeMay - America's Car Museum", located in Spanaway, Washington, USA.
  • A green Bricklin is a part of the collection owned and displayed at the Musee De L'Auto located in Les Jardins De La Republique Provincial Park in Edmundston, New Brunswick. The car sports 1976 New Brunswick licence plates bearing the DS (Dominion Service) designator, indicating that the vehicle was owned by the provincial government. This may have been the vehicle that was driven by then-premier Richard Hatfield.
  • A fully restored Bricklin is on display at the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John, New Brunswick.
  • A tan Bricklin is on display at the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento, California, a museum that originally contained primarily Ford models and engines but now exhibits a cross-section of all marques.
  • A tan Bricklin is on display in The American Police Hall of Fame & Museum in Titusville, Florida.
  • In the 2007 season of Chop Cut Rebuild, Malcolm Bricklin claimed that the Bricklin's 'Grey Ghost' prototype was the inspiration behind the DeLorean car.
  • In 1976, the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto exhibited a model that was cut in half in order to show design elements unique to the vehicle.
  • There is a gold colored Brickin for sale in Saskatchewan Canada
  • There are only 5 known Bricklins in Europe. A 1975 Ford powered model resides in Finland.
  • A white 1975 Ford powered Bricklin is on display at the Kraftfahrzeugmuseum (motor vehicle museum) in Sigmundsherberg, Lower Austria.
  • A few Bricklins were used as squad cars for the Scottsdale, AZ police department in the mid-70s. They actually had the same paint scheme as regular squad cars, and even had a single beacon on the roof.

In the media[]

  • The Bricklin Story was a 30-minute 1974 film produced as a self-promotion piece. It aired nationally on CBC and was roundly panned by critics.
  • History Television and Barna-Alper produced a documentary entitled Premier, Promoter & Their Car for its Turning Points of History series. The documentary explores the political fiasco that surrounded the Bricklin vehicle.
  • A New Brunswick film company, Cojak Productions, reviewed the Bricklin fiasco in a docu-drama. Malcolm Bricklin played himself. Three Bricklins were discovered in Halifax and were purchased for use in the film. Titled Plan B: The Bricklin Legend, the film was aired on RDI and Radio-Canada on April 15, 2006.
  • Bricklin International member and New Brunswick resident Charlie Russell wrote a two-part songs in an album called The Bricklin, where the songs take a satirical view on the history of the car.
  • New Brunswick Premier Richard Hatfield's 1974 reelection campaign was nicknamed The Bricklin Election, possibly because of his government's financial support of the Bricklin company and because of Hatfield's use of an orange-colored Bricklin in his campaign. He blamed criticism of the car on the opposing Liberal government.
  • An orange Bricklin SV-1 is featured in the movie Deadline Auto Theft.
  • In 2010, Theatre New Brunswick and The_Playhouse_(Fredericton) produced a musical titled The Bricklin: An Automotive Fantasy portraying the Bricklin story through funk music. An orange-colored Bricklin similar to Hatfield's was used on stage during the show.
  • A white Bricklin SV-1 is featured in the 2011 movie Hobo With A Shotgun. This Bricklin is currently in Memramcook, NB, in storage.
  • The Last Bricklin (Green) of the assembly line is located in Riverview, NB, to a Used Car dealer.
  • A Bricklin SV-1 makes a brief appearance in the 1982 film The Junkman.


1975 Bricklin SV-1 was rated by TIME in the series The 50 Worst Cars of All Time.

Commemorating the Bricklin[]

  • As part of a series commemorating Historic Land Vehicles, Canada issued the Bricklin Stamp on June 8, 1996. It had a face value of 45¢.
  • In June, 2003 the Canadian mint issued a $20 sterling silver Bricklin coin with selective gold plating.
  • Both the Bricklin coin and the Bricklin stamp were a greater success than the car itself, selling out quickly.