1974-1976 Bricklin Gull-Wing SV-1 & Visionary Vehicles' Bricklin 3EV

Greg Zyla
A Reader Writes: Greg, I was a fan of the Bricklin gull-wing door sports car invented by Malcolm Bricklin in 1974. What are your memories of the Bricklin as I don’t see many advertised these days in the antique car magazines? John L., Providence, RI.
The Author Responds: John, the main reason you don’t see many Bricklins advertised these days is because less than 3,000 Bricklins were ever produced. I remember well the car, as I had a friend that had a 1974 Bricklin and it was finished in that special Suntan Yellow color and powered by an AMC 360 V8 engine. I used to do tune-ups for him and thought it was quite a unique car.
Since such a small number of cars were built from 1974 to 1976, there is an estimate that only about 1,500 exist to this day. As for current values, the NADA list price for a Ford 351 Windsor V8 powered Bricklin from 1975 and 1976 go from a low retail of $13,650 to a high of $42,900 with an average of $24,100. The AMC 360 V8 1974 Bricklin, and although featuring more horsepower than the Ford, are a few thousand less at a low retail of $12,450 to a high of $36,700 and average of $23,700.
In my opinion, even though 1974 to 1976 Bricklin doesn’t garner top dollar at the auctions, the car is worthy of praise and those who own a Bricklin nowadays own a true piece of automotive history. It was also a very safe car for its time with novel security features like an integrated roll cage, side protective beams, and 5mph impact bumpers. The bonded acrylic came in five colors in 1974 including white, red, green, orange and suntan.
The SV-1 was the creation of Malcolm Bricklin, who is still going strong today at age 81. Prior to his Bricklin, built in New Brunswick, Canada, with a loan from the Canadian government, Bricklin is noted as the businessman to first import the Subaru brand into the USA in the 1968. He also founded Subaru of America dealerships, and arranged Subaru franchises until he sold his stake in the company.
After the Subaru sale, Bricklin ventured to Canada to build his dream car dubbed the Bricklin SV-1 (Safety Vehicle 1). The design was the brainchild of noted designer Herb Grasse, known for his work on the original Dodge Challenger in 1970. Grasse is also famous for his input with the noted George Barris “Bat-mobile,” which sold at Barrett Jackson’s January 20, 2013, auction for $4.6 million.
The Bricklin SV-1, however, is perhaps Grasse’s best remembered car as he headed all design work for Bricklin. From clay model to actual production, Grasse was the front man and Bricklin had the money and backing to make it happen.
However, it was the money, or lack thereof, that forced Bricklin into receivership. Specifically, because of funding concerns and the inability of the factory to produce enough Bricklins to fill demand, the Bricklin factory in New Brunswick, Canada, only built 2,854 Bricklins. When the books were closed, Bricklin owed the Canadian government $23 million. It was a sad end to an impressive car, ingenious owner, and noted designer.
Following the SV-1’s demise, Bricklin was instrumental in bringing the infamous Yugo to America in 1985, although he quickly sold his interest in 1988 for $20 million. Luckily for Bricklin, in 1992 the United Nations sanctioned against any and all imports from Yugoslavia, ending the Yugo’s run of sales in America. Many Yugo dealers lost substantial amounts of money, but at the time it almost seemed like a blessing as repairs were many and parts were difficult to come by. The Balkin crisis at the time resulted in the UN mandates, and Yugo ceased to be in 1993.
As for the Yugo, which utilized Fiat body stamping, it retailed for just $3,990 in 1985 and sold very well the first year as over 160,000 consumers bought one. Some say the Yugo was the worst car ever to hit the shores of America.
Bricklin is still involved in the development of plug-in hybrid car called the Bricklin 3EV. However, efforts to produce the car with China-based Cherry Automobile Company fell apart through no fault of Mr. Bricklin.
Bricklin’s company is called Visionary Vehicles and he still hopes to sell the two-seat, three-wheel Bricklin 3EV at a cost of about $28,000. If all goes well, the company expects to be in production with prototypes by late 2021. (See www.vvcars.com for more.)
When I first wrote about Mr. Bricklin years ago, I communicated with his family and they sent me a copy of the documentary film, “The Entrepreneur,” which details Bricklin’s life as a lover and manufacturer of cars. It follows him across the world in meetings to secure contracts for his distinctive cars.
In summary, I’ve always respected Bricklin for his dedication to building unique cars and his franchising prowess and wish him well.
Facebook Twitter
View Count 37