This 1975 Bricklin SV-1 Is the Only Known Road-Legal Example of the Sports Car in the UK

The Bricklin SV-1, a sports car that was built in New Brunswick, Canada, from 1974 to 1976, was supposed to be revolutionary for its time and take on the Chevrolet Corvette but instead turned out to be a massive financial failure for its creators. It also appeared on numerous lists of “worst cars ever" due to its substandard build quality.
1975 Bricklin SV-1 21 photos
Photo: Car and Classic
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The vehicle, which featured gullwing doors, a fiberglass body, and futuristic aesthetics, had a lot of shortcomings and flopped due to a combination of insufficient development time, faults in quality control, and a high retail cost.

However, in an era when most carmakers only included the bare minimum safety gear, the quirky two-seater did introduce some innovative safety features, such as the anti-submarine seats, separate safety cell, distinctive energy-absorbing bumpers front and back, and gullwing doors to avoid the opening of doors into oncoming traffic. Actually, the SV-1 in its name stands for “Safety Vehicle One.”

Developed by Malcolm Bricklin, who introduced both Subaru and Yugo to the North American market and later founded his own carmaking company, the Bricklin SV-1 is as controversial as it is fascinating. Some of the prototypes were built based on early design sketches penned by Bruce Meyers, the creator of the Meyers Manx beach buggy, but the final design was actually signed off by Herb Grasse, who had also designed the original 1960s-era Batmobile.

1975 Bricklin SV\-1
Photo: Car and Classic
The Bricklin SV-1 only stayed in production for a few years, with less than 3,000 units ever built. Fewer than 1,700 are known to still be in existence today; hence the model is now considered a rare historic classic that remains largely undiscovered.

The particular example you see pictured here is believed to be the only working and road-legal Bricklin SV-1 in the United Kingdom. It was put together in 1975, was imported into England in late 2018, and registered in January 2019. It was used by its owner for various shows and events and is in overall good condition.

The two-door, two-seat car sure makes a strong impression with its wedge-shaped profile, composite body, and gullwing doors that would open and close at the push of a button. Just imagine how futuristic it must have looked back in the 70s when it was produced.

1975 Bricklin SV\-1
Photo: Car and Classic
Built on a steel chassis with a lightweight fiberglass body and integrated roll-over protection for safety, the Bricklin SV-1 was endowed with a front-mounted V8 engine. Early units were powered by an AMC-sourced 360 cubic inch (6-liter) V8 delivering 220 hp (223 ps) with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions, but the engine was swapped for a 351 cubic inch (5.8-liter) Ford’ Windsor’ V8 making just 175 hp (177 ps). It was coupled to a not-so-sporty three-speed automatic transmission that sent the power to the rear wheels. Braking was handled by vented disc brakes on the front and drums at the rear.

A Ford V8 mill is also the heart of this recently-serviced 1975 Bricklin SV-1 example that appears to have been driven for 34,960 miles (56,262 km). This is quite a low mileage for an almost 50-year-old car.

The exterior of this Canadian-made vehicle is finished in Safety White, and all its body parts seem to be in fine condition, with no visible damage or cracks. The composite body features color-impregnated acrylic resin bonded to fiberglass, and only the bumpers, side trims, and mirrors are actually painted. As mentioned before, the front and rear bumper are impact resistant, while the pop-up headlights employ a mechanically-operated vacuum to work automatically.

1975 Bricklin SV\-1
Photo: Car and Classic
The car’s pièce de résistance are definitely the gullwing doors. Originally, the doors were hydraulically operated, but they weighed in at 90 lbs (about 40 kg) each and took about 12 seconds to open or close. Moreover, the hydraulic systems caused quite a few issues when the car was released, so many owners replaced them. This particular example boasts an aftermarket door conversion to a speedier and more reliable pneumatic system, with the air tank kept out of sight in the rear bumper.

The interior of this Bricklin SV-1 is as well-kept as the exterior, with only minor wear and tear. It looks very 70s-like with its brown and beige upholstery and button-tufted fabric inserts in the seats. It also boasts some features that were seen as luxurious at the time, including air conditioning, power windows, and AM/FM radio. It also features a six-deal dash and the original radio-cassette.

Due to its quirkiness and rarity, this 70s sports car has become highly collectible among enthusiast circles. This particular 1975 Bricklin SV-1 - the only UK-registered working unit - had only one registered previous owner in Burlingham, California. It has now come up for auction out of Milton Keynes and is offered with a slew of documents, including the original owner’s handbook, workshop repair and service manuals, invoices for recent brake and mechanical work, and copies of some classic magazines that featured this particular unit.
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About the author: Ancuta Iosub
Ancuta Iosub profile photo

After spending a few years as a copy editor, Ancuta decided to put down the eraser and pick up the writer's pencil. Her favorites subjects are unusual car designs, travel trailers and everything related to the great outdoors.
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