From building supply to video jukeboxes to Lambretta Scooters to Subaru to the BRICKLIN SV-1 car to Fiat to Yugo... (and the NEW Bricklin 3EV coming...)
00:48 New York Times said that Bricklin is often likened to an automotive version of PT Barnum.
00:56 Morgan Spurlock says Bricklin goes non stop. He's testosterone unleashed a brilliant negotiator and an incredible character.
1:08 Rolling Stone describes you as brash, bombastic and pathologically prone to betting the farm on automotive endeavors.
1:17 Auto week said Bricklin has a mind that works like a machine gun.
01:24 Keith crane, publisher of Automotive News said, Bricklin is like one of those toy clowns that if you punch it, it just comes right back.
6:34 Malcolm discusses the new Bricklin 3EV Car
06:34 The electric bike
27:21 On Malcolm's Father's building supply co
28:36 When Malcolm started his own building supply co
30:07 the problem Malcolm noticed in the building supply business and how he solved it
31:42 Malcolm comes up with "just in time" inventory utilizng IBM punch cards...in the late 50s!
2:29 Malcolm franchises the stores
33:34 Malcolm's first $1 million - at age 20
33:49 how money can be a drawback
34:59 Malcolm on becoming the father of Subaru in USA
35:49 Subaru began with video jukeboxes?
39:37 Or did Subaru start with Lambretta Motor Scooters?
43:15 Malcolm gets a new contract in 1967 in his late 20s....$5,000 per week for a year and a NY office...
44:31 thank goodness for lunch breaks (the scooters start to sell)
49:59 Malcolm gets into the scooter rental business...he needs automatic scooters which takes him to Japan....but is the deal as represented?
53:26 I'll take one of those lille cars right there...
57:14 the loophole
1:01:18 Consumers Reports kills the little car
1:02:16 Malcolm needs the bigger car. Desperately.
1:10:00 THE BRICKLIN CAR
1:06:00 The sharp angle negotiating tactic.
1:09:43 Subaru buys out the USA distributors.
1:24:13 1 month from production and he can't have his gullwing door?
1:27:15 And now the engine supplier backs up?!?
1:29:52 and now the 351 Windsor?
1:32:03 And now the bodies are falling off...
1:37:22 The story of why Bricklin ceased production
1:45:33 the lightweight engine and why real innovation really occurs in the car industry
1:48:35 The MALIBU GRAND PRIX ORIGIN STORY 1:49:23 John DeLorean to join BRICKLIN CAR (?)
1:52:01 Malcolm advises John DeLorean on the new DeLorean
1:54:50 Malcolm on failing
1:56:05 Malcolm on his divorces 1:56:46 The light engine gets front cover of MECHANICS ILLUSTRATED and he gets a meeting with Henry Ford.
2:01:59 THE FIAT STORY
2:05:22 Cadillac Allante kills Fiat in USA
2:06:34 So now the Yugo
2:09:20 Then I met Kissinger at the urinal...
2:12:26 Why Malcolm sold Yugo
MALCOLM BRICKLIN - FULL AUDIO EPISODE - v1
Mon, 4/5 12:14PM • 2:14:16
car, put, build, sell, meet, scooters, problem, buy, day, brooklyn, happen, money, motor scooters, business, mile, great, story, contract, dealers, talk
Jeff Sterns connected
Jeff Sterns 00:03
if they're bigwigs we'll have him on the show and yes,
we'll talk about cars and everything else. Here he
Jeff Sterns 00:13
Jeff Sterns, Malcolm, good
Jeff Sterns 00:21
to meet you. I just can't believe I'm meeting you Really? You were on the Jeff Sterns podcast, Jeff Sterns connected through cars and I'm here with I mean, an idol of mine, Malcolm Bricklin. I just can't i can't believe it. And we met through Jeff, who I assume is a friend of yours now he was a past member of your staff
is, is a good friend.
Jeff Sterns 00:41
I'm gonna embarrass you a little if you don't mind. I want to I want to read some news clips about you. In oh five New York Times said that Brooklyn is often likened to an automotive version of PT Barnum, and then in Oh, nine. documentarian Morgan Spurlock says Bricklin goes non stop. He's testosterone unleashed a brilliant negotiator and an incredible character in 13 Rolling Stone describe you as brash, bombastic and pathologically prone to betting the farm on automotive endeavors. And then in 17 Auto week said Bricklin has a mind that works like a machine gun. And then Keith crane, publisher of automotive news said, Brooklyn is like one of those toy clowns that if you punch it, it just comes right back. It bounces right back.
So actually, they're all true.
Jeff Sterns 01:38
I was gonna say, how does that make you feel?
Well, you know, no, no, nothing really describes anybody. But all of them are traits of mine.
Jeff Sterns 01:48
I mean, I've known who you are, since I was that the Brooklyn automobile was well, mid 70s, right. 47 years ago. That was 1974 came out.
Okay, so I'm 40 years ago. Can you imagine it?
Jeff Sterns 02:04
No. I'm 910 and 11. And we're in Detroit. My, my dad was a dealer in Detroit. Whenever we saw Bricklin, it was the biggest deal in the world. So there had to be a couple in our area. It's still a big deal when I see him. Now, I saw on your LinkedIn page about a new Bricklin. Is that a possibility?
More than a possibility? It's a happening. Can you talk about it can talk about a lot of it. Yeah. There's just some things that are happening as we speak, that are major, major, major things that took a twist, I never would have guessed in 100 million years. Well,
Jeff Sterns 02:37
I mean, like, Am I gonna get scoop I had a New York Times here,
not a matter of that we are in negotiations right now. And the last thing I want to do is what Apple just did with Hyundai, and they just messed up by Hyundai saying, oh, we're talking to Apple, and Apple canceled the deal.
Jeff Sterns 02:55
So we don't want to live
24 hours? Well, it's not to my advantage. Let me put it that I can talk about a whole bunch of stuff about it. I just can't talk about this last little bit is falling into place just beautifully, shows that if you look at things in a in a larger vision instead of the daily, what happens today, and what happens tomorrow as affecting everything if it's different than what you expected. If you just keep on going where you want to go, things come into your universe, that you'll never expect that it's so much better than what you thought
Jeff Sterns 03:28
you've had a lot of things come into your universe.
Absolutely. And I'm a believer, I'm finally becoming a true believer. And that's the way it really works. Oh,
Jeff Sterns 03:36
it's funny that when you talk about I mean, it reminds me of the saying that, you know, you've never lost a game that maybe just the clock is run out on Yeah.
That's true. That's really true. You know,
Jeff Sterns 03:48
a good friend of mine says that and you know, a couple stories that it reminds me of is my uncle who I just lost was a vitamin rep for, I don't know, 40 years with a fella that started the business that he went to high school with. They started it in the garage. My uncle was the main rep and got all the relationships going. I shouldn't I'm sorry, he wasn't with him for two years at age 40. His friends sold the company. When he when he sold the company for hundreds of millions. He gave my uncle's something like a year's pay and said thanks a lot. And my uncle's not bitter by nature. He was actually you know, not your normal Jewish vaudeville relative upstate New York relative right Catskills relative
as girl all right? Yeah.
Jeff Sterns 04:38
And, you know, like the stick around the house was always you know, kept me out of college, high school, you know, all that stuff. This happens. He's now looking for a job. He's around 40 I mean, he didn't make millionaire money made. He made a good living. He traveled a lot and kids through school and paid for his house and etc. and soon after this, he's a passenger in a car and gets it An accident and gets his neck broken. Oh, and he's got the Halo and he can't move and he's in bed. And I can't remember if this was six months or a year but a long time in bed. And while this went on, he decided to call the drugstores in department or not like well, Walmart's, etc, that he had relationships with. And I think my aunt had to hold the phone. And the buyers really only knew him. And by the time he was out of bed, he was just doing vitamin fulfillment through fax machine, making more than when he had a job.
Isn't that nice? Isn't that nice? I mean, not that his neck got broken, but that his neck had broken his item down a better direction than he could have figured out without his neck being broken.
Jeff Sterns 05:44
Right? He said that if he never if the job never went away, he would have never thought of another thing. And the second half of his life or so was much better for his freedom and income and what he did and everything else. So when you said that it really reminded me of him.
Yeah, well, that happens. I mean, if you really think about it, just about everybody has a story. If they've persevered, if they've kept gone. Everybody has a story that like that, sort of like a miracle. It feels like a miracle. Well,
Jeff Sterns 06:16
I'm very excited. I you know, I don't want you to talk about I don't want to put any Jinx on the new Bricklin car.
Don't worry about it. Nobody's gonna be able to jinx it, but me. Okay. So what can
Jeff Sterns 06:27
you tell us about it? I'd love to, you know, my listeners are automotive people, their carpet. Okay.
Let me give you a story. It's about Oh, seven. I have just been screwed by the Chinese. And the people I introduced them to. And I've been barking or preparing to embark on a marathon suit against everybody. For Don't ask me why, because I've never sued anybody in my life. And here I am, really was pitched. I mean, it was so outrageous. But and this was the cherry, of course, the cherry calm, and we had 150 $7 million dealers money, thank God, we had an escrow and gave it all back. But I mean, everybody was going nuts about the opportunity to bring in a first Chinese car, don't really smart. And the smart idea was for Tony and pinner Fender, we're gonna design great cars for us. And they were gonna get abl to do the motors for I mean, these were all things we asked him to do as a prerequisite to what we would then be willing to buy as many cars as they could build. And then we introduce them to people that wanted to be involved with us as investors. And they still want, I mean, but it's not important. What is important out of that story, was I start looking again at electric. Back in the 1990s, I had gotten together with Dr. Mountain curry, and he had just retired as chairman of Hughes Aircraft. And that was owned by General Motors. And one of the last things he did before retiring is he put the team together. And they built the Evie, one for General Motors. So he was actually involved in the first production, electric vehicle. And when they started taking them all back, and crushing them, it really pissed them off. And he, of course, he retired as normally. And he got together with me. And I really liked him. And his name was Malcolm, there's not a whole bunch of people I knew that had named Malcolm. And he has done amazing things. He was under Secretary of Defense. And he was just, he was right out there. Really a nice guy and well, well knowledgeable in the world. He put the the tech center together for us aircraft. In any case, he got together and he said, let's see if we can figure out something that we can do with electric vehicles. This is in the 1990s. Well, we played with batteries, flat batteries from computers, putting them together, and we tried everything. Promise we couldn't get more than 30 or 40 mile range with lead acid batteries. Right? So we we finally came to the conclusion, it ain't ready. So while we're at it, and we spent time together, and we liked each other, what could we do with electric vehicle? What kind of electric vehicle would work? And we decided bicycles, why don't we start the electric bike bike industry? And we did. We went to design works, which was at the time half owned by BMW now it's all owned by BMW. And we had them design a for that time, a very cool looking bike for electric. And we put everything you could imagine in it. I mean, we met federal regulations for bikes, and we put the turn signals, the ones that had the lights in the turn signals before they put them on cars. It was a cool bike that sold for 1295. And I went out and I got dealers to sell the bike and they liked it. Because they got this Evie Halo in the 1990s. That was a big deal. All right, go down to someone's Oh cannon, I can see the Eevee bike man, the people poured in. And when you got on the bike and you push that button, it was terrific. I mean, it was fun. There was two flaws in everything I just said. The dealers loved it and wanted to sell them for 1295. What the hell and bad, but the salespeople didn't want to sell it, because they only got $50. And that meant right up. So they'd have to go to the back of the line to sell a bike. Nobody wanted to sell a bike. So if you wanted a bike, you came into the dealership, they pointed to it, you got on one drove it around, you came back said I want it, they'd send them to the f&i department to go sell it, they did not want to sell it. Well, that's okay. Because when you drove it around yourself, you really liked it. The big flaw, it was a heavy bike because it had lead acid batteries. So who buys an electric bike and the 1990s? a non bike rider? And what do you do when you ride a bike, you ride it on the street with cars. And what happens when you're riding a bike and you don't know what the hell you're doing, you get scared to death as you should be. Because you're out there, you don't know what you're doing. And because some people don't like people in bikes, they will go out of their way to do not nice things to you on a bike. So people with these bikes, learned to use it in their driveway, to show up to their neighbors how great it was. But they didn't do a lot of writing, there weren't a lot of bike bears in the 1990s. So Dr. Curry, and our people decided the only thing he could do is make them cheaper putting up motors, so it didn't have them on the top and sell them to people like Walmart. And I thought that was a great idea. But it was not my it wasn't where my head was at. And I went off to go meet with Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and I invested with them in a micro fuel cell. And I'm telling you this story to let you know, no matter how terrific, something may sound, there's always something you forgot. Right times when you forgot, is the most important thing you should know. Well, I'm working now with a potion laboratory. Now, these are the people the guy I was working with is that he was in charge of the department that went out and got fuel cells and all the new technology to put on rocket chips that left Earth without a man in it. Every rocket ship they left there that did not have a an astronaut in it was Jet Propulsion Laboratory. So when they had a rover around Mars, that was supposed to go for 15 days. And when for 15 years, he was in charge of the technology to keep that thing running. So he got involved in getting me involved in this micro fuel cell. And what it was was that little teensy weensy fuel cell that you could put a drop of methanol in, and the methanol did all the reactions and turned out electricity. And it would be incredibly perfect for a cell phone. You could put on a cell phone, put a drop in there and go for a month. Oh my god, how cool is that. And it worked. I mean, they had a whole bunch of development work. And I started spending 50,000 a month with them to get everything done. And all the patent Everything is ready to go. And I'm of course reading up everything I can about methanol and I get to a article about how methanol is not allowed on public transportation. So if I have this fuel cell that takes only a couple of drops, they will confiscate it if you're going on an airplane or a bus or a train. Oh
Jeff Sterns 13:20
my god. So you can't ship it or anything.
I forget shipping and how to do you got to put their cell phone in your pocket? They take your cell phone? Okay, I don't think that's a winner. I went back and said, gentlemen, we forgot to point out to me that we can't use it in any practical transportation. And I'm not sure where else that was the end of that fuelcell work. Everything was terrific. Except it didn't Well, there's no
Jeff Sterns 13:45
there's always the business plan. And then what really happens?
Absolutely, absolutely. But that kept leading me down the road to where I am actually today. And if I had a choice in life, I've everything I've ever done and being where I am today. I'm really happy about being where I am today. Wow. Because in 2007 2008 I start saying to myself, alright, it wasn't ready before. But it sounds like to me the Eevee world is starting to get exciting. And it's ready to start doing something. Is there anything that I can put in that would be valuable? That is not going to be done by all the car companies in the world. They're going to spend billions and billions are going to build SUVs and pickup drugs and sedans and they're all going to do it and they're all going to be different prices. And they don't need me to build another SUV pickup truck or a van. No matter what it is. I think I can do they don't need me. So what is it I can do now and when I get into something I look at everything and every time I read anything about EBS the thing that is standard amongst all the articles, the goal is save weight, save weights a weight, make the body lighter, make the frame lighter, make the motor that makes the batteries lighter, everything make them lighter because of that You are the less kilowatts you use, the less kilowatts you use, the cheaper the vehicle. So I said,
Jeff Sterns 15:05
and the rain,
oh God, everything, it affects everything, your mentality because the better the brain, the more secure you feel that I on and on and on and on. So I said, Great, how much weight do we save when we take off one wheel? 1500 pounds? No kidding, I can save half the kilowatts. I don't have to put in a car. Why don't I build a Three Wheeler. That's like a real car. Why it's like a Lamborghini yellow and you have the batteries in, oh my god, you'll have more fun driving that car than anything you ever had in your entire life. And after we did lots of focus groups, came up with safety was the biggest concern. And in the Three Wheeler, you don't have to meet a lot of safety rules. It's sort of classified as a motorcycle in some states, an auto cycle in other states, but the safety rules are not as stringent.
Jeff Sterns 15:54
But I got Malcolm I'm sorry, when you say taking off a wheel saves you 15 pounds. Is that because there's a motor to every wheel?
No. That's because the motor and the axle and the way the body and everything else by the time you're done. It's 1500 pounds.
Jeff Sterns 16:06
Oh, so it's not the wheel? I'm sorry.
I'm sorry, the body everything immediately changes. 15. What happens to
Jeff Sterns 16:13
all of the architecture when you Shatta Wale Got it?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, thank you. Thank you for Africa. And I didn't realize I'd been sloppy with that. any case, I have six kids. And I got nine grandkids, and they're all gonna be driving that car. That's why when I built the Brooklyn It was a safety vehicle. That's why whenever I go to ever build anything, if it's not safe, I can't build it. Because I could not deal with having one of my kids hurt in a car that I could have done something about. So no matter what the law says, I got to build the safest car that can be built that in mind. I went to damn pianos and pianos he built his own car in the 1980s. Yes, but as variety that's brought up. He also designs and builds racecars. And they've went up the kind of race you can imagine from the end to Sebring, and everything in between. They know what they're doing, when it comes and those vehicle vehicles, those racecars can hit a wall about 200 miles an hour and the guy walks. That's right. So I said, damn, you're going to build my prototypes, and you're going to do the engineering. And I want 100 miles an hour and you walk. And we'll put in harness belts with airbags in the artists belts. I mean, we'll do whatever it takes to make this a fabulous car. And he's the guy who knows how to do it. And he's also a great human being. So we started down the line, I'm going to give you almost to what it is I said, I can't tell you, I'm gonna give you up to what I can take a Be careful,
Jeff Sterns 17:39
I mean that don't put yourself even near any trepidatious
to walk the line. That's
Jeff Sterns 17:46
your Well, you're known for that. But I'll feel guilty if something happened because six people's nothing bad
will happen, nothing will happen. Anyhow, so now so we then decided, what do we do next? We have a great idea brought in designer that became me what we wanted, because our mission statement was going to be redefining the price of fabulous. And in order to do that the vehicle, the outside had to look fabulous, the interior had to be fabulous to drive out to be fabulous. That was going to be the mission statement. Fabulous. And that was anything we had to do safety had to be fabulous dealer network had to be fabulous. Price had to be fabulous. So we then down that road. And now comes to where are we going to get the components to move the thing? Do we want to buy batteries from one person, then what is it? How do we want to do it? Well, if we do it that way, the time it takes to do it. And the amount of engineers you need to do to engineer it pretty high. The other way to do it is by a whole drive drain from somebody manufacturing vehicles right now are going to be manufacturing vehicles. So I just take it out and stick it in, takes care of my engineering takes care of everything. I'll know beforehand if it's any good, and it will do the thing because it's going to be being used already. So Dan said, Who would want to push it by the way? He said, Okay, fine. He's going to China. And he's going to find as a manufacturer, that makes sense, a manufacturer that not only can we buy the components in a package, and just stick it in, but who also builds pickup trucks and SUVs because they can go to the dealer network that we're setting up also to sell other cars with the same interior. I mean, same components. Great. It goes to the car. I don't mean to pay him. He goes to China, number of times, checks with the number of manufacturers finds the one he really wants, rips their cars apart, finds out if everything makes a deal with him. They send over all the computer thing we start engineering our car The Coronavirus is, and although I had a bad taste in my mouth, about my dealings with the Chinese and my feeling of trust with them, which was not, it's not resolved, and I was still ready to bend But when this fibres happened, and I started to see what they did, which the least amount was they let people get on a plane to fly to United States and the rest around the world, when they stopped it in their own country. I said enough is that I can't do business with them. I don't want to do business with them. What am I going to do? Well, as I told you, one of my guys who happens to be on my board, and is a trusted friend, who is a head of technology at JPL. He called me up and said, right around the same time, don't buy from China, I can get you all the components here in the United States, the prices have come down, everybody's in the game. They'd love to be involved with you. I said, Great. And then I was back to but if I buy the components, I gotta engineer all the components together again, and put it all there. That's a year's worth of work. I don't have the patience anymore for another year, what am I going to do? And the answer, of course, is to find an American manufacturer, that's doing some good stuff out there with the batteries, no controllers, no motors, and so forth, which is just about everybody right now. And that's where I have to leave it. So we will make a deal with somebody, and they will sell us the components, they may even manufacture our car for us. So that change happened when, after I spent time and money and energy. And I decided it was not smart to go forward, had to change my whole thinking to what is about to happen, which is only about 10,000 times better. The end of the story, the story, I'm very excited when we announced what's about to happen. It's everybody's going to get it, one of the things we did is we did a lot of focus groups, what we did, we have pictures of the front, and the side, and the interior of what the car is going to look like, okay, we showed 1000s of people in all walks of life, people who didn't ever want to buy a car, people who could give a damn about electric people who could afford 50 of the cars, people who couldn't afford one of the cars. And we said the following. This is a three wheel old electric vehicle goes zero to 60 and five and a half seconds, going to get 100 miles an hour, you can get into a wall and your walk.
I know go 250 miles between charges, how much you think it should sell for and show them pictures. And the average was $116,000. And by the way, if I only wanted to build 1000 of these cars, he would sell for 150,000. And you'd be happy with it. The other thing by the way we're going to do is every 50,000 miles change the exterior, not the doors, not the interior, but the panels will fit on the panels. I mean on the on the frame that we are building right now. But it will be a different design. And the reason for that it will keep the used car price high. Because you want when it already be sold out. You got to go buy it from the person not from us, because it's already sold anyhow. Yeah. So it'll be almost depending on how many trying we want to get into. I'll be probably producing one different looking car a month. So I have a grand opening every month at my 500 dealers that were setting up.
Jeff Sterns 23:03
potently Malcolm Bricklin. Malcolm, I gotta tell you, only Malcolm Bricklin would say, hey, a new a new introduction every month, or every 50,000 miles. We're gonna update your x 30,000,
Jeff Sterns 23:16
every Okay, every 50,000 cars. Okay, I'm glad we clarified that every 50,000 cars, we're going to change it around. Who would think of this? I mean, I think some people think of this as wasteful frivolous. But you think of over the top, you just can't help it, can you? No, I
can't. But I don't start from that point. I came from I got pushed into, there was no place else for me to go. There was nothing else for me to do. And it was either don't be in the auto industry any longer. Which Why would I do that? I mean, I got almost 60 years. damn thing. Why would I throw that wisdom away? at that? That's why it kills me. When I hear anybody say to retired. Why would you work all your life and then become really wise? And then say, Okay, now I'm finished.
Jeff Sterns 23:58
Right now that you know something.
Now. I never knew any of the other things I was doing. But now I do. How about in the focus groups?
Jeff Sterns 24:07
Did you ask is are we naming the new car the Can we? Is it gonna be a Bricklin three v? Brooklyn three EV Okay, so it will be a Brooklyn. So in your focus groups that you check, is there brand equity in the name Brooklyn?
The people who know it think so in the people who don't know it, don't give a damn. That's not where the exit I'll tell you where, what the what the hook is. After these people guessed what the price would be for my half a million about $75,000 when they guess I didn't care what the price they said. I said to them, what would you say if I told you the price was $25,980 and their eyes glazed over? And they said I want one? Not in it's cool. Send me a picture. It was what do I do to get one right now that I can give you cash to hold it for me? I mean and those who had money so give me five. But the point is it was something they Wanted because it was cool.
Jeff Sterns 25:01
Anyway, there we go. I'm in and that you really think you can come through in the $26,000 range.
Yeah, no I can. We I mean, we're not just arbitrarily putting the price. I save half my kilowatts, right there is just about enough to do the job. Unbelievable. Well, you know, I
Jeff Sterns 25:17
on this show, I had a general I had v General Motors executive that built the General Motors plant in Russia. And he told me, a fella named Warren Brown, a good friend. And he told me a story about the Russian oligarch whose name I can't remember but richest guy in Russia at the time. And the guy wanted to build a car with General Motors wanted to put his money in and wanted it to come in at a certain number for the you know, the people's car. And when Warren was explaining to me about well, first there's the building and then there's the delivering it and then the dealer emergent, and then etc. Sometimes there's a minimum forget about materials cost.
Absolutely. I got to tributaries to make money. I have dealers that have to make money. I have to make money. Yeah, it's all there. Building a car is not the big deal. It was the engine the transmission, which was the big deal. And now it's the batteries. But the batteries are coming down dramatic. I mean, really dramatically. Number one, and knocking off the bolt I think has 60 kilowatts. We're talking 40 kilowatts. That's 1/3. Left. Yes. With better performance and more miles, because I got to have to wait. Oh my God, when
Jeff Sterns 26:24
are we going to know something?
Jeff Sterns 26:31
I'll be following that. I'll be, you know, every so often email or a text or something. Okay, that's okay.
You guys like
Jeff Sterns 26:38
cuz I'm one of the ones where Bricklin has brand equity. So I mean, this is double exciting to me.
Well, the amount of equity there is better than not, but not enough to the cell, the kind of units I want. It's the car that I have to sell. Well, I think what I just said, if the car does what you
Jeff Sterns 26:56
say it'll do, in that, my, my God, I was gonna say under 50. But you know, in that mid 20s range, you're going to be beautiful, and you can get me pictures that we could stick up here.
I absolutely can
Jeff Sterns 27:08
later it's okay. In editing, we'll put them up. Okay.
Okay. So can we back up a little bit? You certainly can. Okay, so,
Jeff Sterns 27:17
your folks at a hardware store?
No, they did not have a hardware. Okay. My dad had a building supply company called Brooklyn buildings apply in Central Florida, and it was the biggest buildings to buy in Central Florida. He was a farrier in Philadelphia. When I was 10 years old. His My father was a courier in Philadelphia. That's why he was 10 years old. He got sick. And the doctor said doctor said you need warm weather. So they came to Florida. And he we were Daytona Beach, enjoying the beach. And he went off to University of Florida and he asked the professor's This was 1949. Hey, I gotta move to Florida. Where do you think is the fastest growing area of Florida? And what do you think is that thing that is the fastest growing and they said Central Florida, Orlando. And they said building. Now he was a failure. He starts a little building supply in Central Florida. And he grew and grew and grew and grew. And now I'm in college. I'm in my second year of college. He decides he's selling. So he sells his business with a one year non compete. I'm in college. I'm there and I don't know what I'm there for. I'm just there because it's a good time. And I happened to meet my first wife there. And I decided I better pay attention now. I gotta go out and I just assume I go to work for him or something. So I said, Well, wait a second. Why am I started building supply. My name is Brooklyn. I'll go hire his best salesman. His name is jack crane has named the company crane is Brooklyn. And I set the curve in logic. So I logically determined I didn't need college anymore. So I quit college, got together with drag started my business. Now, the beat the builders thought I was really my dad or my dad was behind me. And the suppliers thought the same thing. So it wasn't like I wasn't I wasn't taking advantage. It was 100% taking advantage. If I didn't have those advantages, I couldn't have done anything. My salesmen sold everything. The suppliers sold it to me, the builders book because they couldn't have been better. And my dad honored his agreement for one year didn't have to do anything about telling me anything except introduce me to some people if I needed an introduction. So I'm now in the building supply business. What year is it?
Jeff Sterns 29:30
19 1950 1958
Jeff Sterns 29:35
what was going on in Central Florida in 58? I mean, I live on the Clearwater side.
So what we houses is fast building houses as fast as you can build. Okay,
Jeff Sterns 29:46
so it wasn't like Disney stuff. It was
it was way before Disney for Disney. But they were building like crazy. Everywhere they were they were building. That's what was happening to Orlando when we moved there was another 100,000 people in Orlando, Florida, oh my god. So you can imagine how fast it was building to where it's planning that anyhow, it was, there was a problem with that. Everything was going good. I learned stuff I never thought I would learn in a million years. And I would notice a guy would go out and decide he's going to build 100 houses, 90 houses, I got paid on time, when I was 10, I didn't get paid. And you never know when the last 10 was coming. I didn't like that at all. I said, I am never getting in a business where I'm giving somebody credit. Unless I'm a bank. That's just a bad taste in my mouth, to not trust the people you're doing business because it became part of the game. They built their houses in the past, and they didn't pay anybody. They took their money and went to the next project and you sold them, because they were going to build another couple of 100. And it was only the end that was going to get screwed. You just didn't know where the end is. So I determined I'm not going to happen, I don't want I don't like this. At the same time, things were happening like 711, they were open seven to 11, seven days a week. And instead of a big supermarket, they had a little supermarket. So they had a lot of little items. But they had very little backup inventory. And I'm sort of in the building supply business. But I also see the hardware. And I go into a hardware store, they got millions of items, and they got inventory like you can't believe which is a lot of money investment in inventory. So I mean, a normal hardware store could have at that time had like $150,000 with the stuff or more. I said, Wait a second. How about if I build a cool little place, it's open nine to nine, seven days a week I go in handy again. And I make the inside walls with the perforated things I put everything up on there. But I only have enough stuff for two days supply. So if I sell a box of nails in a day, I have two boxes. If I have two locks until a week, I have one lock in on and one and then back it up with an IBM punchcard. ibm had come out now with these punch cards. That was the new thing. And I put in a whole floor of these machines. And all it did was it took the cards and put them in an order that was in my warehouse and cleared it out. That's what they did. But every store had a whole thing of cards. So every time they sold a hammer, they took a card out, my truck came around and picked up those cards for the day and dropped off yesterday stuff. So they needed $10,000 worth of inventory instead of a couple $100,000 worth of inventory. And then I started franchising it and it did really good. I was enjoying it. And we were building stores. And I was franchisees to come out. And there used to be built up a couple in Connecticut and then a couple in LA. And then I met a man that owned Dixie paint varnish company in Georgia. And he wanted to sell me paint with the handyman label, which I loved. And we did. And we sold them out of paint. And he loved it. And he would fly in his airplane, not a jet. They didn't have jets and fly in his airplane and pick me up and we'd go back to Georgia and have shrimp or some stats of any Flemmi back there. And he was really happy. And one day he came to me says, You know, I like to turn your stories into more paint stories. And that's everything else. And I said, Well, this is the formula that work and I'm not changing it. I mean, I buy more if you want me to buy more, and we'll, we'll focus it more, but I'm not turning into a paint store. So instead of having a fun buy out, and I said well, at the time, I was about 20. And I had made a statement to my world, I'm gonna be a millionaire by the time I'm 21. So I said to him, give me a check. That gives me a million dollars after taxes in the stores are yours. And he did. Now he was a millionaire. And now I read, I got to realize how money is the least amount of money. In fact, maybe a drawback, because now I was afraid to do anything, because I'd have to spend my money. And if I spent my money, I wouldn't be a millionaire anymore. Oh my god. And this was right before I was about to start having kids. So I put the money aside, supposed to go into the trust for whatever the kids ever happened in my life. And now that was free, because they couldn't lose my money. And now I had to go out and be resourceful.
Jeff Sterns 34:13
So you wouldn't really want to like playing offensive and creating to getting very defensive and contracting. Right. Really, really bad. And then you release your right then you released yourself from it by putting it all in trust. You said okay, here I go again.
You actually. And that's starting to teach me I wasn't in the game for money. Money was important to stay in the game. But that was the fun of doing it is the fun. It's what keeps me alive. And anybody who's doing what they're enjoying is keeping them alive. And when you're shaking your head because you're doing what you enjoy doing
Jeff Sterns 34:45
it especially at this moment. I hope, money and it's some day but I'm totally enjoying document.
So then Subaru Subaru, oh boy,
Jeff Sterns 34:56
I mean, what a brand and I mean are you The father or grandfather of Subaru in North America, or am I overstating it?
No, no, no, I am the father. There's no question about that. And it happened the following way. Now I've just sold my business, I don't have the slightest thing what to do. And so I decide, I'm moving back to Philadelphia. Now I left when I was 10. Now I'm almost 2122, something in that area. And I'm going to move back to Philadelphia. Alright. So I may have these years mixed up by a couple of years, but in that neighborhood, so I go to Philadelphia, and now get an apartment, I got my three. And now by this time, I have three kids, by the way, three out of my six that I will eventually have. And I'm looking around until it elfia. I sort of have relatives there. And I'm meeting friends that I never know. They introduced me to a man by the name of David Rosen and David Rosen. business was the own coin operated machines in the Philadelphia general area, very big deal in that cigarette machines jukeboxes, and whatever, it takes a coin they had. And he was older, and he had sons younger than me. And he sort of adopted me as his, you know, kid because I would come in every day, we'd have coffee, talk about his stuff, and I'd leave. And I liked him. But there was nothing about the coin operated machine business that turned me on, or that they need me for. But he wanted to get me he was intrigued with something he somehow he didn't know what he wanted me for. But he wanted me and so we would talk and I wouldn't listen. Then one day says, Okay, I got it. What's up, he shows me a picture of a thing called a xinabox. machine. And picture a big egg looking thing with painted red, and the front a dark color. And it has dials and buttons like a jukebox on the front and the television screen. And instead of hearing music, you push the button and you saw the musicians like MTV, except this was way before MTV. And he showed me that, oh my god, this is the greatest thing since sliced bread. So he said, okay, they want to give it to me. We have to fly over to Milan, you're coming with me. This is my first time out of the country. We fly to Milan. And we meet the incentive cooperation initiative, a cooperation built heavy presses, big name and are sent they that you would see in just about every car factory, big presses. And they build Martin Meyer Morris Minor vehicles on license from Great Britain. And they built Lambretta motor scooters. And they were building the xinabox. They just didn't have anybody to buy it. Yeah. So we looked at it. And it was great. I mean, it looked like the future. And it just was great. So we ordered a bunch of machines, and we come back. And now I'm gonna go put them out in these in bars and restaurants and places, except I couldn't, because I needed a product. So now we're gonna have machines coming over, but we don't have any product. So I don't fly over to LA. And I meet with all the studio people to try to convince them give me product. And they looked at me like, Oh, really? So how many you want to buy? Like, I don't know. 1000? I mean, if I have 1000 machines out, that's another machines 1000 machine? No, nobody's going to do anything for you for 1000. I mean, maybe 100,000 they'll talk about it. But before MTV, there wasn't anybody who gave a damn about making a film about them playing a song. I realize, Oh, my God, no problem. I got the thing that I have. I think it would all be without cigarettes. I got nothing to show on there.
You're damn right. They'd like to say that at the bars. I'd like to see him too. But I don't want to be in that business. Although I think back at it, he might have been a good business to be in. But at the time, I decided now that wasn't my style. I did not want to go. I like naked girls. I just didn't want to be in the business of being in that business. Sure. Alright. So I said, David, this is not for me. What I'm going to do is I'll find a place to sell to us. And I'm going to sell them the Food Fair to put over there checkout counters, and I'm going to get the advertisers to put in whatever their commercials are. So as people are waiting in line to checkout, they can see somebody commercial, and maybe to go out and buy another one who gives a damn. I sold them all. That's a good that's. That's it. Yeah. But I didn't want to be in that business either. It just I don't know. I don't know what I wanted. But it wasn't that for sure. It wasn't that. All right. So that it seems like it would be the end of the story. Very shortly after I decided about out I get a call from Italy. It was a Sunday morning. I remember picking up the phone and hearing somebody talk to me in Italian. And then they finally got one somebody could speak English and the crux of the thing was, would I get on a plane tomorrow and come to Milan don't tell anybody where I was going they would have a ticket waiting for me at the airport. Don't tell anybody, which of course I love. This seems like James Bond before James Bond was out there. Yeah, can't wait, boom, got on a plane. I got bent on the steps did not go through customs. Nobody checked my passport. I'm getting really excited. We go fly to headquarters and finish that day. We go into the boardroom. I'm met with all these I'm remember, I'm 2122 2324. I'm not sure in that age, less than 28 is where I am. And they tell me first, thank you for coming. And why am I here? Well, they have a serious problem in United States and needed to talk to somebody they can trust. And after our meeting that we had in the business we did and they saw how I got out of it. They thought they could trust me. I said, Oh, thank you for saying that. What do we want to talk about? They said we want to talk about Lambretta motor scooters. We have 25,000 or better motor scooters in a warehouse in Long Island and the motor scooter vesco Lambretta is over mopeds are in with the big wheel. And we're not selling any. It's not how much money that all amounts to. It's we are amazingly embarrassed. We're getting such abuse by people who are investors in our company about those 25,000 if I had to give them away, except that would look bad, too. We need to sell them. And I said and you're asking me, of all the things in the whole world that my mother wouldn't let me have. It's have a motorbike, a motor scooter, a motorcycle, no matter what I tried to come never I could never have that. So my knowledge about that is exactly zero. And you want me to help you there guy. They said, well, that's exactly the reason. Because you're honest. I said being honest, is a nice thing to have. But not being knowledgeable is not the smartest thing for you to get involved with. I'm telling you, I don't know how to help you. They said, well, just do us a favor. When you fly back tomorrow. Would you please just go on Long Island, look at the situation and let us know what you think. I said, Okay, no problem. I'd be happy to do that. What do you want? I said, No. Why do you think we're doing that? I said, I'd be happy to do it. No problem. I fly in. I go take a car, I go out to Long Island. I meet two nice Italian guys that speak broken English. And they take us Yes, then they take a two or three hour lunch. And if you want something, you send them a check and tell them please send it 100% opposite of how you should do business and 3 million times opposite of how you do business when there ain't no business. Right? I get on a plane I fly back in. Like I said, My recommendation is to fire those two guys. They're nice guys, but they're not going to do any good for you there. I said, Okay. And I said, I got no way. You got 25,000 units, and I have the slightest idea what the hell to do in a bad market? In a product I have no understanding of, okay. Make us a deal. Do you want me to make your deal? I am telling you, I don't know anything about the product, or the segment. We have confidence in you make us do something, I'll make them a deal. They'll Shut your mouth. It'll be over politely without anybody losing face. I said okay. Now remember, this is 1967. Oh, I was almost 28. And then I said, Okay, give me $5,000 a week, one year contract, and an office in New York. Now I'm living in Philadelphia. And I just said that. And they said, Okay.
Give me a check for 5000. They gave me a piece of paper giving him one year contract. There was nothing in it that said I had to do a damn thing. Because I told them I didn't know what I was going to do. And they told me an office that they had in New York bill turned over to me. And that was with the secondary. Cool. So I flew home, went out and bought myself. A us Rolls Royce. Hired myself a driver. And every morning, bright and early I'd come downstairs with my pillow in my pajamas. get to sleep in the back of the rolls. drive up the turnpike at the end of the turnpike pull into the gas station, put on my suit, he would drive me to the time in life building I would get out I would go up my office read the Wall Street Journal read the New York Times listen to the radio had no idea what the hell to do. I didn't even know what to start. So now it came lunchtime. Where do I want to go have lunch? Well, 21 is a little stuffy for me because I wasn't always wearing my tie and jacket. But right next door was a place called toots shores to chores was a place where business people hung out like 21. But they also had in the middle of a round table. And on the in that round on that round table. Anybody who sat there sat there for the purpose of talking to the other people at the round table. So lots of people like the chairman of General Motors sat there to talk to the people. I mean, a lot of really big executives and politicians would use that as a sounding board to people that they never would get to talk to and who wouldn't give them an honest normally an honest answer. I sat next to a guy who had an office across the street from me, which was also across the street from JC Penney's. And his job is he was a rep for a furniture store, factory. And his only customers, JC Penney's, shows him, and this beautiful receptionist, and his customer across the street, and he like I would go to lunch, I told shores, he had one other attribute. He was a police groupie. He had their badge. And he talked about the police. And he did things with them. And they knew him. I mean, he really loved the police. And he, he loved being as close as he could be to being a policeman without being a policeman. And I would listen to his stories and interesting, and I told him what I was doing. And after I was with him for about a week, he says to me, give me three scooters. I said, Okay, what do you want me to do with them? He said, I want you to send them to the police force. You're going to use them for the, for the meter maids. Hmm. And I'm thinking, What a dumb idea that is. But I didn't say it. And I gave him three. And he came back. I mean, every day with them, what's happened to it? He said, they seem to be really happy with it. And a week later, they came back and said, okay, guess what? They now believe, based on their information, that one motor scooter, is the equivalent of five meter maids. I said, Wow. I said, That's really nice. So what do they want? They want to buy? 1000? Really? Yep. Okay, we sold 1000 gave him back. He called them, Italy told him 7000 tell him what the commission gotta be 5% for doing that, okay. We sell 1000. Everything's going along, I'm meeting Oh, there's an adjective to this. So now, here's my my, I come in, in the morning, I go up to my office, read whatever papers I can. Then I go across the street at five after 12. Because he's going to touch shores. And I have a date with the receptionist. And about 1230 I end up at your choice sitting next to him. Okay, and that was my routine. And that was inspiration because it got me to be willing to go into car all the way to New York every day, and come back every day. So this is going along probably another two or three weeks. And he says to me, I need another three scooters. Absolutely. What do you want, he said, they're going to police force, they're gonna use them for Central Park. At that time, 67 Central Park was not a safe place to be. You didn't go near Central Park, forget nighttime, sometimes even in the daytime. And they decided they were going to try and see if it could run after people. Now the truth of the matter, it's not a bad idea. The Bad idea is having a small wheel going over drain you ought to have a big wheel, like a moped as an example. But nobody was talking to him on me this guy. So they took the three on both things where they thought is really good. And they buy another 1000. And lo and behold, soon you see a headline, Central Park gets out gets open because of the scooter patrol. So the scooters, we're getting credit for cleaning up the park, because you can run after him and who knows why but it works.
Another couple of weeks go by and I'm feeling pretty cocky. We sell 2000 of these damn things, which is 2000 more than I could imagine we'd ever figure out itself. And he says I need 15,000 Absolutely. What do you want for? He said we're running ads in the police Gazette. And I got the New York Police Department, a guy who's willing to give a name and his phone number for you to call. So he then the call for him to give you a report on what they've done with the medium age and with Central Park. Boom. I'm at a scooters. Fabulous. Yeah, the amount of scooters. I got about nine months ago.
Now I'm right now I'm going crazy. Because enough with the lunch and enough we've gone across the street, nine months more to go. What can I do? So I start looking at what's going on in the world of scooters and motorcycles. And I see in every little place. There's a little thing running scooters. And they're running for $15 an hour. This is time when a scooter cost a couple $100 What the hell is going on here? Why would you pay 15? Well, of course it was different. It was fun in our zone enough. But there was a problem there. What was the problem? Well, when you can own a scooter, you have to shift it. So you're getting on something that's motorized that you have to balance and you have to ship and you're into traffic. People get in an accident, perfect accident, I would have gotten an accident if I tried to play that game myself. So the end of the story is when they get in an accident, they have to close their business because they don't get insurance for motor scooters, rental motor scooters. So it's a great business and you can make your money back on the scooter in a month. But your longevity is not there. So I went boom. If I can get insurance. And if I can now find a scooter because they are not building me any more scooters this alley here, I have a business. So I went to State Farm and I got them to agree to a buck an hour. And they we had insurance. I had the insurance part. Now I needed a scooter. And I'm reading the Wall Street Journal one day and I read an ad and it says, I got 400 and scooters, rabbit scooters on rental looking for a partner. So call him up. Yeah, he has 450 scooters, he has a contract for United States. His problem is he bought the distribution rights or the warehouse full of parts and a bunch of scooters. And the floor and 50 worked great in the summertime, but they don't rent real well in Boston in the wintertime. So he has a $75,000 bank loan, an SBA loan, backed by the bank, of course, and it's overdue, and he's got a problem. He's got all the cash tied up. So I fly to Boston, I meet with New England merchant back at him. And I say 450 scooters, do whatever you want with them, they're yours. I'll get rid of all the inventory, I'll take, I'll guarantee the loan. But I want the contract assigned to me, you're on the four and 50 scooters, they're yours, do whatever you want with them. But I want that contract signed assigned to me. And I liked it because it was an automatic transmission. So I got insurance and an automatic transmission. I own the world, I got the perfect product for this particular plane. And now I put together a package where I sell it in the gas stations, I sell you a dozen scooters to the gas station. And I can finance them because you mainly Own your, your your gas station. So I take a mortgage out of it or you take a mortgage out on your thing and buy this package which you don't you don't figure your guyses expense you don't figure IT services expense you don't consider the spaces expensive the insurance you only pay for when you rent it. So for a gas station point of view, it was a really good deal made bunch of money in a business there already. Don't buy sell all my inventory. So now that you want to order more. Oh, in the meantime, before I had done all this and signed everything. The bank assured me they had the contract signed by Fuji Heavy Industries. Okay, great. And I'm at that point, I'm cocky and sloppy. Not going give me the contract. They told me to add it. Give it at the bank. They're the ones who let me guaranteed loans out there. But Wednesday, anyhow, we sell off everything we pay off the loan. Now I'm out of inventory. I want over a couple 1000 scooters. So I can't give any information to Fuji I go out and get a telex and we tell them things are really going good. I want to have another couple 1000 but I'd like to come talk to you. Because I'd like to buy whatever your quantity is. Whatever you could build I want I get a very nice telex back the next morning. Who am I? And don't I know they're dismantling the factory because they sold it to Israel. I call up the bank and my partner. Excuse me, I have a small problem. I went to order scooters. They don't know who I am. And they tell me that this may Yeah, yeah. They knew that. I said, What do you mean, I knew that. I have a contract. Now you don't actually we forged it. I said you What are you out of your mind? They admitted Oh, wait a second. They saw it. Yeah. Well, I had admitted. I mean, what he was playing? I just found out they didn't. They said to me, You didn't lose anything. The loans paid off. You didn't immediately I said No, you're right. I didn't lose anything. I said, and I'm not going to do anything. Because I got the introduction. So I'm going to go to Japan and you better hope it all turns out. Okay. Oh, we have great confidence in you. I get a visa, I fly off to Japan. Pin 1967 is great. Everybody's great. The n is 360. They are a little bit frightened of the United States and the United States market scares the crap out of them. I didn't I come 27 Peter max times double breasted suits, sideburns down to here. Like I am from Mars. And there everybody there that I'm talking to is 50 or older. And I'm 27. So a totally different kind of animal and they know I got screwed. They don't think they're responsible. But they're not sure if they're responsible or not. What they know is they don't want any trouble from me. So they're going to be nice to me. Nice. Annika and doing something or two different things. That's gonna be nice. Now I have gone booked for two weeks. And they took me to all their factories, their car factories, and their airplane factories in there. And they take me to the motor scooter factory which was being dismantled. And I told him, here's the brochure. Here's the market I'm after. Here's what I did was insurance. I can sell this 200 and some 1000 gas stations in there. I can sell at least 100,000 of these gas stations. How much can you build that but babba babba babba your perfect scooter for this. Whatever it cost, I'll pay Israel for it. I want you to build those scooters. And I'm thinking I'm getting the agree. I learned later on that means they understand not that they agree and leave thinking aha I got myself a deal. And we can have later I get a very so sorry. But it's too late. We can't back down. It's already done. We're already sorry, ah, I can't believe it. I can't believe I wasted all this time for exactly nothing. So I'm gonna try one more thing and I go fly back to Japan. And they're seeing me because they're being polite. The last thing they want to do is me suing them in the United States. They don't even want to think about that. And I wouldn't have thought about it either. But they don't know that. So I say, Hey, listen, I'm really sorry that we can't do it with the scooter. But you know, I saw your little 360. And I said, you told me at the time, it was 640 bucks fo u fob calm. And I checked in it's $100 transportation, and $14 for duty. So I want to contract for that.
Jeff Sterns 55:46
Now, what's the 360? Malcolm, I'm
sorry. The 360 was their little car that had a four cylinder engine. Unfortunately, there's no oil and gas together to stroke to stroke and it's got 66 miles to the gallon. And it was adorable. I mean, I could sit in the car with a hat on, it was a little bit like a little egg. I could sit in with a hat on and there was enough room the way they packaged it and have leather seats and white wall tires and radio for 640 bucks 747 75 in his mind, in the United States, random Wow. I don't know a damn thing about the car business. But I know I can do something at that price. Whether I rent it out into the dollar a day, there's something I could do with that point. I want to goddamn contract. I can do something here, random out. I mean, this is something great. Now remember, they're being polite. So they say to me, Mr. Bricklin, we'd love to sell them to you. Problem is a couple problems. One, we don't believe they'll buy little cars like this in the United States. So we don't think there's a market. And the second law is the next year 1968, or 1969, we're somewhere in there. The federal regulations were starting to take effect for safety. So if you give us a million and a half dollars, so we can do all the things we have to do to the car to make it illegal for you to sell it in the United States. You can have the car. Now I knew that was sort of a polite way to go fuck yourself, right? But I said, Thank you very much. I got on a plane. And I flew to Washington, DC, and I go into this office. And I said, Give me the book on the federal regulations for safety. They gave me a book about two inches thick. First, I look at the this is not for me. But I opened it up, I read the first couple pages I read. I got I can't, I can't, I can't understand the damn thing here. I can't deal with it on this basis. I go back to the first page which said, these rules, these safety rules apply to all cars over 1000 pounds of curb weight. Problem with curb weight. curb weight is sitting at the curb with all its fluids. All the gas filled in the air conditioning of it as it fluid filled in. whenever you'd have fluid filled in, that's curb weight. My brochure says 960 pounds curb weight. What can you do to change the law if I stopped bringing these cars in the United States? They said the way it works. You bring something in, you get it we get enough complaints that triggers hearings, we have to have hearings on it so people can make their desires known. And then we pass the law and then it takes two years to go into effect. I said simple. If I walk out this store and decide to bring in a car as soon as you can stop me as two years from now. They said no, no. Well, we told you it could be five, it could be 10. It could be never. It's a long time. Not two years from now. But I said but for sure I got through years. Absolutely. What am I going to do? Take the brochure down to the IRS. They will give you an exemption. So I did. I called Japan I said I'm coming over. I need a meeting with the board of directors. It will be my last trip to Japan. If we can agree at this meeting.
Jeff Sterns 59:00
Malcolm Nate said take the brochure to the IRS or to like the D o t?
Yeah, the IRS IRS office I go to an IRS. And they gave me a piece of paper and they stamped it and said I can bring in this cup of coffee with the brochure attached without meeting the regulations. Okay, now I got that it's in my pocket. The first thing I do is go out and hire for the week. A friend a friend, somebody an acquaintance of mine, that was 55 years old. And I was hiring him so it looked like I had some people that we're at age two. And I told him Your job is to come smile and say hello. Don't say anything else. Don't do anything else where you're just working with me. We find in Japan, we go in. It was a snowy day in Tokyo which is very rare. With this, their offices were right across from the Shinjuku station with trillions of people go every day and all these people running around in the snow which Tokyo is not was not prepared for. So I remember that feeling of frustration with that snow coming down. And people running around and we're in the boardroom. And I say to him, thank you very much for their patience. I knew they were being tolerant. I wanted to tell them for sure, no matter what happens with us, I will never sue you. You do not have to worry about that don't have to react in any decision you're about to make, based on a fear of me doing anything that would jeopardize your name, reputation or money. Oh, thank you. Thank you. Okay. So I said, let's be real clear. I'm going to pull out all the stuffs. I happen to be politically connected in the United States. And I know you think I'm full of crap. So here's the deal. If I can get the United States government to give me an exemption to bring in your cars, you tell me that I have a contract for that car? And they said, Absolutely. And I pulled out that piece of paper, and Subaru of America was formed. That's unbelievable.
From the motor scooters that I couldn't sell was the was the make called Subaru in Japan. How
Jeff Sterns 1:01:03
did you come up with that name?
Subaru is the name I came up with. They called it to borrow it called the Subaru here, because I'm advertising agency, one to Subaru. But Subaru is how you pronounce it there. And the five stars are the same. Now we only got the little car, then everything is going fabulous. Suddenly, as best as I can bring them in. I'm getting letters of credit. I knew that as a credit before. They're getting bad ships and all stuff I had no idea about. And then one day consumer report comes out on the front cover Cadillac and his little 360 with a shitty article that says unsafe because it didn't have to meet any regulations. Somebody calls me up and tells me about it. I said, What's consumer report? So they tell me? I said, Well, what's the circulation? They said, half a million. So I said, What do I care? I have a million people won't buy the car who gets them? They said no, that's not the problem. The problem is all the banks read it. And the banks are cutting off the floor planning for the dealers for the car. Now. I got cars stuck on ships, I got cars being built, I got pieces being built that are going to the factory is going to be built. Holy moly, what am I going to do? The dealers are canceling their future orders because the banks are cutting off the floorplan Isn't that cool? That's one of those cases, Oh, my goodness. Now I'm forced to go back and get the bigger car, the front wheel drive car that they did not want to show me, I only had the middle one. So I send them now I'm desperate. I mean, I got to have some more it's over. So I write them on my secretary says, I'm coming over tomorrow. And I'm sending you a contract. And I do not want you to change one word in that contract. And I'll be over for you to sign it. Now, I had met an investment banker that would told me to give me a couple million dollars, if I could get a contract for the big require. And he put it in writing that he would give it to me and I said, Take, here's a contract, what do you want in it? They put 25 years and this and that. And so that's what I sent over there. I call them don't change a word. And that a good way to negotiate By the way, Bill j to wear them coming over sign it. I am getting on the plane in New York to go fly to Tokyo. And I get a TEDx. My Secretary calls me up before you get on the plane, you might want to hear this. What is it? If attention has come to sign the kind of contract as in don't come? We're not signing back. I'm coming you're signing. See you soon got on the plane.
Jeff Sterns 1:03:30
So at the end, you got to you know, you've done a lot of things in your life. But we got to put the Malcolm Bricklin sales course, out there to
this was the most unbelievable to me this day of how this actually turned out that they gave me the contract that I wanted. Now I'm back there. There's telling me they're not signing it. They're not giving me the bigger car. They had planned on doing it themselves. Now give me a little card to make me happy. They didn't think I could sell them anyhow. They then did this. And now I'm going to embarrass them with I said, it's going to be worse than embarrassing. You're going to lose all the dealers you're going to have it's going to be like Hiroshima. Fortunately, not nice. So I meet with him, I give all my wonderful arguments. It tells me No. I meet with various people. They tell me no, no, a week goes by and I'm getting 100% knows they're not opening the door for any reason whatsoever to give me what I want. And by the way, I want a perpetual contract on top of it all. Nobody has ever gotten to a petrol contract in their universe. And I wanted that on top of everything else I was asking for. And I wasn't willing to negotiate. They were saying no, no matter what, even the matter Ebro changed it, they weren't going to give it to me. So finally I say to them, all right. out of courtesy. I want dinner with you, Mr. Kikuchi, the export manager, and Ohara, who was the chairman of the board, and it was sort of like me and I went to dinner and I One last shot. And that's it. Whichever way it goes, you're, I'm out of your hair or I'm in your hair, but in a good way. Okay. So now, Harvey I am, I was I made a my executive vice president, but he is one of the great car guys in the world turned out to be he wasn't when I met him. But he took Subaru to heights, it was really him who did it, great guy. And I had given him 25% of the company. So he made a fortune. So we're sitting at the table, and I have a higher across there, and I have an interpreter and the sales manager. Next, then harbor them on the side. And we're on the 16th floor, the tallest building in Tokyo with the time and the band is playing. And everybody at the table, including me are smoking cigarettes, and I got a headache that is killing me. And I am desperate. It's either tonight or it's over. And I give them my you got to do this. And here's what's going to happen if you're done. Hey, guys looks at me, and he interprets it. And he says, Ah, you understand now. Sorry. I turned to Harvey. And I said, I have no idea why I'm about to do what I'm about to do. But be prepared because I expect to see you under the table when I get started. Now first, I have to tell you, if anybody involved with me is impolite or discourteous to anybody involved in secondary or customer or somebody who hates us. It's not okay. Being embarrassing to anybody or impolite or saying bad. It's just not okay. And I, I can't imagine myself doing it. With that I turned to him, look across the table clean across and called him every bad word I can imagine ending with jack at the end of it. I mean, and talked about if you think Hiroshima was bad when you see what's gonna happen the United States if we don't go forward with the new card safe to do? Oh, I didn't know. I mean, Harvey was petrified that sales manager and ready to die, the export manager ready to die. And that guy is looking really straight. And he's and I am coming off with this kind of energy. I mean, it's like I got an atomic bomb I'm blasting in his face about and crude, horrible words are coming out of my mouth. And I stop and there's quiet. And he says, Ah, so now I understand. turns the Cuckoo's has given the contract. That's it. To this day. I have no idea what I said that triggered that. And I became his favorite son. And everybody in Fuji thought that I was incredibly powerful to change his mind. And for him now to be my friend. And I got a 99 year contract. No. And I had a petrol contract. They tried to offer me money per car, in the bank in Japan not to ask for that. They asked for 25 years. For some reason. I just wanted what I wanted. I said, No, I can't take money from you. Because we're a public company. And we'll all go to jail. If I take money from you, and I don't report it. So that thank you very much. But we can't do that may say, Well, well, how about 50 years ago, Mr. Ellison, you said we're partners partners, to me means your kids and my kids will be working together and our grandkids will be working together. I want the Petro finally they said okay, we'll give you perpetual but you can't tell anybody. We're public company. We have an annual report that comes out every year, it will be first paragraph and that annual report every year for the rest of our lives. They eventually said okay, I don't know why. To this day. While I'm telling you this story. I can't imagine that coming out of my mouth to anybody. And I can't imagine them coming to that conclusion. With that crap coming out of my mouth.
Jeff Sterns 1:08:40
Malcolm. It would pry it's probably it had something to do with like, I'm trying to, you know, cuz I've been in sales. I ran dealerships for 27 years and selling to dealers for eight years. So I'm kind of into that. And in a little bit of NLP a little neural linguistic programming, but sometimes it's when you are what you're saying.
Ah, yeah, you happen to be the only answer that makes any sense. He felt the energy he felt. That's it. Unbelievable. I mean, I
Jeff Sterns 1:09:10
put it this desperation for me. What I was doing was out of character, but the energy that came out what had to be like Obama in his head, and he was a smart man. And it worked out fabulous for it. What you what you were saying the horrible words that you're not proud of was, who you are and what you were at that moment. And if the words were bouncing them off often before that energy wasn't later so well done now. You're out with Subaru, though. No.
Oh, yeah. of Subaru. Everybody's out. When I say everybody's out. 20 years later, they came in bought all the stockholders back. We were the only Japanese car company that was not owned as an importer by the factory. So they wanted to eventually buy back and they bought all the stockholders back. Well, I mean, oh,
Jeff Sterns 1:10:00
So other Japanese imports didn't have distributors, or am I misunderstanding? No,
no, no, no, no, there was no other importers. All the importers were the companies themselves. So any car company that comes in the United States becomes their importer. They at that time would set up dealers like Volkswagen had distributors, Toyota had distributors, but everybody eventually buys them back. Right goes they figure out what do I need these guys for? They did everything. And they paid big money. They got it back, by the way, Moran that owns the Florida se toy, right? turned down multi billions of dollars not to sell two of my Subaru dealers, distributors would not sell the New England New Jersey distributor and the New England distributor, New England distributor Ernie Bob Jr, the son of the guy who started claims he's making a quarter of a billion dollars a year from selling to Bruce to his dealers. And the guy Bobby Butler in New York, New Jersey claims that he's making somewhere between five and 10 million a month.
Jeff Sterns 1:11:04
Not bad, not bad work if you can get it.
Yeah, God bless him. God bless him. God bless him is right.
Jeff Sterns 1:11:10
So how did you end up a phenomenal story? Like I didn't even know this or I'm so excited to hear this. This is amazing. I'm so happy to meet you. Malcolm Honest to God.
I mean, you know, my pleasure, Jeff, it's my pleasure.
Jeff Sterns 1:11:25
I really, you know, because I've known your name. Since I'm 10 years old ish. I wish my dad was still around
56 or 5755 55. Because I have three sons that are older than you 6058 and 56. So your fourth son, I got a 44 and a 34. And a 29. Also. Got it.
Jeff Sterns 1:11:47
Well, if you and I have a little bit because I have an 18 and 21 year old and a five month old.
Oh, ready to go. Right.
Jeff Sterns 1:11:55
So I'm in the Malcolm club.
What can I tell you are you are
Jeff Sterns 1:11:58
so how does it go from that to Okay, so I always wondered, when you're importing you go and importing Fiat I'm like, I wonder how he got into like, I know that for example, people in the clothing business right schmatta they they're going over seas and or to Italy or to Asia or whatever or France and they're doing they're buying and I'm like how did this guy like find this car that car but now I understand that from the scooters to the Subaru, you know, a 360 in the Subaru. Now I understand how you got your taste for that. So how does it go to your own car Bricklin and what was behind that?
Okay, so now, one of the traumatic things in my life was consumer report, sending out a piece of crap because it was unsafe. Yep. Because it was unregulated. They assumed it was unsafe because it was unregulated. Now it was unsafe, because it was small. No matter how much regulations I would have put on that car, if two trucks went smashed, and in between, you'd be smashed in between. But the truth of the matter is it was a monocoque body. So it was like if you hit it, because it was like it would go like a ping pong ball. And that would take all the energy from the person inside, because instead of standing there and getting the energy it would go.
Jeff Sterns 1:13:11
So other than the thing you mentioned, other than getting sandwiched, right, it's gonna bounce and absorb paper
safer than a normal car would be. And it wasn't unsafe, because we didn't need the safety rules. It was just more End of story. But it doesn't mean you have a hobby. Do you have a copy of that
Jeff Sterns 1:13:29
I went out of my way to make sure I did.
Jeff Sterns 1:13:33
Don't mean to pull it up. And it was it would be no, no, it wasn't it was drama, then it would have been about 69 or 70. Just put content about the consumer report that had a picture of the Cadillac face to face with that Subaru 360. Or the article, the article a bad article about Subaru. Back in the early 60s. Okay. All right. So But anyhow, that was in my head and never left. It really annoyed me because I did nothing I could do to answer it. Because they were going down to premise I couldn't argue with it was didn't have to meet the regulations. You know, we
Jeff Sterns 1:14:08
talked about you know, earlier in the conversation, I think it was about the Brooklyn car when you said Oh, that was 47 years ago or something. Right? I did one of these with a good customer. My nice to run a rolls and Bentley dealership. So a lot of my guests, or upcoming guests are these clients that were interesting. And this is Charlie Woods B who was the founder of red lobster. Oh, and when we talk, he's 90, God bless him. And he says, Yeah, you know, I mean, he sold the General Mills 47 or 49 years ago. So his first real real retirement if you wanted to throw in the towel, and he reminds me of you a lot. I mean, he's done so many things. He actually just wrote a book, and he's building a house at 90 but imagine saying, Well, you did it at 21 imagine having retirement money so long ago and well, it's you said earlier, you're not motivated by the money you know, it's not the money And when you're when you had these machines that the MTV before the MTV at the checkout stands that you sold so easily. And it probably was decent money, or at least a proven business model. And it you said, it didn't turn me on. It wasn't my thing. So you really are about the passion, no doubt about
Jeff Sterns 1:15:58
So I think we started talking about the Brooklyn car before we break
Jeff Sterns 1:18:47
talked to Winnie his wife about two weeks ago.
He's not doing well. Now that I'm sorry to hear. But there's a there's a really special human being. So if you happen to talk to her, please give her my love for him. All right. So now I get together with Bruce. And of course I love them because I had bought in the Myers mags, my kids and I used to drive around in Philadelphia, all over the neighborhood and pick up the other kids and go drive in the dune buggy. So I tell him what I want to do. And I need a prototype. So we play with it, we design it and he builds me a prototype. Now not the normal way you build if not the real way. I don't know for many things. I just see your car that's pretty close to what I like. Doors don't open you except by hand, you know, thing Oldham and we got an engine from I don't remember where to hell, we got an engine, but it looks pretty close. And it's called the grey ghosts. So I have this car, I send it back to Philadelphia. And I have pictures of the car gone with my rolls behind it and I had a spotter and I had that there. And then I opened the doors next to the car because goldwing opens like this so you can get out this when you have this much room and I used it to go take it to the banks. So I can borrow money on my Subaru stock so I can start to fund this thing. But I now I got to get to the next Step of getting it ready for manufacturing. And I get introduced to people who know what they're doing in the real car business. After they look over my prototype, they tell me, there will be not one nut or bolt in the real car that you got in this car over here. There's nothing over here that we're going to ever be able to copy. So that was my first shock. Instead of two cents, gonna cost me a couple million dollars to get my prototypes, we had to build a clay model to 110 1,000th of an inch then we have to pull a plaster which ruins the clay then we have to have a read of wood model made and it has to take care of the shrinkage that's going to take in when you make the acrylic well I don't know about acrylic yet. I'm still looking for the body. So we're getting now what kind of body they want. They want me to do steel, I don't want to do steel. Then to go fiberglass. I don't want to do fiberglass it runs I had a couple Corvettes. So I'm looking around and I get the Roman Haas who builds acrylic sheets and use these acrylic sheets which are solid color in bathtub baths, in bathrooms. But on the wall, boom, you got a new wall. Okay. Tell me about it. Well, if you're getting scratchy, just buff it out. If you're running for copper reinforced with fiberglass, you can't make a dent. If you hit it hard enough to make a dent, you make a hole and you can put the hole right back in the glue on buffet. You got your body back. No kidding. By the way, at 35 mile an hour crashes, it goes into the wall, the fenders crack and go off. I can put the fenders back, cool a minute back. Alright, so now I got your acrylic reinforced with fiberglass. Isn't that great? Now they got to make molds and they got to figure in what they what? Just a million different things. I had no idea. And we're doing it. And we're I'm now learning about the car business painfully another million another million. But I'm talking little millions I'm not talking billions like they talk now. And then I got to get a motor from somebody an engine safety regulations you can't build engines anymore and that not then cuz you had to meet all the safety thing you just have a question the amount of money you needed to build it to create an engine and the transmission and meet all the regulations was too much serious money. So I had to buy it from somebody. So we got an American Motors 364 barrel, nice engine, and we got a contract from them. 1000 a month, we put it in, we had a meet a 50,000 mile test, which is a royal pain in the ass. We met the 50,000 mile test. Now. We don't have bumpers, the 25 miles is out. I'm finally convinced that's way too much stuff. I have to have a bumper about this big to go in that much and then come out that much. Oh my god, it will look how could you be stupid, I mean to just nothing good. So I find Okay, great. Like we still don't have what we're going to do to have this happen. We're going to build the body around the bumper. So we can go in and out without hurting the body. I'm flying into la one day. And as we land, it hits me. What did we just do? We just had that a plane, the wheels went in and out. That's what I went, I get off the plane, get in the taxi, go to the company that makes the wheel mechanism to keep the wheels going back and forth when you land. And I tell them what I want to do. Yeah, so I say here's what I want to do. Here's what the car is going away. I want 10 mile an hour bumpers, can you get them for me. Instead, of course, they ended up making me two little units. For the front end to learn the units for the back, each one cost me $1.50
I have 10 mile an hour bumpers. Now, that would not make General Motors or Ford or Chrysler happy. Because the further allows $1.50 they just lost a couple of $1,000 worth. Now the bumper was sturdier than the normal bumper and it costs more money. So I mean, I'm exaggerating on how low it cost, but it didn't cost very much. Now I have a body to bone dent, I have an exterior that will look the same. I told him 40 years from now it's 47 years they look exactly the same. All you have to do is buffum. And if you want you can pay them it doesn't matter. Now, we have to build a dozen of them to send them around the country to find out what happens in in the mountains and what happens in the hot and what happens in the cold. Let's find out what the hell happens with with our wonderful vehicles. Oh, the first thing is I nobody will give me the door I want I gotta go wing. I insist on egress that goes up and down. By the way no going door ever made has a window that goes up and down. Because the physics of it when it's out when it's down and when it's up is so dramatically different than what you need is whenever and my guys refused to find a solution, they wanted to talk me out of the grass and they wanted to talk me out of it. Push Button wanted to go by hand. And I refuse. I remember now we're a month and a half from production. Now Excuse me. Yeah, a month and a half from production. I'll tell you about the engine in a minute. month I have from production. I don't have the doors. I want the reason I built the car. I can't have the doors
at that time. There wasn't computers designing the car at 202 100 engineers sitting on a boat, drawing the engineering for a year. And I'm walking out to the car to go to the airport. And I'm really frustrated and a kid comes running after me networks, enzyme, Chip, Mr. Brooklyn. He said, I can get you what you want. I shouldn't really what is it? He said, You take the hydraulic cylinder from the convertible that takes the convertible up and down, you put it on the B pillar, and you push a button, it'll open the depression button, no clothes. No kidding. Why don't you tell them? He said, Oh, I told him. He said they're not interested in doing it. And in fact, if you do it, when you leave, I'm getting fired. Oh, really come here with me, kid. Walk in, like all everybody. And I said, This gentleman just told me a very interesting solution. And I have to tell you, I'm excited. I know it'll work. So I'll tell you what I'm gonna do. I'm going to leave. I'll be back next week. If it's on the car and working, we're in production. If it's not on the car, I'm working, I'm closing the place. We're not building the car. And if anybody messes with the kid, they're getting fired came back a week later, you push the button in the work, right? And I'll tell you the story with that. But now I got the doors that work. And I have, because it's hydraulic enough for the exams to be either way, I got no more problem. Everything is out. Things are ready to go. Now back off another four or five months before that. And I get a call from my guys. They say Mr. Bricklin, we have a problem was that American Motors said they were not going to sell those engines. They say What do you mean, they're not going to sell those engines? We met the 50,000 mile test, we're going to be in production for five months, we got a contract with them. What do you mean, when I tell you what they told me? We're not selling you any engine? So I said, well, Who the hell is the president. And I forget what his name is. Now, whoever was the president at that time, it was a really roughing came from the bottom up kind of guy, I called his office. And I say I am in a very serious problem. I've been told that you're not going to honor a contract. And before I have to go in a different direction, I want the courtesy of a meeting with you tomorrow. I'm bringing my people, please give me a time she came back to me and gave me a time. Let's say it was 930. A couple of my people and I are there. He has a couple of his people. And I started telling them listen, if you don't sell me, your engines, I'm going to go out of business. I engineered the car with your engine. I met the 50,000 mile test with the engine and I did all my other tests around the country with your engine in it. I need your engine. He said Mr. Bricklin. He said, I've been trying to sell my cars for a long time. And it's really hard. Now there's a market out there every car, I build out, sell. So that means every engine I sell you I don't sell that car. And if you think I'm going to sell you engines instead of a car, you're out of your mind. I said, Well, let me be real clear about my position. If you take that position, you're pushing me out the window. And if you push me out the window, I'm grabbing a hold of your time because I'm landing on your stomach. And what does that mean? It means I'm leaving here, and I'm going straight to Washington. And I'm going to tell them how you and the rest of the car companies are in collusion to put me out of business, because the safety things that I'm putting in my car, and you I guarantee you wish you sold me my goddamn engines. I said and if you want to fuck me, you're going to fuck me, but it's going to cost you, you son of a bitch. And he said worse than that. How dare you mad that babba babba back. I'm telling you 700 engines, now get somebody else to get an engine from no and get the fuck out of my office. I said, Thank you so much. I said I apologize if anything I said was crude, or not apply. But I was desperate. And you saw my desperation. So please excuse my excuse, excuse me. Just get out my office number, Lindenberg. That was his name. Number. All right, so now I had 700 that were going to come in, I needed another engine. Oh my god, I got to start over. This is not what I want to do. And I got to do it right away.
A couple days later, I'm sitting in the Livonia office, and I'm with Keith crane, who is there to convince me not to be an asshole. Because I've told everybody, there'll be no stories about what we're doing until I'm ready to introduce it. And he tried to sneak in to get a picture of it and so forth. And my guys took his camera and broke it. And he said you're making a mistake. We're very powerful. I said I don't give a shit. And he started convincing me why he would make us and he said By the way, why is how smeller out in your waiting room. I said who's out Spurlock? I said I use Coke is right here, man. No kidding. I said, Keith, you know what? I'm going to give you a story. Go ahead range when you want to have it. I'll do the interview. And you could take pictures of what we got right now. See you later. Goodbye. I put your mind Do you have it? I bring house verlegen Hey, how are you? Nice to meet ya. Tell me you you're working for iacopo yam is right in man. babba babba that, I said you're just a man. I want to see You know, I was thinking I'm buying the American Motors 360. But I'm building it in Canada, and they would like me to have more Canadian content. What do you think? Is it possible to get the 351 Windsor? He said, Oh, yeah, no problem. I said, Great. Drop a contract. I'm To hell with American Motors. I'm going to use your car. I mean, I got to buy some of their engines now, but I'm going to give it How fast can I get some bad things so I can start the 50,000 mile test. Baba Baba Baba bath. Anyhow, we ended up that's how we ended up with a Windsor. 350. Do you know that story is not over. Okay. Go ahead. That's not the end of story. Now. I got a contract with them. Now we met them 50 out of 50,000 mile test again. Now let's December around Christmas about 19 right before Christmas. I'm in the LA airport, in the VIP room, waiting to get on a plane to go to Acapulco with my family for Christmas. For I think 10 days, which we did every year. I get a call from my secondary. got a call from Ford. They're not going to sell us the engines. Now, please don't suck this. Now I start making calls. First, Henry Ford. He doesn't take my call. Then Iacocca. He doesn't take my call. Then it does ferulic. He takes my coin. So what the hell is going on? He says I have no idea. I'll get back to you. I said please do. I am on my way to Acapulco. If the answer is I got no problem. I'm going to continue that road. If the answer is I got a problem. I'm changing my vacation and I'm going to Washington game the same story. And I said I don't believe this is the way you treat people. I wouldn't have changed if
he calls me back. He says, Okay, you got it. I said what was the problem? Usually the lawyer said, How many cards? How many motors that we're going to sell who needs the liability? And they're not wrong. By the way. You know, if anything happened to the car, they were going to sue them too. Anyhow. So that catastrophe got over really fast without me having to be nasty, or say anything I rather not say and and Hasbro, what a sweetheart is. And so we had that engine and that happened. Now the last story we have people out all over the country, testing the car. I got a call. One night from one of the guys goes everybody had my phone they knew they could call it whenever. And that was before cell phones, by the way. And he said Mr. Brickman we got a serious problem. Yeah, what's the problem? Well, I'm in Scottsdale. I've been driving the car in 114 degree heat. It's July or August in Scottsdale. He said when we take the car, we park it inside an air condition, probably 65 or 70 degree garage. Okay. Well, I came out and the acrylic body is on the floor. What are you talking about? He said the acrylic separated from the fiberglass and is sitting on the ground. I said all the pieces? He said Yeah. I said Well, well, how could that happen? Is because we glued it and fiberglass and acrylic move at different temperatures different times. So they broke apart. Oh my god. All I need is one car to do that. And I'm out of business. I can't even imagine doing that. And I say to him, do you have any idea what the solution would be is very simple. You need a bonding material that will go into both materials and be flexible enough for them to move at different rates. Really? No problem. Come up Roman us. We know about acrylic. We don't know anything about five of us calling up I forgot the fiber guys, we because we know everything about fiber guys, we don't In other words, both of us go fuck myself. They ain't got no solution. And they have no intention to try to figure it out. So I call a meeting of all my people, none of which Do I have a chemist on board by the way? And I tell them what the problem is. And tell them one, we can't have one. And we have to we have to invent that bond. And we got exactly 10 days to do it. We can't build the car. I got to stop everything from coming in. How can I build a car if I think the bike is gonna fall under any circumstance? They invented it. Nobody ever fell off. Nobody's ever fell off. We never had a problem. It was like it never existed to this day. I have no idea how that was possible. Man a few nail biters in your life. Whoa, that was a nail biter of every nail biter I've had in my universe. That one scared the crap out of me.
Jeff Sterns 1:34:21
So do you have a Bricklin car?
I had five and I gave them away to museums. I'm not a collector. I don't collect anything. My kid one of my oldest son has storage areas all over the country with Bricklin crap. I don't have anything. How much was the car new? How much did it sell for? No, it sold for $9,998 and it started off it was gonna sell for like 30 $500 but I kept putting more shit in there.
Jeff Sterns 1:34:51
Were like this is what I hope doesn't happen with the new Brooklyn again. I
don't want to jinx any Oh no, no. The difference is I started from pricing it out before I decided to go for them.
Jeff Sterns 1:35:00
There's a I'm looking online while I'm talking to you because now I want one so bad. And there's just because now I know the Baba miser, right? So 1234 there's four four Spears for for sale on classic trader. How much and one's in an auction announcement? So don't know. Another one with 40,000 miles and a 351 is they're asking 14 and a half another one with a 360. Did you have a 360? Yeah, that's
a 360. Yeah. American Motors 364 bow. Okay, that those are the three was the first 700. Okay. No, that
Jeff Sterns 1:35:42
was the AMC was a 340. I
thought so. But that's a no, no, it's a 360. It's
Jeff Sterns 1:35:47
a 360. Okay. 28 grand, 2829 grand with 12,000 miles. And finally, the one that I want is a white and tan 17,000 mile one owner in San Diego for 26. Eight,
in the late 20s, or early 30s is where most of them are selling. As soon as we come out with the Brooklyn three Visa card prices will go up dramatically. Because what will happen is if you have one of each, you have something that's never going to be duplicated. So you're gonna have 3000 of the other ones, maybe 500 are probably off the road someplace, you know vegetating so they will be very rare. As I said, you need to corner the market on all of them. I'm thinking about them. I would say I've been jokingly thinking about that, because it's more work than I'm willing to do.
Jeff Sterns 1:37:18
Why did the Bricklin cease production? Is that a story or no?
Oh, it's a story. We have, at the time 46,000 backorders. Corner dealers can't bring them in fast enough. They're getting over list for the car. I got some problems, I got to figure out I mean, some production problems that are interesting problems, one of which I'll tell you, which is another scary so we're building them, and we're trying to fix the things that we need to be fixed as fast as we can. And one day, I have my home in Philadelphia, I have a Brooklyn and I have it with the doors up as much as often as I can have it. And I'm looking at her all the time because that car with the doors up just to this day, just gets my attention. I love looking at it. And I'm looking at the cornice starts to rain. But not in a normal rain windows fast rains it comes pouring down. So I run out the shut the doors. Now remember the hydraulic. If you have the hydraulic go too fast, you maybe cut your hand off if you don't do something smart. So I push the button and it takes six seconds for the door to close. Did you ever stand in the rain for six seconds? right now but first I got to jump in and now I'm inside. I'm closing in it's raining in on me. So it means in the rain normally I have to wait six seconds for it to open. jump in and six seconds. Oh my god. This is the most horrible. This is the next worst thing to the bodies coming apart. But I got cars out there out there. They're they're already delivered. And I'm building more. Oh my god, what am I going to remember it was hard as hell to get this solution. What am I going to do? I got to change it. This is not acceptable. So I called my friend Frank Turner in Graham Texas. Who is was is no longer alive. A great inventor. Not a good inventor. I've all right inventor. Actually frank, I got a problem flying to Detroit. Somebody will pick you up and you got to solve the problem for me. It comes in I show him the door and I said I need the door to go boom. I need the door to come down and stop and then come close slowly so it doesn't cut off anybody's finger and I got to do it so I can put it into the car that I got right now. said okay no problem. I'll be back in a week. takes good I said give me a car. I get McCarney drives to Graham, Texas. The end of the week he calls me out there. Come on in. So I fly in. everybody walks out to the car. It pushes the button it goes one push another button goes rule stops six inches above and closes. This is fan tastic What do I have to change? Nothing. He said, I took the hydraulic fluid out of the hydraulic lift and put in air. And you have a box frame, your engine makes air and it pumps in into the box frame. That's it. We didn't get one of the cars in production on because they got closed down before we could do it. But 90% of the cars on the road today have that in because some people who left the factory to go be in their business of fixing Brooklyn's put them on all the cars that come walking in, they want to be fixed. And it's fabulous. Not good. That bump bump that simple.
Jeff Sterns 1:40:36
Many ended up getting delivered and how many got read 3000 3000 got
delivered 46,000 pack orders from dealers how now tell I'll give you their story on that. When I met him, the reason I was there is because he was willing to give me my friend the first 3 million from outside chores as the my own money. He did it because he told me clearly he wanted attention to the province. So they wouldn't think of them only as people who go fishing and cut wood that they see they they're right out there with the you know, futuristic automobile safety automobiles, and he thinks will get a lot of attention. And that's what he wants for the money. All right. And by the way, we were on talk shows together we were at Harvard Business School together we were although he got his money's worth plus and was happy as hell. Not the attention New Brunswick No, nobody ever heard of including me, before the car. So we became friends. I mean, we really became good friends. And he was what I consider a really true good politician gave a shit about one thing doing good for the province was not married work 24 hours a day, did a shitty little hotel. That I mean, if you're homeless, you would normally get there. Because he does work all the time. He comes in one day. I mean, I'm talking about a good friend comes in one day. By that time, I think he got about 20 million from them, which is a lot of money back then. By the way, I did the whole damn project with 35 million close to one and a half a billion plus people now a couple of billion dollars to do. So I did everything about 35 million. Not important. What is important is he comes in and says, Malcolm said you're not gonna like what I got to tell you. Yeah, okay. What is it, Mr. Premier? He says I'm closing it down. I said, That's not a good joke. He said, it's not a joke. I said, why would you be closing down? I got 45,000 backorders. You're paying people union wages. They're getting paid more than they ever got paid in their life, and they're loving it. And you get publicity of the gazoo. Why would you even consider closing us down? He said, Well, unintended circumstances? What's that? He said, last month, I came to you. And I said, Give me three Brooklyn's. And you said, what are they for? And I said, I'm calling an election. first car is going to be a Brooklyn's going to get the crowds, the second car is going to come with my mother in it. And the third car is going to be me. And he did. And the day after the election, the front cover of all the papers, had him in a superman costume flying out of the top of Brooklyn. And the headlines in bold print was premier wins the Brooklyn election. I say, I got it not I own this place. He said, we got all that and it was all true. Now let me tell you about my life. Every day I wake up, I have my breakfast, and I go have my daily press meetings. There are two questions they want to answer. How's Malcolm and what's happening with the car, they have no interest in anything else. I got to say. So I'm banking, I close you down. I get abuse. a year from now I call another election. And I wind it on my own or not. And that's exactly what he did. He closed us down. And he called another election year later, and he won the election. And it was if that's the end of the story, thank God. Because otherwise, not that I thought it was thank God then at that time, what I mean for damn sure, I didn't think it was Thank God. I said, Oh, my God, like I would be stuck with a car factory. I'd have to come up with new code. I don't want to own a car factory tell you the truth. I might have to own one. But I'd rather not. For sure. I damn sure don't want to have anything to do with political money in any way, shape, or form. If I can't get our money, public and me putting in the hell with it, it ain't gonna happen. I don't want any political involvement. It's just not good. Because that's happens. And that's the last thing in the world. They won the election based on our car, and now they're gonna close it down. That's ballsy. I'll tell you what I mean, you've had
Jeff Sterns 1:44:44
By the way, they did a musical happen, that you had to wait a while to say Thank God.
No, yeah, that's true. But they did a musical a couple of years back up there called Brooklyn, and automotive fantasy and the story. I just told you Don't ask me how they got that story. They must have been in politics. The writers wrote what I just told you. But they did it in a musical that I saw and it was fabulous musical, but it was accurate. You can probably come up and see it on. Cool.
Jeff Sterns 1:45:15
Alright, I'm gonna look for that you're giving me a lot of stuff to look up. So are you have any energy low? Can
you talk more? I do have no energy is not my problem. Let's see. I got I got to put all the years together. Okay, the 360 this is right after I've gone out of business, I get a call from my good friend Tucker, the guy who did the doors for me. He says, Malcolm, I've been working on an engine forever. I'd like to make your deal. Do you come be my partner? Give me some money. And I put your name on it so we can get attention? I said, No, no, no, no, it's not mine. I'll give you my name. But it has to be our name together. Bricklin Turner. Okay. So what is this engine, this engine is very light, six pistons. Move it away, You'll never believe in a million years. The thing that attracted me is, I don't know anything about an engine, I couldn't take one, I wouldn't know where the first places to take it apart. You can take this engine apart in five minutes and put it back together again with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers. Anybody could do it. I don't have to have a couple pictures. And we put it together to show everybody. And he had already built a 20 horsepower that was this big. And a 200 horsepower that was this big. And a 500 horsepower machine that only weighed 200 pounds. machine that lightweight omega had a built on dinos, they go to 80,000 RPM, and is 100 RPM had 100 foot pounds of torque that quiet as can be. And it was bent, take a hot dog and bend it. So the pistons they are called going in and out but actually just moved this way. And because it was different space as you went down the thing, it's the same thing as going in and out. You follow what I'm saying? piston is going this all 12 of them are going this way. But it's closer to here and farther away here because it's bent. Anyhow, they had a more amazing, incredible gas miles really quiet clean is how. All right. So now I'm doing what I'm supposed to do get publicity. The mechanics demonstrator comes in. And they put us on the cover. And in the article, get that one to 1974 I think it was. And in fact, I can send you the cover the article said or waivers in the front. Unbelievable, but we saw it all work. We let him shoot me one day and the Dinos do whatever they wanted to do there to very shortly thereafter, the first world's automotive Congress was happening in Detroit by automotive news first whenever okay. And by way I get yours mixed up. I think it was 74. For a while these things. Crane was putting together the speakers for the first speaker that opened the whole session. And by the way, it was at the high end across from the Ford headquarters. Yeah, I think I think that's the question whenever that hotel across the street from the foredeck quarters, and the first speech was given by Henry Ford, the next day or so. I gave the next presentation. And the last presentation was john DeLorean. Interesting world. By the way, I'll give you an aside. I'm building the Brooklyn car, I get a call from john DeLorean who I had known because I had also built a thing called the fast track as a way to get rid of my 360s I built a racetrack that would end up demolishing these cars after a while. I got rid of them by franchising the track, but I didn't want to track or anything. I just wanted to get rid of the cars. And one of the guys working for me is john Doerr and his brother. He said, if you're not going to do this, I want to tell john about it. Him and Pinsky have been looking to do something, they asked permission. I said, Okay, and Malibu Grand Prix that goes to put together where from what we let them do from what we were doing with a 360. So they did it with a cool looking car. But the cogs and everything else. That was all what we were doing, and people were knocking the door down to pay a buck to go zoom around for 30 seconds. Anyhow. So I had met john, I got a call from john Malcolm. Now this is before it's going into production. I'm still just building the engine and doing the engineering work in Livonia. I want to talk to you when you come into Detroit next. I said I come every week Why? He said I want to pick you up from the airport. I want to talk to you. Okay, great land. He's waiting for me in the stretch Chevrolet.
Again, the Chevrolet says what I'm going to tell you is is you can't be talking to other people. Okay, what is it said I'm getting unhappy with General Motors. What would you say if I said I'd come be your president. I said you No, no kiss your ass. I have no idea what I'm doing manufacturing a car. I'm going to do it we got good good people, but I'd rather not I'd rather have you, you know, be enjoyable that for me. He said, Well, I'd want to be your president. I said, no problem. I'll go be chairman of the board. He said, I'm going to need a million and a half dollars was that's how much I'm gonna give up by quitting, leaving General Motors. I say, Okay, no problem. So he said, but I want to meet your guys. I want to see what you're doing. Okay. I take him over there. And he knew most of the guys because I stole most of the guys from Corvette. So he meets them all everybody glad handed. He hung out for about a half hour look and talked and said, I like it. He said, You Are you serious? He said to me. I said, Well, how bad you get your attorney and you're flying to Philadelphia tomorrow. And we'll meet with the Chairman of the Board of first Pennsylvania. I'll put up some stock and you're gonna have the million and a half. He said tomorrow I said yeah, tomorrow. Boom. He comes with his attorney. We go to see john Bunning Chairman the board. Hey, john, I want to hire a quarterback go to cost me a million and a half. I'll put up some more Subarus doc. Malcolm the smartest thing you ever did? Absolutely. No problem. Everybody shakes hands full. And floating out there. Oh, this is the best thing that ever happen. Everything is good about it. As far as I'm concerned. I get a call from john Malcolm, I never saw anybody move so fast. It's really going to be fun working with your baba baba baba. He said, my attorney told me though, that for me to do it and be smart, I really have to have the money after taxes. So I thought for a minute. I said, What is it gonna cost me money? 30%. Yeah, I said, john, I have a feeling. This is really not the problem, you know, what I think is going to be our problem. Because both of us got a pretty big ego. I think we're gonna end up with a conversation called, who's gonna put the name on the back of the car. And that's really not up for negotiation. And I'm really not looking for a fight. So how about if we call it off? He said, Maybe you're right. That was the end of that conversation. Fast forward. I go out of business. I get a call from john. Next time you're in Detroit dinner, absolutely. sat down is that of a build a car? I said with your name on the back of it. He said, How did you guess? Do you have any suggestions? I said, Yeah, first I are all the people that I stole from Corvette. They're now experienced and doing what you're going to need done. hire them. Second thing. You don't put gullwing doors don't build your car. That's the only reason my car sold at all is because of those doors. Without those doors is just another car. And nobody needs another car. And the last thing, and this you know better than me use some kind of material that eliminates you having to spend $300 million for pain facility. He said, Yeah, I'm thinking of stainless steel. I said, that's great. Except for one thing. Stainless steel is one color. And I don't care how fabulous anything looks. If you make it the same. After you get too many units out there. It's no good. It gets boring. And that is from a marketing point of view, a serious drawback, but I think stainless steel is beyond great. Just you're gonna have a problem if you want to start to sell any kind of volume at all. So that was it. He went off Oh, last thing he asked me. He said, You know, I have to raise a couple of 100 million dollars. And I remember I just came up with a lousy 35 million. And he was going to do it the way they do it. He said even without the pain factory. He said, Do you have any idea where I can get the money? I said, Yeah, I know where you get the money. He said, where I said go to Ireland. I said they've been on my back to go there. But they killed people over there. And I like to be at the place wherever it is. I'm there. I don't think I don't want to play in Ireland to go look at my factory when they're killing people. But if you want the money, they'll give it to you. Actually with your name, no problem. He did and he got his money. Now, he didn't ask for 300 million. And when he got there, it was getting a little bit much for them to again politically. But God bless. His problem was he got the money but he couldn't sell the car. My problem was I got discouraged because Ella Cabrera couldn't get the money, life or life. Any difference, I guess is the following when he failed, he couldn't take it the ego of himself failing. Remember, he had only been Fairchild all through his automotive career, which is reason why he didn't like General Motors, because General Motors at the time didn't like people to be getting attention. General Motors got attention, but individuales didn't. And he was out there and he was a Showboat and he was handsome and he was intelligent. He was charismatic. You know he was all those things, and he loved the attention. So when he failed, it really it killed him when he failed. He died after that, but it killed him.
Jeff Sterns 1:54:46
Yes. And you failed enough for 10 people.
Absolutely. Those are the best things that ever happened to me in my life.
Jeff Sterns 1:54:53
An attitude you have your kids and grandkids. I mean, do they mainly have your demeanor
your upbeat They're all Yeah, everybody's upbeat. All my happy all of them are doing well. elements. Yeah, God bless knock losers, right? Everybody's lucky. I have four, wonderful ex and President wife, they were all at our fabulous mothers. And all the kids like each other, everybody likes each other. I didn't, we never had a fight. I never went to court with any of them, never fought with any of their attorneys gave him whatever the hell they wanted. They were all mothers and my kids, and everybody still gets along. Great. Fabulous.
Jeff Sterns 1:55:33
So on top of your sales course, that you have to do, once you get your car going, you've got to do a family dynamic course,
I have to tell you, my family situation, all of which I would have had when I first got married, it was forever. And I could not imagine ever getting a divorce ever leaving the kids. And I have got to tell you, I'm a spokesman for a broken home. All my kids and the fact that broken homes and all could not be better adjusted and happier and successful. So I'm a proponent, it's got to break out you have to have a couple of broken homes. As long as there's no, there's no bad attitude with any of the people. I mean, I'm never ever undercutting any of my wives or ex wives. And they're not doing the same with me.
Jeff Sterns 1:56:19
So I'd like to ask you the next topic, because everything's so phenomenal. You get hit for movie deals. Has anyone ever want to tell your
life story? Like? Yeah, I'm not ready for that yet. I haven't done enough yet. Let me do a couple things that meaningful. Um, I get a call. Oh, wait, there's, there's more to this story. So now I have this, the better. I have the front cover of mechanics illustrated. It remind me before we hang up to send you a copy of the cover. Now I got to figure out how to sell an engine. So I figured, well, Henry Ford is going to be at this thing. So I get a hold of him. And I say I want to have a meeting. after I'm finished making my speech, no problem come across, we'll meet. So I take my second wife at the time, who is really gorgeous, blue eyed bond. We go up to see Henry on the 14th floor. Everybody is running around with gray suits and white gloves. And it's quiet. And it's like he's in his fiefdom, with all his slaves running around. I mean, they're scared kind of polite thing. Come now I had a film of all the engines and the guy. And that's what my presentation was about this great motor, and cover mechanics illustrated and him answering the questions. And it was a big hit. Go across there with my wife. We sit there. And I say after we do the bullshit needs flirted with my wife. I take the 20 horsepower. This is this big and I hand it to him. I said, Henry, here's the deal. Here's all the things that the film and mechanics don't handle mechanic sales, they said, We have them. You don't have to have them. Anything you want to see we have. I went willing to give you this engine. With this engine, you can own the car business. He says now I couldn't underground business. I said, why not? He said I don't have enough money. I said, Henry, you lend me your name for day and a half, I'll get you all the money you want. Ah, I said I give you the engine. Your commitment is you will put it in a vehicle in a way that you will put it in so that you can actually show that it can be manufactured in that vehicle. And I give you five years to do whatever you want with that engine. At the end of five years. We split 5050 you want to give me a penny upfront. I got the prototypes, you can start using. Wow. How can you miss with that? Okay, sending my engineer down to meet you in Graham, Texas. He comes back with a good report. We have a deal. I made a deal with him for that I got my job. That's all I could do. Right? I fly into Graham, Texas. And engineers there. Mr. Bricklin, can I see you for a minute. Yeah, I wanted to tell you I'm here to invalidate your project. I think about invalidated. Why would he? Then I say what the hell is wrong with me? Let's see what I just asked. This means to do. Take your billions and billions and billions of dollars to do aven tooling engineering, and does not throw them all away. Because now you've got to build a different kind of vehicle for the motors is small. And it's I mean, it's a totally different, everything has to be different, and then invest that amount of money again, for this motor. Why would anybody in the right mind do that? In fact, I wonder if the board would let them do it without firing them. And then I said, I wonder if I would do it. If I were in The answer was not what, who the hell gives a shit, then you'd have something better if you have to get rid of everything you got. That's crazy. That's why innovation does not happen. And that's why I can have a big mouth and say, Oh, I'm looking for a cool thing. Because I don't ever want to get tied down to owning technology. That's why I want to buy it from somebody else right now. So if something comes out better, I can do it. Instead of saying, Hey, I'm not interested. So that taught me a lesson, I also closed up the place. And that was the head of the engine. Because I realized if the only way I'll sell that engine to me is if I build my own car, I can't sell this to anybody who has any kind of real value. Couple of years ago, a guy sent me an email of an engine running on hydrogen peroxide. Yeah, well, I played with fuel cells to God bless. But he just the
Jeff Sterns 2:00:45
same, couldn't get anywhere with it. And I'm assuming same reason.
No, I had another strange reason. back somewhere in between everything. Before Chinese cars before. After the Brooklyn it was in the late 90s. I meet this guy, he Raul served pootie from Jet Propulsion Laboratory. really a neat guy, another really neat guy. And he's in charge of getting technology for JPL. So the Range Rover, the rover is on Mars. I think I told you this. That's supposed to go for 15 days went for 15 years. Did I tell you the story about the fuel cell? I got? No, I guess if I did 15 years, because I don't want to be repeating. I'm getting old. So I guess I repeat stories now. Anyhow, he convinced me to invest 50 grand a month with JPL to develop a micro fuel cell, a method of micro fuel cell. So you put methanol in it, and it did everything. Forgive me
Jeff Sterns 2:01:43
the one that you can't put on public transport. You
got it. I knew I told you that story. To get that out of the way that brought me to the car that we that the Chinese car thing, because then I get a call from Tony seminara. And he used to work for fiyat. And he used to work for current driver. He's a car guy. I mean, if you want a guy to tell you about every nut and bolt and every goddamn car in the universe, Tony seminare is the man. He calls me up and he says I'm going to be at the automotive News World Congress. This is a couple of years after I was at the first one. He said, Are you going to be there? I said no. I didn't plan on being there. I said, I'm not speaking. So there was no reason for me to go. He said, Do me a favor. Come I got something important to talk to you. Okay. So I go sit down over lunch. He says, Did you know that fiata is going to blow the country? I said no. What are they going to do with the spider and the x one nine? Because I'd met both dinner Farina Sergio Pininfarina and new Joe Bertoni. At a time when I was going to build another car after the Bricklin failed, I wanted to build a $250,000 car using both those designers. And you know, zero, aka standoff, the head engineer for Corvette, and it's called the father of the Corvette, even though he isn't but he is considered that he when he retired, he went to work for me. He is the nicest human being in the industry in the world. Anyhow, so we had met with penetrator Bertoni over in mountain Turin. And we'd become friendly, but we decided I decided my ego, didn't need to go build another car. That was forget about that for right now.
So I knew I knew I knew both Pininfarina and new and new Joe for Tony. So I'm here and he's telling me fans pulling out of the country. And I say to him, what's going to happen because those two cars were built by those two guys, the x one nine by Bertoni and the spider by Pininfarina. And if they're pulling out of the United States, that was a that that's who they sold these cars to. And they were not they needed a business like that. So he said, You know, I don't know. I imagine it's over for him. I said, Okay, get on the phone. Tell new Joe and, Joe, I want them together. We're flying over to have a meeting. Well, what about just what the hell you care? Without getting a ticket, you'll be on the plane. Let's go next week. I want a meeting with those guys. I got something to talk about. So we get there. And here's the story. I said, Listen, get Fiat to agree that of you sending the bodies there and they put the engines, have them send the engines transmission to you, you build the bodies, I'll bring him into the United States. You have to agree to make the changes necessary. So you don't have a lousy reputation of the goddamn things always come down. And if you'll listen to Tony seminara, who was at one time in charge of the complaint department at Fiat in the United States, they tell you he'll live here and tell you everything that's wrong, and everything that has to be fixed. And I want new paint jobs. I'll bring them into the country. How many were you selling a couple 100 a month I'll sell 1000 a month from Egypt. But I need a boat. Do you have to get me to contract for coffee and finances? No. So You know, I don't take no for an answer. And I bring him over how can you put these two guys out of business? There's the legends that they're into when you're putting them out of business. That's not going to look good when the PR comes out. And you're sorry that you've ruined these two guys that everybody looks up to, oh my god. They gave me the contract. We did the paint job, and we made the changes. And we were selling like crazy. And then one day, I get a call from Sergio Pininfarina. When I come over to the rain right away, it was important, but I find it thread. He says, Malcolm, I hate to tell you this, but he got six months more selling. I'm selling 1000 a month, by the way, making a couple million dollars a month. And at the end of six months, I can't say any more cars. Excuse me, you're selling more cars than you ever sold in your life. Is there something you don't like? Oh, no, no, you're doing a great job. But I just made a deal with the Cadillac lnj the build and design the lnt over here, build the body over here, put them on 740 sevens, fire him to Detroit, where they're going to put the motors and transmissions in and sell it for $55,000 with my name on the side. And they don't want me to be selling in the United States at 12 to $15,000 per frame. And I know I can't cancel you because that's against the law. But I can't stop production because that's part of the contract. And I'm sorry, but this is more important than your business. Oh shit. I can't just have one is not an obvious sign that a couple of months each. This is not a dealer doesn't want to have it to begin with. Crap. Now what am I gonna do? I get Tony seminara Tony got six months, we got an organization. We got everything coming in and we got money. You go around the world and find me the goddamn cheapest car in the universe. comes back with I found it is Yugoslavian car, Yugoslavia, Where the hell is Yugoslavia? And aren't they communist? Yep, yep. Partly Yep. And when they went to another, I decided we were going to sell 3990 cars. In Denmark, people over there. And then 14 months meant with 535 changes. We've met every regulation, safety and admissions and never had to recall, only God never had to recall. It was a handles would fall off. We'd have to put it back on to what we had the three year warranty. We took care of everything. So it was sloppy kind of assembly, like safety wise and everything else. We never had a problem and sold them as fast as we could bring them in it was I just got them. Some people some dealers were making 3000 over list on a 30 $900 car
Jeff Sterns 2:07:39
and no consumer report.
damage. No, they didn't give me I don't think so if they did, it didn't hurt me. No, I don't think so. Because we had to meet regulations by law. So even though it was a little card, they had nothing they can make a story about the other one was I I found a way to evade the law.
Jeff Sterns 2:07:57
Okay, but I thought you said you made your 500 and change changes to it. So you got through pollution and safety.
I've made it nice that we put nicer sheets, we had to put cheap belts in there. We had a we plug PPG over there to teach them how to paint metallic paints, we pave the ports, we had to bring it in unleaded gas, we had to take the rust off the railways that took it from there to the ports, we had to get shipping. We had a few things to do in 14 months. We had to set up 400 dealers, we had to bring in parts. We had to do trainings. And we did a ball.
Jeff Sterns 2:08:32
So maybe I missed maybe I asked the wrong question did so the car stop selling it was the last Oh
no, the cars didn't stop selling. That's not what the story was. Okay, what happened was, we were selling cars as fast as we come in. And as making millions a month. This was a great little story. Alright, it doesn't matter about all the minor stuff. Then somebody came to me because I was now looking at other countries to find other cars so that our dealer would have cards from a lot of countries in case I had a problem with one of them. I remember I was a little scary about politics. And this is a country. I mean, we were in in that country. So somebody came to me and offered me money. $20 million to sell out. And I said that was interested. Now. I have to give you some information. There was a day before the contract was signed. And then I was flying into Belgrade, which meant you fly into Zurich, and you're waiting for another plane to take you to Belgrade. I was in desert VIP room, taking a leak and taking the next to me was Henry Kissinger. I say Henry, while we're taking the leak by Henry Yes. Said I understand that our Eagleburger is working for you as your president. Yes. wasn't he? Yugoslavia his most favorite son when he was Ambassador do this. Yes. Well, I'm going to be bringing in a car from Yugoslavia. We could probably we should probably talk Yes. While we're taking the week, he handed me a card over the petition, put the card in my pocket. go off to Yugoslavia. When I get back, I have a call already at the office from Henry Kissinger. which surprises should I make? Why would he give a book called me up? He says, we're interested in talking. So I go over to his office at Park Avenue, Eagleburger there, tell him what I want. I want him to be on the board. I want him to be director, me a director, I want to be on the board. I want him to help us. Make them feel comfortable, basically, choices. Well, Mary, will be your board of directors, and you'll pay us $250,000 to be consultants. And we'll help you with whatever you need. I later realized this is the country that was imploding. I didn't know it was imploding. And he probably checked with his political whatever, before dealing with us and found out it would really be good, since we're the major thing that was happening in Yugoslavia. And that's what they were really looking at for us to be successful. Because our success might have kept the country together. I didn't know all that. So I got our Eagleburger there. I get a call from Larry. One day, Malcolm, we got to go to Yugoslavia meet the new president. Okay, no problem. I mean, I go there once a month anyhow. So we get on a plane. Now Larry was a big guy. Larry was a heavy smoker. Larry did one of those. Now, here's a smart man that became our Secretary of State. You have to you go by the way. And he's smoking cigarettes and using the pump at the same time. He that's what he died from. So we go to Yugoslavia, and we're going to meet Mr. soboba Vich and his wife who became the new president, and we meet in a beautiful ornate room. And of course, everybody is kissing our ass like crazy. We are what is happening. period in Yugoslavia. When I went to them first. the only country they sold a car to was Russia on barter. Once you go mania took effect from the United States. They were selling the 70 different countries. They were high on the hog. So Mr. Tibbets and his wife were being extremely nice to me. And after about an hour and a half, cocktails and bullshit, we laughed and I turned to Larry and I said, I'm selling the company. He said, What's your problem? I said, Larry, I can't explain this. I have never been in a room where I felt evil. My hair when I talk, it's, my hair is standing up. I have they're nice people. But they scare the living shit out of me. And I'm getting the hell out here. He says you're out of your mind. One month later, I sold out for 20 million to an investment firm that had a kid that thought he was smarter and means there'll be Chevy to boarded his car company. It doesn't matter. God bless them. When they went off the races, the reason the company failed, if you remember, the United Nations put an embargo on Yugoslavia. You could not buy or sell anything from Yugoslavia. And then NATO put five missiles into the Zastava car factory. And that's why they stopped selling in the United States.
Jeff Sterns 2:13:17
Malcolm, I've enjoyed every minute with you. This is one of the most fun you talk about loving something. I don't know if this will ever turn into money or not these recorded conversations but as far as juice in life value of life, it is like getting to hear the greatest stories of the world if I didn't know who you are. But on top of being such a giant figure in my life in so many people's life, I really appreciate it.
Well, you say such nice things. I can't help but want to come back so you can tell me some more nice things. Okay,
Jeff Sterns 2:13:52
I'm gonna stay in touch with you. Okay,
okay. You do please do it. I'm available whenever you want. Just give me your 10 minute notice.
Jeff Sterns 2:13:59
God bless brother.
Talk to you later. pleasure talking to you, Jeff. Have a good one.
This has been Jeff Sterns connected through cars.