CC Capsule: Gremlins

Gremlin 1200 2

(first posted 6/2/2016)     The AMC Gremlin’s quirky styling and name have become increasingly rarely seen and heard more than three decades after the demise of the Gremlin and its similarly styled successor, the Spirit Kammback.  Seeing more than one at a time outside of a car show or a meeting of AMC enthusiasts has to be a once-in-blue-moon occurrence, akin to lightning striking the same place twice.  So you can imagine my surprise at seeing Gremlins in stereo — and not an ordinary pair of Gremlins — one otherwise ordinary morning.

Gremlin 1200 9

Here is the view that we really should have started with, displaying the chopped tail that we all knew but few loved during the 1970s.  The green one in front has been parked in this location regularly for several years, and I have spotted it regularly while walking to the nearby Metro station, to ride Washington’s gremlin-riddled subway system home, from the auto repair shop that I have used for over a decade when my car experiences gremlins.  Earlier this year, the white Gremlin appeared here.  The owner of these Gremlins has to be one of the model’s greatest fans, and in his recent acquisition, he or she has found a surviving example of one of the more distinctive Gremlins.

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The “Gremlin ’76” stripes identify it as a 1976 Gremlin with “AMC Patriot Edition” decorations, sold during America’s Bicentennial.  Comparable to Chevrolet’s 1974 “Spirit of America” package, AMC Patriot Edition trim was made for Gremlins and Pacers, according to the only resource that I could find about it.

Gremlin 76 Decals

Photo from

Forty years of exposure to the elements has bleached out most of the color from the stripes of this AMC Patriot Edition Gremlin.  As seen in this photo, the stripes when new emulated the American flag with bands of red and white and a blue field emblazoned with “Gremlin ’76” and stars.  Time and sun have reduced the stripes to the blue fields with “Gremlin ’76” in them, with only faint traces of the red bands.

Gremlin 76 Decals Instructions

Photo from

According to the instructions, the Gremlin ’76 stripe package also should include an “AMC Patriot Edition” eagle installed on the right rear just below the hatch, but the eagle is missing from this one.  It appears never to have had one.  Perhaps the original owner of this Gremlin 40 years ago wanted more subtlety in his patriotic expression.

Gremlin 1200 1

Anyone driving a Gremlin can be confident about not running into someone else driving the same car on any given day, and the driver of one of what must be very few surviving examples of the Gremlin ’76 after 40 years can be confident about not running into an identical car ever.  These cars are the antithesis of a “belly-button” classic, and their owner deserves kudos for being different.  A car collector who has taken the time and effort to amass two Gremlins is someone who really knows what he or she likes and does not care what other people think, and that kind of dedication is to be commended, regardless of what one thinks about the Gremlin itself.


Related Reading:

Curbside Classic: 1977 AMC Gremlin — Purposely Contentious

Curbside Classic: 1977 AMC Gremlin — Pay 8% More and Get 13% Less HP and 33% Fewer Cylinders