While stopping by the X-Piggy Customs workshop yesterday at Yallah we caught a glimpse of what looked to be some weird-looking hatch back thing parked in the corner. On further investigation it turned out to be an AMC Gremlin, one of the world's more, let's just say unusual-looking vehicles ever produced.
Debuted in 1970 in the US and never released here in Aus, the AMC Gremlin came about during a time when subcompact cars were the new in-thing. Competing with the likes of Ford and General Motors, AMC took design points from some of their previous makes and combined them with a sketch by design chief at American Motors, Richard A. Teague, drawn during a flight on a sickness bag of all things.
Merging the rear end styling of an AMC Javelin with the front end similar to that of the AMC Hornet, the AMC Gremlin was born.
This particular example, a 1974 AMC Gremlin X was imported by X-Piggy Customs head man Brendan Caunt in 2014, purchased from the guys at Gas Monkey Garage in the USA, as seen on the popular Fast & Loud TV Show.
Once of the cooler things about the AMC Gremlin was the fact that is holds the distinction of offering one of the widest engine ranges of all time; from two litres to five litres capacity. In fact the Gremlin is one of the smallest production cars factory fitted with a V8. Brendan's example here running the 'big-block' 304-cube 5L V8.
A substantial power package for a little hatchback the size of a VW Beetle and weighing in around the tonne mark, Time magazine noted two definitions for Gremlin: "Defined by Webster's as 'a small gnome held to be responsible for malfunction of equipment.' American Motors' definition: 'a pal to its friends and an ogre to its enemies.' Both terms shared both by this machine as well as the hit Movie release a decade after by the same name...
With such 'unique' looks, one would wonder what kind of person would want to own one of these vehicles and while the V8 power plant up front would have no doubt been a draw card for performance-minded buyers, it seems that like Brendan here, most people saw a kind of 'coolness' in the whole package.
Promoted by American Motors as "cute and different" the marketing strategy for the Gremlin was surprisingly successful with more than 60 per cent of the purchasers were under 35 years old.
Brendan plans to get this beast out cruising the streets of the Illawarra in the coming months, with a fresh-built engine and a few more performance tweaks to help get her up and moving at a faster-than-stock pace.
Either way, whatever you do Brendan, don't expose it to sunlight, don't feed it after midnight and maybe use on of those waterless washes to clean off the grime...