It's always amusing to look back at what people thought were going to be the cars of the future, something Patrick wrote about yesterday when a bunch of people from 1988 thought we'd be commuting in vans that drove like Lincoln Mark VIIs.
It seems like the futuristic prediction of the 1970s was "responsible sports car," something that should've been labeled an oxymoron and then forgotten about. Things like the Fiat X1/9 and the Triumph TR7 emerged from that philosophy and are best left in the past. But there are two more spectacular failures in the responsibility category and we're going to settle it once and for all here: Bricklin SV-1 or DeLorean DMC-12.
Malcolm Bricklin (who, let's not forget, introduced this country to Subaru) launched the SV-1 in 1975, following an oil crisis and a wave of pollution and safety regulations, so something lightweight with 5-MPH bumpers and a Ford Windsor V8 should've been ideal. It also would've helped if that V8 hadn't had all the power sucked out of it, or if the rest of the car been made properly. As a result of these production foibles, the Bricklin died after just 2 years and 2,800 or so cars made.
Such as this 1975 SV-1 in white and with a low 26,000 miles. The Bricklin does have a surprising resemblance to a C3 Corvette but those doors make it 100% cooler. And it also looks good in white, unlike the scores of yellow and orange ones I've seen listed. That slush-o-matic, coupled to an engine producing around 150 horsepower, though, is not going to make for excitement. And I'm sure the Bricklin fans, all seven of you, will disagree but I'm deeply suspicious of its durability. Still, $11,000 doesn't seem like a lot of money to own the future – or at least what people in 1975 thought it would look like.
Still, when we're talking about futuristic sports cars of the past, we can't not talk about the DeLorean. After all, it has been to the future and back. If anything, the DMC-12 is even more exotic than the Bricklin, with the stainless steel exterior and the engine in the rear. It also has a wonderfully disastrous production history thanks to the ingenious and insane John DeLorean and the British government.
But the car is what we're contemplating now and there were more than 3 times as many DeLoreans made than Bricklins, so there's more to choose from such as this 1981 DeLorean with an alleged 11,000 miles being sold by some dealer with a lot of DeLoreans. This one has a manual instead of an autobox and that's a great thing because the DeLorean is heavy and it's saddled with the positively asthmatic PRV V6 with 130 horsepower. That might have been fine for a Peugeot 504, but it's not sports car material.
Also, it looks like the price of these things has inflated like crazy because even a bad one that has every panel dented and probably runs like hell costs $13,000. This one is going for almost $29,000 and that's Ferrari Mondial money if you're looking at failed "responsible" sports cars.
In my fantasy garage, though, something about the Bricklin is weirdly alluring. Maybe it's the fact it actually has a V8, the Corvette looks or the fact the DeLorean gets all of the attention thanks to Marty McFly.
I'd buy a cheap Bricklin as a sort of decoration but drive it regularly enough so I can get plenty of 6-year-olds pointing and going, "What's that?!" Because even failed futuristic sports cars can still do that.