Big Block Bruiser: 1976 AMC Gremlin X

This is not your father’s Oldsmobile, unless your father’s Oldsmobile was actually a 454 cubic-inch V8-powered 1976 AMC Gremlin X. This mind-spinning and tire-spinning custom can be found here on craigslist in impossibly-beautiful Missoula, Montana. The seller is asking $7,500 for this monster. This is another gem of a tip sent in by none other than Ikey H. Thanks, Ikey!

I’m surprised at the seemingly reasonable asking price for this great looking car. I’m also surprised at how much I like it. For such a staunch, original-or-restored-to-original-spec guy, I think this is just about as cool as it gets.

Now that’s a view worthy of any teenager who grew up in the 1970s. “50s in the back, 70s in the front” was what we wanted to do with every car back then. I don’t know what size these tires actually are but that’s what it reminds me of. How’s this for a fantastic side view?! Man, what a cool car. The seller has owned this one for a few years and it was a dry-desert car and it’s virtually rust-free, according to the seller, with a couple of bubbles around the rear wheel wells. They have even included an underside photo.

I didn’t expect to see an automatic on the column inside but the “monster” Turbo-Hydramatic 400 transmission works great according to the owner. This is a car that would be fun to own for sure. Everything looks almost perfect inside right down to the back seat. Of course, these aren’t original seats and the dash looks like it’s been worked over and there are nice details everywhere.

I wish that the engine would have been a worked-over AMC 401, just to keep things in the family, but it’s a Chevy 454 cubic-inch V8 and there’s no word on horsepower but it has to be a lot. The engine bay has been restored and it looks as clean as can be in there. They say that this engine sounds tough and I don’t doubt that one bit. Have any of you ever created a big block bruiser out of an unassuming little car like this ’76 Gremlin?

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Comments

  1. CapNemo

    A bad decision that I would love to make!!

    19
    • Mike B

      Cap, you have the same outlook as I do.

      4
  2. BRAKTRCR

    It does look like it’s a blast. He doesn’t say anything about stall speed in the TH400, but it certainly looks driveable. Definitely will get a lot of attention. I would prefer a narrowed rear end, but yes, the look fits an era. Seems like a good price to me too Scotty. Might not last long. The seats have airbags… cracks me up, but they look great.

    5
  3. John M.

    I built a plastic model of a Gremlin that was put out by AMT back in the 1970s that was very similar in appearance but I never thought that I would see a full size version. .

    4
  4. Dave Mika

    We used to race alongside a guy out at KCIR who had a mid-engined BB one of these, and he cleaned house like a champ.

    5
  5. That AMC Guy

    With so little weight over the drive wheels in a Gremlin I can’t even begin to imagine the wheelspin on this thing when hitting the loud pedal!

    4
  6. Troy s

    Neat Gremlin on a healthy steroid diet, if that thing could actually hook up off the line at all I wonder if it would flip over! 454 might be just a little bit over the top here. Ha! Then there’s the shift to 2nd, which could add more drama to the ride. Fun fun fun, brother!
    Cars such as this are always more than welcome at any cruise or car show, the drag strip…..well…very cool.

    4
    • Karl

      Interesting and pretty unique I bet it’s a complete pig in handling but it’s got the stance of a driving adventure. How could you ever get it to hook without a 4 link and slicks?

      3
  7. Tom Member

    I have always wanted one of these “just because” !! I am a GM guy so this would be the one but funds are not currently available for this one. Darn !!

    Good color, too bad about the early mid-70’s government bumpers !! UGH.

    4 speed manual would be much nicer. I could do without that particular hood scoop. ……..Notice I am trying to talk myself out of buying this one!!

    CapNemo…..LOVE your comment!

    5
  8. Tony Primo

    I don’t know how that big block stays cool without a fan shroud. Narrow the rear end or craft up some fender flares. Lose the ridiculous hood scoop and get a larger diameter air filter and then you wouldn’t look so foolish out on the street.

    5
  9. Vudutu

    How do you see to pilot this bit of auto insanity, that scoop is nuts.

    2
  10. Rube Goldberg

    AMC guy is right, this is just a fancy toy, and hardly competitive, if that was their goal. This thing would never hook up. The scoop is off an old Pro Stock car, and they don’t use those scoops anymore, looks ridiculous, and some enterprising cop might say, for the street, it hinders view. Somebody sunk a ton of money into this, and quite frankly, a stock Gremlin might attract more buyers. They were mostly ladies cars, and I doubt many ladies would want to relive their Gremlin days with this. If so, I’d like to meet her.

    2
  11. MB

    in 1974, built a friend’s 72 GremlinX, used the 1970 390/ T10 out of my Rebel Machine. With slicks and open headers the car would pull the front wheels off the ground. Never made it to the drags, but the car was very competitive with other friends cars that ran high 12’s/low 13’s. He traded it for a real 68 Z/28. I don’t think it was a good trade, and kinda pissed I lost the 390…

    4
  12. AMCFAN

    I think the seller is very hopeful here. This was just on ebay recently at the $3000 range and I considered for a moment then good judgement kicked in. Someone really went out of their way on this build. The wrong way. Could have spent a hell of a lot less on putting an AMC 360 or 401 as the car was designed for an AMC V8 to begin with. All is not lost as I would quickly loose the GM drive train and right the wrong.

    Back in the day my 360 powered Gremlin had a pro stock snorkle hood scoop because well…..it worked for Wally Booth and wasn’t an issue looking out over it on the street. It was an amazing thing. I had Pro Trac 50’s on the rear and would pull the front wheels off the ground. It was a fun car that people still talk about. I just had a conversation just the other day

    5
    • Rube Goldberg

      I agree, if going this route, keep it AMC. Splitting hairs which is faster. I disagree the car was designed for a V8. If I’m not mistaken, the Gremlin was the original economy car, powered by a small 6 cylinder. It didn’t take long to figure, if a Hornet had a V8, why not a Gremlin and the rest is history.

      5
      • Long Ago

        This car was designed for a V8. It could be ordered from the factory with a 304 V8 and a posi unit. Been there, done that in 1973.

  13. Will Fox

    I had one of these once!! It came out of a box of Captain Crunch!!

    2
  14. AMCSTEVE

    You can tell this manhole sniffer is straining under the weight of that bb. First thing i would do is pull it and put a 401 in there and remove that front bumper. Gremmies weren’t designed for that kind of weight.

    2
  15. Dave

    All it needs is Rat Fink sticking out of the roof…

    8
  16. Johnmloghry

    Reminds me of a mechanic I had working for me back in the late 90’s. except he used a Buick Regal, he put a 454 with a high lift 3/4 cam. I remember the first time he started it, if he kept the brakes on it would die, when he let off the brake if would chirp the rear tires at idle. He pulled the cam and put the stock cam in then it would actually idle.
    God bless America

    4
  17. BRAKTRCR

    Just a couple quick internet searches, to confirm, what I pretty much knew. A Big Block Chevy, with cast iron heads weighs 580 lbs. An AMC 401 weighs 540 lbs, so, the difference is negligible, a common misunderstanding. I understand the mentality, of AMC stuff, in AMC cars etc, but what is done is done, and your HP per $ is much less on Chevy stuff, because there is so much of it. Not necessarily fair, but true.
    I also understand, the aversion to the hood scoop. worst case scenario, a Sawzall could have it off in seconds, or you can buy a pin on fiberglass hood for $250, or bolt on for $350.
    So, for what little we know about this car, you can really have a lot of fun for this kind of money. Someone mentioned something about it being a $3000 car, can you buy a BBC alone for $3000 anymore?
    Please folks understand, I’m not slamming anyone for their thoughts or opinions, but perhaps be willing to look at a different perspective. The entire Hot Rodding industry, has done unusual engine swaps in Hot Rods since… late 40’s?

    4
  18. OIL SLICK

    ugh 40 lbs is not negligible. I would also throw on some eddy aluminum heads and manifold. What don’t you get man? look at the poor car.

  19. Vwmikey

    Had a green one. With a 455 Buick. Nasty sob. Absolutely no good in the rain. But fun to drive non the less.

    4
  20. Del

    Car is ridiculous.

    Probably cannot see past the moronic intake scoop.

    Junk

  21. wuzjeepnowsaab

    I bet this would be a looper if you stood on it from a roll. If ever a car screamed I need wheelie bars, this is the one

    3
  22. bobhess Member

    Don’t quite get the talk of buying it and spending twice to three times as much changing it. If I was in the market I’d buy because it would be fun and I wouldn’t have to rebuild it. Did see one of these at a drag strip with a well over 400ci engine and it hooked up just fine thank you. Nice car.

    4
  23. SC/RAMBLER

    First off an AMC 401 with cast iron heads and a sheet metal tunnel ram put out 718 H.P. Herman Lewis got 850 with his own aluminum heads so it doesn’t take a 454 BBC to get outrageous H.P.
    Ofcourse the BBC obtaining that kind of h.p. might not cost as much but ANY stret/strip engine is going to cost lots of MONEY. The faster you want to go the higher the price.
    As far as this Gremlin goes I like it just as it sits. Is it senceable NO but that’s not even a consideration when building something over the top like this.

    1
  24. Butchb

    As mentioned, this car was on Ebay with a no reserve ending bid of $6500+ change. Non-paying winning bid? Shill bidder? We’ll never know.
    I have a 73 Gremlin with a SBC/700r4 & Mustang Fox Trac-loc re. I love it, AMC purists hate it. But a lot of orphan make cars live on because they get mated to more common drive trains. In the case of this particular Gremlin I’d have to see it to believe it when it comes to all these “I’d put a 401 in it” folks. Rare indeed would be the motorhead who ,if they didn’t already have one ready on an engine stand, go out and get a AMC 401 and invest the $$ just so a Gremlin could be pure AMC. Talk is cheap, and orphan performance motor builds cost real money. Never, ever, would the juice be worth the squeeze in this case.

    2
    • AMCSTEVE

      Yes talk is cheap, I have 3 401s ready to go, yeah talk is cheap….you don’t know what your talking about and don’t know anything about AMC.

      1
  25. Rob Sweet

    A neighbor had one of these gremlin X hotrods. Wouldnt run at all. I rebiilt the carb and gave a good tune. I think it had a 401 AMC in it. That thing ran like a stripped ape when all was said and done.
    I had a 70 mach 1 and this thing would pull it it all day long. Impressive!!

  26. Karl

    Lots of talk about putting an engine in a vehicle from another company, well heres an engine switch you don’t often see. I have a buddy with a Vega Panel with an AMC 401 in it. It’s a drag car all the way tube chassis and all but you don’t see to many 401 AMC engines going into race cars.

    2
    • Butchb

      I love it! I had a 72 Vega wagon with a SBC for years. Give your buddy a big thumbs up from me for thinking outside box and daring to be different. Does the Chevy crowd bash on him about having a mix make car? Not much I imagine.

      1
  27. Angel Member

    Pure it’s not. Like so many other cars in our own garages. So many V8s residing in what were born 6 cylinders…or big blocks where small blocks once were. This guy (or whoever the builder was) has the spirit….build it to drive it and have fun doing it. No disrespect to the purists whatsoever, as authenticity is valued and appreciated, but hell, if its yours, build it the way you want to-And drive it the same way! Personally, if you arent coming over to build it for me, then accept how I chose to build it….I personally love this wicked wedge!

    3

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