Thank you to nifty43 (nifiticus)
It’s nice to see an old Gremlin still on the road. Actually looks in pretty decent condition considering the years and use it has likely seen. Let’s hope it survives for a long time…
Where have all the Gremlins gone? It’s been a few years since my last sighting.
But there’s still a Pacer on the street not far from me. Or at least there was.
I’m afraid we live in an era where such a thing as cutting off the rear third of a vehicle to make a smaller version is well over. Or am I missing something?
What’s the closest thing to a Gremlin in the modern era?
Chevy Tahoe. Of course it’s not an entire third they lop off. Then again, Paul, my brain’s just wired that way.
FWIW, I really liked my ’71 Gremlin with its 258/3-on-the-floor.
I suspect that the tin worm has had its way with most of them by now, just as has happened to most of its contemporaries. Gremlins were not terrible cars, you just needed to make sure that your expectations didn’t exceed the reality that it was designed and built to be cheap wheels. They were quick enough with the inline six and the modern AMC V8 would fit in the engine compartment with a little work. An acquaintance of mine swapped in the 390 CID version of the V8 and the result was very fast, at least in a straight line.
They came from the factory with up to a 401 as an option. Just swap the xrossmember from a 6 cyl. Model with one from a v8 Gremie or hornet.
I new that the V8 was an option on some Gremlins; I didn’t know that anything other than the 304 was ever offered. It makes sense as the block for the 304/360/401 are the same.
I’m not sure the 360 or 401 was ever a factory option in the Gremlin. You could get a 360 in the Hornet briefly (the one-year-only 1971 Hornet SC/360) but that was the biggest engine the Hornet ever got. The 304 was the biggest engine in the Gremlin.
Randall AMC was one dealership that would sell a 401 powered Gremlin to the consumer. IIRC, it came with a “factory” warranty, but it was still a dealer-installed set up.
I’m thinking there were other dealers that would do this too, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head. Randall is the first one I thought of.
Where was Randall AMC located? Where they the best known AMC ‘tuner’ dealership? It’s interesting that GM, Ford, and even Chrysler had now-legendary dealerships that would do engine swaps, but you never hear of a similar AMC that would do swaps, especially considering the ease with which it could be done.
Of course, AMC products never had much of a musclecar presence so I guess there wasn’t exactly a big demand, either.
Only the 304 came from the factory. If you wanted a 360 or 401, you’d have to do it on your own time.
Honda Pilot and Passport. Third-rowectomy.
I saw a primered Gremmy on Monday but I knew this was running so CC effect…
Also the 3-row VW Atlas and 2-row Atlas Cross Sport. In both of those cases, the wheelbase has remained the same. Hyundai previously made the 2-row Santa Fe and 3-row Santa Fe XL with the same body but different WB. The Mercedes M/GLE-Class and GL/GLS-Class could count too.
If we go back a little farther, there’s also the Suzuki (Grand) Vitara and XL7. That one is notable not just for being one of the smallest 3-row vehicles in the US market, but also because the 4-door Grand Vitara had already been lengthened from the 2-door model.
The modern Gremlin? Easy – the crew cab pickup with a short bed. 🙂
The bobtail look is actually closer to fashion now than it was in 1970.
Great car, but what a nuisance it must be to daily drive an AMC product. You can find parts online, but waiting for them…
On the other hand, this car looks like it has survived with a minimum of care so maybe it’s not an issue.
15 years ago it was a nuisance to daily drive an AMC. I had a sole scrapyard an hour away as a source of some parts. Most usual maintenance and wear items were available, with an occasional wait here and there. Today I can imagine it is more than a nuisance.
Probably not all that bad for mechanical bits. Engine is the same as in contemporary Jeeps. Lots of ancillary parts like starters, alternators, distributors, and carbs were sourced from the Big 3 and other major manufacturers. Starting in ’72 the automatic trans would be a Chrysler Torqueflite, still pretty well supported these days. Suspension parts for the 1970+ dual ball joint front end are still pretty readily available.
The worst would be needing body parts, interior parts, or glass. This one sure looks like it could use a fender. Good luck finding one!
With snow in the forecast, the idea of driving one of these in circles uncontrollably isn’t very appealing.
When I was growing up there was a neighbor on our country block (1 mile by 1 mile square in the Midwest) with a V8 Gremlin – open differential.
He had originally bought it for his high school age children to drive but doing a 360 on the ice in one while HE was driving it killed the idea of letting an inexperienced driver have it.
I had a 1976 Forrest Green with Gold stripe. It was the Gremlun X. 3 in the floor and it would scoot. In West Virginia I put studded snow tires on it with lifts on the springs so they wouldn’t rub in the fender weld. It went great on snow. Even on the hills.
The red paint, no (apparent) stripes, and roof rack are identical to one my sister bought new in 1974. If it’s a 232, automatic, bench seat, rubber floor mats, hang-on-the-bottom-of-the-dash air, AND mounting holes for a Midland CB(!!!), I would swear it’s the same car. It’s survival 40 years after she sold it, however, would be the ’69 Mets.
I got my daughter the only kind of car she was interested in…a,74 gremlin with the 258 six when she was 16. She is 35 now and STILL driving gremmy!
I think that’s a seven main bearing engine, which is legendary for it’s ruggedness.
Say Kevin, you should share some photos of the Gremlin.
That definitely should be the subject of a spot here.
Nice to see one of these out and about and was this taken in New York City? Looks like the one Jalopnik had a video about recently.
Is there any American car from this era more cringeworthy than the AMC Gremlin? Oh, wait the AMC Pacer.
Agreed, the pacer, even with it’s unconventional looks, was at least engineered pretty decently… My dad had the wagon (which looked a bit better, granted) and it had the legendary 258 with the chrysler 727 transmission…
While i never was in a Vega in that didn’t last long around NE Pennsylvania, i remember my Grandmother’s Pinto Wagon, and that was pretty uncomfortable.
The right Gremlin looked pretty good back when. It had to be an early model in the right color with the “X” trim, including the road wheels, fat tires and stripes. The 304 V8 gave it some credibility. I would drive one of those. One like this, not so much.
A Gremlin was featured in an early Simpsons episode, it was the car Marge drove in High School. Simpsons character Hans Moleman drove one next to the school bus in a spoof of an iconic Twilight Zone episode.
Years ago I read an article in the Chicago Tribune about people’s first cars and a Gremlin owner said that his dashboard fell on his lap while he was driving it.
Earlier models were all 6 cylinders. 70 thru 71 or 72 I believe. Here is a pic of my 73. 401 with 727 auto. Cars were built fairly well, made good little drag cars.
I got mine in 2001 and have been trying to do improvements every year since then.
I had a friend who owned one in 1974, and I called it “The Russian Tank” because although it was very crude, it was also very tough….
The car was an endless source of education and amusement for me – I learned about vacuum operated windshield wipers (and what happens to them when going uphill) one dark night. I learned that the throttle cable from the accelerator pedal can break… but that if it does, you can just run a piece of nylon rope through the firewall from the carb to a piece-of-stick T-handle making it a hand throttle. This incident led to this memorable exchange:
Me: “I swear your car runs better this way.”
Gremlin Owner: “You’d run better too if I tied a piece of rope around your hooter and pulled!”.
But, the thing really was indestructible, and my buddy kept finding ways to prove it. One night we held a huge bonfire party way out in the middle of the desert where there was nothing and no one to bother, and all proceeded to get uh, stupid drunk as as young guys will. My Gremlin Owner friend decided to play sand racer and was having a great time until a mysterious-placed and apparently invisible power pole flattened the entire right side of the car. Shocked and enraged, my throughly soused buddy threw the Gremlin into reverse to find out what the “HECK” he had hit…. and…. smashed the rear of the car into the same pole…smashing the back bumper and shattering the rear window.
We made a plexiglass rear window for it, and he drove it that way for at least two more years, after which I moved away.
So, indestructible? Yeah.
AMC fan have had my gremlin since 1988 and I’ve had more before that they’re awesome cars it’s like getting in a time machine 😀
Thanks for the post Jim!
I spotted that car in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Stood out like a sore thumb! Not that many old cars in that area.
The subject car looks like about every 1974-ish Gremlin did in the rust belt by about 1980-81. The vast majority of these cars were treated as commodities (as many other econo cars were then) and then scrapped.
I often fantasize about getting a mid to late 70’s compact or subcompact car as a hobby car. Hornets, Gremlins, Dusters, Darts or one of the GM X-bodies from that time period speak to me. I’ve had experience with all of them, so I don’t think I will find too many surprises. But a Gremmy is pretty high on my list, along with a V8 Duster.
The shape of the rear side window, and the ‘C’ pillar always reminds me of the Studebaker Avanti.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Copyright 2011 - 2021 Curbside Classics. All Rights Reserved.