This Bricklin SV-1 from 1975 is a low-mile original survivor, with just 8,000 miles on the odometer. The car is said to have stayed with the first owner until just last year.

In some respects the Bricklin SV-1 was the DeLorean before the DeLorean existed. Both were gullwing sports cars developed with a focus on safety, they were created by brand new companies led by larger-than-life figures, and both ultimately failed in spectacular fashion.

Fast Facts – The Bricklin SV-1

  • The Bricklin SV-1 was conceived by Malcolm Bricklin, an American businessman and automobile entrepreneur, who previously imported Subaru cars into the United States.
  • The SV-1, standing for “Safety Vehicle One,” was designed with the intention of being a high-performance sports car that also incorporated innovative safety features. Its development began in the early 1970s, with the goal of creating a car that was safe, fast, and desirable.
  • True to its name, the SV-1 incorporated several safety innovations, including an integrated roll cage, energy-absorbing bumpers, and gull-wing doors that were designed to facilitate easier access in tight parking spaces.
  • Despite its innovative design and safety features, the Bricklin SV-1 faced several challenges. Production issues, high costs, and quality control problems plagued the vehicle’s manufacture. As a result, the company faced financial difficulties and was forced into receivership in 1975, after producing approximately 3,000 cars over two years of production.
  • The SV-1 in this article is the lowest-mileage survivor we’ve ever featured. It’s said to have remained with its first owner for decades, right the way through until last year. It’s now being offered for sale out of West Ellicott, New York.

Malcolm Bricklin And The Subaru Connection

Malcolm Bricklin, the founder of the Bricklin automotive company, got his start franchising his father’s hardware store at the age of 19. His next project was to be a series of gas stations that also offered rental scooters, in what would have been a very early precursor to the modern day proliferation of electric scooters for rent seemingly on every street corner.

Malcolm Bricklin

Image DescriptionThis is Malcolm Bricklin on the Bricklin stand at the 1975 Toronto Car Show. Though no one knew it at the time, the company would be closed down within just a few months but the car would live on. Image courtesy of General Vehicles Inc.

While visiting Japan to source his scooters he was shown the then-new Subaru 360 mini-car. It was being built by Fuji Heavy Industries, also manufacturers of the popular Rabbit scooter.

The discovery of the Subaru 360 gave Bricklin pause for thought, he pivoted from his gas station scooter plan and decided to instead start Subaru of America and import the mini-cars into the USA for economically minded car buyers.

The incredible success of Subaru of America helped make Bricklin a wealthy man, wealthy enough to pursue his dream of starting his own eponymous automaker, and build a car to his own specifications.

The Car That Could Have Changed The World

Malcolm Bricklin’s original concept for the car that would become the Bricklin SV-1 was to include a fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine, impact absorbing front and rear bumpers, an integrated roll cage, side impact protection, a rust-proof fiberglass body, and gullwing doors that made it easy to enter and exit the car in tight parking spaces.

This focus on safety and fuel efficiency was well ahead of the the times, though some automakers like Volvo had been focusing on safety, Bricklin wanted to create a safe car that looked incredible, got great mileage, and that would be desirable to the wider community.

Above Video: This is a vintage full-length documentary about the Bricklin SV-1 that tells the story of its car, its conception, design, production, and its survival as a classic.

If he had succeeded in this it would have been a car that could very well have changed the world.

By the time the design had been through a few stages of design and a number of prototypes were made of the final Herb Grasse-penned design the Bricklin SV-1 had changed somewhat. The safety features were all still there but the fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine was now long-gone, deemed insufficiently powerful for the task.

In its place under the hood of the SV-1 there now sat a V8 – a 360 cubic inch (5.9 liter) unit sourced from AMC sending power back through either a manual or automatic transmission to the rear wheels.

Many of the safety features of the car remained in place, including the side impact protection, impact absorbing bumpers, and integrated roll over protection – so the car certainly served the “Bricklin Safety Vehicle 1” title that was shorted to “Bricklin SV-1” for the sake of brevity.

A Car and Driver magazine review of the SV-1 in 1975 compared it favorably with the Chevrolet Corvette C3 which was in production at the time. This was arguably the Bricklin’s main competitor and the cars shared some similarities, both being fiberglass-bodied sports cars with steel chassis and front-mounted V8 engines.

As with new automakers that had come before it and after, like Tucker and DeLorean, Bricklin faced a slew of production and quality control problems, all teething issues that could have been resolved had the financing not dried up when it did.


Image DescriptionPeriod ads and brochures for the car used both “SV1” and “SV-1” as the model name, though of course they were referring to the same car. Image courtesy of General Vehicles Inc.

Ultimately the timing of the 1973 Oil Crisis, striking just before the Bricklin SV-1 and its 5.6 liter V8 engine would go on sale was a stroke of bad luck. The Oil Crisis sent the cost of fuel skyrocketing around the world, and it made V8 sports cars suddenly seem like a terrible idea – even if they had a raft of safety measures built in.

The combination of these two issues resulted in Bricklin having only a two year production run between 1974 and 1975 before the company shutdown. Approximately 3,000 cars had been built, and it’s thought that close to 2,000 have survived to the modern day.

The 1975 Bricklin SV-1 Shown Here

The car you see here is a bit of a unicorn, up until last year it was a one-owner Bricklin SV-1 that had accumulated just 8,000 miles from new. It’s the best surviving SV-1 we’ve ever festered on Silodrome, and the good news is that it’s just come up for sale out of West Ellicott, New York.

The car has two-tone White over Black paintwork with a tan interior, it has a 351 Windsor V8 (the engine that powered later models) paired with a 3-speed automatic transmission.

Bricklin SV-1 2

Image DescriptionThe feature that the Bricklin is best remembered for today is probably its gullwing doors. Some have commented on the similarity to the DeLorean, however it’s worth noting that the Bricklin pre-dated the DeLorean by a number of years.

Equipment includes those characteristic gullwing doors, pop-up headlights, 15″ Turbo Mag aluminum wheels, as well as power-assisted front disc brakes, a dual exhaust system, and air conditioning.

It’s being offered for sale with an owner’s manual, a Certificate of Birth, sales documents, and an Ohio title on Bring a Trailer. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.

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Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer

Published by Ben Branch -