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The Bricklin SV1 by Automodello

Jeff Glucker August 16, 2010 Diecast Delights, Modern Art Monday 14 Comments

Our friends at Automodello, who shared their Griffith Series 200 with us, have provided us with another beautifully crafted small scale diecast vehicle to ogle. This time they have focused their skilled efforts on the Bricklin SV1 and the results are speak for themselves.Founder of Subaru of America, Malcom Bricklin teamed up with designer Herb Grasse to produce their vision of a sports car that was also safe to drive. The result of their work is the Canadian-born Bricklin SV1, or Safety Vehicle One. It featured stand-out styling thanks to the push-button operated gullwing doors, fiberglass body, and five available “safety” colors which were white, green, red, orange, and suntan. Besides the styling, the SV1 included an integrated roll cage, 5 mph bumpers, and side impact beams.

Production of the Bricklin SV1 ran from 1974 up through 1976. The 1974 model SV1s were powered by an AMC 360 V8 engine. For 1975 and ’76, power was upgraded thanks to a Ford 351 V8. During the 1974 model-year production, 772 cars were created and 137 of those were equipped with a four-speed manual transmission. The 75-76 cars all came with automatic transmissions.

Unfortunately for Mr. Bricklin, the production of the SV1 was issues both financial and technical. The cars were not turning a profit fast enough to keep up with costs, which as any econ 101 student will tell you is a very bad thing. Another major factor was the $16,000 per car production cost. The cars were sold to dealers at just $5,000. My math isn’t great, but that seems the opposite of smart to me. To combat cost, the fiberglass bodies were being bonded to acrylic  plastic. This process had not yet been perfected at the time and lead to major cracking issues with the body parts, with some pieces even cracking before coming out of the mold. Ultimately, the company went into receivership and the remaining parts were purchased by a company which put them together to produce the 1976 models.

The Bricklin SV1 is a part of motoring history that can easily get lost as time marches forward. Automodello is there to try and prevent that from happening. Their beautiful collectible preserves the style and ingenuity that Malcom Bricklin and Herb Grasse attempted to create. This is not a “toy” but a piece of automotive modern art and deserves a place in any collectors display.

Thanks to Automodello for sending me an example of their newest diecast! Visit for information on this and their other collectibles.

  • austinminiman

    I love the irony that the model is medal and the real one isn't. That being said, that looks like a superb recreation… the paint especially.

    • that is actually very funny and I didn't event think of that when writing this… I was too excited to have another car in my small collection.

      edit: I have just been informed these are made from a resin not metal.

  • Rust-MyEnemy

    What I always wanted was a 1/18th scale model where everything, including the thickness of the metal, was to scale. Utterly impractical, yes. Virtually impossible to act the kid and drive across the the carpet going "vroom vroom", yes. But I would offer a choice from my anatomy for a scale 288GTO built to the same tolerances as the original.

  • RegalRegalia

    A question and a comment: 351c or 351w? Also, I have heard the gullwing doors weighed a ridiculous amount and the mechanism was electronic and when it failed or the battery died, you were trapped unless you wanted/were able to do some serious lifting. Is that a fact or just a rumor?

    • I do know the doors weighed like 100 lbs each. The electric actuators problem wouldn't surprise me.

      I believe it was a 351W, in mid-70s malaise grade around 200hp. Plenty of torque though.

      • Jack Mclovin

        You correct abou the doors at 100 lbs, however the dordrs were opened by a HYDRAULIC ram like in a modern conertable, I know this because I own car #56 andhad to redo my systm they also make an aftermarket air controled system, they are cool to look at and drive but can be a pain to work on, BTW thy made about 2865 total production d only arounf 1600 still around.

    • Tim Palmer

      The Bricklin had a 351 Windsor in '75 and '76. As an aside, the average Bricklin owner will tell you the 351 Windsor wasn't an upgrade as the author of this piece will tell you. The AMC 360 tended to have a bit more giddy-up. Also, the acrylic on fibreglass body panels were not intended to save costs, they were intended to be an improvement over pure fibreglass that ended up costing more than a young company could spend to develop properly. The gullwing doors are about as heavy as you'd expect a car door to be – around 80 pounds or so. The doors were hydraulic and activated by electric solenoids. The hydraulic motor moved the doors very slowly, leaked hydraulic fluid occasionally, and frequently burned out. At that point, you'd have to pull a pin and manually open and lift the door to get out. It's not fun, but for the average healthy male it's doable – you just don't look graceful doing it! My car has been converted over to the air door system that Terry Tanner introduced shortly after Bricklin went into receivership. That solved all the door problems. They function beautifully and I haven't had to open them `manually' in about a decade!

  • zaddikim

    There are at least two in Abbotsford, BC. I used to have to pick up parts at the Greyhound depot there, and two doors down was a body/paint shop. One day at this shop, there was a green Bricklin in the shop parking, so of course I had to take a look.

    While the exterior was rather nicely done, the interior was a train-wreck. Missing trim pieces, broken/missing knobs, and all sorts of hell had been visited upon the upholstery. Then the owner showed up in a white SV-1, though it had aged to an oddly pleasant piss-yellow, not unlike the Apple's of days gone by. It was not in better shape, and all the questions regarding the car/s vanished.

    I drove a 10-year old Corolla – why would he want to talk to someone with a beater with twice the performance and, arguably, a third the repair headaches of his plastic masterpiece?

    I beat a hasty exit before I started thinking about visiting the Euro-car repair shop down the street – they had a lovely brace of 5-series beauties that, gosh-darn-it, just needed a little love…

  • I thought I wanted to own a Bricklin at some time and now my problem is solved. This model has all the cool features with none of the maintenance issues. A truly fantastic piece!

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  • Garth Dewey

    The Bricklin had a release cable for the rear hatch. Imagine the car lying in it's roof: Pull the release cable and crawl down the glass "launching Ramp"! I was talked into leaving Ford Styling by Herb Grass and Tom Monroe and joining them to take a ride on the rolling donut called Bricklin, January 1974. They said they needed a body engineering DEPARTMENTt

  • Thanks for this. Great article !

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