You can only fake it in the auto industry for so long. There are plenty of careers where where people can fail upward—covering mediocrity with marketing spin, resume padding, and aggressive grooming of your “personal brand.” In the auto industry, however, you eventually have to cast, stamp, weld, and assemble something of value or else go out of business.
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A white one sat in a backyard near me almost completely hidden by mother nature. It was only visible in the winter when the leaves fell. I finally drummed up the energy one day to drive over and beg a look at it. Upon answering the door the owner of the property simply stated "We drug it down to the scrap yard down the road a couple of weeks ago". Having done business with that particular scrap yard I knew that this example of automotive history had died a horrible death. All those years driving by saying to myself "you know, one of these days. . . . ." for that I apologize to all.
I almost bought one once. I looked at a used green Bricklin. I needed a daily driver and loved the idea of a different, special car. I took a test drive and drove over some rough pavement. The doors shook so bad the dome light kept flickering on and off and I could see light under the doors. That would make driving in the rain an adventure. The body panels were peeling off the doors and the gas struts for the doors were weak and made opening them hard. It ran fine and the price was OK at the time but I couldn't see using it as my only car. I had to pass. These days it would be something I could handle but I have too many cars and no more places to keep them.
"While the engine itself was reliable, Bricklin’s relationship with AMC wasn’t. "
I'm an AMC historian. The Bricklin shared some other AMC parts, namely front suspension components. Malcom Bricklin was given a tour of the AMC plant during the Bricklin's first year of production. Roy Abernethy, then CEO of AMC, accompanied him. The story from an AMC insider at the time (I can't remember who quoted this story) said that Malcom was quick to point out everything he saw that he thought AMC was doing wrong. By the end of the tour an incensed Abernethey said something like "well, we'll see how well you can make cars without engines!" (not an exact quote) and cut the engine supply off. I'm not so sure that really happened, as the SV-1 continued to use front suspension and a few other small components from AMC (maybe just from AMC outside suppliers though?). More likely it was just that Bricklin wasn't selling enough for AMC to produce more engines than it needed itself. From what I've read about Malcolm, it's possible though...
I own both a DeLorean and a Bricklin. The DeLorean’s fit and finish is much better (although the quality of the early ones wasn’t that great). By comparison, the Bricklin very much has a “kit car” feel to it, especially the interior.
Still, both cars are interesting. The DeLorean rides better, and is more fun to drive, but the Bricklin has more power (I’ve got the AMC powered version). The DeLorean’s torsion bar and gas strut door system is vastly superior to Bricklin’s hydraulic door system, even if it’s been converted to pneumatic. People LOVE the DeLorean. The Bricklin usually just gets weird stares, and is commonly confused with a Corvette with aftermarket gull wing doors.
Parts are easy to get for both. There is a company that makes fiberglass panels to replace Bricklin’s acrylic versions , and although nobody is stamping DeLorean panels anymore there are plenty of leftover panels from when the factory closed (one notable exception being the left front fender, which you can find used easily enough for a price). Both cars used some parts from other companies, which helps with availability.
To dispel some of the myths I see about DeLorean v Bricklin: no, DeLorean was not influenced in any way by Malcolm or his car. DeLorean decided on gull wing doors because he loved the Mercedes 300, not because Malcom did it. The stainless steel panel idea came from the Allegheny Ludlum cars, not because Malcolm had used rust proof panels. Malcolm was simply a guy with money who wanted to build a car. John DeLorean was an automotive engineer and had been a car guy his whole life. He had nothing to learn from Malcolm.