American Motors Corporation: The Gremlin

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The Gremlin name AMC chose for this car begs the question; How many cars can you think of that are named after things that fly in the air?

And so, the otherwise enigmatic name for the dependable car becomes a mission statement.

Among the first things anyone should know about these cars is that they are truly smeared with an unfair bad reputation, and this is a very real part of society one must learn to cope with if they choose to like any of the AMC made vehicles.

Some of the unfairness pertaining to Gremlins plausibly derives from the fact that it was the lowest priced car made in USA for five of it's total eight years in production. So a person might be fooled into saying 'they're cheap' if they don't get the flipside information.

But the real clincher is this; the Gremlin's bad reputation type smears are not made by highly educated automotive engineers; this car is basically the same well engineered AMX chassis that earned the SAE 'Best Engineered Car of the Year Award' two years in a row, in '69 & '70.

Besides those features that are shared between the highly awarded AMC AMX and the Gremlin, there are a few other positive attributes which are not commonly known or talked about in mainstream entertainment-history articles.

It may be argued that the AMC Gremlin bodystyle bested the AMX's proportions by having less front and rear overhang affording potential for better handling by a reduction of mass outside of the car's four wheel footprint.

Among those features the Society of Automotive Engineers cited for the '69 AMX to earn it's award was it's innovational all one piece injection molded plastic instrument panel which was otherwise an act of obedience by AMC in anticipation of the upcoming US Federal Law that would require all new cars to eliminate their steel framed dashboard designs in the interest of public safety.

Not only did AMC meet that legal requirement, AMC designers did a very unusual thing; the '70 Hornet/Gremlin dash is a schematic diagram of the car, directly related to it's Cavalier prototype which was an exercise in symmetrical design (as was the '53 Nash NKI) The profile of the instrument panel mimics the profile of the car (Cavalier/Hornet) Whereas looking at the car from the driver's side, it has three sections; the front engine compartment, the middle passenger compartment and the rear trunk compartment, this is the layout of the dash in analogy.

(Gremlins were fitted with Hornet dash, but did not receive specific execution of the dash-to-car profile analogy)

It's a fun game of words to discuss how the items of the dash relate to the actual components of the car! For example; the cigar lighter represents the gas pedal, the ash tray represents the car's floor, the glove box represents the trunk etc.

As a more compact version of the Hornet, they two were the first full production US cars to have 'guardrail beams' in the side doors (for safety, exceeding the legal requirment by one year?)

AMC Gremlins bested the awarded AMX model by having more sturdy full framed door windows.

All AMC Gremlins came with a 21 gallon gas tank; AMC Technical Service Manuals describe the tank as being made bulbous for evaporative emission control but I speculate the larger tank is also a safety feature, having a more barrel like shape to absorb impact with less catastrophic damage.

The majority of AMC Gremlins were made while AMC was pioneering the "AMC Buyer Protection Plan"; One could not purchase a 'lemon' from AMC. Even the entire unibody chassis carried a part number and could be replaced under warranty if deemed necessary.

Most AMC Gremlins came from the factory having the now legendary AMC inline six cylinder engine; this engine has proven itself to be among the most durable engines ever made.

As the lowest priced car made in USA, base model Gremlins seemed to have their very own group of options showing how AMC was able to reduce the price; skinny tires, dog dish hubcaps, plain jane front bench seat, no radio or cigar lighter, no air conditioning, basic floor shifted three speed manual transmission, plain clear glass windows, thick vinyl floor covering instead of carpet, manual brakes and no power steering.

Compared to it's less option inclined Chevy Vega and Ford Pinto competiton, AMC Gremlins could be optioned with impressive features such as Levis interior and 304 V8 engine to counterbalance it's low priced factory made siblings.

While '68 AMX GT/'70-'76 Gremlins show an undeniable Reliant Scimitar GTE styling relationship, there is plausible styling linkage to '68 Frua Rocket and '77-'78 Gremlins show rear window styling more similar to '72 Volvo 1800 ES.


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