Malcolm BricklinEnlarge Photo
Malcolm Bricklin is almost 80, but he’s still full of ideas it seems.
His latest concept is selling art using an inventory system much like that of a car dealer network.
Bricklin, the man who brought Subarus and Yugos to the nation, revealed his plans during a recent interview with Automotive News (subscription required). The goal is to turn luxury car dealers into partners for a national art gallery network. There's a car tie-in, of course. Bricklin's asking for an investment of $2 million per dealer and needs about 100 dealers to sign up for the plan to be successful.
For for the $2 million sum, the dealerships would receive rights to sell the new Bricklin 3EV, a $25,000, Panoz-engineered electric three-wheeler claimed to be ready to hit the market in 2019. Yes, in two years.
Bricklin 3EVEnlarge Photo
What's more, buyers will "test drive" the car using virtual reality pods at the dealer. Somehow, all that makes the art side of the deal sound reasonable.
The dealers would also be buying into a network of art galleries located away from the car lot. Bricklin wants to apply the car sale model to paintings and sculptures. Each gallery in the network may have works from 20 artists on sale, but the galleries would all be interlinked via digital screens so buyers could view and purchase work from artists from other galleries.
It would give buyers access to some 2,000 artists from around the country. Bricklin believes the model would provide an outlet for works of "guaranteed value," thereby reducing the risk for seller and buyer while also giving car dealers another revenue stream.
It falls into the so-crazy-it-could work category, a place Bricklin knows well. The man has left his mark all over automotive history, with a long line of impressive successes and failures. He helped bring Subaru to the United States and was part of less sterling endeavors like importing the Yugo, building his own Bricklin SV-1 sports car, and importing the Fiat X1/9 after Fiat had pulled out of the U.S. More recently, in 2004, he tried to bring Chery, a Chinese automaker, to the U.S. That episode ended in a flurry of lawsuits and refunds.