Levi’s Edition: 1978 AMC Gremlin

We recently talked about the Toyota Celica U.S. Grand Prix Edition as a prime example of the lengths automakers will go to concoct a special edition. Well, what about the pants? The same rules (or lack thereof) applied for AMC, which created a special edition of its Gremlin X to commemorate the popularity of jeans among the denim-loving youth of the 1970s. This AMC is tired but original and said to be rust-free. Find it here on eBay for $4,940. 

The Levi’s package added denim seating surfaces, complete with orange tabs, which is mostly worn off here. The seller notes that due to fire regulations, actual denim seats were not used but rather, a simple cover that wore off easily. Other trim enhancements included: “…copper rivets replace tufted buttons in seatbacks and cushions. Orange contrasting stitching joined the seams. This Special Model would be identified by Levi’s traditional pocket tab appearing inside the car on the front seats and the Levi’s logo would be mounted on the front fenders.”

This car is an X package Gremlin, which is arguably more desirable than other lower-spec models. The X designation did not mean more performance hardware; rather, it was mostly cosmetic, with features like a package shelf below the dash and carpeting made standard, along with A/C and an AM/FM radio. This car retains its original head unit but the A/C compressor has been removed. The automatic is a let-down, but the seller says the car runs and drives although towing is still recommended due to the condition of the tires.

This Gremlin is likely a fairly low production vehicle once you factor in the X and Levi’s package options. Although it’s currently in Chicago, its said to be a longtime New Mexico vehicle that shows signs of many years’ worth of dry, desert-like conditions. While a manual transmission and a V8 would be nice, this Gremlin is also worthy of restoration given how few of these Levi’s edition are likely still on the road today. When’s the last time you saw jeans in an interior?

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Comments

  1. XMA0891

    $4,940? No harm in starting off a New Year with a wish, I guess. Yes, admittedly a rare car, but as with most things AMC, “rare” does not translate into “valuable”. Still-in-all, I do hope some philanthropist saves this cute little standout.

  2. Henry Drake

    As said above, “Rare”, does not mean valuable. I think the decimal point is one place off. Even five C notes seem like too much though.

    What “fire regulations”? Source?

    Nice stock photo in the ad.

  3. Superdessucke

    I think we should just call this one a Grimelin. I love a barn find as much as the next guy but there’s no way it brings anything close to the asking price with this presentation. Clean it and fix the rear springs and maybe they can get 2,500 to 3,000 from somebody who has to have a Gremlin?

  4. Gub

    That is not a Levi edition.

  5. That AMC Guy

    Seems way overpriced. I don’t see pictures under the hood, it probably has the 258 six but a 2.0L OHC 4 was also available in the Gremlin for ’77 and ’78. (Not sure if the 4-banger was a choice with the “X” package.) The 4-cylinder motor was purchased from VW/Audi, and one of the conditions of sale was that AMC could not mention where the engine came from.

    This last year Gremlin used the then-new Concord dashboard. This was a big improvement over the old Hornet dash which was composed of multiple ill-fitting pieces. In this car there’s a blank plate to the left of the speedometer where a high-tech digital clock would normally be. (Standard in Concord, presumably optional in the Gremmie.)

    • MDD

      While I’m not sure about what was available that year, was the 304 V8 not available in 1978. I thought the Levi’s addition had nothing to do with the X package and the 304 was the upgraded X package engine.

  6. Rube Goldberg Member

    I don’t think it is a Levi’s either, there’s no markings on the side. Regardless, this is the last year for the Gremlin, probably the most important car of the times. Few recognize the importance of this car, but it ushered in the small car era, beating Pinto and Vega by months. I believe, it was also the least expensive US car, beating the cheapest at the time, the VW Bug. Early Gremlins usually had a rag in the gas tank, as the Gremlin gas caps were highly sought after. Nothing fancy, really but for me, an AMC fan through and through, AMC beat them all to the small car scene and sold over 600,000 in it’s 9 year run. Great find.

    • KKW

      600,000 in 9 years? Wow! Pinto did that in less than 2. Lol.

      • Kent Morris

        When you are the last independent auto maker and compete against the Big 3 with exponentially greater resources, yes, 600,000 in nine years is pretty amazing. Not blowing up on rear-end impact is also a good thing

  7. michael h streuly

    All gremlins are junk.

    • XMA0891

      I’ll admit to having a soft-spot for them, but to condemn all Gremlins as “junk” is too-broad a swipe. ‘70-‘73’s actually enjoyed a solid build-quality, and for an entry-level vehicle, were pretty rugged. ‘74-‘77’s (and this one) on the other hand… l’d probably give you… At $5,200, one thing is pretty clear: Maybe time to start trolling for some “Investment Quailty” Gremmies.

    • MDD

      I don’t agree, The girl of my dreams had one when she turned 16. An orange/ white 1975. I stopped by the local burger joint (owned by her mom) almost daily to admire her, the girl not the Gremlin!

    • Wes

      (Junk think again), I had one original inline 6 with 300,000 miles on it and it was a work horse. the only thing I put in it was a battery ,tires, and brakes. Looks aren’t everything.

  8. michael h streuly

    Price is now $5200.00

  9. SC/RAMBLER

    Rube you surprised me with your comments, after what you said about crybaby AMC workers the other day. I read somewhere that the Gremlin was the original hatchback beating pinto and vega to the punch. Though sometimes my sources are a not always right.

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      Hi SC, I apologize for that remark. I wanted to say, I grew up in Milwaukee, and many neighbors and friends worked for AMC, so I know pretty well what went on. By “crybaby”, I meant, these people were making, with benefits, almost $30 dollars/hr. when I was making $15 as a truck driver. When Chrysler took over, they begged the workers to take a pay cut, the engine plant in Mexico was building the same motor, the 4.0 six, ( the last thing made in Kenosha, I know, I hauled them) and were making $7.50/hr. The union steadfastly refused, and Chrysler pulled the plug, shutting down the line for good. Today, there’s absolutely no evidence in Kenosha that at one time, they were the #4 automaker. We can’t focus on the end, or the Alliance, because as far as we were concerned, AMC (and Rambler) were the best cars on the planet, and in their heyday, we, in Wisconsin, were very proud of that.

      • Roger

        That was a sad ending for AMC I agree and your comment about the workers there making $30 an hour with benefits echoes what I have been saying about the U.S.auto industry and maybe why the prices of new vehicles are priced out of the reach of the average worker in this country,how can someone making for example $15 an hour with benefits possibly afford a new vehicle made by workers than are certainly making way more than that today?

  10. kelly g

    my buddy had a Jeep CJ5 Levis edition. It was so cool. Ive never seen another one.

    • AltonG

      I have a buddy in Houston restored one and it is awesome!

    • Rspcharger Rspcharger

      My buddy just bought a ’76 Renegade CJ5 Levis edition in amazing condition. Unfortunately he has replaced the seats.

  11. Kent Morris

    Sorry, michael h streuly, all Gremlins are not junk. Cases in point: the ‘75 true X Levi’s edition I own along with a ‘77 X Gremlin, both of which start right up first time, every time 40 years on and are always the highlight of any car show they enter, eclipsing all the CMC (Camaro, Mustang, Corvette) cars every time.

    The Gremlin was the first sub-compact American mainstream car and its form foretold hatchbacks to come.

    Add unit body construction and robust structure (note the number of Gremlins used in drag racing) and you have a winning combination.

  12. Kent Morris

    Correct, the Gremlin debuted April Fool’s Day in 1970, beating the competition to market by almost half a year.

  13. Rube Goldberg Member

    The creators of the Simpsons loved to pick on the Gremlin. Marge had a Gremlin, Comic Book Guy had one, and of course, Hans Moleman.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XPnT66S2fU

  14. That AMC Guy

    The Gremlin was really not a bad car by the standards of the day. It certainly suffered from being a cut-down Hornet, which resulted in klutzy handling, higher gas consumption, and poor space utilization compared to other subcompacts. However the Gremlin was mechanically reliable (being bog-standard 1960s tech) and did not share the well-known severe flaws of its domestic competition.

  15. Mark H

    I had a 76 Levi edition Gremlin, blue and gold, 304, auto, posi, power steering and brakes, tilt wheel, roof rack, a/c, high back buckets with a console. Bought it for $300 and sold it for $600 after driving it for a year. Thought I did well on that one. Live and learn.

  16. Jack Quantrill

    The designer of this hideous monstrosity must have been on the hashish! This is up there with the Aztec!

  17. Classic Steel

    This one will sell if we ever get another actor in the White House . Oops
    Maybe if he puts 3900 in one dollar bills in the trunk it can sell for that price! 😂

  18. eddie stakes

    Hi folks it is indeed a Levi’s Gremlin if you go by the door panels. The seats appear to have been redone. Not all Gremlin, Hornet & Concord Levi’s Editions got decals either.

    AMC had a number of “designer” interiors and editions, this off my site: “1972-76 AMC Interiors. With Pierre Cardin Memo. One of the strangest photos is this one showing what was AMC’s attempt to spruce up their image, which it did. They brought on Gucci to do the Hornets; Pierre Cardin to do the Javelins and AMXs; Oleg Cassini to do the Matador; and Levi’s touched up a number of the Gremlin and Hornet Series. This photo shows the different interiors and was part of the 1973 Press Release Kit. If you would like to see these great interiors in color, you can find them in the 72-74 (and some 75-76) AMC Color Catalogs listed above.” http://www.planethoustonamx.com/press_photos/73-amc-seats-gucci-cardin-levis.JPG

    Color photo of Gucci Hornet Sportabout interior, was available only on wagons, not 2 or 4 door http://www.planethoustonamx.com/amc_ads/72_gucci_hornet.jpg

    In 1978 the last year of the Gremlin (which sold well for AMC) you could get four different colors of Levi’s interiors: red, tan, black and blue. About 100 78 AMX models made with black Levis interior. The interior was not real denim, but a ‘denim like material’ according to aMC.

    Oh, if anyone out west ever finds this Harrahs 78 AMX giveaway car, I have a bounty on it! http://www.planethoustonamx.com/stuff/harrahsamx.htm

    Here is a actual ad and color of a Levi’s Gremlin. I joke the girl looks drunk or stoned and has driven into a bullring if you look in background like a bad Bugs Bunny cartoon http://www.planethoustonamx.com/amc_ads/gremlin-girl-levis.JPG

    A number of people have used rolls of ‘denim like material’ found at Hobby Lobby to recover door panels and seats thru years, not for everyone but looks stock and works. The Levis buttons are really tough to find now, at one time 10 for $5 at Hobby Lobbys.

    A warning: AMC had some serious quality control issues 1976-78, with many low end cars like Gremlin & Hornet, not getting good undercoating. There was a big strike so scabs brought in and many cars inside doors, 1/4 panels and other place got what looks like silly string of undercoating. By then, damage done so AMC brought in summer of 1978 for 1979 new models Ziebart to undercoat the vehicles. So you don’t see the severe rust like fenders falling off on 79- end of production 1988 AMC models.

    The toughest pieces on this Gremlin if you ever need them are grilles, which can exceed $500, and the 1 year only brushed aluminium pieces on dash, however those do interchange with Concord AMX 78,
    http://www.planethoustonamx.com/press_photos/78_amx.jpg
    but only 1938 of those ever saw production AND less than 200 known to still exist. The uber rare Gremlin GT also had same dash along with cool flair kit http://www.planethoustonamx.com/amc_ads/78_gremlin_gt_ad.jpg

    The Gremlin in blue looks like a nice little car for someone, not sure about the price tag, but can tell you that whoever ends up with it, when you drive it to cruise nights and car shows, people will forget Hemis, Shelbys, Yenkos and other cars to come look at ‘the Rambler’ Happy Hunting, Eddie Stakes’ Planet Houston AMX

    • Kent Morris

      And that, my friends, is why Eddie Stakes is such a tremendous asset to the AMC community – and a great guy to boot!

  19. victor sanchez

    A friend of mine had I believe a 1972 Gremlin-X green with tan interior not really a bad looking car, while the rest of us were doing 10 mpg with our cars he could usually double that UNTIL a cat ran in front of him he stood on the brakes and engine and tranny went through the radiator. He called and asked if a couple of us could pull him home which we did but boy did we ever raz him about that. He ended up getting rid of the Gremlin for a 1972 El Camino SS

  20. Mitch Ross Member

    Gremlins have been selling for some decent prices lately, and this is one of the more desirable ones, final year Levis edition.

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