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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My passion is also my business, as I am with the Toronto based Hav-A-Kar Auto Group. I sell or lease any make of car, van or truck available in Canada. My interest in all things "car" has helped me with my many clients in Ontario over the past 20+ years. Please give me the opportunity to assist you.

Friday, May 31, 2013

May 31: Another history lesson: the Bricklin SV-1

Coming at you, the former pride of New Brunswick, Canada, is the 1974 to 76 Bricklin SV-1. Is there anyone reading this, who doesn't look back fondly at this financial debacle? What, you say, you've never even heard of this car? For shame. Well, maybe I have more of an interest, since I lived in N.B. A little background, please......

Malcom Bricklin loved cars and initially he tried to distribute the
the mini Subaru 360. This met with minimal sales, so I believe he created demo derbies with the remaining inventory (look it up). Give a man an ego, some $ and a love of cars and he'll try to make his own automobile. History is littered with these guys (does Fisker come to mind?). So Bricklin had the idea for a revolutionary (aren't they all) new safety sports car, the Bricklin SV-1.

He shopped this idea around, but big ideas require big capital, which usually means somebody needs to fuel the idea with highly combustible cash (money to burn?). Not sure how this happened, but he ended up talking to the government of New Brunswick. Always open to an opportunity, the gov't decided to help fund this venture. And Saint John, also always looking for an opportunity, became the home of the main plant.

Saint John, now on the automotive map as a car producer, had no where to go but up. I had left my hometown of Saint John by this time, but visiting in the Summer of '74, my dad and I stopped by the plant on their family day. The were showing the place off to family members, but with a little begging, we were let in to roam around. Very interesting facility, if not a bit rough, like the cars.

The Bricklin's claim to fame? It was a safety car, so it had a strong frame, a very forgiving front end and since it was not a sportscar, didn't come with a manual trans (apart from a short run of 155). Not a sportscar? Well it sure looked like one and was priced right up against the Corvette, it also had similar performance. 

I always thought it looked a bit strange, but hey, this was the '70's. There was one feature though, that really set the Bricklin SV-1 apart from any other cars of its time.......

Yes, it was those gullwing doors. And not just the fact that they were unique, they were also power operated - push a button and up they went. See any problems here? Of course and the Bricklin experienced every single one of them.

Was it a success? Not a chance. After building about 3000 SV-1's, the money tap was turned off by the New Brunswick gov't. They took their big hit (the money, not the car) and quickly tried to change the topic. Bad stories never seem to die and in 2010, Bricklin: The Musical was staged........

........so it took 35 years before the public could sing about this misadventure. Even the play never made it to Broadway or even out of New Brunswick.

So, over the past 40 years, whatever has Malcolm Bricklin been up to? In the '80's he brought the Yugo to our shores (one of the worse cars ever made) and after about 160,000 sales, quality issues sunk that boat. In 2004 he was signed to be the distributor of the Chery line, the first Chinese cars to be sold in North America. That never got off the ground and lawsuits ensued. You just can't keep a good man down!

I have a good idea. If you have tons of $ and love cars, buy a Rolls-Royce, a Ferrari, a collector car, whatever and save yourself a lot of pain. Just don't put your name on a new automobile.

Until next time......

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