Malcolm Bricklin is a key figure in my memory because he built and sold what I thought was the coolest car on the planet back in my teen years. The plastic bodied, gull-winged car that bore his name — the SV-1 — was ahead of its time (early ’70s) in both styling and safety, but bombed in the market.
I remember seeing the machine at a local dealership, and going ga-ga over it. I rode my bike through the lot as often and as close as I dared — usually getting chased off by the salesguys — collected everything about the car that a young teen could lay claim to, doodled pictures of it all over my school notebooks, and made hand-drawn posters of the thing. Alas, the New Brunswick automaker went bankrupt after producing around 3000 vehicles. I think I cried the day I heard about that.
Fast forward to 2005, and Malcom is in the news again, this time for cutting a deal to import cars to North America from China. He’s got a bit of experience in the import business; he was the first to bring the Subaru (in the 1960’s) and Yugo (in the 1980’s) nameplates to North America.
This time he and his new company — Visionary Vehicles, LLC — will be importing five models built by the Chinese government-owned Chery Automobiles. (There is a company website, but beware; it’s dog-slow and mostly in Chinese and mangled English.)
The Chery’s are said to be high quality and low cost machines, with 10-year, 100,000-mile warranties. No word yet on where they will be sold or what they will be called.
Truth be told, I’m less excited with the Chery than the memories that I have of the Bricklin SV-1.