The Gremlin was AMC’s shortcut into the subcompact market. By chopping down the Hornet into a hatchback, AMC was able to offer a lighter, more affordable car while saving on the development of a unique platform or front sheetmetal. The resulting car wasn’t as striking as the Javelin-based AMX-GT show car, but we have to admit that it is charming. The Gremlin’s only become more appealing since.
This outrageously bold Gremlin, available on Bring a Trailer, reminds us that the tiny platform can still pack an abundance of style and even a V-8 engine.
The listing notes, “The car is believed to have been refinished at some point in the 1980s.” That much is self-evident. The paint job—with its fabulous, contrasting stripes and “Gremlin” lettering that looks like it came straight off a ColecoVision game cartridge—leaves no doubt. The graphics are pretty much perfect, and seem to have survived quite nicely. There is some troubling rust bubbling underneath the paint at the bottom of the driver door, though. As much trouble as it would be to match those fabulous graphics, we’d have to address that.
Inside, the trim shows some wear and tear, particularly around the A-pillar trim. The vinyl on the seats is splitting, but the dash looks solid and the door panels appear remarkably intact. That’s lucky because, unfortunately, AMC parts are generally scarcer than their Big Three counterparts.
The undercarriage photos show this survivor to have been well preserved, but the original powertrain is gone. In its place sit a mild Chevy 350 V-8 and Turbo 350 transmission. The engine breathes in through an Edelbrock four-barrel and Edelbrock Performer EPS intake and out through a set of headers. A video provided in the listing shows that the Gremlin starts easily and seems quite tame.
Despite its manual valve-body transmission, however, this Gremlin is no drag racer. In fact, the gears in the AMC 20 rear are reported to be 3.31:1, perfectly suited to cruise, which is exactly what we’d do if we found ourselves in possession of such a head-turner. There’s also the fact that the fuel cell is mounted in the cargo area, which would get you booted from tech inspection straight away.
What say you? Cruise it as-is, or swap in an AMC small-block? A 360 from a junkyard Jeep would work nicely, don’t you think?