My biggest beef with the Gremlin is that Dr. Dick Teague got a wee bit carried away with his scalpel when he cut away on the back of a Hornet to create his little impish “pal to its friends and an ogre to its enemies” (AMC PR quote). The Hornet’s 108″ wheelbase was carved all the way back to 96″; the result being that the rear seat that truly was impossible for an adult to use. In fact, the rear seat was optional the first year or two.
But what if the wheelbase had been trimmed back to only about 102″? That would have added a whole 6″ to the rear seat leg room, making it more comparable to its sub-compact competitors. It would undoubtedly also have improved weight distribution some too. Objectively, it’s a much better Gremlin? Maybe too much so? Which means it would have had to have a different name, as this one is perhaps no longer an “ogre to its enemies” or back seat passengers.
Since Eric didn’t shoot (or just show) the back seat of the Gremlin he wrote up yesterday, here’s one from another ’77 that I have. Take a good look; that is not a legitimate seat, and that’s not “lumbar support” on the bottom of the backrest; it’s a hump needed to clear the rear axle.
Given the decent sales of the Gremlin, presumably plenty of folks didn’t care all that much. The Gremlin was targeted to younger buyers, although I seem to remember older folks buying them too; either way, not much need to carry adults regularly. But still. Just another 6-8″ more would have made a very significant difference.
And what would it have cost more? Six inches of steel all round, and a wee bit more vinyl on the inside? In my opinion, gremlin sales would have even been higher if it had been a legitimate four seater, and the very small difference in cost more than offset by higher sales.
And a longer Gremlin would still have been just as unique in its styling, if not quite so impertinent. But then maybe that was precisely the appeal?