The Bricklin SV-1 was Flawed, But Oh So Cool
In dramatic contrast to the roaring muscle car days of the 1960s, the 1970s were hardly conducive to building performance cars, of any type. The ’73 oil embargo ensured that nobody had gas, and when gas could be found, horsepower had been strangled to piffling levels. These were surely dark days for piston heads, yet this was the atmosphere that brought forth a rather unique sports car—the Bricklin SV-1 (or “Safety Vehicle 1”). As its name suggests it was a car designed with passenger protection in mind, and it formed the brainchild of businessman Malcolm Bricklin, who had previously co-founded Subaru of America. The Canadian government invested in the project, designer Herb Grasse penned a sultry sports car shape, and in 1974 the SV-1 production lines began rolling in New Brunswick. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be a long production run. RELATED: Check Out These 5 Gullwing Cars That Aren't DeLoreans
Like the upstart DeLorean DMC-12 after it, the sleek SV-1 sported grandiose gullwing doors, but instead of gaining access into a stainless steel body, the SV-1’s physique was comprised of fiberglass panels overlying a steel roll cage. High side-impact steel rails and urethane bumpers ensured occupants remained safe, though all this protection did add on a bit of weight.
In its first year of production an AMC 360ci V8 was sourced to motivate the 3,500 pound SV-1, with either an automatic or four-speed manual as transmission options. Either way, 220 horsepower was put to the rear wheels, so long as buyers plopped down the $7,900 needed to buy one.
In 1975, Bricklin swapped the AMC motor due to engine shortages for the ever-popular Ford 351 Windsor V8, then rated at only 175 horsepower. The four-speed manual was also binned as well and price climbed yet again to $9,995. By comparison, the only slightly more powerful ’75 Corvette asked $6,700.
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Sadly, the whole thing went bust in 1975, courtesy of quality control issues and unchecked costs. Just 2,897 cars rolled off the production lines (a few ’76 models were built from leftover spares), whereas the group had originally hoped to pump out 1,000 cars per month. Malcolm Bricklin didn’t give up on the car industry though—he went on to import loads of Fiat X1/9s into the U.S., as well as the infamous Yugo.
As far as prices go, Hagerty Insurance values the average ’75 SV-1 at around $15,500. The car pictured above, also a ’75 Bricklin SV-1, currently resides on eBay with the bidding at $6,766 at the time of writing.
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