This is believed to be the only road-legal Bricklin SV-1 in the United Kingdom – as a result it’s likely to garner a lot of attention wherever it goes as the vast majority of people likely won’t have seen one before.
In some respects the Bricklin SV-1 is the “OG” DeLorean DMC-12 and it likely had a strong influence on its stainless steel-clad sibling. Both cars have gullwing doors, fiberglass bodies, futuristic designs, and larger-than-life creators.
Fast Facts – The Bricklin SV-1
- The Bricklin SV-1 (Safety Vehicle #1) is a sports car that was manufactured from 1974 to 1976. It was developed by Malcolm Bricklin, who was the first importer of Subarus into the USA, he later founded his own namesake automaker.
- The SV-1 was developed as a futuristic sports car that put safety first, it had an integrated roll-over structure and distinctive energy-absorbing bumpers front and back to handle collisions.
- The car has a steel chassis with a lightweight fiberglass body, it has a front-mounted V8 engine, gullwing doors, and it had luxurious features like air-conditioning, power windows, a stereo, and doors that could open/close automatically at the push of a button.
- Due to a combination of insufficient development time, a high retail cost, unsustainable development costs, and oftentimes substandard build quality the Bricklin SV-1 was ultimately a failure – however the car has now become a much-loved cult classic.
Malcolm Bricklin And The Safety Vehicle #1
Malcolm Bricklin is one of those entrepreneurs that never seems to lose their determination. He first rose to prominence in the automotive world by establishing Subaru of America and becoming the first to important Subaru cars into the United States – starting with the pint-sized Subaru 360.
This experience with Subaru whet his appetite for the automotive industry and in the late 1960s he founded a company called General Vehicles to develop and build his own car. The initial design was entrusted to Bruce Meyers of Meyers Manx fame however design responsibilities were later shifted to Marshall Hobart and then to Herb Grasse.
The car was developed as the safe sports car of the future, with a body that looked like it came straight out of a science fiction film. The car had a steel chassis with integrated roll over protection for safety, and the lightweight fiberglass body had impact absorbing bumpers.
The Bricklin SV-1 would enter production in 1974 in New Brunswick, Canada – a location chosen as the provincial government provided $4.5 million of financing for the new endeavor.
The Bricklin SV-1
The Bricklin SV-1 was fitted with an unusual steel perimeter chassis that included an integral roll cage (see the image above). It was fitted with independent front suspension with unequal length A-arms on coil springs up front and trailing links and a live axle in the back with semi-elliptic leaf springs.
The car was powered by a front-mounted V8, either a Ford Windsor 351 or an AMV 360 depending on the year, power was sent back through either a manual or automatic transmission to the rear wheels.
Vented disc brakes were fitted on the front with drums on the back, the car had recirculating ball steering, and hydraulically actuated gullwing doors. The car’s true pièce de résistance were those gullwing doors, though the mechanisms that opened the doors would present no end of headaches for the company.
The SV-1 was an expensive car by the standards of the era and the build quality wasn’t what it should have been, though these two issues could almost certainly have been solved by the economies of scale and more development time respectively.
Unfortunately the money dried up before either of these things could come to pass, and the car saw only a brief production run between 1974 and 1976 with fewer than 3,000 built in total. Today they remain highly collectible within enthusiast circles and there is a strong community of owners dedicated to keeping them on the road.
The 1975 Bricklin SV-1 Shown Here
As you’ll remember from the introduction, the Bricklin you see here has the unusual distinction of being the only road-legal example in Britain.
The car was imported into England in 2018 and it now comes with a folder of documentation including copies of former title slips from California Department of Motor Vehicles, invoices for recent brake and mechanical work, the original owners’ handbook, workshop repair and service manuals, and copies of three classic magazines featuring this very car.
Given its unusual nature it will doubtless attract a crowd wherever it stops, likely mostly consisting of people asking what it is.
If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here on Car & Classic.
Images courtesy of Car & Classic
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.