It’s a … Bricklin! Owners of one of the most unique cars ever bring their Bricklins to Vail | VailDaily.com

It’s a … Bricklin! Owners of one of the most unique cars ever bring their Bricklins to Vail

VAIL — That is not Marty McFly's time machine.

That's a Bricklin SV-1, the brainchild of entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin, and it predates Marty McFly's time machine by several years.

Several are in Vail this weekend for Bricklin International's annual Western Meet.

Kevin Hand drove his from Southern California because it's fun to drive and because most Bricklin owners don't mind being noticed. Bricklin owners have been gathering for a national meet and western regional meet since 1976.

"It started as a car club, but over time has evolved into a group of great friends," Hand said. "Now it's more of a social club with our cars as the center."

Paul and Pat Agema are in town with the Bricklin group. They're from Michigan, and they've made every Bricklin meet since the first one, 1976 in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

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"We've been friends with many of these people for a long time. That's what makes this so special," Paul said.

Questions questions

Chances are you've never seen a Bricklin until now. Not many other people have, either.

When Bricklin owners stop for gas, or just about anything else, people walk up to them with wide eyes, big smiles and pepper them with questions.

"What is that?"

"It's a Bricklin."

"Is it a kit car?"

"No. It's a Bricklin."

"Is it Marty McFly's time machine?"

"Nope. Marty McFly's time machine is a four-cylinder under a stainless steel body that has all the personality of a dishwasher. This is a Bricklin."

About the Bricklin SV-1

The Bricklin SV-1 (SV for Safety Vehicle) is a two-seat sports car built from 1974 to late 1975. The car was among the first to feature gull-wing doors and composite bodywork of color-impregnated acrylic resin bonded to fiberglass. It's built around a steel cage surrounding the driver and passenger. The bumpers can withstand hits up to 10 mph, sometimes higher.

Malcolm said he got the idea for the gull-wing doors one Saturday morning when some of his sons were watching cartoons. One of the superhero's car doors lifted like an angel's wings. That, Malcolm said, was that.

For its May 1975 edition, Car and Driver magazine tested the Bricklin nose-to-nose against the Corvette, the only other V8-powered two-seat plastic-bodied American sports car at the time. Car and Driver said the Bricklin comported itself admirably.

According to Bricklin Autosport, the car was rushed into production in New Brunswick, Canada, under a funding deal through Brunswick Premier Richard Hatfield. Hatfield later pulled the money plug for reasons both personal and political, and the Bricklin became a collector's item.

That Canadian factory ran two years, 1974-75, turning out 2,903 Bricklin SV-1s. It's estimated that 1,700 Bricklins are still with us.

If you're lucky and you're paying attention, you might spot one this weekend.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.