In 1971 young, rich Malcolm Bricklin decided America needed a revolutionary new sports-safety car. Three years and $20 million later, he began to give it to them.
Malcolm Bricklin made his first million in hardware/plumbing supply franchising in Florida before he was 25. He followed that by starting Subaru of America and imported the Subaru 360. He left Subaru of America to build his own automobile; not a 'one-off', a kit or repli-car, but a production car; his own car company. The New Brunswick government put up the lions share of the capital hoping to provide jobs at two plants in Minto and Saint John.
Bricklin's initial intention was to sell the cars for $4000. That price went to $6500, then $7490 by the time the first 1974 model was actually bought. The 1975 model skyrocketed to $9980. Production by 1975 was supposed to be at the rate of 1000/month. In the 2 years production took place, the best month saw 429 Bricklins come off the line while January and February of 1975 saw none. Since the drivetrain, suspension, and many other components were from Detroit, Bricklin was continually fighting a losing supply battle. It become increasingly difficult to obtain more money from the New Brunswick government for manufacturing when the production volume just wasn't going up. The lack of additional capital, along with poor quality and high scrap count body panels, the troublesome electro-hydraulic door system, leaky door weather-stripping, and generally inferior manufacturing quality when compared to Detroit,
all lead to the demise of the Bricklin as a production car.
There were 780 produced in 1974 with a 220bhp AMC 360cid V-8. Because of short engine supply from AMC, in 1975 a switch was made to the 175bhp Ford 351W V-8. The 1975 model year saw 2062 cars come off the assembly line. Bricklin went into receivership in Sept of 1975 with 12 cars left on the line that had VIN plates issued as 1976's. There still seems to be quite a bit of discrepancies in reported production numbers. Several cars were completed years later, making the production figure even more fuzzy. Clarkson Company, the court-appointed receiver in Canada, sold the last 287 75's and the 12 76's to Bill Byers of Columbus Ohio along with all stock and rights to the Bricklin name and trademark. A final figure of 2854 is generally accepted as the production count for General Vehicle. Some cars were assembled from parts and may have VINs that exceed the 3000.
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