Rat Powered! Pro Street 1977 AMC Gremlin

The great thing about automotive enthusiasts, as a group, is that they often have hidden talents that ‘normal’ people don’t possess, including the ability to turn their gasoline-fueled visions into reality. A gearhead can look at a car and visualize its future potential, even if the subject at hand is no more than rudimentary transportation. Such is the case with our feature car, a 1977 AMC Gremlin, that was transformed from a basic economy car to a big-block-powered hot rod. Located in Lima, OH, and found here on craigslist, the asking price of $14,900 seems pretty reasonable for a turn-key street/strip machine. Thanks to Pat L. for the tip on this wicked little AMC!

Engine choices for the 1977 model year ranged from the straight-six in either the base 232ci form or the optional 258ci version to a 2.0L four-cylinder borrowed from Volkswagen in an attempt to improve fuel economy ratings. Regardless of what once occupied this engine bay, it’s now filled with 468ci of big-block Chevy power. Backing up that power is a Turbo 400 trans and a Ford 9-inch rear with 4:11 gears. The seller states that the engine still runs on pump gas and the setup provides enough grunt to propel the car to low 12s in the 1/4 mile, with high 11s possible in ideal conditions.

The interior looks to be all business with a custom dash featuring an assortment of switches and gauges keeping the driver informed on what’s happening under the hood. Nearly everything that’s not essential appears to have been stripped out in the quest to add lightness. However, the passenger seat is still in place for the brave souls willing to ride shotgun.

With 671,475 Gremlins produced over a nine-year production run, they are not rare cars and never seem to get the respect that they deserve. The best thing an owner can do is to make theirs unique, and you’re highly unlikely to see another one just like this. Sharp-eyed AMC fans may have noticed that the front end has been replaced with the (subjectively) more attractive earlier version, this one from a 1972 model. That subtle change along with the custom fiberglass hood, pumpkin orange paint, white hockey stick stripe, and Centerline rims wrapped in drag slicks provides this Gremmie with a look all its own. What kind of modifications would you make to take it to the next level, or would you simply drive it as-is?


  1. Howard A Member

    Did Brian Ambrosini get out of jail yet? Not bloody likely, he was facing 32 years for theft. He was the “wheelie King”,,,for a while. Drive as is? Um, maybe at Union Grove. I’d prefer some AMC motor, but a wild ride, no doubt.

    Like 3
    • Richard Jensen

      Seen a video of that Brian Ambrosini dude damn near rip the ass end off of his Gremlin not too long ago lol.

      Like 1
    • Riffraff

      Court records show Ambrosini pleaded guilty to theft in 2016, and was ordered to pay $300,000 in restitution to Snap-On. He received seven years probation and served one year in jail.

      Like 1
  2. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Gremlins were better cars but got made fun of because they were Hornets with the back half chopped off. I bought two of them; one for my ex-wife it was a blue version with 232 automatic. The other was a green version with 258 and three on the floor manual. Now it hurts me to look at the dash picture of this car. Strictly business, for racing only. If you like spending your time at the drag strip this car might be for you. It’s not my cup of tea.

    God bless America

    Like 3
  3. Joe Haska

    This is way cooler than the one I bought my kids to drive in H.S.

  4. Terrry

    That’s not a ’72 front end. Maybe a ’74-75.

  5. T

    No comment.

  6. markp

    Usually when you run this fast they require the car have a cage installed.

  7. Steve Clinton

    Only 4 pathetic photos in the ad, and the seller wants 15 grand? No thanks.
    And that interior is a deal-breaker (IMHO).

    Like 2
  8. Jimmy

    Seen Brian wheel stand his Gremlin many times at Byron Racetrack, he was the main draw for years until the law and competition caught up with him. I like this Gremlin I would have to do something more stock with the interior.

    Like 1
  9. Big Schwag

    What a way to ruin a neat, fairly rare car.

    Like 1
  10. CD

    What a way to ruin a neat, fairly rare car.

  11. Howie

    Cool but very rough.

  12. VETTE80 Member

    The newer front was probably needed for space for the bigger engine and radiator

  13. joenywf64

    I would rather they had spent the money on chopping the roof down.

  14. JT Member

    Terry is right. The front clip looks just like my 74.

  15. Troy s

    Another all business purpose built machine, but a 468 bbc might be a taaaad much overkill. I dont know why but I expected 11’s as normal, 12’s if you “accidentally” crapped your pants.

  16. Karl

    The real rules don’t start till you run under 12 second quarter. Then your talking roll bar with 5 point, after market axles, battery tie down, trans scatter shield etc.

  17. roger

    I would’nt waste my big block on a rambler

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