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Mini-Muscle: 1977 AMC Gremlin

There seems to be a contingent of us here at Barn Finds that enjoy oddball cars. I’m among that group but point my preference toward those cars that look odd but teeter on the edge of cool. This 1977 AMC Gremlin is a near-perfect fit to my preference and could – depending on one’s definition – be considered practical. It can be found here on Craigslist in Crossville TN for $8,600.

Although some may have considered it otherwise, the introduction of the AMC Gremlin on April 1st 1970 was no joke. Those 1970 models had a base price of under $2,000 – which is less than $15k today – and were (or would be) taking some formidable competition from the Big 3 head-on. Gremlin production numbers grew as the wheelbase remained short, eventually giving way to its replacement, the Spirit, for the 1979 model year after 670k units rolled off the assembly line.

Despite its slight appearance, this Gremlin packs some in-your-face punch with its Sunshine Yellow paint. It looks faded after its 46-year life but may have some life left in it. The seller tells us the body is clean and there are no rust issues. They also claim this is an “X” package unit, but I’m not convinced – the side stripe differs from what would be original on an “X” and the lower back panel stripe is missing. The Cragar wheels with staggered stance really fit the feel of the car but I’d like to see the original wheels back on this one.

Further indicative of this not being an “X” car is the lack of sport steering wheel, instrument panel overlay, and plaid interior. That aside, the black bucket seat interior looks very usable and is just in need of a bit of cleaning. The tall, bent shifter looks perfectly set for rowing the gears. Consider me a fan of that white ball-shift knob contrasting against the otherwise all-black interior.

This mini-muscle car is powered by a 290 cubic-inch V8. The manual transmission is a 4-speed unit sending power to the rear wheels. The seller seems to beat around the “running/driving” bush but lists several recent repairs/upgrades and tells us “everything works” save for a rear main seal that doesn’t seem to be doing its job.

Regardless of this (possibly) not being an original “X” car, it does have some good cruising attributes in a tidy package – short wheelbase; V8; manual transmission; and, at least appearing to be, largely original all with that oddball look for under $10k. I could see myself cruising the streets in this if low-balling non-serious buyers were allowed to purchase.

Comments

  1. Avatar photo Moparman Member

    This is not an “X” model, and the stripe isn’t even OEM. AMC had a 304 c.i.
    V-8 that was factory installed in these, so where did the 290 originate? Personally, I feel there is too much rear wheel. GLWTS!! :-)

    Like 10
    • Avatar photo Rick

      Not only that, the car is a ’76, not a ’77.

      Like 4
      • Avatar photo Mark

        Not as cool as the Hemi-Gremi but not bad.

        Like 4
    • Avatar photo AMCFAN

      Quick observation. It’s a 1976. Because it’s not an X means what? A small square X on the glovebox. A rally steering wheel and bucket seats. The stripes and 14″ rally wheels. X was only trim. Nothing performance. Not all Gremlins were an X. Just like all Camaros and Novas are SS. Simply wasn’t possible.

      This was a six. Looks like someone took a 68/69 290 and 4spd and rear axle from a Javelin or AMX and put it in the Gremlin. A perfect swap. No foul. The big thing is the builder did not install GM junk under the hood. Thus I do not see a downside to the car and would be pretty fun.

      Like 14
    • Avatar photo Rw

      Not to much rear tire , just wheels to wide.

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Brian Fabre

      290 was an earlier AMC V-8.. I guess you could say just like the 1st LA small block mopar,the 273,which gave way for the 318 LA engine.

      Like 1
  2. Avatar photo Al_Bundy Member

    Would not call the Gremlin an Oddball as there were a lot of them on the road back in the day. We need AMCfan to weigh in here. If there ever was a 290, it wasn’t an option in the ’70s.

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo SC/RAMBLER

      Yes AMC did have a 290 Cu.In.v8 from 1965-1970 when the 304 was it’s replacement. Back in the day the 290 was used in Trans AM racing.A company called Traco actually managed to extract 375 H.P. from a overbored 290.

      Like 5
      • Avatar photo Rick

        The first year for the 290 was in late 1966. Its last year was 1969.

        Like 1
    • Avatar photo Dip ship

      No 290 ci but was a 304 engine

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo SC/RAMBLER

        AMC did have a 290. I was off by one year as to when it was available. It was designed in 1965 but wasn’t available until 1966. In 1970 the 304 took it’s place

        Like 2
    • Avatar photo Gary J Lehman

      The last 290 was in 1970 along with the 343 and 390. 1971 added emissions and were replaced by the 304, 360 and 401.

      Like 2
    • Avatar photo JAYPEA50

      290’s were pre- 70’s. This Gremlin is a hybrid and.. there’s nothing wrong about that.

      Like 1
  3. Avatar photo MitchRoss Member

    Not a 1977 either

    Like 2
  4. Avatar photo Bill W.

    Is there a radiator in that thing? I don’t see an upper hose. 290’s were in 60’s AMC’s, like a Javelin. Those rear wheels are too 70’s, just like the stink bug look.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo eric22t

      upper hose and heater hoses are disconnected in that pic. water pump r&r maybe? last pic in the cl ad shows upper hose back in. isay ditch the craigers too. nice looking ride though.

      Like 1
  5. Avatar photo Joe

    Practically everything about that car is wrong.

    Like 6
  6. Avatar photo Maggy

    These cars are so ugly they’re cool looking.I like em.Saw one which was an X as it said it on the stripe at a local junkyard last year.I meant to take a better look at it but the hood was really rotted up front and I was in a hurry. It was a really faded purple color I think.It just came in that day too.I’d get this one in safe order and put cherry bombs and duals on it. Cruise as is.V8 & 4speed is nice too. Glwts.

    Like 6
  7. Avatar photo Big C

    A 290 in a Gremmie? If you dont like it? You’ve got to pull the engine to fix that rear seal anyway. You can put that boat anchor 258 six back in if you wish. This thing screams high school kids hot rod, circa the early 80’s.

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Matthew

      The 258cid was never a boat anchor, had it in a couple Hornets with a 3 speed on the tree and whipped the shit out of the Chevy 350’s, launch and 1/8th mile. 232 was no slouch against other inline 6’s.

      Like 1
  8. Avatar photo TheOldRanger

    Never cared for the Gremlin myself, but I had a female friend who loved her Gremmie and her dad kept trying to get her to get rid of it. She parked it at the DFW airport a lot of years ago, and it got stolen. Even today, she swears her dad paid someone … LOL

    Like 6
  9. Avatar photo Howie

    Another 4 sale sign in the window, tells me the locals do not want it. Posted 26 days ago.

    Like 3
  10. Avatar photo BrianT Member

    Bought one new in “74. This is a pic of a pic. I drove it for a long time until it needed a second transmission replacement. Mine was a 232 with a really nice 5.0 sticker on the back and dark center mags.

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo 370zpp Member

      Brian,
      You put that car through its paces for sure. I know. I was there.
      Damn good ride.

      Like 3
      • Avatar photo BrianT Member

        You took that picture.

        Like 0
    • Avatar photo 370zpp Member

      Yeah, that’s what I thought, too, but there is a lot I don’t clearly recall from those days. . .

      Like 0
  11. Avatar photo Jim Richards

    The Gremlin was a different looking vehicle to be sure however I recall seeing much uglier ( one may say ) vehicles but Gremlins weren’t for everyone. As for the 290 I believe the last year they were a factory option however I could be wrong. I owned a few AMC’s and must say they were always good to me and i had a lot of fun with them.
    I owned a 70 AMX 360 4speed and a 78 Gremlin that I purchased Brand New off the showroom floor for $4000.00 that had the Porche/Audi 4 cylinder from the factory which really served me well i must say

    Like 0
  12. Avatar photo Jim Richards

    The last year the 290 was a factory option was 1969

    Like 2
  13. Avatar photo Dip ship

    No 290 ci but was a 304 engine

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo SC/RAMBLER

      Yes AMC did make a 290.

      Like 1

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