Sporty Survivor: 1972 AMC Gremlin

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In the late 1960s, Chevrolet and Ford were responding to the onslaught of competition from the small car imports. They would bring out the Vega and Pinto subcompacts, respectively, for the 1971 model year. AMC got there a little ahead of them, but with a different kind of product, the Gremlin. The Gremlin was a shortened Hornet with a deeply sloped rear hatch area and a six-cylinder engine. The cars were successful enough to sell 671,000 units through 1978. This Gremlin X, a sportier version from 1972, is located near Los Angeles, California, and available here on craigslist through a dealer for $5,900. Thanks, Pat L., for keeping these tips coming!

After starting as basic wheels for 1970, the Gremlin got an appearance and equipment package called the “X” for 1971. At about $300 extra, the buyer got bodyside tape stripes, body-color front fascia, slotted road wheels with D70x14 tires, blacked-out grille, bucket seats, and Gremlin X decals. The “X” would repeat for 1972 with the usual minor adjustments that car makers do from year to year. While a small-block V8 engine was available, most Gremlins had an inline-six, like the seller’s car, which is probably the 232 cubic inch unit. In ’72, the Gremlin also benefitted from AMC’s new Buyer Protection Plan, which warranted everything on the cars except tires for 12 months/12,000 miles. It got you a free rental car if repairs were to take overnight.

The seller’s 1972 Gremlin X seems good all-around unless you start looking closely. That’s where the seller, a dealer, says it will need some cosmetic work. Perhaps that reference is to the little ripples on the passenger side rear quarter panel not far from the hatch. But it looks like a decent driver to me for right now. We’re also told it will need “some assembly to get the car to show quality.” I have no idea what that means.

This Gremlin has a floor-shifted manual transmission (likely a 3-speed) paired with its I-6. The interior looks quite passable from what we can see. The seller tells us it’s a running/driving car with no mention of any repairs that have been made or needed. At the advertised price point, you can’t expect perfection and these AMC cars are starting to garner more attention from certain collectors because they’re not expensive to buy or fix. The ’72 Gremlins did well for AMC, with sales up 15% from ’71 at 61,700 units.

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  1. 8banger 8bangerMember

    Some assembly? I’d say like a restoration.

    Like 4
    • Jim Adams

      My first car in college was a 77 Gremlin X , with a 258 straight six. It had the cool Levi interior w a four speed manual transmission. Then 5 years ago, I found another 77 Gremlin X in Wisconsin w/ 21,000
      Original miles along with the original paint.
      It’s a favorite at car shows. Most baby boomers have a Gremlin story!!

      Jim/Both Canton OH

      Like 0
  2. XMA0891

    Under a ‘74, and a manual – She’s a keeper in my book!

    Like 9
  3. Terry

    Who chopped the back off a Hornet?

    Like 0
    • Ray

      That’s exactly how they were made!

      Like 0
  4. Terrry

    The Gremlin 6’s were either 232 or 258 cu. in. Too bad this “X” doesn’t have the 304 V8 however.

    Like 3
  5. Mrtinwoodie

    Ugly when new
    And still ugly today

    Like 6
    • Skorzeny

      Thumbs down. Ever seen a Nissan Juke? ’nuff said…

      Like 8
      • JoeNYWF64

        How bout the back of the new corvette, or even the frumpy side view of the modern camaro?

        Like 0
  6. Jcs

    And she’s gone.

    Like 1
  7. Steve R

    Swapping in a V8 and a 4spd would make it that much better.

    Steve R

    Like 6
    • CCFisher

      Put a 258 crank in a 4.0 Jeep block and create a 4.5 stroker, for more of a sleeper vibe.

      Like 3
  8. S

    I’d much rather have a Gremlin than a Vega or a Pinto. Better looking than the Pacer that came later.

    Like 6
  9. Ron Morrison

    Gremlin and Pacer are both an acquired taste, but quickly gained positive attention, particularly the former. Much more reliable that the Vega and Pinto and based on the Hornet’s stout platform, safer.

    Like 1
  10. CJE

    That IS a Gremlin front end…Though they did produce a handful of “GremHorns” in 72-73 ? Gremlin Body with a Hornet front end. A Kenosha school days friend of mine, owned one…..a real mind twister to observe…..

    Like 1
  11. John

    Couldn’t kill the engine, had one W/injection in our 93 Wrangler.
    The only problem was the door hinges, would wear out, R&R on them.
    Had very good luck W/AMC vehicles.

    Like 0
    • Ron

      I bought a 73 Gremlin new with the Levi’s interior. It was maxi blue; it looked blue during the day, but lavender at night. Yes, it was “weird”, but it ran good with the 6 cylinder and three speed.

      Like 2
  12. Rick Buckenberger

    Has this car been sold yet? I’d love to see it.

    Like 1
  13. Fred Veress

    The X package was added as a feature and represented power steering and power brakes, not any kind of appearance package. I owned 3, only one with the X package. and one with the “denim” appearance package; the other bone stock, inline 6 and 3 on the floor.

    Like 0
  14. dwcisme

    A friend back in college had an X (same colour as this one) with the 304/4 speed combo. He babied that thing. Then, when he needed tuition, he sold it to his brother who drove the snot out of it. Speed shifting with 4 adults in the car doesn’t do wonders for the drivetrain. AMC put the same drivetrain in the Jeep CJ. Good combo.

    Like 1
  15. Harry

    When I met my eventually to be my wife in 1975 she came equipped with a “Jolly Green” Gremlin X. She’d gotten it almost new as an insurance replacement for one that she had had for about two weeks before a drunk ran her into a pole. She survived, the car not so much. Anyway, the green one served us for several years. The body rusted, the engine was indestructible. I do remember adjusting the points by the side of the road in the rain. I also dropped the transmission and replaced the seals lying on my back in the street. (no driveway). Over all good memories.

    Like 2
  16. Larry M McLaughlin

    72 Gremlin 232 3spd I put a 500 Holly carb on it to replace single jet factory one. Went from 6mpg to 14mpg.

    Like 0

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