I’ve been waiting all morning here for someone to nominate the Bricklin, and perhaps spare me having to give it another fifteen minutes of fame, which it so doesn’t deserve. No such luck. Well, I refuse to spend more than fifteen minutes on this, so it’ll have to be the quickie version. Malcom Bricklin, who once happened to be at the right place at the right time with his decision to import Subarus, from then on suffered from an interminable swollen head syndrome. He tried to repilicate his success with Subaru by importing the Yugo, a tale just told recently here. In between those two, he did what every inflated ego does: try to build a car with his name on it. And preferably, with some sucker government to stump up for the inevitable losses.
Underneath the Bricklin SV-1 crudely styled body sat an old-school frame, rear leaf springs, somebody’s borrowed front suspension, and an AMC 360 V8 (later the Ford 351). The SV stood for Safety Vehicle. Being trapped inside it when the power-operated gull wing doors didn’t work was for your safety! An attempt to merge fiberglass with acrylic didn’t pan out, and there were huge problems as a result. The car drove like a brick….and the unhappy ending was inevitable. From wiki:
Under the direction of New Brunswick Premier Richard Hatfield, the provincial government provided financing of $4.5 million for Bricklin’s car. The money had been advanced on the assumption that Bricklin needed it to begin the production of cars. In truth, it had paid for the engineering and development of Bricklin’s car as well as many of the costs, including salaries of keeping Bricklin’s U.S. companies in operation. Also contributing to the company’s decline was Bricklin’s tendency to assign inexperienced family members to executive positions on his Board. These included naming his father as Vice-President of Engineering, his mother as head of Public Relations, and his sister’s husband as company attorney.
During production, the Bricklin manufacturer was constantly in debt, and had relied on provincial government support to keep the company running. One reason is the vehicle was estimated to cost $16,000 to build, but sold for $5000 each to the Dealers, so the company lost the equivalent of sales of more than two Bricklins for every car built. To further complicate problems, Richard Hatfield was discovered to have secretly funded the failing company to win reelection. After the funding scandal, the government turned down a request for an additional $10 million to keep the company running. The factory shut down, and was put into receivership on September 25, 1975.
Ironically, the whole Bricklin affair almost perfectly foreshadows a very similar one in the eighties. You know the one I mean.