This Bricklin SV-1 is an Affordable, Eye-Catching Oddball

Bring a Trailer/chiptawaga

You might think you can count on one hand the number of production cars with gullwing doors. Technically you can’t, but it’s true that a few are more famous than others. And when it comes to attention-grabbing looks blended with affordable values, the Bricklin SV-1 is unrivalled. Considering our recent coverage of the Mercedes 300SL, it looks like gullwing doors and radical engineering only become more valuable over time. If that’s the case, the sub-$20K Bricklin sold this week has nowhere to go but up, right?

1975 Bricklin SV1 front bring a trailer
Bring a Trailer/chiptawaga

OK, perhaps mentioning Canada’s Bricklin SV-1 in the same breath as a one of Germany’s 300SL is a bit too apples to oranges. But, as two classic cars and nothing else, they are both limited production sports cars that catch the eye. As for the low-slung Bricklin SV-1, it started with 1970s minimalist wedge style as a foundation, but built upon it to make a safety-oriented vehicle. The frame includes an integrated roll cage, and the recessed bumpers are able to withstand a five-mph impact, without resorting to the bolt-on afterthought battering rams found on many other cars of the era. The chassis is wrapped in a fiberglass body constructed with input from Bruce Meyers, Herb Grasse, and Dick Dean.

But while the Bricklin had distinctive looks up top, its not necessarily all wine and roses underneath the fiberglass. Bricklin, like any underfunded startup, raided someone else’s parts bin, and chose American Motors as the donor of choice. Suspensions were lifted from the AMC Hornet, including its less than sporting solid axle, leaf springs, and drum brakes for the Bricklin’s hind quarters. Early models had AMC’s 360 and a 4-barrel carburetor, but this later model on Bring a Trailer has Ford’s 351 Windsor with a two barrel and a modest 175 horsepower for its nearly 3500lb curb weight. This example also has Ford’s FMX automatic transmission. Only 137 cars reportedly came with a four-speed manual transmission supplied by Borg-Warner.

But to dig too deep into the Bricklin’s engineering realities is to miss the point. Just like how the DeLorean has taken flight over time, the Bricklin SV-1 is much more than the sum of its parts. It’s elevated to a piece of history, back when startup companies couldn’t go “to the moon” with a flashy rendering, and back when safety and performance were being redefined to what we enjoy today.

And this particular 1975 Bricklin SV-1, finished in “safety white,” presented itself very well when it was sold this week on Bring A Trailer for $19,425 (including fees). That’s significantly less than the Hagerty Price Guide’s value of $23,000 for a #3 (good) condition example, making this Bricklin quite a good deal.

1975 Bricklin SV1 rear three quarter bring a trailer
Bring a Trailer/chiptawaga

In the last three years, values for the 1974-75 Bricklin SV-1 have increased a whopping 20%. That may not be as heroic as what we see today with DeLoreans or the aforementioned Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, but it no doubt shows that gullwing doors from a long-forgotten moment in history can still find appreciation amongst classic car enthusiasts.

 

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Comments

    I remember looking at one of these, leftover at a dealership in ’77. List price was around $10K. For reference, a new Corvette cost about the same. About the same docile performance, but the SV-! wins for exotic looks. I met Malcom about a year later, he was still stinging from the loss of the company, and laid full blame on the Canadian government. Maybe? Anyway, for all of the start-ups, it seems that only Elon had the force of will to make it. Then again, he didn’t start create Tesla, or name it a Musk EV-S.

    The caution here is the quality. The doors are often an issue and the fiberglass is not as good as the SMC type today. Repairs can get expensive and involved.

    Being special can come with add cost.

    The door issue has probably been addressed, there are upgrade solutions. Changing from hydraulics to motorized, or something like that. As I recall, from a friend that owned one for a bit, they are pretty basic to work on, nothing really special, as everything is parts bin and shared with other cars. Like any older car, the cosmetics can be challenging and expensive. I think these were subject to some stress cracks in certain areas. It would still be lots of fun to have one!

    I remember looking at one in an AMC dealership around 77. You almost had to stop and at least look. I don’t recall the price at all, but it probably was too much. I wound up with a new Ford Fairmont in 78, go figure.

    Interesting curiosities. However to me there’s something too kit car about them overall. Bricklin might have done himself a favor and started with doing rebodied units on an existing platform at first since the parts he used were pulled from other manufactures shelves anyway. This car kind of seems to have been destined to fail from its release. So different yes but if I wanted a rarely seen wedge I’d start looking for say a TVR Tasmin instead among others.

    I have no connection to this place, nor do I know if any information is current, but check out the “Bricklin Autosport” webpage. They are located in Scottsville, NY, a suburban town in the Rochester area about twenty minutes from the Rochester airport.

    Yeah…. I dunno. Bricklin vs DeLorean? The DeLorean does it for me every time – and for many of the same points already made (doesn’t look so much like a kit car, gotta love stainless vs fiberglass), and oddly enough, today, better parts availability.

    Plus, I have a ’63 Pontiac, so John Z has practically been a member of my family for decades. LOL

    Nice car, though, and surely a great price, assuming nothing is seriously wrong with it.

    The Bricklin had passenger safety as a critical design element — it was co-incidental that some of the exotic styling came about.

    It seems fairly obvious that DeLorean copied much of the design, and like the Bricklin, his car also was woefully under-powered.

    Still — I’d love to have a Bricklin… Ford-powered.

    Sure it’s safe, just don’t ever flip over and then have to get out.
    Or, have the door pneumatics fail and they are too heavy to open.
    These are just a couple of real-life experiences that are out there.

    And how are those concerns any different from a DeLorean, Mercedes 300SL, Mercedes SLS AMG, Tesla Model X, Autozam AZ-1, Pagani Huayra, or any car with “Lambo doors”?

    Way back in the second year of production I was washing my car in a coin wash place when a petite young lady came over and asked for some help on her side. I went over to see she was driving an orange Bricklin with the 4 speed manual and if I remember, the AMC engine. I sorted her problem out and finished washing my car. She finished washing her car about the same time, came over and asked if I wanted to drive it. I said sure. What a heavy clutch it had. Not fast, not a great handling car but a reasonable ride. Visibility also wasn’t the best. I marveled at how this petite young lady could hammer that clutch regularly as it would have got tired fast in the metropolitan areas. The rest of the day is a pleasant memory.

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