Bricklin SV-1

The American Dream from Canada: but it became a nightmare

Economical and safe. It doesn't often go together with a supercar. No, not even in the Bricklin SV-1. Moreover, it did not make him particularly delightful. Surely a core value in the superclass ... Surprisingly, the intended success did not materialize. Exactly one of the main reasons why established supercar manufacturers are so exclusive. And stay. Because if it was that simple to build a supercar and be successful with it, then everyone would.

Malcolm Bricklin made his own brave attempt in the early 1970s. The rather varyingly successful American entrepreneur had a not-so-bad capital behind him after his prematurely ended career as a car importer. His company, Subaru of America, shipped, you don't say, Subaru's small type 360 to the immense American car market. That went very well at first, until the mini car was labeled as extremely unsafe and the bots-phobic American public ignored the Japanese bullet from now on. It was indeed not a match for the indigenous mastodons when it came to crumple area. Subaru then bought out Bricklin with shares, for him the perfect opportunity to realize an ultimate boy's dream again. Because he already had sideburns, a noisy outfit and sunglasses.

Laughed at Motown

A supercar with his name on it, that was his next dream. The American Dream. But then in Canada. In Detroit, Bricklin was laughed at when he unveiled his plans for his supercar. Impossible design and totally impossible to build, the technicians judged Motown about his prototype, "The Gray Ghost". Bricklin's attempt to persuade skeptics to have Ford's own designer Herb Grasse refine the design of the Bricklin SV-1 also failed. A thing of nothing, the mustache Detroiters persisted. Bricklin dripped off with their jeering laughter. But they were not the last to laugh. At least for the time being ...

In New Brunswick, Canada, Bricklin finds support in the form of Richard Hatfield, the county's prime minister. He wants to put this struggling region on the map and sees Bricklin's plastic brainchild as the ideal project to realize that. A Canadian supercar. Wow. The first six million dollars is already loose, even before the feasibility study has been completed. Oh, detail. But also well before the Bricklin SV-1 is even somewhat ready for production. Here comes trouble.

Super safe, but not a supercar

To a large extent even. The factories in Minto and Saint John run for nothing. But empty. No less than every ten weeks. Thanks to New Brunswick's liberal social system, it is possible to receive 42 weeks benefit after ten weeks of work in the event of unemployment. Good plan, find many workers in this new factory and so Bricklin can look for new staff every ten weeks. This is generally not a guarantee of quality. It also suffers considerably, also because the design itself was not exactly flawless. But the intentions were good.
Bricklin's vision of the Bricklin SV-1 was a super safe supercar. The pursuit of safety worked reasonably well, but at the expense of weight. The intended super sportsman became so heavy because of all the safety features that it was at the expense of the most important characteristic: supercar characteristics. Despite the hinged doors. Or perhaps thanks to: heavy and almost continuously bent and broken by the opening mechanism. Bummer. The Windsor 5,7 liter V8 also didn't help that. The thing was too bulky and rude to be able to cope with this level. And then nobody had looked at the finish.

Yet unique

For example, the tailgate of the Bricklin SV-1 had no drainage. No idea where the rainwater went. Nobody had thought of that. And the acrylic polyester that made up the body was difficult to glue and kept tearing and breaking. The idea was good: just like a bathtub, the plastic was not sprayed in color, but cast in color, so that any scratches could easily be polished out again. But a bathtub has little torsion, curbs, thresholds, roundabouts or other bathtubs. If that was unexpectedly the case with the Bricklin SV-1 and damage was caused, then customers and dealers discovered that there was actually no method to repair that damage to the bodywork. The Bricklin SV-1 proved once again unique: the first disposable supercar was a fact.

The American dream was now about to fall apart. In fact, much earlier, but then everything and everyone was blamed for the lack of success, except Bricklin and Hatfield. They found themselves, at least. Tens of millions of dollars had already been pumped through the province of New Brunswick and Hatfield privately, but it only resulted in more losses. It became a flop, Bricklin went bankrupt. In 1974 and 1975, only a small number of 3000 units were built and delivered to extremely brave customers who kept the appearance of a supercar ripping, breaking and leaking. They deserved better. And Malcolm nothing at all.


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