What A Drag: 1973 AMC Gremlin X Racer

Small cars with big engines are what a lot of us have been thinking about for decades. For some of us, the more unusual the car with that big engine the better, which brings me to this 1973 AMC Gremlin X which is set up for drag racing, or it was, at least partially. This unusual 1/4 miler is posted on Craigslist in Arcadia, Florida with an asking price of $4,000 but the seller will deal a bit if someone brings a pocket full of cash.

The Gremlin was on its fourth year of production when this example was built in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The X package was first offered in 1971 and for $300 a customer could have added a little pizzaz, such as stripes and decals and a blacked-out grille. Nothing that really added any speed or handling improvements. You can see that this car needs work and you can also see that it has some drag racing goodies.

1973 is when AMC had to redesign, if you can call it that, the bumpers to meet new federal regulations as far as having 5 mph bumpers in the front and 2.5 mph bumpers in the rear. Chip Foose would shave these bumpers down quicker’n a 45-year old Gremlin doing the quarter mile. The seller is including some parts such as traction bars and new front shocks and other miscellaneous items that are in the rear cargo area.

Hey, that doesn’t look like a factory shifter! This one has a “3500 stall converter” for your racing pleasure… This is the only interior photo other than the one showing the parts in the rear cargo area. It doesn’t look half bad in there, eh (as they don’t say in Florida). When I think of Gremlin drag car I think of a Gremlin drag car, as in an overly-modified cartoonish monster. I’m sure that this example would have caused some trouble at the track back in the day and hopefully it will again.

The seller calls this a “BARN FIND” and they say that “its been sitting 3 years so it needs some love”. Here’s the business end of this Gremlin, a 350 cubic-inch V8 Chevy engine with who knows how much horsepower. It has to have more than the 100-150 hp that a 1973 Gremlin would have come with from the factory. Most of you would have no problem getting this car back on the street and/or the track again. Any thoughts on this Gremlin X drag car?

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  1. OddBallCars Member

    I dig it!
    I’d clean up the interior and engine bay of this far out ride, and I’d drive the bell bottoms off it!

  2. brettucks

    Someones gonna have a one of a kind car- I really dig it.

  3. Dean

    Posting “expired”. The keys were left in it, perhaps someone drove off with it

    • stanley kwiecinski

      car jacked? LOL

  4. Steve R

    It looks like more of a street car than a serious race car. Too many street items, power brakes, power steering, auxiliary vacuum canister for the brakes, no roll bar, etc. I’d bet it was a show car or street machine built in the 1970’s with drag racing influences, it might have even hit the track a few times, but it doesn’t have the feel of a race car. It’s really cool as it is, if the rust isn’t bad, clean it up and drive it. It’s will reflect well on a certain point in time and will draw a crowd too boot.

    Steve R

  5. Jimmy

    All I can think of is …

    • Tom Member

      WOW! what does the next picture look like? 4 wheels off the ground….when COOL becomes UNCOOL !! Yikes. !!

      • bog

        Tom – I used to “love” (?!?!) when wheelie cars did that ! The driver/team didn’t have quite enough common sense to know they could not only do THAT, but “turn turtle” and go all the way over on their back. Saw it happen at US30 in Indiana and at Union Grove in Wisconsin several times, and action sequences in car mags. Perhaps once was enough and then wheelie bars were installed…maybe not. LOL ! The ones that come to mind were guys mimicking “Hemi UnderGlass” and “Little Red Wagon”. One of the “best” I saw was a ’64/5 Ford Falcon Ranchero…WHEEE ! And bounce on the cab. Glad that guy had a great rollcage.

  6. Don H

    Get that Chevy out of there ,put in a 390 or 401🤓

    • Jett

      Yup, the first thing I’d do is pull that hunk of junk out there and re-AMC it!

      • Chris

        Or a healthy Mopar wedge!

  7. Uncle Bob

    I don’t care what engine you put in one of these, they always bring an old saying to mind; You can’t polish a turd……………but you can roll it in glitter.

    Next will be an Aztek, right? (roll eye emoji here)

    • AMCFAN

      Uncle Bob, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I CAN/WILL comment on something I personally owned (25 through the years) Maybe not in your neighborhood but times have changed. Now it it a legitimate collectible. People unlike yourself pursue these and anytime you dare see one at a show draws a crowd or a thumbs up while passing on the street.

      This example was ruined by someones lack of sense with installing a small block Chevy. Easily replaceable however. Word to the wise depending what you plan on doing with the car every AMC product doesn’t need a 390 or 401 engine to lift the front wheels off the ground. A warmed over 360 does just fine. They are easier to find and a core costs less then a few hundred for a 360 compared to $1500-$2500 for a core 390/401

      I own an Aztek too and unless you actually were an owner don’t knock them.

      • Uncle Bob

        I’ll give ya points for consistency……

      • Miguel Member

        AMCFAN, with all do respect, since we have to look at the Aztek, we do get to opine about them.

        You can’t say it is an attractive vehicle.

        As for the Gremlin, I think all of the early compact cars are neat. I am a Pinto lover from early on. It is still my favorite car out of them all.

  8. Sanity Factor

    Aztec was cool…i drove one…loved it…

    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thank you, Sanity Factor! Nothing is absolute. Just because the majority of “car guys/gals” don’t like something that doesn’t make it a rule of law. I’m with you on that, the Aztec will be a future collectible, there is just no question about that.

  9. Mitchi

    Yup….I would own this car. Both of mine back in the day had 304 V8s. AMC rocked it out! Beat a 350 Firebird and a 350 Nova at a 1/4 mile run. Miss that car….

  10. Hide Behind

    Through the years I have seen many an AMC and Jeep owner pull the AMC to be replaced by Chev small blocks and shake my head wondering why.
    An aquaintence that owns a jeep with a 350 was once featured in several off road magazines but when that over tuned peaky Chev blew I talked him into a mildly modified for off Road AMC 360, and he liked it better than Chev.
    Check out torque/ horsepower specs of 360, which fit perfectly with rock climbing needs, low end grunt with More than adequate, and as for same top speed
    mph sand and unimproved road course.
    As one astute responder noted any 360 and above AMC V8 can pull front wheels off ground, and I will add the proviso of right rear wheel/tire combos even the small cube modifide 304 can.

    • Miguel Member

      Hide Behind, I would expect the answer would be parts availability.

      You can get Chevy parts anywhere. AMC parts, not so much.

  11. Hide Behind

    As to availability of finding AMC 360 and under mechanical parts they are readily available from corner parts stores.
    360 blocks can take many a cleanup bore, and here is an AMC secret, there are other brand pistons that more than do the job.
    There are a lot out there of electrical alternators and ignitions as well due to AMC using different firms
    There are even Alumin after market heads and plethora of cam kits as well.
    We used Ford small block screw in studs and their dfferent rocker arm ratios.
    As for body parts check out an Arizona stripper for tons of them, mostly used but some oem replacement.
    Although a bit pricey there are quite a few 401 rebuilts available, but as one other responder mentioned you need a core, and I am not telling where they can be found.
    And do not passup the older original 343 engines as they too can be rebuilt to hi pro on the cheap but even as stockers with carefull assembly run neck and neck with 350 chevs as to low grunt torque.
    In 1/4 mile torque with its multipliers of wheel tire size and rear and tranny gearing is great.
    4 sps, from early 4 speed t-10s in mustangs you only need change imput shafts to fit AMC.

  12. ron trainor

    Steve R – You said exactly what I was going to write. I agree

  13. AMCFAN

    To set the record straight on my comment defending the Aztek.

    Again, If you never owned one do not knock it. I never implied it was about looks at all. But if you buy vehicles to impress the masses one isn’t for you. The comment was meant for it’s versatility and usefulness. For instance. With the rear seats folded down it has the ability to haul full size sheets of plywood.

    It can be had with an air mattress and tent package. The console doubles as cooler. Just a few of the many features.

    Collectible? Yes production numbers in 2005 are 5,020. In 2006 347 and in 2007 only 69. Yes this is GM.

    Mine is the Rally package and has what I believe to be every option available including leather interior. It has TWO window stickers that were placed side to side.

    Lastly if it is good enough for Walter White. It is good enough for me.
    Hail to the King!

    • Miguel Member

      AMCFAN, remember what Walter White did to his…

    • Mitch Ross

      You forgot the 5 Azteks they sold in Canada in 2006. I wonder if any will survive?

  14. Troy s

    It doesn’t surprise me there’s a small block chevy in there. I’m figuring late seventies to early eighties on this build, more of a street freakish looking thing than a full in race car, and I remember seeing sbc’s under the hoods of all kinds of different cars back then… even a few early mustangs(!!!). When it comes to this set up I get both points of view, either way this would be an absolute riot under throttle regardless of engine brand.

  15. Robert

    I have this car. I traded a truck for it and me and some friends have fixed it up and have it driving. It’s a basically stock 350 with probably 200hp, but it is a 3,500 stall th350 with a manual valve body and reverse shifter with a 4.90 posi AMC rear. It pulls the front about a foot of the ground if you launch it with decent tires and runs a low 5 second 1/8 mile. The car originally was a 304 automatic. We currently have it up for sale.

  16. Robert

    Well I left a comment yesterday, not sure why it never posted, BUT, the car is a stock 1969 350 backed by a th350 that does have a 3,500 stall with a manual valve body and reverse shifter with a 4.90 posi AMC axle out back. I’ve since cleaned up everything and have it running. I’ve had it to a couple car shows, and only once down the track. With good tires and a hard launch, it gets the front about a foot off the ground and runs a 5.12 in the 1/8. It is not setup for 1/4 mile racing. The top of the car has fresh black paint on it and a fresh stripe on the hood of the same purple, the graphics on the side remain as they were. And they’re not decals, they are actually painted on the car.


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