Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Get ready to smile people. This car's ridiculous!

Sarah from Everywhere sent in this following submission discovered hidden in the backwaters of the Poconos. The moment it lit up my phone I was grinning ear to ear. A freaking Gremlin!
This is a 1976 AMC Gremlin in Brilliant Blue with sweet hockey stick stripes on the side. This example also has a very rare white vinyl roof which you never see on a Gremlin! To compound the coolness this is a special Levi's edition (yes like the jeans). Try to find a more hilarious car!
Awww look at this sad frumpy bulldog face! The Gremlin was introduced by American Motors Corporation in 1970 to a startled public. Emotions upon its unveiling ranged from glee and laughter to disgust and mockery. To be fair the design was first sketched out on an air sickness bag (true story - legendary automotive designer Dick Teague was discussing a smaller compact for AMC while flying with a colleague).
One detail that's unexpected the first time you encounter a Gremlin is that the glass window lifts up but not the entire rear end. It seems like this ought to be a hatchback but it's not quite. You can hurt your back leaning in and lifting items with any weight out from the trunk floor which is at the same level as the bumper.
If you're looking at the back end of this car wondering where the rest is it's because this is literally an AMC Hornet with the back chopped off. Both cars are identical from the doors forward. The "swept end" of the Gremlin made for great aerodynamics though. These could be ordered with a 304 V8 from the factory (!) which allowed you to smoke the tires in every gear.
This little beauty has 3 of its 4 original hubcaps which are of typically bonkers AMC design. That little red decal in front of the door says it all though; LEVI'S! It was the '70s and AMC went all-in with crazy special editions from fashion designers (the Pierre Cardin & Oleg Cassini edition Matadors have mind blowing interiors).
The Levi edition was relatively tame but did indeed call for the interior to be done up in classic blue Levi's denim; stitching, rivets and all. In reality the upholstery was a vinyl that looked and felt like denim as the real thing would have been difficult to clean and keep up. The seat backs on this ride retain their look pretty well.
The easiest way to identify the year of a Gremlin is the grill. In '75 and '77 the turn signals were rectangular making this a guaranteed '76.
AMC was truly the little car company that could. While the Big Three were located in Detroit little AMC was based in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Their designs were totally original throughout the '70s and their cars were all modest hits. The Hornet, Matador, Pacer, Eagle, and Gremlin were all bankrolled by the fact that AMC owned Jeep. Renault bought a major share before Chrysler took the company over, ending the company as a stand-alone name. To this day you'd be hard pressed to find more quirky classics to roll in though. If you hit up a car show in a Levi's Gremlin I guarantee it would be more swarmed with admirers than any Shelby Mustang worth 20 times the price.

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