Gullwing Glory: 28k-mile 1975 Bricklin SV-1

The seller says this vehicle is up for sale just in time for the Bricklin Nationals in Michigan July 18-22.

The SV-1 was the vision of auto entreprenuer Malcolm Bricklin, who had previously founded Subaru of America. SV stood for Safety Vehicle and was his idea of a fast, safe and efficient sports car. They had rear-wheel drive, reinforced fiberglass bodies, bright acrylic "safety" colors (should you get lost in the mountains or buried in snow), no cigarette lighters or ashtrays, power gullwing doors (an industry first) and intentional 5 mph government mandated bumpers built into the design.

Unfortunately the SV-1 wasn't very fast or economical, although it could be seen as safe by 1970s standards I suppose. While powered with V8 engines, they were still heavy and their small radiators were prone to overheating. Customers were offered a choice of colors and transmission in 1974, in 1975 the only options were colors as the only transmission available was an automatic, hurting any chances of being taken seriously by enthusiasts.

The styling isn't half bad. It's a prototypical '70s wedge shape (who started that anyways? Gandini's Countach in 1971?). Tapered nose with hidden headlights that widens to a steeply raked windshield, then gently sloping c pillar that drops to an angular rear. Fortunately the Bricklin pulls it off quite well. It's a little cartoonish, almost like an imaginary Hot Wheels toy, especially in neon green, but it's still eye-catching and really cool looking. The black lower panels help give it a low, long appearance.

The Bricklin story ended sourly, actually lot like the Delorean only a couple of years later. Bricklin secured funds from a local government in New Brunswick, Canada for factories to build the Bricklin, but the money was wasted and the factory eventually shut down, millions in debt. Only 2,854 cars were made from 1974-1975. Shame on both parties for getting involved in a deal that shouldn't have been made. All that resulted was a couple thousand cult cars.

The seller mentions this survivor is all-original and still wears its rare acrylic Safety Green paint. They also say this car has the presumably more desirable 351 cubic inch Ford V8 engine, and that it has under 28,000 original miles on the odometer. They say the car runs fine and they are selling only because they don't use it enough.

These are certainly rare and kitschy cars. You'll never see one on Bring a Trailer. But I like them for the design, and as a cautionary tale on private-public partnerships gone awry, something we still see today, over and over again (Solyndra, 38 Studios).

Hemmings values a '74-'75 Bricklin in fair condition at $4,200, good $7,500 and excellent $15,750.

Find it here on ebay in Springfield, Illinois with bidding at $12,445 and a buy-it-now of $18,999.

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