Bricklin Reviews and Road Tests

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Bricklin

Manufactured in Canada from 1974 until early 1976 for the U.S. market, the Bricklin was the creation of Malcolm Bricklin, an American millionaire who had previously founded Subaru of America. The car was designed in 1972 by Herb Grasse - who had also designed the original Batmobile for the television series. The initial concept was then built by Bruce Meyers of Meyers Manx dune buggy fame in California, and was dubbed the "Grey Ghost", and was powered by a Valiant Slant Six. A further three Bricklin styling models were constructed, so that Bricklin could entice financial institutions and investors to bankroll the project. As an affordable supercar the Valiant Six was releaced by athe 360 cube AMC V8. These initial three prototypes were a collaboration of Bricklin Vehicle Corporation, Herb Grasse Design and AVC Engineering.

Bricklin secured enough funding, in part from the New Brunswick government, to put the car into production, and they named their car the SV-1, which 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 became instead a "safe" sports car. And that safety was certainly not an afterthought. There was an integrated roll cage, 5 mph (8.0 km/h) bumpers, and side beams. The fibreglass body was available in five "safety" colours: white, red, green, orange and suntan. Another peculiar feature for the time was the lack of a cigarette lighter or ashtray, as non-smoker Malcolm Bricklin believed it was unsafe to smoke and drive.

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, however for the 1975 model year Bricklin did away with the manual transmission option and all subsequent cars were automatics. 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 moulds).

With the extra weight of a supposed safety sports car, the Briklin was copping some flak over its performance credentials. The decision was made to dump the AMC V8 and switch to Ford's 351 cu in (5752 cc) Windsor V8. With the Windsor under the hood, the SV1 had the power to avoid accidents when overtaking, while ensuring copious amounts of understeer were on hand. Thus powered, the Briklin became a Corvette killer. And as such, it should have become a sales success. But things were not going so well financially. 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.

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. 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. It was rumoured that the cost to manufacture a SV1 was US$16,000, but they sold for only US$6,500 each to the Dealers. To further complicate problems, it was disclosed that Richard Hatfield had 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 Bricklin running. The factory shut down, and was put into receivership on September 25, 1975.
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Bricklin SV1

Bricklin SV1

1974 - 1976
The Bricklin SV1 was an exceptionally good-looking 2-seat sports car, and was equipped with just about everything imaginable in 1974. There was air-conditioning, AM/FM stereo, power steering and brakes, tinted glass, tilt steering wheel, cast alloy wheels, radial tyres – and because of the stringent US safety laws you could drive it into a wall at 10 mph (forward or backward) without damage. More>>
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