Bricklin SV-1

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Bricklin SV-1
Bricklin SV-1 AMI.jpg
Manufacturer General Vehicle DBA Bricklin
Production 1974–1975
Body and chassis
Class Sports car
Body style two-door coupé
Layout FR layout
Engine AMC 360 V8 (1974)
Ford Windsor 351 V8 (1975–76)
Wheelbase 96.0 in (2,438 mm)
Length 178.6 in (4,536 mm)
Width 67.6 in (1,717 mm)
Height 48.15 in (1,223 mm) (doors closed)
Curb weight 3,470 lb (1,570 kg)
Green Bricklin

The Bricklin SV-1 is a two-seat sports car assembled in Saint John New Brunswick, Canada from 1974 until late 1975, for the American market — and noted for its gull-wing doors and color-impregnated and bonded acrylic and fiberglass bodywork.

The car was the creation of Malcolm Bricklin, founder of Subaru of America, was styled by Herb Grasse (1945-2010).[1][2] and launched in 1974 at the New York City‘s Four Seasons ballroom. Its model name SV-1 an acronym for "safety vehicle one",[3] the Bricklin had an integral roll cage, 5 mph (8.0 km/h) bumpers, and door side beams.[4]

A number of factors contributed to the car's ultimate demise, including the company's inexperience working with Detroit auto companies, a host of unresolved design problems, company nepotism, supplier shortages, worker absenteeism and a series of rapid price escalations that saw the actual price of the car more than double over initial projections.[4]

Unable to manufacture its product profitably, the company went into receivership after a total production less than 3,000[3] with an estimated 1500 Bricklins surviving as of 2012.[5]

Design and manufacture[edit]

In 1972 Herb Grasse (best-known for his contributions to the conversion of the 1955 Lincoln Futura show car to TV's original Batmobile when he worked with customizer George Barris) built three Bricklin styling models to interest banks and other potential investors in the gull-wing safety sports car.[6]

The first Bricklin concept car, later dubbed Grey Ghost, was built by Bruce Meyers of Meyers Manx dune buggy fame in California. Its initial powerplant was a Valiant slant six.[7] The eventual full prototypes one, two, and three were a collaboration by the Bricklin Vehicle Corporation, Herb Grasse Design and AVC Engineering.[7]

The Bricklin was assembled at a plant at Grandview Industrial Park in St John, New Brunswick, at 150 Industrial Drive. Its bodywork was manufactured at a plant in Minto, New Brunswick, where production of innovative marriage of acrylic and fiberglass proved notoriously difficult — with a failure rate of body panels up to 60 per cent of production.[5]

Under the initial support of New Brunswick premier, Richard Hatfield, the provincial government provided financing of $4.5 million for Bricklin's car. The money had been advanced to begin the production of cars, when in fact seed money was used for the engineering and development the car as well as salaries and operations of the Phoenix-headquartered company.[8]

Technical specifications[edit]

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. Performance figures rated favorably against the contemporary Corvette, which most auto magazines used as a point of comparison.[9][10] 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; by 1975 buyers had only a choice of color.

The gullwing doors proved highly problematic, taking 12 seconds to open or close, prone to hydraulic leaks and pump failures, and imposing a severe strain on the car’s electrical system.[5]

In a bid 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). Cars also tended to overheat due to using a single radiator opening in the 1974 model. Doubling the size of the opening failed to solve the problem. The design did not accommodate a spare tire.

The cars had no cigarette lighters or ashtrays[11] to discourage smoking, [3] which Malcolm Bricklin considered an unsafe distraction.

1976 models[edit]

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.

In the media[edit]

  • 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, Premier, Promoter & Their Car, for its Turning Points of History series exploring the political drama that surrounded the Bricklin.
  • A New Brunswick film company, Cojak Productions, reviewed the Bricklin fiasco in a docu-drama directed by Chris LeBlanc. Malcolm Bricklin returned to New Brunswick to shoot scenes where he played himself. Three Bricklins once owned by the Irving family were discovered in Halifax and were purchased for use in the film. Titled La Légende Bricklin, the film was aired on RDI and Radio-Canada on April 15, 2006.[12]
  • As part of its series Tout le monde en parlait, Société Radio-Canada presented a 2013 30-minutes documentary on the car, focusing on its economic fiasco.
  • Bricklin International member and New Brunswick resident Charlie Russell wrote a two-part song, "The Bricklin", which has a satirical view on the history of the car.[13]
  • The 1975 Bricklin SV-1 was rated by Time in its series The 50 Worst Cars of All Time.[3]
  • An orange Bricklin SV-1 is featured in the movie Deadline Auto Theft.[14]
  • In 2010, Theatre New Brunswick and The Playhouse (Fredericton) produced a musical, 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.


  • As part of a series commemorating Historic Land Vehicles, Canada issued the Bricklin Stamp on June 8, 1996 with a face value of 45¢.[15]
  • In June 2003, the Canadian mint issued a $20 sterling silver Bricklin coin with selective gold plating.[16]
  • Both the Bricklin coin and the Bricklin stamp were a greater success than the car itself, selling out quickly.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 1974 Sales literature
  2. ^ Bricklin History


  1. ^ "Bricklin designs by Herb Grasse". Archived from the original on 2011-08-29. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  2. ^ "History of the Bricklin car". Web Easy Professional Avanquest Publishing USA, Inc. 1975-09-26. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  3. ^ a b c d Dan, Niel (2007-09-07). "The 50 Worst Cars of All Time: 1975 Bricklin SV1". Time. 
  4. ^ a b {{cite web | title = Cars of Futures Past – Bricklin SV1 | publisher = | author = Kurt Ernst | date = December 26, 2013 | url =
  5. ^ a b c "Canadian-built Bricklin was banned back home". November 8, 2012. 
  6. ^ Merksamer, Gregg D. (November 2001). "The Museum of Automobile History in Syracuse, N.Y., has everything, except cars." Popular Mechanics. Archived from the original on 5 May 2007. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  7. ^ a b Auto Editors of Consumers Guide. "The First Bricklin Concept Car". Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Richard Hatfield Archived December 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.." Heritage Resources, 21 January 2008.
  9. ^ Production of the 1974 and 1975 Bricklin SV-1 by The editors of Consumer Guide
  10. ^ Sherman, Don (May 1975). "Chevrolet Corvette Stingray vs. Bricklin SV-1 - Road Test". Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  11. ^ Hoschek, Gero (26 July 1975). "Bricklin SV1". Autocar. Vol. 143 no. 4107. pp. 56–57. 
  12. ^ Pedersen, Andy (21 February 2005). "Bricklin's Wild Ride". 
  13. ^ "The Bricklin Song". Archived from the original on 2011-08-10. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  14. ^ "Deadline Auto Theft Movie Trailer". Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  15. ^ "The Bricklin Stamp". 1974-07-01. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  16. ^ "2003 $20 Sterling Silver Land, Sea & Rail Coins". 2011-04-14. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 

Further reading[edit]

Out of Print

External links[edit]