Abstract: Hubris, Nepotism, and Failure: The Bricklin Car Company and the Question of Inevitability
In 1974, Malcolm Bricklin, a charismatic automotive entrepreneur, announced a dazzling new vehicle, the Bricklin SV1. He was immediately heralded as a throwback: the last great automotive entrepreneur, akin to a Henry Ford. But Bricklin's dreams quickly soured. The oil embargo, new regulations, and a shift in tastes hampered production. Poor engineering, inexperience, and corporate disorganization and nepotism crippled the company. After building 3,000 vehicles, Bricklin was put into receivership in 1976. In this essay I examine Bricklin as an example of failed entrepreneurship within a mature sector of the economy and attempt to understand this failure at a time of dislocation and restructuring in the North American auto sector.