RUSTY HEAPS

A Mostly British Obsession

The Forgettable Bricklin

Bricklin at Ontario Science Center, 1975

As much of a car fan as I am, I have absolutely no memory of this Bricklin SV-1, on display at the Ontario Science Centre in 1975. I’m standing, rather bored, to the left, aged eight, and my younger brother is taking the opportunity to sit on the display. It amuses me that no one bothered to finish the lower half of the pedestal–if this was a painting that detail would be considered cheeky commentary on the car itself. Maybe the Centre staff had a sense of humor.

I was much more into trains as a boy than I ever was into cars–it wasn’t until I was about 13 or 14 and could dream of having my own car one day that I became aware of automobiles as objects of desire. I can still recall the first time I ever really saw an MGB, a ’68 or ’69 model in about 1981 or so–it struck me as an absolutely cool car, what with one mirror next to the driver’s window and the other way the heck out there on the passenger fender, and a top that came down. The idea of my parents owning one was outrageous, which made the idea of me owning one attractive indeed.

(My parents have always distrusted anything that combine the words “interesting” and “automobile,” especially in the context of their teenagers, so it was a lost cause lobbying to get an MG or equivalent as long as I lived on their nickel, in their house–hence the Buick and then the Toyota. But come to think of it, how did my brother get away with owning an Audi Fox for his first car just a couple of years later?)

It’s not a wonder I had completely forgotten the Bricklin until my mother presented me this snapshot over the holidays, as it’s a somewhat bland machine despite its “exciting” specification. The car was the creation of millionaire Malcolm Bricklin, built in Canada, and, alas, destined for history’s dustbin immediately. The gull-wing doors were eye-catching but the rest of it was pretty pedestrian and kit-car in appearance. About 2,800 were made in a year or so of production before the entire operation went belly-up, leaving the Canadian government on the hook for about $23 million–neatly foreshadowing the fate of another gull-winged specialty car to be built just a few years later in Ireland.

3 Comments

  1. I do remember these cars very much as the “new’ Bricklin was on the cover of every car rag of the day. It was promoted as a Corvette killer along with having special safety features. I think the principle safety feature was the lack of performance which hindered spirited driving. They all seemed to be painted white or that orangey-red shade that was so popular in the glorious seventies. I wonder if they had an option code for shag carpets and a disco ball hanging in the interior. Despite the low production numbers, I believe many still exist. I guess people were too embarrased to tow them to the breakers. There are usually a couple for sale in Hemmings each month. I think you should own one, Roger. See if it will rust for you.

  2. I happened upon your site. Today, my 5 year old daughter saw a bright orange GTO and yelled out, “MOM! Check out that sweet car! I want one. I want to drive one”. That was so much my father’s spirit in her. And it prompted me to do a search on the Bricklin. As a young child in the 70’s, my dad and his brother were auto detailers, and had the only two Bricklins that had been imported into the US. One in orange, and one in lime green. I remember thinking we were soooo cool getting out of the gull wings at elementary school. We only had them a short time, then sold them, and though they were not long for this world, I have a special memory of it with my father.

  3. … I too have memories of the car with my Father; he had a white ’75 in about ’78/79 timeframe and my Mom had a ’78 anniversary Corvette… the discussions were passionate between them… I have followed in the pre-ordained path and now have 2… a ‘late ’75 and a pre-production ’76, the only white ’76 ever made and one of about 34 ’76’s made ever. All these cars although built in Canada; were destined for export to the U.S. due to taxes, tariffs and the “Auto pact” of the day… most cars in Canada (where I reside with my 2) have been re-patriated to their country of origin… there are approximately 1300 still alive out of a total 3-model year production of 2854 cars… not bad for a purported “piece of junk” as the press scowled… I love my 2 mistresses deeply and the design is timeless even today. Cheers!

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