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Video | Bricklin vs. DeLorean: The Comparison Test That Nobody Asked For

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author photo by Tyler Hoover November 2018

As far as I know, I just made history by making the first YouTube video comparison of a Bricklin SV-1 versus a DeLorean DMC-12. Never mind the fact that nobody was asking for this battle of the weirdo gull-wings, I'm the first brave soul to do this -- and it wasn't pretty. Not surprisingly, both are terrible cars, but one of them is way less terrible.

Other than the doors, both vehicles have a lot in common. Both got their names from their founders, who both worked in the automotive industry. John DeLorean is credited with creating the Pontiac GTO and the Firebird, along with the much-less-revered Chevrolet Vega. Malcom Bricklin is responsible for bringing Subaru into the American market, along with the first generation Fiat 124 Spider, but he also brought in the Yugo. So neither of these men have perfect track records.

Despite both company founders being Americans, each outsourced the production of their cars to different countries (Bricklin chose Canada, while DeLorean went with Northern Ireland) and both had to compromise heavily from their original vision. The DeLorean was supposed to have a high-performance rotary engine, but it was forced to settle for a 130-horsepower V6 sourced from France. The first Bricklin came with a slant six engine -- but the final production car ended up with heavily choked down Chrysler, and later a Ford V8. Both cars had serious quality issues and parts supply chain problems, and neither one met sales forecasts before their complete failure after a few years.

The examples I drove were both owned by the Midwest Dream Car Collection, a car gallery opening soon in Wichita, Kansas -- I was eager to line the cars up for a drag race, along with the curator, Drew. I chose the DeLorean, and suggested a vintage LeMans style start -- which involves the drivers running to the cars before driving away. The Delorean has the huge advantage here, since the Bricklin's powered Hydraulic doors can take up to 12 seconds to open.

Once we lined the cars up for the actual race, I expected the DeLorean to get clobbered by the V8-powered Bricklin, but clearly DeLorean with its manual transmission had much better gearing. The DeLorean launched much quicker than the Bricklin, and continued to pull away. So, in this instance, the DMC-12 blew the doors off the SV-1.

Speaking of blowing doors, the curator and I had an encounter with the notoriously unreliable hydraulic door system with the Bricklin. I wanted both doors open on the cars for the opening video shot, and the Bricklin opened the driver's door just fine, but struggled to move the passenger door. I had to grab the 90-pound gull-wing door and assist the hydraulic motor, but we quit as smoke began pouring out of the center console from the hydraulic motor burning out.

Despite the power doors being very futuristic, the windows inside of the Bricklin were crank operated, and the rest of the car was very primitive. The sparse interior was made of materials that looked inferior to those found in the AMC Gremlin or Chevrolet Vega, both prominent economy cars of the time -- and the car felt more like driving a land yacht than anything sporty. Comfort really is the only good thing I can say about driving it.

I had never driven a DeLorean up until this point, either, and I've always been curious. Friends had given me mostly negative impressions, but I was actually pleasantly surprised. The motor felt somewhat peppy with the manual transmission -- and unlike the Bricklin, the car seemed overall much better put together with mostly quality materials. I actually enjoyed driving the car, and I honestly wouldn't mind owning one -- if they weren't so expensive.

So it's obvious that my impressions favor the DeLorean, and, in fact, it's not even close. Even if you put the movie and nostalgia aside, the DMC-12 is a far superior car, but that still doesn't mean it's a good car. A first-generation Mazda Miata would embarrass it given any situation -- so this truly is the only situation a DeLorean would win any comparison test, ever. Since nobody is comparing these two cars for their next potential purchase, this might also be the most useless comparison ever, but at least I had fun.

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