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Build A Sleeper? 1974 AMC Gremlin


I’d be more enthusiastic about this Gremlin X if it had the optional V8; not that I don’t like the AMC inline 6, far from it. But the image of a sleeper with dog-dish hubcaps and faded paint, but the power to embarrass much fancier cars was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this car. It’s located in Lodi, New Jersey and is listed here on eBay where the bidding is at $1,001 without a reserve.


The seller describes the car as a “barn find without a barn!” Has “barn find” just become a marketing term these days? They certainly have made no effort to clean the car up. The rust and dents in the left rear are more than a little scary. This is one car, though, where I would literally make zero effort to improve the cosmetics, apart from cleaning the windows so I could see out!


Can you imagine anyone expecting this car to even be able to get out of it’s own way? Don’t get me wrong, I like Gremlins and the basic platform derived from the Hornet isn’t that bad. Thus, my plan: take one unassuming compact and add a large dose of horsepower, mix well, and terrorize the streets! Yes, this is one I wouldn’t leave alone. Pick your manufacturer; you could stay with AMC, stretch the “family” by going with Chrysler, or use the ubiquitous Ford or Chevy V8. I suppose you could even hot-rod the existing inline 6, but I think that would be missing the point.


I would have to at least sanitize the interior and replace the broken driver’s side window, though. Yes, it’s pretty bad in there, and the seller’s mentioning of rust around the seat belt mounts has me wondering about my sanity for even thinking about keeping this one on the road. Perhaps this Gremlin is just a parts car? How sad that it’s survived this long only to meet that fate; I hope not.


The engine compartment is the best looking part of this car. Ok, maybe I was too quick to insert a V8. Perhaps a later generation of the six like a 4.0 out of a late model Jeep would be the ticket. There I go again, trying to figure out a way to save this car. Can you come up with anything? Let us know in the comments!


  1. Avatar photo piper62j

    Ugh!!! Don’t walk away from this thing.. RUN!!!

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  2. Avatar photo Nessy

    A guy in my area used to drive a purple 72 Gremlin with a 70 390 AMX motor, 4 speed, headers and a hot cam. The roof had dents in it from the body twisting. This crazy guy also had a gold Pinto with as much weight removed from the car as possible and he shoved a 460 V8 with a C6 Automatic in it. Words can’t even describe what it felt like to be in the passenger seat. That’s another story.

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    • Avatar photo frank

      I had a purple 72 in high school. It came stock with the 304 which I promptly blew up. Swapped it out for a 401 automatic out of an Ambassador highway patrol car.
      The nice thing about the AMC V-8’s is they are all the same size externally.

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  3. Avatar photo Lee Hartman

    Looks to me like this sleeper died in it’s sleep.

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  4. Avatar photo MountainMan

    This little Gremlin is mighty crusty. I knew a diesel mechanic who had a brown one with a hopped up 6 under the hood. Header, big cam, worked head, hot spark and big 4 barrel providing the fuel. It was just as rusty and crusty as this example but also it was fast as hell! Im not sure that I would hunt for one of these with the sleeper build in mind but if one was to run across the needed components at the right price it would make for an entertaining project

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  5. Avatar photo Rex Kahrs Member

    Really looks like a flood car to my eye. And remember the pictures always make a car look better than it is….

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  6. Avatar photo Jim

    Back in the 80’s a customer of mine had a contract with the Postal Service to repair postal jeeps and he used a Gremlin to tow them. He removed the rear glass, bolted a bang bar to the rear bumper and mounted a hydraulic piston to a steel channel kind of like on a snow plow. I know it sounds crazy but it did the job.

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  7. Avatar photo Frankie Paige

    You can’t sleep in that car, well, maybe if you were a jockey

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  8. Avatar photo Chebby

    Unless building it is half the fun for you, for a lot less money I think you can buy a 401-powered sleeper from an AMC guy who’s done it right.

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  9. Avatar photo Steve

    $500 car. I’m an AMC guy and there are far better examples. Don’t under estimate the AMC 6. You can wrench 300 hp out of them and loads of torque. This ones a parts car though.

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  10. Avatar photo van

    Is there a neighborhood anywhere on the planet where a guy with this could get a date
    Houston were a no go for launch

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  11. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    I agree with Steve. These cars were pretty light (2600lbs) and the AMC 6 ( either 232 or 258) would move this car right along. Serious rusters and someone hooked the wheels, as X’s had fancier wheels. It looks bad, but not many around today, and if you are looking for Gremlin to fix up, I think this is as good as it’s going to get.

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  12. Avatar photo BradL

    Let it sleep.

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  13. Avatar photo Gary I

    I have sent much better cars to the junkyard! I think the seller is one lucky dude to get over $1,000 for this and I would like to think the bidders need a lot of parts.

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  14. Avatar photo Clint

    Agree that the AMC 6 makes an impressive amount of torque when built up.

    Buddy had a 74 Gremlin X with the 258 and a 3 speed. He went shopping at Clifford Performance. Quite a few 5.0L Mustangs and IROC Camaros got embarrassed in western NC by “that funny looking purple Gremlin”. We even ran it at Greer Raceway in SC a few times. If nothing else; it was consistent, and Mike won several trophies.

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    • Avatar photo Jeff DeWitt

      I’ve surprised a few guys in 5.0 Mustangs with my Cherokee with the 4.0. It was pretty consistent at beating them right up to the speed limit at which point I’d back off (I’m no kid and really like my drivers license!).

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      • Avatar photo Joe64NYWF

        “They” can still get u for reckless driving or even squealin tires. Beware TODAY!
        & after the ticket, u get a whole bunch of letters in mail from lawyers – so much for privacy!

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  15. Avatar photo mark

    This is a car that a local person should offer 500 bucks for and hope to drive it for 6 months before it dies.

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  16. Avatar photo Monte

    Will a boss 429 fit in it?

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  17. Avatar photo Henry Agee

    I am building a sleeper 1976 Gremlin at this moment . Has been a great project! I installed a 1987 TPI Vette computer controlled engine. Fits like a glove!

    Like 1

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