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Who is this Malcolm Bricklin

In 2018 China Car Times was acquired by Autowise. This article originally appeared on

We here at China Car Times like and actually admire Malcolm Bricklin, despite his crazy ideas, and the subsequent rate of failure when he carried them out we admire him for actually having the cajoles to carry out his ideas and for making a million bucks in the process.

For any readers who are not to sure to who exactly Malcolm Bricklin is, weve put together a time line

Click more to read more!

1939 – Brought kicking and screaming into this world on January 9th, 1939 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA to a presumably a very happy Mr. and Mrs Bricklin.

1958 – Bricklin dropped out of the University of Florida to run his fathers building supply business which was then based in Orlando Florida. Bricklin built it up into the Handyman America Inc franchise, but lawsuits arising from the franchises put Handyman America out of business. Failed enterprise number one for Bricklin, he did however, make himself into a millionaire in the process.

1965 – Bricklin turns Japanese, we really think so. Bricklin started selling franchises for the Fuji Rabbit motorbike made Fuji Heavy Industries, it was this company – Fuji Heavy Industries that conceived the Subaru car. At this point in time, Subaru was making the Subaru 360, one of the worlds first super minis. Bricklin realized that the cars minuscule weight would allow it to bypass any road safety tests that the American govt had at the time. Sales were great for Bricklin, at least until the influential Consumer Reports magazine labeled the Subaru 360 the most dangerous car in America. Not surprisingly, Bricklin was soon out of business, but did manage to score himself one thousand 360s (thats the Subarus, not the Xbox.) as part of a settlement with Subaru. He was then later sued by his financial backer for misappropriation of funds.

1972 – Not to be put off by his first failed automobile venture, Bricklin got back on his feet and started looking for backers for his next debacle – possibly the biggest of his career. Bricklin made a prototype, the Bricklin SV-1, and a promotional video Bricklin went hunting for investors and found several suckers, er, banks including the Pennsylvania First Bank which stupidly gave him $1 million USD to find a place in Livonia, Michigan where he began converting the SV-1 prototypes into real working cars. Bricklin convinced American Motors, and later Ford to supply V8 engines for him. Bricklin looked for more investors, so he could start selling franchises and set up dealer ships up and down the USA, in the meantime back in Michigan, the
design team struggled to turn the SV-1 prototypes into real cars, especially the heavy gull wing doors. Bricklin went to the Quebec government in Canada, with interest in reopening a recently closed Renault plant, probably with the idea of mass producing his SV-1 Frankenstein car. The Quebec government, not to be suckered easily, sent representatives to America to research Bricklins financial history. In shock and horror they fled back to Canada. Bricklin found a willing investor in Richard Hatfield, the then premier of the New Brunswick Canada who believed a locally produced car would do wonders for something – it wasnt doing any wonders for the tax payers though. Bricklins master plan fell about in 1975 after producing just less than 3000 cars in two years and amassing $24 million in debt which was paid off by the tax payers. The American car magazine, Car and Track, slaughtered the SV1 in their review, but only after they had to borrow one as Bricklin couldnt (or wouldnt) stump up a spare for review. Heres an SV-1 on Ebay – pretty cheap too.
1986 – The Yugo Saga Goodness knows what Bricklin was upto in the ten years between the SV-1 and the Yugo stuff but this is the next chapter in his life according to the internet – actually we found out he was importing Fiat X1/9s that were re-badged as Bertones), and the internet is always right! (or something) The Yugo was brought to America under the pretense that it would be great value, even the model number had the great value written in, the 1.3GV (Great Value) cost just $4,000. Bricklin experienced great sales at start, but the Yugos soon gained a negative reputation amongst just about everyone in the western world, as did Skoda. Why do Skodas have heated rear windows? – So you can keep your hands warm when youre pushing them! ha ha! Come the 1990s and UN pressure on Yugoslavia meant the car was withdrawn from the US market.

1990s – Bricklin wanted to import electric bicycles, unsurprisingly this venture failed too.

2003 – Bricklin plans to bring Yugos back to America by 2003, he then changed the date again to 2004, then to 2005. Yugos still dont seem to have made it to America.
2005 – Bricklin teams up with Chinas Chery Automobiles to bring cheap Chinese cars to American cars but gets hit with a lawsuit in the process. GM believes Chery is too similar sounding to Chevy, Bricklin decides to rename them Visionary Vehicles.

2006 – Bricklin throws a hissy fit when he finds out Chery has potentially teamed up with Dodge to manufacture Dodge vehicles in China and potentially export Chery cars to America using the Dodge brand. Bricklin throws lots of mud around.

2006 – Bricklin claims to be creating a virtual car company i.e. sourcing a manufacturer in China, sticking his label on and selling them in the USA. Wait and see on that one.

In short Mr. Bricklin, we salute you, we doff our caps in your honor – youve had more failures than success but you carry on trying, regardless.

Note: Most of this info was found online, especially on the wonderful Wikipedia.



Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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