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Would You Repaint This 1970 AMC Gremlin?

If AMC’s aim with the Gremlin was to create a car that would get people talking, it would have to be classed as an unqualified success. If they aimed to develop a vehicle that would blend seamlessly into the background, then they missed the mark on that one! These were once an unloved and unwanted by-product of 1970s motoring, but they have found new legs amongst a hardy band of enthusiasts. These same people would love to stumble upon a rust-free survivor like this 1970 model and give it a good and loving home. Well, the chance is here because this little beauty has been listed for sale here on Craigslist. It is located in Los Gatos, California, and the owner has set the price at $8,500. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Pat L for spotting this quirky classic for us.

The styling of the Gremlin certainly tends to polarize people. However, it is something that AMC was capable of doing with their cars. You only have to look at the Pacer as another example of an AMC product that divides opinions. Both the Gremlin and the Pacer share one common trait; Both were once unloved vehicles that have developed a cult following. This Gremlin is a deceptive car. Its Bayshore Blue paint looks pretty sad, but this results from years of exposure to the California sun. When you peel this away and take a look below the surface, what you find is a car that could rightly be classed as a rust-free survivor. The floors look spotless, while the panels appear to be extremely clean. There are a few minor dings and dents, but these add character to the vehicle as it currently stands. If the buyer chooses to treat the car to a cosmetic refresh, then these marks would be a piece of cake to address. Some of the trim shows its age a bit, but the glass looks to be in good order.

Apart from a lack of the original AM radio, the interior of the Gremlin is complete and unmolested. Like the exterior, the interior is showing its age. The covers on the front seats are quite shredded, while the carpet is looking tired. The rear seat looks good, and the headliner is also in good order. I would be inclined to clean everything before compiling a shopping list. However, the owner does supply some additional parts which may assist in this area. One great score for this California car is that it is fitted with air conditioning. This is said to work, as does everything else inside the vehicle.

It seems that the buyer isn’t going to need to spend a lot of money on the Gremlin’s drivetrain because the seller has done a lot in the 3½ years that he has owned the car. The AMC features the 232ci 6-cylinder engine, along with an automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes. With 145hp under the right foot, the Gremlin would be a peppy performer. I mean, a ¼ mile ET of 18.6 seconds is hardly going to set the world on fire, but it should be more than enough for the vehicle to hold its own in the cut-and-thrust of city driving. The current owner has treated the transmission to a rebuild, and that’s just the starting point. The fuel system, brakes, and the u-joints have all come in for similar treatment, while the Gremlin has also received new tires and a new battery. The result is a car that is said to run and drive exceptionally well. I can see plenty of relaxed cruising in this Gremlin’s near future.

This all now leads me back to my original question. Would you treat this 1970 Gremlin to a repaint? As a cosmetic restoration, this one appears to be about as straightforward as you are likely to find. A fresh coat of paint and some detail work would have the car standing out in any crowd. However, it manages to do that in its current form. Part of me would like to see it fully restored, while part of me would like to see it left to carry the label of an original survivor proudly. There is no absolute right or wrong answer to this question. The right answer will depend on the desires of the next owner. After all, it is their money. Do you want to be the person to provide that answer?


  1. Mike

    Had a 1977 Gremlin, same engine but a 3 speed. No A/C, no radio, no options whatsoever. $3000 out the door brand new. Liked it a lot for what it was. $8500 for this makes me chuckle. Maybe two grand tops.

    Like 13
    • Steve R

      That’s funny. Even though it’s overpriced, the seller is closer to a realistic price than anyone suggesting it’s worth $2,000.

      Steve R

      Like 14
    • jerry z

      Mike, what time warp are you living in? This is 2020, not 1990. If you can find one in that shape for $2K, you are better hunter than me.

      Like 6
  2. Howard A Member

    When I saw the price, I didn’t need to see the location. Of course paint it, for crying out loud, even though, most probably remember Gremlins looking like this. They, as shown, were probably the most unloved cars on the planet, some, begrudgingly got them as graduation presents and killed them accordingly. I say, the Gremlin helped change the world, and was the 1st small US car, and that is important enough, that ANY example remaining should look nice.

    Like 8
  3. 6speed

    Yes of course I would repaint. That is pretty much universal for me, just not a big ‘patina’ fan.

    Like 9
  4. Jay


    Let it rust

    Like 1
  5. Steve Clinton

    I don’t understand why anyone would want to leave the paint ‘as is’.

    Like 7
  6. Steve Clinton

    The only way this Gremlin is worth $8500 is if there is $6500 under the front seat.

    Like 10
    • Phlathead Phil

      You nailed Bro!

  7. Mark

    I would paint it, patina just looks like your trying to shine a turd.

    This car may not be worth the expense of a paint job though.

    Like 9
    • Lew Schiller


  8. Chris M.

    At $8500 if you had to have it, I’d say you’re in deep enough on this little sh#t box. Leave it alone and drop a healthy LS into it.

    Like 3
  9. Arby

    “create a car that would get people talking” – laughing would be more appropriate…

    Like 4
    • karl

      They sold a lot of these cars, and they were much better than the Pinto and Vega , so I dont think too many were laughing

      Like 3
    • Phlathead Phil

      I laughed when they came out, and still laughing.

      Like 1
  10. Luki

    Paint it?
    Have you looked at the price of automotive paint recently?

    Like 4
    • Steve R

      Exactly, that’s a main driver of the driver of the “patina” trend, for good or bad.

      It’s ironic, many of the people that complain the most about prices and how the little guy can’t afford the car hobby anymore are also the first to decrying cars with sunburned paint. Go figure.

      Steve R

      Like 1
      • Steve Clinton

        Some people complain about EVERYTHING!

        Like 2
      • Steve R

        Steve Clinton, some people have elevated complaining into an art form.

        Steve R

        Like 2
      • Phlathead Phil

        Get out a brush & roller and go to it.

        Nobody gon blitch about the paint job.

        Like 2
  11. XMA0891

    For almost as long as I’ve been watching them, the ’70 – ’73 Gremmies have been the ones that command the biggest ask. To my eye, they’ve got the cleanest look, were painted in some great colors, and there aren’t many around. At the correct buy-in; treat her to a proper re-paint – I wouldn’t think she’d disappoint.

    Like 2
  12. Karl

    NO paint why waste good paint and labor on this.

    Like 2
    • bone

      because its a 50 year old survivor that should be preserved for the future. Would someone have said that to someone who owned a rickety 50 year old Model T in 1970 ?

      Like 4
      • Steve Clinton

        Yes. :-)

    • Steve Clinton

      Same reason you’d ‘waste’ a fancy restaurant and a nice bouquet of flowers on a woman.

      Like 3
  13. Jeff

    Have much is the least expensive quality paint job going to cost?

    Whomever purchases this will be underwater from day (1) one, I myself would pass in a heartbeat.

    Like 5
    • Jeff

      “How much” is the least expensive “quality paint job” going to cost?

      Whomever purchases this will be underwater from day (1) one, I myself would pass in a heartbeat.

      Like 3
    • jean mcdaniel

      I bought this car and intend to restore it. I will be painting it. This project is not defined by dollar expenditure but by love of Gremlins. I did not pay $8500 and I did not pay $2000. My biggest delima at this point is what color to paint.

  14. Jeff

    How long is it going to take before BarnFinds admins add the edit option to posts?
    Its very difficult to have a word miss understood because of a typo or misspelled word!
    This is my third (3) request without even a reply!

    Like 3
  15. junkman Member

    Become a member and you’ll get your edit button. As for the Gremmy, not a fan, don’t care.

    Like 5
  16. Mitchell Ross Member

    I always wonder about the self esteem of people who have to denigrate cars.

    Like 3
  17. Steve

    Gremlins will never get love like the Pacer has gotten now. $8500 for a pacer maybe not a gremlin…not worth that or, the cost of a repaint!

  18. jean mcdaniel

    I too am amazed at the vetrolic comments here about this Gremlin. Makes one wonder about the general temperment of some individuals directing such hostility at an innocent Gremlin that they do not own and have no say in what happens to it.
    There is no longer any indecision about what color to paint. It will be the original color of BAYSIDE BLUE!

  19. jean mcdaniel

    She has been painted. She spent three and a half months in the magic hands of Bob Dillon. She has been massaged, rubbed rechromed, buffed and lovingly brought back to her original glory. Her debut will be at the Doylstown car show this July.

  20. jean mcdaniel

    Unfortunately I don’t think I am going to make the Doylstown car show for 2022 due to material shortages in the upholstery faze delaying completion of the restoration. Next year perhaps.

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