Malcolm Bricklin is an unwavering entrepreneur who made a name for himself in the automotive industry by importing Subaru cars into the United States in the 1960s, starting with the Subaru 360. This experience ignited his passion for creating his own car, and in the late 1960s, he founded General Vehicles to develop and manufacture it. Bruce Meyers of Meyers Manx initially designed the car, but design responsibilities were later handed over to Marshall Hobart and Herb Grasse.
The car was envisioned as a futuristic safe sports car, featuring a sci-fi inspired fiberglass body and a steel chassis with built-in roll-over protection. The car’s impact-absorbing bumpers further enhanced safety. In 1974, the Bricklin SV-1 entered production in New Brunswick, Canada, where the provincial government provided $4.5 million of financing for the project.
The SV-1 boasted an unusual steel perimeter chassis with an integral roll cage, as well as independent front suspension with unequal length A-arms, trailing links, and a live axle in the rear with semi-elliptic leaf springs. The front-mounted V8 engine (either a Ford Windsor 351 or AMV 360, depending on the year) was paired with either a manual or automatic transmission, delivering power to the rear wheels.
The car also featured front vented disc brakes and rear drums, recirculating ball steering, and hydraulically operated gull-wing doors. The car’s signature feature was undoubtedly its gull-wing doors, although the door mechanisms proved to be a persistent issue for the company.
Despite being an expensive car for its time and suffering from subpar build quality, the SV-1 could have likely overcome these challenges with more development time and economies of scale. Unfortunately, the money dried up before these issues could be resolved, resulting in a short production run between 1974 and 1976, with fewer than 3,000 cars built in total.
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