Rare Air: 1972 AMC Gremlin

Whenever I see a vehicle wearing the AMC badge, I acknowledge a level of respect. That’s not because the company produced some of the most iconic muscle or luxury cars on the planet. The reality is that some of their vehicles were absolute shockers. My respect stems from the fact that very few volume manufacturers have managed to produce so many interesting and quirky cars on a shoestring budget. One of those vehicles was the Gremlin. Widely lambasted since the last car rolled off the line in 1978, they have developed a recent cult following. A vehicle like this 1972 Gremlin is unlikely to knock a Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda off its perch if it crossed the auction blocks, but values have climbed by an impressive 15% over the past two years. Our feature car presents well, and the seller has avoided the trap of detailing it within an inch of its life. That means potential buyers know exactly what they will receive for their money. Located in Farmingdale, New York, the seller has listed the Gremlin for sale here on Craigslist. They have set their price at $9,850, making it an affordable alternative for someone who may be considering a first classic purchase. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Pat L for referring this motoring gem to us.

Some classic cars can be pretty anonymous, and it can be challenging to differentiate one model within a company’s range from another. Potential buyers had no such problems with the Gremlin. When it was launched, it was true that it looked like nothing that had come before. The reality is that there have been no cars like it since. The styling polarized opinion, but there’s no arguing that it is distinctive. Our feature Gremlin is a gem that wears Trans-Am Red paint. The seller admits that it received a repaint around fifteen years ago, but it continues to present well. They acknowledge some slight checking, but there’s nothing likely to cause sleepless nights. The panels are as straight as an arrow, with gaps that are some of the most consistent I’ve seen on a Gremlin. There is no evidence of panel rust, and the underside shots reveal little beyond the occasional dusting of light surface corrosion. The chrome and glass look great for a survivor-grade car, while the Rallye wheels are a later addition. I quite like them, but if the buyer seeks originality, the seller includes the factory hubcaps in the sale.

If the Gremlin’s exterior presents well, its interior takes the theme to a higher level. The original owner elected to trim it in red and black vinyl with a bench front seat. It isn’t clear whether it has benefitted from any form of restoration, but the lack of visible wear or other issues suggests that this may be the case. Faults and flaws are pretty limited and include some wear on the outer edge of the carpet on the driver’s side. I’ve also spotted a couple of cracks in the wheel spokes, and some of the bright labeling on the dash controls has worn away. Otherwise, the upholstered surfaces look excellent, while the dash and pad are free from cracks. Buyers could choose from a wide range of optional extras in 1972, but this car’s original owner limited their choice to air conditioning and an AM radio/cassette player. The seller indicates that the A/C option is rare, but I’ve had no luck verifying the claim. I hope that one of our readers may be able to shed some light on it for us.

The drivetrain combination hiding under this Gremlin’s skin could be best described as competent, rather than startling. The buyer receives a numbers-matching 232ci six-cylinder engine producing 100hp. The rest of the equation includes a three-speed automatic transmission and power steering. The ¼-mile ET of 18.9 seconds was unlikely to threaten muscle cars, but its ability to sip fuel at better than 20mpg made it a viable commuter option for families seeking a second car. The engine bay doesn’t present as nicely as the rest of the vehicle, but this is by design. The seller is candid about this classic and doesn’t wish to portray the car as something it isn’t. Therefore, they elected to leave the engine bay untouched so that prospective buyers can see what they’ll receive for their money. I agree with their assessment that it would take little effort to detail it to a high standard and that satisfying task awaits the next owner. Otherwise, it ticks the right boxes. The Gremlin runs and drives well, and with a new set of tires recently wrapped around those Rallye wheels, it has no mechanical or maintenance needs.

While I admit a bias for cars wearing the Blue-Oval badge, I have total respect for cars like the AMC Gremlin. The company played host to some ingenious designers and engineers, which has always left me wondering what might have been. It is no secret that AMC had limited capital resources, meaning that their new models were designed and engineered using a budget that some manufacturers would have earmarked for coffee and donuts. I have often wondered what would have rolled off the production line had those same designers and engineers had access to a Ford-style pool of money. Would they have produced something genuinely extraordinary, or would the result have been a luxurious or potent model devoid of the charm and quirkiness that became an AMC hallmark? Sadly, the company’s demise means we will never know the answer. However, their legacy remains with cars like this 1972 Gremlin. It won’t appeal to everyone, but I would be willing to wager that someone will be unable to resist the lure of this classic and that it will be headed to a new home pretty soon. Could that home be yours?

Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    You know, I watched some guy on TV that just HAD to have that hemi Daytona for $1.2 MILLION, that practically made me vomit, when I’d rather have a Gremlin. Not sure if I’d pay $10g’s for one, but a better example, I doubt you’ll find. 1st, those are Chrysler wheels, which differ slightly from the “X” wheels, and a/c was an option, part of the “Weather Eye” heater/a/c from the 50’s, I believe, and would freeze you out, it would. You got $10g’s to spend, you simply can’t go wrong here, and will be gone toot-sweet, I’m sure.
    Far as a future AMC might have had, that can always be debated and I’d like to hear from our AMC folks. It was complicated, from union woes, to fan base dying, to poor faclities( the AMC plant in Kenosha was from the early Nash days) of course poor management, and no trucks or SUVs, except Jeep, and the tide was turning towards those types, and with all the “Gremlin” wasted on the Alliance fiasco, AMC was history.
    All that aside, us “Rambler folk” can agree, the Gremlin was without question the most popular car to come out of MilwauKenosha Considering the alternatives without going Asian( VW, Vega, Pinto) it was the best of the bunch and I’m darned proud to say, it was built in my hometown. You can see in this picture, the featured Gremlin on the bottom row( with “X” wheels) or maybe the plain one on the top row with stock wheels, but we sent them out by the trainload. Things were good in Wisconsin then.
    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/45387908721363264/

    Like 19
    • Curt Hall

      The Kenosha plant was started by Jeffery when he purchased the plant in 1900 with Jeffery Rambler production beginning in 1902. Nash didn’t purchase Jeffery and rebrand it as Nash until 1917. Jeffery/Nash/AMC is all the same in Kenosha. The same company changing names right up until engine production stopped in October 2010 when Chrysler shut down engine production ending 108 years of automotive production in Kenosha. Milwaukee was only a parts distribution facility for AMC, although it did make some body subassemblies during the Nash years, all the body stamping was moved to the Kenosha main plant after the Rambler years. AMC was actually doing well again when Chrysler bought the AMC stock owned by Renault and the remainder of outstanding shares. Jeep sales had increased to the point of sustaining the company. The Jeep Grand Cherokee was fully designed as was the Eagle Premier. If Chrysler didn’t buy out AMC, it would have survived. Chrysler killed AMC.

      Like 1
    • roguev8

      We bought a ’71 Gremlin X from Altimari Bros. in Philadelphia. It had the 3.8 engine, automatic, and the AC Package which consisted of the AC system, power steering, Solex glass, and heavy duty cooling and electrical systems. It was my wife’s car. When it was about three months old, my wife heard that the local drag strip was having Powder Puff Day. They don’t have that any more, as the ladies have proven they can drive at least as well as the men. Anyhow, we took it to Atco, she drove it and beat the only other car in her class, a ’65 Valiant with the slant six and three speed stick on the floor. She pulled a car and a half hole shot off the line, and she was never headed.
      We had that car for 11 years, and I wish I could have kept it. Lets face it. What looks like a Gremlin? NOTHING looks like a Gremlin. AMC came out with the Pacer in 1975. What looks like a Pacer? EVERYTHING looks like a Pacer! If you go to the AACA Museum in Hershey, PA, we have a nice display the the showroom of three 1960’s AMC. We’ll have two more displays, one from the 70’s and the last one from the 80’s.
      Just my .02. Larry in PA.

      Like 2
  2. Cadmanls Member

    Yep those sure do look like Chrysler wheels. But that’s the place AMC is family nowadays. So someone ponied up for the AC and auto options. Many moons ago a fellow airman in my shop bought one. Thinking it was a 73 had the stripe, rally wheels auto etc . Anyway carried 4 of us to base when it was his week to drive in the carpool. Back seat wasn’t the largest but got us to work and back.

    Like 11
    • AMCFAN

      Nope Chrysler and AMC are NOT family. They were NOT family when this Gremlin was built. Many AMX’s and Javelins were beat into the ground on the street with the thousands of cheap big block Road Runners.

      The car would have had hubcaps. Wouldn’t have been pretty easy to source AMC specific wheels on any FB or internet forum.

      Would have been not too hard to source the correct AMC blue paint. $12. a can last time I checked.

      I also wouldn’t over pay because of factory A/C. It’s nice but unless it’s serviced and have the new coolant it would be just as easy to install a vintage Air system.

      I disagree Howard. AMC/Renault had some hick ups but actually saved AMC. The Alliance was not a bad car. It wasn’t something Americans were used to. It wasn’t a big road car. It was a small solid well built and one of the best riding compacts. I have had Geo Metros and now a Mitsubishi Mirage. I drive about 45K a year.

      Having something like an Alliance in this woke economy would be a god send for any company to have. AMC as a company were never stronger at the very end. They had new Jeeps in the works and had planned to go global. I have mentioned this several times but the head of Renault refused to sell to Chrysler. Weeks later he was gunned down in front of his house. AMC was instantly sold. Had that not happened we may still have AMC.

      Like 6
      • Howard A Member

        Don’t get me wrong, again, but I never said the Alliance was a bad car, I think all French cars were good cars, but as you say, for most AMC fans, it was the beginning of the end. I read, even lineworkers in Kenosha were so upset, they intentionally sabotaged the cars, although, with the poor build quality to begin with, that was never proven. My brother had an Alliance, was an okay car, was always leery of a car with an “oil level” gauge, but to non-AMC fans, the Alliance was a tough sell, especially with the Asian offerings. Yes it did have Jeep, but at the time, it was still a limited market, and an economical people hauler was what was needed( Chrysler mini-van) and AMC blew it, if you ask me. My old man respected the French, but it was still a kick in the nads for anyone bleeding red, white, and blue to have a foreign based car. It was AMERICAN Motors to folks like my dad.

        Like 6
      • Steve Clinton

        “small solid well built” French car? An oxymoron.

        Like 1
      • norm

        Lots of ‘Fun Facts ‘ here.

        Like 2
      • JT Member

        Didn’t the California registered cars have red engine colors for the emission rules?

        Like 1
      • John OldCarMan

        The ZJ was the next Jeep in the pipeline. Fortunately, Renault never understood the Jeep thing and didn’t screw with it. They thought that they were the big time car company when they jerked the R-9 into a poor quality Alliance. Had to keep all those French workers working, so sourced many, more expensive, inferior quality parts from there.
        Gerry Meyers did his annual NYC Banker fishing trip and came up empty, so he had to find new product money somewhere!
        The ONLY reason Renault got involved with AMC, was they thought it was the cheapest way to get back in the US market. Ready made dealer network could sell their little crappy LeCars until the real small car was ready. They made no investment in anything AMC, beyond the earlier commitments.

      • John OldCarMan

        As a reminder, AMC started designing the Jeep XJ in 1977. In a good economy Wagoneers and CJs sold and made money. In a tight economy, the economical small cars made money. 300,000 Gremlins were built thru 1978. They were a lot more car than any Asian, Euro, or Pinto and Vega small car at the time.
        AMC often used similar parts from the Big 3 as the Big 4 ALL had the same selection of suppliers. Chrysler & Ford also used the same wheels. Generous Motors always had money for that stuff.
        The Alliance was stamped out in O-Too-Thin gage sheet metal. They used cheap relays AND wiring. Usually, only one is cheap. They just didn’t quite look as cheap as the competition.
        Motors were under-powered and quality issues were not all from the plant. The pedestal rocker seat tracks were innovative and used for a time in the XJ, to give passengers more foot room.

  3. XMA0891

    Please take the rims and the white walls off of this vehicle and put stock back on.

    Like 5
  4. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    I think I’ve relayed this story before but it’s been awhile, so sit back, light up, and enjoy.
    My best friend in high school, Richard, was given a 1963 Rambler classic for his first car when he got his license in the early 70s. It wasn’t too long before he rear ended a 1969 Cougar at a stop light. The Rambler was totalled. The Cougar had a broken backup light lens.
    With the inevitable accident out of the way, his parents bought him a new 1972 AMC Gremlin. Pretty much a stock model, no a/c, no whitewalls, just an automatic trans. It was a great little car. He took it to Florida when he started working for Disney. He kept it for a few years and traded in on a AMC Pacer. Guess Disney didn’t pay too well at that point. (J/K)

    Like 10
    • Howard A Member

      Cough, hack, wheeze,,,ahhh, what now? :( :l :) :0,,oh oh,

      Like 5
    • BrianT BrianT Member

      My 74 Gremlin got hit from the rear by a Buick Riviera at a traffic signal. My car had a very small dent in the rear bumper. The Riv got towed from the scene with the number having curled up through the radiator.

      Like 5
      • DON

        My 74 Gremlin got rear ended at a stop light as well! . Kid was driving a 69 Polara wagon and his skid mark was less than 2 feet long . The rear quarter buckled and the bumper pushed up , but the Polara was a mess ;hood bent in half and radiator was steaming away .I still miss that Gremlin..

        Like 3
    • Jon.in.Chico

      Folks had a ’64 Rambler Classic 660 … I was fifteen and just got my driver’s license (this was ’60s Louisiana) … I rear-ended a ’66 LTD demo when I slid into it on a rainy day, watching a girl on the sidewalk … Rambler had all four lights knocked out. smashed grill, bent hood … Ford had one of the rubber bumper guards skewered … total cost – $100, but I had to drive the wrecked Rambler to school for the next two years before my folks traded for a Volkswagen Fastback, which was totaled eleven months later with 19,889 miles on it …guy rear-ended me stopped at red light – he was going 90mph and was reaching for his cigarettes and said he didn’t see me …

  5. Raymond L Saunders

    White faced gauges?

    Like 1
    • karl

      silver guages

      Like 1
  6. Michael Garner

    With a little imagination, you could say the Gremlin looks like the Nike Swoosh! Maybe AMC or it heirs should sue for copy write infringement! (Joking). But, I always like the body shape of these little bombs. Such a cool design for those years, and in some ways it is timeless. Can you imagine what this little swoosh would do with a small block in the bay instead of the 6 cylinder??? If I had a big stable, and a pocket full of fun tickets, I’d be all over this like jelly in a doughnut!!

    Like 1
    • BrianT BrianT Member

      Funny you should say that. I had a 74 and out Crager dark center mags on it. Someone said is looked like a high top sneaker with mags. It was a good car though.

      Like 3
  7. Richard Jensen

    Never really been a fan of Gremlins, but some of them little junks came with 304 and 401 V-8’s in them lol.

    Like 1
  8. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    My 74 Gremlin was a vey good car. 258 and three speed on the floor. I put a lot of miles on that car. I also bought my ex wife a blue Gremlin 232 automatic. They were both good cars. That got decent gas mileage and drove fairly well.

    God Bless America

    Like 8
  9. Joe

    No numbers ever matched on AMC vehicles.

    Like 2
  10. Buddy Ruff

    My ’73 Gremlin, purchased new, had air conditioning. It was a $300 option. The package included power steering and an under hood mat. It was my first brand new car and it served me well. My buddy and I drove from Oklahoma to Alaska in it. We spent a month on the road and I spent less than $500. My buddy spent even less. (We were cheapskates with no girlfriends.)

    Like 7
  11. joenywf64

    I bet a BASE Gremlin WITH A/C & with an unopenable rear window & no back seat is/was as rare as hen’s teeth.

    Like 2
    • AMCFAN

      You could get a dealer installed under dash American Air system from any AMC dealer. As with a stationary glass 1970 Gremlin with A/C from the factory. Doubt if any were made.

      Like 1
  12. Steve Clinton

    100,000 miles in New York and no rust? Really?

    If it’s as good as it looks, it’s well worth the price.

  13. Frogman

    Im no AMC fanatic, but i happened upon a 66 American wagon, that was crying out to be used again. Its hard to find parts for, im in search of 9″ front drums ATM. Other then that shes running kinda stoping w only 37k miles a clacking valve, and a whiskey banged left rear quarter panel. I bought it for under500 where she hasnt been legal since 96. Surprising little rust. So 10k man more then ive ever spent on any car…

    Like 1
    • joenywf64

      Rockauto has front brake drums listed for a ’66 “AMC” American with the 199, 232, & 290 cube motors, but oddly none listed for the 196. Why did they have TWO L6 motors just 3 cubic inches apart from each other?!

      Like 1
  14. Howie

    This looks great, and i really like the interior.

    Like 2
  15. david R

    Speaking as a former Gremlin owner, the world will be a slightly better place when the last AMC car finds its way to the junkyard.

    Like 1
    • bone

      Of all the various crap cars built in the last 50 years (and there’s been a lot) and you say that about the Gremlin ? With a proven drivetrain and rugged dependability , they were a great combo for an economy or entry level car . They were no Cadillac , but they weren’t trying to be either

      Like 9
    • BrianT BrianT Member

      I liked mine. I put 120,000 miles on it and the next owner added another 80,000. In the era when cars were considered worn out at 100,000, I’d say that I s a testament to their durability and, believe me, I wasn’t easy on it.

      Like 6
  16. JT Member

    Great way to enter the hobby with a car you don’t see often.

    Like 4
  17. bone

    The rims are 1973 and up Mopars . I’d bet the seats have been redone as the dark red does not go with the lighter red body . I would almost bet this was close to a base model originally, with the 232 and manual steering. Its been repainted and reproduction stripes are available . The AC may have been factory ordered ; you sure didn’t see any that had that, especially the early models

    Like 2
  18. ramblergarage

    I had a new 1972 Gremlin very much like this one. At the time I bought mine the company was giving away free air conditioning on them. It is highly possible this one was sold at that time. Also included with the package was the 258 six and heavy duty cooling system.

    Like 2
  19. Campbell L Usher

    Always liked the style of these , there was 1 only built in Australia & its still around somewhere , all I need is lotto

    Like 1
    • roguev8

      It was in the late Brian Moyers collection. All of his cars are gone. They were meticulously restored to the nines. We ALL miss Brian!

  20. Rufus

    Two words:

    Hemi Gremmie

    Have fun

    Like 2
  21. Kirk

    There was a long haired leather jacket wearing guy in my neighborhood growing up that had the only gremlin I remember seeing around but it was an unforgettable car indeed. He had giant back wheels on it , oval 60s I think and good v8 I recall some tAlk of it being a 401 and a 3 speed manual. All of my friends and I were car crazy self proclaimed stunt men so whenever we would see this guy we would egg him on to light it up and he would pretty much always oblige with enthusiasm matching our own doing a burn out or donuts that was intense enough to have kids taking cover behind parked cars and trees for fear of flying parts and a car barely under control. We loved that guy and his freaky looking car that resembled something straight out of a hot wheels collection. I don’t think he had any mufflers either..cherry bombs maybe. The 70s were a great time to be a kid if you like old muscle cars

    Like 4
  22. Bill

    One Goofy looking car

  23. Bill Potts

    My first wife had one,her first car and she paid cash for it. I actually liked it except for the vacuum windshield wipers. Never had any problems with it. The other thing I wished it had was air conditioning. This one is a nice color,my wife’s was orange ( pumpkin) with a black stripe.

    Like 1
  24. Tom

    I have a ’74 model 258 motor auto trans with factory A/C. Runs and drives great. Paid $1500 for it about 8 years ago which is still about what Old Cars Price Guide says it’s worth today ( condition is less than a 3). A ’72 should go for 7500 to 8000 for the way the seller’s car seems to be presented.

    Like 2
  25. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    @ Curt Hall

    Do you know why Chrysler killed AMC? They had no interest in AMC. All they wanted was Jeep.

    It’s really a shame. AMC would probably still be around if not for Chrysler buying it. And subsequently, Chrysler killed AMC

    • John OldcarMan

      Renault had NO interest in staying in the American market after the French AMC president was assasinated in Paris. It was 51% French government-owned and the leftist unions and govt party were against keeping Americans working and not French.
      Iacocca recognized the enduring value of the Jeep brand. A bonus was getting the relatively new Bramalea Ontario plant that had great quality and could build the new LH series of cars. Since the LHs were loosely based on the still-borne Renault L-58 Premier.
      It is not likely AMC would have survived a Renault pull out. The upcoming ZJ would have maybe delayed it, at best.

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