Own/Drive/Crush: Gullwings Under $30,000

Oct 7, 2020 4 min read
Own/Drive/Crush: Gullwings Under $30,000

You don't have to spend beaucoup bucks to get a pair of exotic gullwing doors in your garage. Which would you pick?

You folks seem to enjoy "Own/Drive/Crush," so we're going to keep on keepin' on. Last week, we chose between three of the hottest muscle cars to hit the street in 1969 (we went Mopar).

This week, we're going to do something entirely different. We're going to pick between three unusual cars with gullwing doors. All three can be had for under $30,000, so you won't find a 300SL in the running this time.

Image Via Duncan Imports and Classics

We'll start with the smallest – and newest – car first. This 1992 Autozam AZ-1 is a kei car, a very small class of Japanese car that's strictly limited to 660ccs and 63 horsepower. They're designed that way to take advantage of lowered registration and insurance costs, and they're tremendously popular as a result.

Back in the 1980s, with Japan's economy booming with no end in sight, someone at Mazda had the wild idea to make the sexiest-looking kei car ever. This was the result, and we'd say it's pretty successful. It was never officially sold here, but they're now legal to import. This one will set you back about $25,000.

Image Via Classic Auto Showplace

Malcolm Bricklin is best known for introducing Subaru and Yugo to the American market. For a brief period in the 1970s, he sold a car that bore his name.

This is that car – a 1975 Bricklin SV-1. It wasn't marketed as a sports car, per se – instead, it was touted as a "Safety Vehicle." Its composite bodywork, impact-absorbing bumpers, and robust crash structure (including an integrated roll bar) set it apart in the mid 1970s. Many of those features are taken for granted today.

Image Via Classic Auto Showplace

Maybe it was a bit too far ahead of its time. Fewer than 3,000 were built between 1974 and 1976. This 1975 example in Safety Red (yes, that's the real name of the color) can be yours for just $28,850. Don't worry, it's got the performance to match its wedge-shaped good looks. Open the hood and you'll find a Ford 351 Windsor V8.

A lot of folks draw parallels between the Bricklin SV-1 and the DeLorean DMC-12. We've got one of those on our list, too.

Image Via Beverly Hills Car Club

With '80s nostalgia in full swing, prices for DeLoreans have increased quite a bit over the past few years. This one squeaks in just under our $30,000 cutoff despite the fact that it needs its fair share of cosmetic work.

DeLoreans occupy a weird place in our hobby. They're not nearly as bad as their detractors say, but they're not as good as the fanboys think they are, either. We like them well enough. However, having lived through a time when many said that '80s cars would never be collectible, we remember what it was like to buy ratty DeLoreans like this for peanuts.

Image Via Beverly Hills Car Club

Parts won't be a problem, but the cost will. It would take a decent chunk of change to make this one perfect again. If the DeLorean is the car you love, than it might be the right one for you. Unfortunately, that's not the case for us, so this one goes into the "crush" category.

Image Via Duncan Imports and Classics

The Bricklin SV-1 is a fascinating piece of automotive history, but its rarity would make spares a concern to us. We'd love to drive it, but we wouldn't want to be responsible for its care and feeding on a regular basis.

That leaves the little AZ-1. Like many of the weirder creations to come out of Japan's Bubble Economy, it looks retro and futuristic at the same time. AZ-1s are entertaining to drive, they can be parked just about anywhere, and they're great on gas, too. What's not to love?

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