1 of the Worst Sports Cars of All Time Is Also 1 of the Weirdest
Every automaker has experienced its fair share of duds with cars that don’t meet consumer expectations. Some models get pulled from production for poor performance, lackluster sales, or mechanical issues. Others get replaced with newer, more advanced models that offer better capabilities.
The Bricklin V-1 is a vintage sports car that got taken off the market, barely making it out of the starting gate due to a long list of manufacturing problems. With a reputation for being one of the worst and weirdest sports cars in automotive history, it only sold 3,000 units before production abruptly halted.
How the Bricklin SV-1 came to be
The Bricklin SV-1 was the brainchild of entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin, the quirky businessman credited with bringing both the Yugo and Subaru vehicles to the North American market.
In 1974, Bricklin set out to create a “safety sports car” to compete with high-performance vehicles such as the Chevy Corvette Stingray. He implemented gullwing doors in his design almost a decade before the innovative feature appeared on the DeLorean DMC-12. He also intended to offer a competitive price for his two-door, two-seat hatchback to appeal to a broad range of sports enthusiasts.
According to Slash Gear, the self-named “Safety Vehicle One” was designed for safety, featuring “a chassis-integrated steel roll cage, side-impact guardrails, a sleek and sturdy fiberglass body, and energy-absorbing front and rear bumpers.”
The Canadian government supported the automaker’s vision and invested $23 million (the equivalent of $102.5 million today) to build a manufacturing facility in New Brunswick, Canada.
Why the SV-1 sports car failed
While the Bricklin SV-1 performed well in a 1974 crash test, the abundance of safety features introduced complex manufacturing issues, contributing to the ultimate demise of the vehicle.
According to Driving, Bricklin left the “sports” out of sports car with a meager Ford 351 V8 engine paired with a three-speed transmission that only generated 175 hp, deterring from its “racy and rakish exterior.” When the vehicle debuted in 1974, it utilized a V8 engine paired with a three-speed or four-speed automatic transmission to generate 220 hp and 315 lb-ft of torque. However, in 1975, American Motors stopped supplying the V8 engine to Bricklin, and the automaker had to turn to the less impressive, under-performing Ford engine. Overall, less than 800 units of the Bricklin SV-1 were manufactured with the American Motors V8 engine.
There were also numerous issues involving warped body panels and electrical problems that plagued the failing vehicle. The hydraulics used to open the gullwing doors were bending the doors in operation, and the vacuum-operated pop-up headlights often failed to open.
Another major problem with the shabby sports car was the exorbitant price, which was listed for $9,980 in 1975. Although that does not sound like much by today’s standards, it was, considering a 1975 Corvette was selling for $6,810 and providing much better performance and reliability.
What is the Bricklin SV-1 worth today?
While Bricklin had hoped to build 1,000 cars per month, production in the first year only amounted to 780 units. When manufacturing facilities shut down in 1975, less than 3,000 units of the model existed.
According to Classic.com, from 2018 to 2022, vintage Bricklin SV-1 vehicles have sold in a price range between $26,000 and $55,000. The highest-selling model was a 1974 version that sold for $101,000 in September 2022 out of Erie, Pennsylvania.
Ongoing quality control issues, supply chain shortages, and a sales price that doubled in just under two years marked the end of the Bricklin SV-1. The company went into receivership in 1975, and production ended on one of the worst sports cars ever made.