January 29, 2023

Classic Wheels Spotlight: 1975 Bricklin SV-1

Max Kottman’s 1975 Bricklin SV-1

Photos by Steve Rubens - 1975 Bricklin SV-1 Front

It’s unusual that a guy like Max Kottman, who is in his early twenties, would be interested in a vehicle like the Bricklin SV-1. This is a car pushing 50 years old and it seems to me most young men would more likely opt for something a bit more state-of-the-art.

Since most folks have never heard of a Bricklin, my first question to Kottman had to be what possessed him to buy a Bricklin? Kottman’s response explained it all: “I like oddball stuff.”

While I don’t know about the Bricklin being designated fully as an “oddball” vehicle, it certainly is different. So as not to disappoint me, Kottman explained that his car was a “driver” and that was reflected in the price. At twenty-something, he’s got plenty of time to tinker or just keep driving it.

Photos by Steve Rubens - 1975 Bricklin SV-1 Side

Malcolm Bricklin

Malcolm Bricklin, an American businessman born in 1939, is known for his forward-thinking. After six decades, he’s still a car guy. Among his many accomplishments include founding Subaru of America, importing the Fiat X1/9 and Fiat Spider, selling an electric bicycle, and even bringing the Yugoslavian Yugo to the U.S. (probably not his most stellar startup company).

Auto Week magazine claimed, “Malcolm Bricklin has a mind that works like a machine gun.”

Perhaps his most innovative idea came at age 35 when he built a car named after himself.

Photos by Steve Rubens - 1975 Bricklin SV-1 Rear

The SV-1

The Bricklin SV-1 (the SV stands for Safety Vehicle) was a two-seat, front-engine, rear-drive, gullwing-doored sports car that entered the U.S. market to tangle with the Corvette. It was a lofty goal considering the Chevrolet flagship Corvette already had its tires firmly planted on America’s asphalt for more than 20 years.

Bricklin’s car was built for two model years, 1974 and 1975, in New Brunswick, Canada. One of the incredible things about this car was that Bricklin used many components from Chrysler, Renault, Datsun, Toyota, and even Chevrolet to fill the fiberglass body.

Powerplants for this aggressive ride ran the gamut but Bricklin ultimately settled on an American Motors (Rambler) 360 cubic inch V8 that was used in 1974, and in a Ford 351 Windsor V8 in 1975. Each engine was mated with transmissions from those companies.

Photos by Steve Rubens - 1975 Bricklin SV-1 Interior

Comfort & Safety

The SV-1 featured all the creature comforts you expect in a sports car. One interesting point that reflected his focus on safety was the lack of an ashtray and cigarette lighter, which he thought was unsafe while driving.

Speaking of safety, the chassis is a steel perimeter with an integrated rollover structure. If you want to roll a car, get a Bricklin! Ultimately, Bricklin’s business venture failed due to poor assembly, body panel fitment problems, and internal strife within the company.

Kottman’s personal stable of vehicles ranges from a 1953 GAZ Polish military vehicle, similar to a Jeep but much larger, to a 1960 Cadillac sedan that’s so long you need roller skates to get from front to rear. He acquired this huge-finned Caddy from his great grandfather’s South Dakota prairie ranch.

Any way you slice it, this unique Bricklin SV-1, and Max Kottman, are deservedly centerstage in our Classic Car Spotlight.