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The Original Hot Hatch: 1973 AMC Gremlin X


We have featured a few Gremlins over the years, but every time we have wished that they had a V8/manual in place of the more common inline-six/automatic combo. Well, I just found our dream Gremlin! This one not only has a 304 V8 and a 3-speed, but it has also only covered 22k miles and is claimed to be all original. Wow! This could be one of the best ones left out there and the only problem I can foresee here is the price of entry. Bidding is already very active here on eBay with 4 days left. Looks like there are people besides me who want this yellow ugly duckling very badly.


The seller mentions that the car was special ordered in this Mellow Yellow color because the original owner’s wife was a fan of the singer Donavan – who released a song by the same name. Apparently a gremlin was also the mascot of the 482nd Bomb Group which the owner had been a member of during the forties. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1994 and the car ended up parked in the backyard. It’s finally time to sell and I can only assume that the person who put the car up for auction is assisting the owner’s widow. They claim they are not a dealer, so lets hope their intentions are sincere.


The interior does make me question the mileage, but I suppose that the hot California sun could have easily baked the vinyl seats enough to cause the seams to crack. The rest of what I can see doesn’t look too bad. If you peek at the dealer invoice you will notice that the X package added a lot of nice interior options – bucket seats, sports steering wheel, and extra insulation. Power steering and disc brakes are also nice additions, but what really makes me happy is what’s under the hood.


There it is! The 304 V8. This is what turned an otherwise boring econo car into something exciting. I can still remember the image of one of the guys from High School swapping out his blown V8 for a new one right in his parent’s front yard. I have wanted one ever since. I didn’t know as much about cars then as I do now, but the whole idea of having V8 power in that strange looking little car appealed to me for some reason then.


Most experts claim that Volkswagen created the “hot hatch” with their GTI, but I think AMC should have earned the title when they decided to shoehorn a V8 into the Gremlin in 1972. Muscle cars were on their way out and compacts were on their way in, so American Motors thought they could combine the best of both worlds and that enthusiasts would snap them up. The concept worked and the resulting vehicle was a performance bargain. I only wish they would have sold more like this one so there would be more around to play with today!


  1. Rick

    Back in “81 I had a “71 gremlin 258 3 spd for a year or so and that thing was a screamer, can only imagine how a 304 would make one fly. The interior was already in shreds, in fact I had to have the front bench seat reupholstered, just so happened I had a friend in the auto upholstery biz. A lot of the hard interior plastic items began to fray about the same time, can only blame it on AMC’s use of inferior materials

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    • Ed P

      I drove a friends ’71 Gremlin with a 232 and 3 on the floor. That motor had tons of torque and was fun to drive.

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  2. sir mike

    back in the day when cars had soul…love this one…

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  3. dj

    Yes they did have a soul. An American Soul. Those on FB are ranting about the GTI VW but the Gremlin had it beat by 4 years. People didn’t like these cars and still don’t. But it’s a part of American Car History. Just like the Edsel. People couldn’t stand those cars either and now their collectible. I rather like this car and would enjoy having it.

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  4. Mark E

    I remember my father taking me to the AMC dealer to see these when they first came out. The memory that sticks with me is when I clicked on the parking lights and saw that the instrument lights were bright green! ^_^

    Always wanted an X in candy apple red with a levis interior!

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  5. Moparman Elliott Member

    I am also curious about the Plymouth/Valiant/Scamp that is parked beside it, and what appears to be a ’69 Fury behind it!! :-)

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  6. Barry Thomas

    Jesse, good find. I never minded these cars, as I thought they were a clever way for AMC to get a small car fast. A friend had a Polar Bear edition up here in Toronto (it was white with A/C) – unusual spec for a “cheap” car at that time. This one is very nice, but at $7600 it must be very close to its real value.
    Barry Thomas’ “Wheel to Wheel” blog

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  7. z1rider

    I have never seen that type of space saver spare in use. IIRC they came with an inflation can of some type, like a can of fix a flat. But when pressurized does the diameter of the tread surface increase somehow? It looks like the sidewalls are folded somewhat like an accordion, so wouldn’t the diameter have to increase? I admit to being a bit mystified. I think the first one I ever saw was in a Pantera back in the day.

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  8. Bobby D

    Looks like doors may have been repainted at some point?

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  9. Rick

    Up to $8100 already..wow. Thank goodness it isn’t the fishbowl.

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  10. Achman

    Interesting and bit of an ugly duckling sleeper…but comparing this to a GTI is just…amusing…

    For the same price I’d rather have a driver Dart with a 4 speed, 318 and 4 barrel

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  11. Jim Petersen

    IMHO… the price is pushing it… compared to the Red “X is for eXtreme” listed a few weeks ago.. It sold on ebay for $3500… smaller engine.. yes.. a little rust… not sure about the price on this one….. http://www.ebay.com/itm/1972-AMC-Gremlin-X-American-Motors-Corporation-Original-Paint-All-Original-Car-/321592576611?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2047675.l2557&nma=true&si=CCIoveDlAXr5nphNu%252BD2GEn9myI%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc

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  12. jim s

    at $8100 and the reserve is not meet! it would make a fun driver but you might need to stock up on rear tires/wheels as this car can burn them off real fast. nice find

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  13. That Guy

    I was in grade school when the Gremlin was introduced, and I thought it was just the coolest car ever.

    Yes, I was a weird kid. Still am.

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  14. Cameron Bater UK

    I do quite like the Gremlin, its a quirky little thing but sadly it only looks good in cirtan colo(u)rs and this isn’t one of them. I quite liked the one that Daniel Radclif drove in Horns. Its worth noting though that that one ended up at the bottom of a harbour.

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  15. Rob C - Toronto

    I had the exact colour combo except with a black interior. My 304 was mated to an auto unfortunately. Cool little car. Wish I’d kept it. Traded it in for a ’76 Grand Prix SE 455.

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  16. Steve lancaster

    I knew I loved oddball cars….Chevette, Pinto, Vega, Gremlin, Cordoba, Corvair, Yugo, Starlet, and others. I even own one now…a 2014 Mirage. My former cool oldies were Pinto, Geo Metro, Festiva, 1976 Civic CVCC Wagon with dealer air and Hondamatic. I guess when weird gets into your blood it is hard to get out. Oh to have a Fiat 500 Abarth!

    Like 1

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