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The Underrated Amc Gremlin

Updated on May 4, 2017

AMC Gremlin

The AMC Gremlin has always been a bit of an oddity in the automotive world. Many times the Gremlin and its stablemate the Pacer usually end up on worst automotive lists. But is this really justified? Or are these automotive pundits just going off of appearance and comparison to a modern day car? Granted the Gremlin does have some shortcoming especially when compared to a 2017 Volkswagen Golf. But, in its day when it was released, AMC may have found something and the sales figures showed for a long time.

Released on April 1st, 1970, it appeared already that AMC was not taking the Gremlin very seriously. Why would anyone release a new car on April Fools Day, particularly one with the name of Gremlin. There are those of us upon hearing the name Gremlin have the memory of the Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs gets is comuppance from what...a Gremlin. During World War II there were stories around the Army Air Corp particularly the bomber crews that when something failed that it was the work of little green men that were out to sabotage the aircraft by the name of Gremlins. So when AMC comes along with a new economy car released on April Fools Day, it was possible that it was an automotive joke or at least not to be taken seriously. But, according Roy Chapin Jr President of AMC at the time, the Gremlin name was preferred in focus groups so it stuck.

The AMC Gremlin design may have looked like the designers gave up half-way through, but is it really that much differant than other economy cars that came later like the VW Rabbit, Plymouth Horizon or Dodge Colt? Not really, the Gremlins shape could actually be considered the car that paved the way for the other economy car designs. Not bad for Richard Teague who with Bob Nixon sketched the intial idea on a airplane sickness bag. Of course this initial idea was really for the upcoming AMC AMX as the sketch looked more Javelin. But for the AMX, AMC went a different route. But the airplane sickness bag sketch elements were integrated into the Gremlin. And the Gremlin shows that it does have a relation with the AMC Hornet because due to AMC's tight finances, the Gremlin was a parts-bin car but that didn't seem to matter to the public. For the timespan the Gremlin was in production, AMC produced around 700,000 of them.

The public loved the Gremlin when it was released and during its production run that showed. AMC got the jump on the competition 5 months before the Chevrolet Vega and Ford Pinto. And even though, AMC had tight budgets and were the smallest of the American automotive companies. They still produced a quality product and it showed as the Gremlin did not suffer from the other ills as the Vega and the Pinto did at the time. Another good show of AMC quality was my sister. My sister was not the most responsible person when it came to cars when she was younger. But that AMC Hornet she had I would have to say was one of the toughest cars around...she couldn't kill that car regardless of what she did to it. And that is a great example of the durability of the AMC products.

No matter how much these automotive journalist often malign the AMC Gremlin. It still manages to stand the test of time so to speak. And the Gremlin has quite a following as well, there are numerous clubs and groups on Facebook along devoted to the AMC Gremlin and other AMC products. Similar to the VW Beetle, the Gremlin has a bit of a cult following.



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    • profile image

      Richard Joseph Leclerc 

      10 months ago

      One of these little critters wasn,t too bad to hang out in, 304 V-8 4 speed. I knew a chap from my childhood with an interesting new car for 1973. This car had the little V-8 with pollution devices removed and the engine had been smiled on! I asked him what the lead bars in his trunk were for. He said hop in, we left a traffic light and the Gremlin,s owner just hit the gas and up came the car,s front end. Gremlin V-8, new for 1973!!!

    • WheelScene profile image


      17 months ago from U.S.A.

      Great article, thanks for sharing, we like the AMC Gremlin also! It is a fun little car and if you can find one with a V8 stuffed inside be ready for a wild ride!


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