Unpopular Cult Classic: 1970 AMC Gremlin

How can a car be a cult classic and unpopular? The Gremlin is perhaps the best example of such a phenomenon. Those that love these cars really, really love them while those that dislike them tend to have a passionate distaste for them. Sure, there are a few of us that fall in between the two, but nonetheless this is a polarizing vehicle. 1970 was the first year for the Gremlin, and this car is a nice little example! Find it here on Craigslist in California with a price tag of $3,000. Thanks to Rocco B. for sending this one in!

Though the body is very solid, the interior is showing its age. The panels and dash look to be in nice and restorable condition, or even nice enough to be used if someone so chose. The seats will clearly need to be recovered, but there doesn’t seem to be any damage other than the obvious wear. Original material for this car should be readily available, so this is not an impossible task.

Having owned only one AMC product, I immediately grew to love them for how different they were from their competitors. While at the time this lead to a reputation of ugly cars, in time it became the attraction. My favorite AMC feature is the shelf below the dash found in many AMC cars from the 1970s up until their demise in the late 1980s. Aside from being a cool feature, it is also surprisingly useful.

The Gremlins have always either drawn a crowd or sent people running, but this car is sure to find a buyer at this price with such a nice body. The only catch is that the 232 cubic inch inline six is currently out and at the machine shop, and the car is sold as-is. This means that the buyer will have to reassemble and reinstall the engine, but if it needed it anyway then perhaps the buyer will see it as one less thing they have to do! Would you fix this up to driver condition, or go all the way to a full restoration?


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  1. Bill T

    My step father had one of these that had a V8. The seats were made of what looked like denim material. I remember it was not good in the snow and it was hard to see out of the back. It blew a gasket and I never saw it again.

    • Miguel

      They are fun with a V8. They tend to do wheelies though if you are not careful.

    • Andrew Tanner Member

      They did make a Levi’s version with denim seats, so it probably was denim!

  2. 8banger dave Member

    There was a cat who used to drag race with us at KCIR who ran a couple of them with mid-body Chevy rats. Quick as you-know-what.

  3. Joe

    Wish it were closer to east coast. Novel and fun vehicle to drive on

  4. Alan

    I am based in Beirut LEBANON. I just purchased from United Ststes a 1981 blue AMC Concord Coupe DL All original 50K miles with 4 cylinder engine. I am adding it to my current classic cars collection. Asking price was $7K I got it for $6,500 . Am Not AMC fan but the Concord got my attention! Being shipped soon

  5. Troy s

    I look at it now, and I must admit that this Gremlin has more style and class than any new smart car or ugly new Fiat will ever have. Actually this one has a cool vibe going for it, but a V8 swap would really make it interesting. Much better looking than the Pacer in my opinion.

    • Doug

      Did you ever notice that the Fiat looks like a giant stepped on a Smart car ?

  6. 68custom

    wonder how hard it would be to stuff an LS motor in there?
    I like it.

  7. Rabbit

    Back when I worked for the dealer in 82-83, I had a Levi’s edition 76 Gremlin X. Dark blue with the gold hockey-stick stripe. Got it with a rod-knocking 304 4 speed & transplanted a 360 4bbl out of a wrecked Ambassador we had out back. Holy sleeper, Batman, that thing moved.

  8. Tom

    Not the lay flat seats, dad had a Rambler Wagon great for dates

  9. Larry Q

    My parents had a gremlin x back when I was in school. One rainy day my mother took me to school and hit the gas and little bit too much we nearly hit a ditch and a school bus…she learned about over and understeer at the same time!! I love those memories.That was the inline six. I loved that car

  10. 86_Vette_Convertible

    One brother used to have a red one, 6 cylinder and it was a fairly peppy car for its engine and size.

  11. Adam T45 Staff

    I’m in Australia and we never had these on sale here. Having said that, I actually saw my first one in the metal in 1974 when the “American Hell Drivers” stunt team were touring Down Under. They were an ugly car then, and they’re an ugly car now. But, you know what? I think that’s a big part of the attraction that has made them a collectable today. If you look at all of the design flaws of both the Gremlin and the Pacer, there is no way known that the government authorities would allow manufacturers to build cars like them today. Classic car collectors and restorers possess a rebellious streak, and they tend to grab the ugly and the unloved and give them new lives. If we didn’t we’d all be driving around in the latest rot-box from GM or Ford.

    • Miguel

      You have to keep in mind that the competition for the Gremlin was the Pinto and the Vega.

      Those cars were only offered from the factory with a 4 cylinder engine.

      The Gremlin was offered with a 6 cylinder standard and a V8 as an option.

      That is what makes these cars endearing to their old owners apart from the fact that these were the cars we had when we were kids only because we could afford them.

      It wasn’t unusual to find a Pinto or Gremlin for sale for $50.00. With a little work the car would be a good driver for a while. I left out the Vega because they never needed just a little work, they needed a lot.

  12. XMA0891

    These early ones are so tough to find in any kind of shape worth saving – This one is a great find! Wish it was a manual – Hope someone saves her!

  13. JW

    I would have to do this with it.

  14. Rob S.

    When I was in high school my old man neighbor had a gremlin X with a 401. Rebuilt the carb for him and test drove it around the block. YIKES that thing was quick! Not sure I would have picked on him at a stop light with my built 70 Mach 1! I do have respect for some of these ugly little boxes.

  15. David Miraglia

    Better a Gremlin than a ugly Aztec or SC

  16. Madmatt

    I’ve always wanted an early Gremlin,and this one is
    in much better shape overall,than most,sure wish I was 20 again!LOL

  17. Paul

    I think they are like a AMC pacer and a Mustang II in cars that are not very loved by the majority! Although I would most definitely take one of these over a Pacer or a Mustang II.

  18. Dave T

    Had one of these with the 304 and loved it except when it snowed. Could get out of my own driveway! Always been looking for another ever since I sold it. So, haven’t found a reasonably priced one yet??

  19. Greg Yancey

    In 1972 I bought a 1970 Black on black Gremlin with the 258, a/c, p/s, bucket seats, chrome roof rack…it was, in my humble opinion, DA BOMB! Worst mistake I ever made was selling it. But I found out that it was terrorizing my young children…they fought like heck whenever we wanted to go for a ride in the Grem and I never knew why at the time but I sold it to ensure family tranquility. When my kids were adults, I found out that they believed the Gremlin on the gas cap was going to come up and eat them…yep, that is a true story.

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