Eponymous car makes and gull-wing doors seem to go together like Charlie Sheen and crazy. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Bricklin is ready to spread its wings, but will you find its price to be bird brained?
Wow, yesterday's vote was tighter than a new jar of pickles, with Nice Price just barely edging ahead to a 53% win for the fly yellow 2003 Maserati Spyder. Its sweet Ferrari-bred engine and sexy Italian brio overcame its pussy magnet hue and its sloppy paddle transmission.
No worries about the gearbox in today's sports car, it's a good old fashioned three-speed slushbox. Today's 1974 Bricklin SV1 could be had with either that or a 4-speed manual, while the '75 and final '76 cars only offered their owners two pedals with which to occupy themselves. The other major change following the first year of production was the move from the 220-bhp 360-cid V8 sourced from AMC, to a less energetic 175 horse 351 Windsor from Ford.
Malcom Bricklin founded Subaru of America by attempting to first foist the tiny 360 on an unreceptive U.S. audience. The tiny Subie proved so intimidating to drive in what was then traffic dominated by cars three times its weight, that sales never took off here. It's no surprise then that when Bricklin resolved to build a car with his name on it he chose to make it a safety car, or so the ad spin would have had you believe.
Assembled in New Brunswick, Canada, the SV1 hit the market in '74 and offered only the choice of color and transmission as options. Not even optional were a cigarette lighter and ashtray as spin doctor Bricklin advocated that smoking while driving was unsafe and hence antithetical to his goal of building a true safety car. The Bricklin's design is credited to the original Batmobile's creator, Herb Grasse, and featuring massive inset bumpers - the rear being so large it could have been off of a bus - that do evoke the contemporary safety memes of the era.
The Bricklin also offered electro-hydraulically powered gull wing doors, which became an iconic feature and was parroted in manual form by John Delorean when he attempted to follow in Bricklin's footsteps. The rest of the car was more backward-looking than forward thinking and the steel frame and A-arm front, live axle on leafs rear suspension could have underpinned any number of unremarkable car from the decade prior to the Bricklin's era.
This '74 has been restored to pristine condition, and its fiberglass and acrylic bodywork exhibits none of the cracking and hazing usually endemic to the cars. The leading edges of the hood do evidence some of the curl that is common among the breed however. Part of its immaculate condition may stem from its low, low miles, which are claimed to be but 7,676 since new. The interior looks equally smack, although the Bricklin's near kit car level of materials and exposed screw heads was never anything to write home about. For those of you who are sticklers for authenticity, it should be noted that the car's VIN indicates that instead of red, this car's original color choice was Safety Suntan.
And then there's those doors. Part of the reason a lot of Bricklins get such little use can be attributed to the fear owners always harbor in the backs of their minds that the doors or their switchgear will fail, leaving them trapped inside to evermore only be able to gain sustenance at the drive-thru window. These doors look to work just fine, although nothing is said about their propensity to leak - another of the design's weak points. And should they actually crap out, at least this Bricklin has A/C to help you keep your cool while you await the jaws of life.
Another foible of the Bricklin - and especially the '74 - was its insufficiently spec'd cooling system, as the cars would overheat faster than a fat kid in PE class. Many have had larger aftermarket radiators installed, but a peek under this one's hood indicates that not to be the case here.
Aside from the doors and the cooling and the wrong gearbox, there's a lot to like here, and there is no doubt that the Bricklin represents an important piece of automotive history. Sadly, many of the approximately 1,200 cars still on the road today have not been maintained in a manner equatable to that position, this one has. The problem is that as one of the nicest Bricklins you might find, it's also carrying a price tag that reflects its perceived celebrity status - $26,900.
Now, you can find Bricklins for sale at a quarter of that asking price - in the same manner that you could also find a 69¢ taco. The question is, would you want to drive/eat either? What do you think, does this Bricklin's status and condition live up to its $26,900 price tag? Or, does that amount make you shit a Bricklin?
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