History can be unkind to some automobiles, the Edsel and Pontiac Aztek come to mind. With the aforementioned cars aesthetics likely doomed any popularity as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and those two were funky looking. The Edsel and Aztek had good qualities, but beauty is sheet metal deep and it’s hard to pull the trigger and buy a car you don’t like looking at.
With a face only a mother could love the AMC Gremlin falls into that concept. Yes, it wasn’t vehicle eye candy, but it was an economical option during the fuel shortage era of 1970s America. Build quality may have not been ideal, but it was an econobox that would be a solid choice for an extended commute in 1976.
“To be fair, it’s easy to see why the Gremlin has attracted history’s ire,” per a June 1, 2020 Motor Trend article. “The Gremlin was a response to the imported cars that were invading America’s shores—small cars that were light, efficient, easy to park and of notably better quality than the domestics. Though American Motors had always specialized in compact cars, the sudden need for a subcompact could not have come at a worse time for AMC. It was the smallest of what was then called the Big Four, and cash was in short supply, as it was developing the all-new Hornet and had just spent $70 million to buy Jeep from Kaiser-Fraiser.”
Finished in orange with a white full-length body stripe and re-chromed bumpers. It rides on polished 15-inch Ansen Slots that give it an era correct vibe. The restored interior is finished in tan with two-tone tan and brown front buckets seats.
Under the hood is a rebuilt 258ci inline-six engine with a one-barrel carburetor and all new wiring. The engine is paired with a floor-shifted 904 three-speed automatic transmission and a 2.73 rear axle.
“I had to drive this one as it was a lost dream,” the listing states. “Fortunately, it was not a nightmare to handle, and it ran beautifully. Smooth shifting although the brakes on this car have a heavy bias to pull to the right, and the driver needs to put a lot of pressure on the pedal. The horn and temp gauge are also not working.”
It’s not pretty, it while never be mentioned in the same conversation as a Jaguar E-Type, but it is reflective of an era and from a manufacturer that is long gone. Nostalgia is a strong emotion and filled with revisionist history, but it can also help you realize something after the fact. In the case of the Gremlin maybe we can learn to like it nearly 50-years after the fact.