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Concept Or Custom? 1974 AMC Gremlin Convertible

American Motors rolled out the Gremlin in 1970 as a counterattack to the onslaught of small imports. And the new subcompacts from Chevy and Ford. It was based on the Hornet compact with 12 inches removed from the wheelbase and a funky rear gate added. But it was only offered as a coupe, so this convertible is either a one-off or a former AMC concept car as the seller suggests. Located in Racine, Wisconsin, this interesting oddity is available here on craigslist for $25,000. Our thanks to Rocco B. for bringing this weird tip to light!

From 1970 to 1977, AMC produced more than 670,000 Gremlins, so it had to be successful regardless of the measuring stick used. It was considered “quirky” at best when it came to styling, but it offered something that the VW Beetle or the Chevy Vega could not: an inline-6 with cubic inches of 232 or 258 depending on the model year (a small-block V8 would even come later). AMC had fun in promoting the car, calling it the “first American-built import.”

If you search the net, you’ll find some references to the seller’s car. But none seem to think it was an AMC concept car. Those types of projects almost always end up in the crusher, though a few are known to escape that fate from time to time. It appears to have begun as a Levi edition of the Gremlin, an option package that had denim-looking upholstery. But that’s gone in favor of the fuzzy stuff in place now.

What sets this convertible apart from others are the cut-back doors and the addition of a continental kit in the back for the spare tire. One article suggests that this one-off has taken on a nautical theme with the convertible top being one of the cues. The seller does not attempt to tell us anything about the car other than the concept assumption. The odometer is broken, so we don’t know the mileage on the inline-6 or the rest of the vehicle. If you were looking for an odd car to collect, a Gremlin would certainly be one. But this example takes it one or two steps further!

Comments

  1. Avatar photo JCA Member

    Scary. Needs a roll bar at least. There’s no way they put fuel injection in this ’74

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Big_Fun Member

      That is a Cadillac Fuel Injection badge, likely from the late 70’s Seville or Eldorado. That font, along with the 45 ° angle hook on the J is the giveaway.

      Like 3
      • Avatar photo Riffraff

        This is the car my Dad’s buddy Gordy owned in the 70s . I remember thinking back then what a hideous monstrosity this was. I still think that is!!!

        Like 17
    • Avatar photo Nelson C

      Has that funky kind of cool. Absolute best use of a continental kit since you couldn’t mess up the car any more.

      Like 7
  2. Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Nice work, Russ! It reminds me of the Subaru 360 Yacht or a Fiat/Renault Jolly-type of island vehicle. I love the boat top, the interior, not so much.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Shade Lee Gurewicz

      It definitely gives me boat vibes! Be cool to tow a small boat with it!

      Like 2
  3. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    Um, no, nice try though. The only Gremlin concept car I heard of was something called an “XP” and was supposed to be the 2nd gen Gremlin in ’74, a Gremlin with a revised tail section but never made it. This is just a garage doin’s.

    Like 11
    • Avatar photo James Moore

      What a waste of time

      Like 4
  4. Avatar photo KC John Member

    Winner of shortest description on a clist ad.

    Like 11
  5. Avatar photo Robert Proulx

    That baby aint got no F.I. for sure. Aside that its an interesting ride for summer days. With parts still plentifull i’d get rid of the awfull continental kit and put back an o.e.m. bumper

    Like 15
    • Avatar photo Jim

      Agree. Without the continental kit and the cutaway doors, it would be pretty cool.

      Like 8
  6. Avatar photo Howie

    What is a bigger laugh, the car or the price?

    Like 11
  7. Avatar photo Gerry

    I live in Racine so I’ve known the car most of my life. It gets driven regularly in parades and is at most local car shows. Whether factory or not- AMC constructed lots of weird stuff, concept and otherwise, so who knows?
    My opinion of it has always been ditch the continental kit(whoever heard of a boat with a spare tire? and a nautical interior materials update anytime since about 1982. If one wanted to compare to say, a Fiat Jolly, how about wicker?

    Like 8
    • Avatar photo Fox owner

      You could enclose the spare tire in something that looks like a life preserver! Seriously, I would ditch the Continental kit too, and do the interior in blue vinyl like a Chris Craft. But no. 25 large is too much for this oddity

      Like 5
    • Avatar photo Carbuzzard Member

      That’s the kind of lead a researcher would need to find out more about this car. Pictures would help, especially with any local sponsor’s name on it. The homecoming queen’s experience would be a great sidebar.

      One problem is that by now, most if anyone who had been involved with its production is now gone.

      But as I noted in another post, I think this is a real show property. My old car history writer-upper chimes are going off big time.

      Like 3
    • Avatar photo Tony Primo

      Reminds me of the saying nice place to visit………

      Like 1
  8. Avatar photo Uncle Ed

    This should be a crime

    Like 10
  9. Avatar photo Jamie

    That looks like something Gilligan would’ve driven on the island. No thanks.

    Like 9
  10. Avatar photo Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    I’m a fan of continental kits, but this one, not so much! Maybe if it was the kind that had the original bumper in the original position with the small bump out in the center, kinda like the ’67 Jeepster Commando that was recently on here.
    Don’t need a rollbar with the doors cut-down like that, but I’d prefer they weren’t cut down, looks stupid to me. Change the interior. Why couldn’t they show the front of the car or the car with the top up? Or is there a top?
    My bid, $5000, tops!

    Like 11
    • Avatar photo Car Nut Tacoma

      Lovely looking car. I’ve never seen a Gremlin convertible. It would’ve been neat to see them produced and offered. If only more pics were posted on craigslist. Whether this was indeed a one off custom or a concept, it’s too bad so few were ever produced. Given how rare this car is, $25k doesn’t sound like a bad price.

      Like 2
    • Avatar photo Big C

      I immediately thought of a Jeepster, when I saw this thing! Like the old ’40’s cars with two front ends stitched together. There will always be someone thinking up weirdness, when it comes to vehicles.

      Like 3
  11. Avatar photo Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    There are no side windows on this thing, is there?
    Why is the hood popped up like that? Front-end damage?
    So many questions

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

      Angel,

      AMC used hood props to save money, using simple hinges without springs or struts

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo Carbuzzard Member

        And weight.

        Like 0
  12. Avatar photo Anonymous1

    Huh. The Gremlin was always a “meh” car to me, and the continental kit and cutaway doors don’t do it any favors, but I think it looks so much better as a convertible.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo JW sanders

      I can guarantee you that this is a custom, NOT a concept!
      Terrible custom van velour fabric, and a ridiculous continental kit are the first clues. Dated, strange graphics aside, I hope they did a lot of structural reinforcement, or this would be a flexi-flyer!
      BTW, Gremlins will always get more looks at a car show, as they are far more rare, than the Chevies, Mustangs, and Vettes!

      Like 0
  13. Avatar photo Chris Cornetto

    WELCOME! to Fantasy island. I kinda like it but not 25k worth.

    Like 5
  14. Avatar photo Rumpledoorskin

    I like the doors, the continental kit I do not. There is no fuel injection, but it does have A/C. I would have to have boat upholstery inside to match the outside, then I know what I’d do with it. I’d haul the royalty around in the parade in class. On second thought, I’d keep the continental kit just to be more outrageous.

    Like 4
  15. Avatar photo TinCanSailor

    My future Radwood ride! This thing is pretty awesome in a totally 70s sorta way.

    Like 2
  16. Avatar photo Azzura Member

    This car is the answer to the question, “How do you make a Gremlin even uglier”?

    Like 5
  17. Avatar photo Last 1LE

    The answer to a question no sane person would ever ask.

    Like 3
  18. Avatar photo Carbuzzard Member

    That does sort of look like a “show property,” a car prepped to put on a stand to attract car show attendees to mingle among the cars that are for sale.

    Call it a “concept car.” Yeah, it’s being considered for production. Nope. Just bait for the curious, and for those who might buy an AMC if the company could get them close enough them.

    The cut down doors look like more than what a local garage might do. And the fuel injection? More bait. Anyway, FI would certainly be more drivable that any carburetor of that era.

    The fuzzy seats? Velour was big in the ‘70s, and the continental kit would be more bait. “Look, how luxury is that!”

    It would take a deep dive in contemporary literature to prove whether this is a factory-commissioned show car. It wouldn’t likely be in any major car magazine. But it might be in a press kit—my collection doesn’t go back that far—or in a show program.

    Like 2
  19. Avatar photo Jack Quantrill

    How can you make an ugly car uglier? This way!

    Like 3
  20. Avatar photo luckless pedestrian

    Lose the silly continental kit, and this would make an interesting, off-beat beach car. I’ve seen other “customs” that look much worse…

    Like 2
  21. Avatar photo steve

    This is the new definition of automotive ugly. If someone actually pays the asking price, well, as they say, a fool and their money are soon parted.

    Like 3
  22. Avatar photo Tim Van Dyke

    Never thought it possible to make that car uglier than it was. Obviously I was wrong!

    Like 2
  23. Avatar photo Pat P.

    The only explanation is that they drink A LOT of beer in Racine.

    Like 3
  24. Avatar photo Daniel

    How to make a Gremlin WORSE.

    That price is lunacy personified.

    Like 2
  25. Avatar photo Corey Irons

    Is this car any uglier with the top up? What am monstrosity.

    Like 2
  26. Avatar photo 370zpp Member

    Somewhere is a station wagon missing its roof rack.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo David Simpson

      Yup…Had a new 1973 Gremlin back in the day. With the BIG 6 cylinder (258). Three on the floor. It was actually pretty quick from 0 to 60 if you could keep the right rear tire from spinning.

      Like 1
  27. Avatar photo jwaltb

    70s version of the Nissan Murano convertible.

    Like 2
  28. Avatar photo jw sanders

    1 or 2 bbl carbs worked just FINE, thank you!!
    As a witness to EPA certification testing, I can assure you they couldn’t have worked better than any TBFI…

    Like 0
  29. Avatar photo chrlsful

    luv 2 C it w/top up. It DOES have a watery personality.
    The furry seats and back porch need to go tho
    engine is its best parts… I’d drive it once~

    Like 0
  30. Avatar photo Mark P

    Lose the dive platform, on every car that’s ever had one. Probably the most obnoxious addition to every car I’ve seen it on.

    Like 2
  31. Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

    There are several reasons to believe this was not a creation by AMC, & not a concept car. Here are some examples:

    1. Cut-down doors were not allowed by US regulations starting in 1968. By 1974 they were out of style [except for a few in Italy]. Note that the only US vehicles with “cut down” type doors were actually trucks, as they were exempt from the car safety regulations. [Jeep CJ & Bronco, for examples.]
    2. No manufacturer is going to make a vehicle with cut down doors that also open up with the door latches. That’s just not professional.
    3. If this was a concept vehicle, AMC would have left the hokey boat-like folding top off completely.
    4. AMC would not have made a vehicle without roll-up windows, but with factory A/C.
    5. and finally, had AMC created this car, due to lack of meeting various safety regulations, it could never have been sold legally, with a VIN and certificate of manufacture. For legal reasons AMC would have destroyed the car.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Carbuzzard Member

      A concept car is often—if not usually—not street legal or practical or likely to suit everyone’s fancy. Go to a car show and see how many seat treatments there are that would never be producible, designed to make the concept look bigger inside. The concept may have “suicide” rear doors that show goers will point at and tell each other how cool it is, when the whole purpose is to make the full interior visible with the doors open.

      I mean, did you really expect Chrysler to produce that V-10-powered motorcycle with siamesed front and rear wheels? Eye candy.

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo Rumpledoorskin

        I wanted them to…

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

        CarBuzzard,

        I agree completely, but the corporate legal offices tend to ensure that the cars that have been modified in such a way as to be no longer legal to sell, are scrapped or stripped for parts.

        For decades the 1950s & 60s GM concept cars were taken to a scrapyard [called Warhoops I think] outside of Detroit, where the cars were cut up, typically into 4 equal parts. Fortunately for historians, the scrapyard didn’t destroy the pieces, and later on various people were able to buy the pieces and put some of the GM concept cars back together again.

        Like 1
  32. Avatar photo Carbuzzard Member

    Yes, Warhoops. A lot of them were stuck in the corner for decades. Joe Bortz started rounding them up in the ‘80s. I drove the Dodge Diamante for an article in AutoWeek. I’ve republished it on my website.

    Like 1

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