AMC was by far the most innovative car manufacturer out there after the death of most smaller car manufacturers in the 1950’s. They weren’t afraid to put out designs that looked radically different from what the big boys were offering. And they also sold a boatload of cars! It’s a shame they’re not still around. They were swallowed up by Chrysler in 1987.
The Gremlin’s basic design was penned on the back of a Northwest Orient air sickness bag about 18 months before the car was introduced. Its designer was Richard Teague, who designed many other AMC models including the Hornet, the Javelin, and, of course, the immortal Pacer. The Gremlin first appeared in 1970, beating rivals Ford Pinto and Chevrolet Vega by a year. It was produced until 1978.
Tom McCahill, Mechanix Illustrated’s car columnist, tested a Gremlin that year and declared it to be the best American buy of the year. The public listened, and started buying.
Gremlins were a common sight in the 70’s. Their owners were given grief by others wondering where the rest of their cars had gone. Indeed, the chopped-off rear end look attracted a lot of attention, and lives on today. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all.
They also made for some bodacious tricked-out street rods. There are still a few around, as can be evidenced by this site.
Like the pacer, I predict that the Gremlin has a future as a serious collector’s car. If you have one stashed a barn somewhere, hang onto it.