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Automotive museum welcomes the Bricklin

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The newest addition to the Canadian Automotive Museum’s ranks is one of Canada’s most famous – or infamous cars, depending on who you are asking.

The museum recently welcomed the Bricklin, a unique two-door sports car which was built between 1974 and 1975 in Saint John, New Brunswick.

The Bricklin was formally unveiled to the public during the annual Curator’s Reception at the museum earlier this month.

Museum general manager and curator Alexander Gates explains despite the model’s relatively short life span, it is a much sought after piece of Canada’s automotive history.

Gates said a Bricklin was on loan to the museum previously between 1976 and the early 1980s.

One of the unique features of the Bricklin was its bright orange or green paint (although there were white models as well).

The car is also notable for its concrete bumper, which was meant to absorb the impact of a collision.

“Was [the concrete bumper] a good idea? Probably not. It made the car very heavy,” Gates explained.

Gates also noted the doors of the car are very heavy at 100 pounds each, and they also have no door handles, meaning a driver could get stuck in the car, and have to escape through a hatch at the back.

Despite these odd features, Gates said the museum is very fortunate to have one.

“We’re very excited to have it on display, and interpret this story,” he said.

The Bricklin was loaned to the museum by Dr. Sandy Bigman, a native Canadian who now lives in Pleasanton, Cal., a suburb of San Francisco.

According to Gates, Bigman bought the car in high school, and has kept it in “meticulous detail.”

“He’s really insistent on having it here in a Canadian institution, and recognizes the importance of it,” Gates added.

Bigman’s loan was made possible through collaboration with the Council for Canada American Relations, a third party organization which helps American citizens make donations to Canadian organizations.

“It took about 10 months to work out all the details,” Gates said.

Museum board president Denis Bigioni said the Bricklin was the “biggest missing piece” of the museum.

“It’s really a bit of a thrill to bring it home,” he said.

Over the past five years, Bigioni said attendance at the museum has skyrocketed, and its public profile is increasing greatly.

“In that period, we’ve moved the museum forward significantly. And I think anyone who has been here before, can see evidence of that, and of the vitality we’ve brought to the museum,” he said.

Bigioni said the museum is looking to boost its membership in 2020 by giving them something more tangible.

“We’re trying to provide a better member experience for everyone, and trying to make it an active and appealing place to be and group to participate in,” he said.

The museum will soon be launching its new exhibit, a comprehensive telling of the history and story of General Motors in Oshawa and Canada overall.

Gates said in addition to GM vehicles, the exhibit will have 13 information panels on the company’s history.

The exhibit is slated to open later this spring.