Business: Don Quixote of Detroit

Of all the quixotic ventures that a young business man could dream up, the farthest-out would seem to be making automobiles. It has been 28 years since an American started an auto-manufacturing business from scratch — and that was a disastrous flop for Henry Kaiser. So meet Don Quixote — in the form of flamboyant Malcolm Bricklin, 35, a Phoenix, Ariz., resident who wears studded denims and bedecks himself with silver-and-turquoise jewelry.

Bricklin insists that he will start assembly next month of the first North American-production car to be engineered with safety as its...