It was a car with wings that never took flight and eventually became an albatross around the neck of the provincial premier that promoted it.
The New Brunswick-produced Bricklin SV–1 was the brainchild of Premier Richard Hatfield and American car manufacturer Malcolm Bricklin, a millionaire best known for introducing Subaru cars to North America.
Flush with provincial funding, Bricklin launched his new sports car in 1974 amid much fanfare and partisan hoopla. Indeed, during the 1974 provincial election, Hatfield included an orange Bricklin at some campaign stops, drawing the ire of his opposition.
Alas, Hatfield’s dream of transforming his forestry-driven province into Canada’s version of Motor City wasn’t to be; after producing only 2,854 cars, Bricklin’s company went into receivership — while still owing nearly $23 million to the good taxpayers of New Brunswick.
While many today consider the Bricklin a costly lemon, collectors prize it for its then-futuristic lines and gull-wing doors and its odd backstory.
In 2010, a Fredericton theater company staged a highly popular musical comedy titled, The Bricklin: An Automotive Fantasy. You can still watch the trailer.
You can also listen to the CBC Digital Archives podcast from the program Five Nights where reporter David Folster interviewed Bricklin and Hatfield about the car.