The Bricklin automobile was a futuristic gull-wing sports car with a unique acrylic body produced in 1974 and 1975 in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.
The car was the brainchild of Malcolm Bricklin (b. January 9, 1939 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) who had been involved in the automobile industry importing the Japanese Subaru into the United States. An "ideas" man with a flair for promotion, Bricklin had little money of his own, but convinced the government of Canada and the government of the Province of New Brunswick to invest in his project.
With safety an integral part of the sportscar’s concept, it was called the "Bricklin SV-1" (Safety Vehicle 1). Innovative, the car was constructed with many features that were far ahead of it's time. The design included a unique acrylic body using a vacuum forming process that bonded color-impregnated acrylic to each fiberglass body panel. As a result of this type of process, scratches to the vehicle’s surface could easily be buffed out. At a time when most automobiles still had heavy chromed-metal bumpers, the Bricklin had impact absorbing urethane bumpers that became the industry standard twenty years later. As well, the sportscar came equipped with a roll bar and side door guard bars, and, using more technology as a result of NASCAR testing, the fuel tank was protected to reduce the risk of puncture and fire in the event of an accident.
In the mid 1970s, competition in the North American sportscar market was basically limited to the Chevrolet Corvette and the Datsun (Nissan) "Z" models. While the more stylish Bricklin’s emphasis was on safety, the lightweight vehicle performed extremely well with its powerful Ford 351 cubic inch V8 engine. With its sleek appearance, exotic gull-wing doors that opened and closed at the touch of a button, advanced safety engineering, and priced to compete, automobile dealerships across the United states and Canada were clamoring for the new sportscar.
With great fanfare, the first Bricklin sports car rolled off an assembly line in Saint John, New Brunswick on July 1 1974 but, under a cloud because of the financial problems plaguing the company, criticism from the media spawned much speculation as to the viability of the company. With the financial concerns came rumors of quality problems that were later revealed to be minor and normal for any new vehicle startup, particularly one with advanced technology. However, when information came to light that Malcolm Bricklin, whose blue jeans and cowboy boots went against the grain of dignified business executives, had used some of the government money to prop up his other business in the United States, criticism reached such a point that the government did not dare inject needed funds into the business. As a result, after producing only 2,854 Bricklins, the company went into receivership in 1976.
The cars became a collector's item and over time proved to be everything the manufacturer touted them to be with many still on the road today.
See also: List of automobiles.