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Estate Dragster: 1971 AMC Gremlin

1971 AMC Gremlin Dragster

Estate sales can be great places to find classic cars. Most of the cars we see that have come out of estate sales are low mileage cars with minimal wear and only in need of a good detailing. Usually these cars can best be described as granny cars, but every once in a while we spot estate finds that are just plain odd and unusual. Well this one fits both categories and then some. How can you get any odder than an AMC Gremlin? Oh I know, turn it into a wheelie popping dragster! If you’ve been wanting to fulfill all of your ’70s drag racing fantasies, you can find this 1971 Gremlin here on eBay, but you had better act fast!

1971 AMC Gremlin Cleaned Up

It wasn’t uncommon in the mid to late ’70s to see wildly upgraded Gremlins and Beetles tearing up drag strips across America. There is just something funny, yet awe inspiring about seeing one of these goofy looking cars doing a wheel stand or beating a big muscle car off the line. Making one of these actually safe though was a tough task, especially with their short wheel base and low weight, so there aren’t many left that haven’t been careened into a wall. This one has some bumps and bruises, but it solid and in decent shape.

1971 AMC Gremlin Small Block

As you can see, someone has shoe horned a Chevy small block into this tiny engine bay. They aren’t sure of the specific size, but state that it’s a V6. It certainly looks like a V8 to me and the Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake would suggest it’s a V8. Of course, I could be wrong, so please correct me if I am. For this to be a real mean dragster, it has to have a V8, especially if it’s ever going to put the wheelie bars to good use! The seller is also unsure about the mechanical condition of the motor, but as long as it isn’t seized, it shouldn’t be much of an issue to install a carburetor and get it running!

1971 AMC Gremlin Wheelie Bars

Getting this Gremlin back to the track is going to be a big undertaking, but well worth the work! I can only imagine the mixture of joy and fear that launching this tiny car will bring. And of course, there is the joy that will come from beating all those conventional muscle cars in the quarter mile. If it were mine, I would struggle with one decision though. Would I leave the original paint as is or have it repainted in something a bit flashier and how do I put this, more ’70s! So if this Gremlin was yours, what would you do with is?


  1. Terry

    I sure see 8 spark plug wires. Too bad they didn’t go with a pumped up AMC 401 cu in V8. They could be ordered with the 304 cu in V8, and I think the 401 was also an option. The automatic trannys used in those cars were actually Chrysler Torque Flite 904s if memory serves. :-) TJ

    Like 1
    • Rustowner

      Thats for sure a SBC in there. Neat car and I’d like to have it, just for the fun factor. Looks like a decent build, with good components considering the time frame it was built in. Some body issues present, but don’t to hard to sort out. $4000 right now and that seems pretty cheap to me, especially considering what it would cost to duplicate the chassis work and hard components present on the car.

      Like 1
    • Rustowner

      These were optional with a 304 from ’72 to ’76 on (if I remember correctly). No 401 option though (with the exception of some AMC blessed, dealer built cars) but easy to swap in a 360, 390, or 401 as the blocks are identical for AMC’s. Borg Warner autos for the first few years before they swapped to the baby torqueflite.

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  2. redwagon

    is that braided hose a nitrous line?

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    • jim s

      yes i think you are right. that would make it fun to drive when the nitrous kicked in!

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      • Rustowner

        Doesn’t look like nitrous guys. Fuel regulator that goes to a block splitter to feed a double pumper 4 barrel carb, that apppears to be all.

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    • sir mike

      don’t think so…looking at the ebay pictures the line comes around to a fuel pressure reg then goes into two lines…probably ran a double pumper carb.

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  3. jim s

    i see 4 header tubes per side so i too think it is a V8. before buying, research would need to be done on where it could be raced, what rules would it be under, and how much safety updating would be needed. looking at the photos the car would have to be complete rebuilt. nice find

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  4. Alan (Michigan)

    Looks like fun. I think it could fit into any venue running what are called “Nostalgia Drags”.

    Hard to believe, but this car is over 40 years old!

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  5. sir mike

    wish they wouldn’t have removed the dash…would make a nice street car for car shows or weekend cruising.i like it…

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  6. John Newell

    This car must have been owned by someone who didn’t know much about AMC engines or the car would have anything from a 390 to a 401 in it. There were lots of those engines around and it was really easy to get nearly 500 hp out of a 390 engine back in 1970 by adding the Rebel Machine Service Package. The 401s were offered as a dealer upgrade in Arizona. That made AMC ever to over a street legal car not part of a racing program to the public that could do wheel stands consistently direct from the dealership.

    This car is a great deal for any one wanting to go the weekend warrior route as the mods done to the car are substantial and difficult to duplicate for twice the money.

    What I would do though is dump the Chevy motor and put a 401 in it.

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  7. Tirefriar

    Well, its gone – for under $5k. Someone got a very nice project to work on that when finished should be very cool to take to shows or run down the strip just for fun. Vegas and the Gremlins seemed to be the favorite to stuff the large motors in – given their size the bodies (reinforced of course) were just the “sheath” for the monster motors.

    Like 0

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