1972 and 1973 AMC Gremlin

"The best cars to come out of Detroit this year in terms of the way they're put together may come out of Wisconsin. That's where American Motors makes 'em."

That statement by Robert Lund of Popular Mechanics reflected AMC's focus for 1972 -- quality. The company launched a major initiative to improve product quality driven by its new industry-leading Buyer Protection Plan warranty.

A Chrysler-built Torque-Command automatic replaced the old Borg-Warner unit, and electric wipers became standard equipment. The two-passenger model was dropped, its sales not strong enough to make it viable. The four-seater's $1,999 price continued; management felt it important to keep the base under $2,000.

The 1972 AMC Gremlin was equipped with a 304-cubic inch V-8. The industry had just switched from gross- to net-horsepower ratings, so the V-8 was listed at just 150 horsepower, down from the 210-horsepower rating it had since its introduction in 1970.

The 1972 Voyageur concept car featured the pull-out Grem-Bin.
AMC's quirky Voyageur concept car was built on a
1970 chassis and featured a pull-out compartment
behind the rear fascia -- the Grem Bin.

Regardless, the V-8 Gremlin was a poor-man's Corvette, able to spin its rear tires at will and outrun some larger, more expensive "pony cars." Priced at just $2,153 without options, this was the only real performance car available under $2,200.

Disc brakes, manual or power, were new, as was an AM/FM radio (at last!). The 232-cubic inch six was now rated at 100 horsepower, while the 258-cube job had 110 horses.

Other new options included a fabric sunroof, tilt steering, and a towing package. As before, the fancy Gremlin X package was especially popular.

The 1973 AMC Gremlin Levi's model was designed to appeal to young car buyers.
The 1973 AMC Gremlin featured the Levi's brand
name to appeal to young car buyers.

The year 1973 marked the beginning of American Motors' brief flirtation with designer-label interiors. (Think Pierre Cardin Javelins and Oleg Cassini Matadors.) For its subcompact, AMC selected a name certain to resonate with younger buyers: Levi's, the brand virtually synonymous with blue jeans.

AMC used a blue nylon fabric with the Levi's familiar orange stitching, and brass buttons covered the seats and inner door panels.
AMC used a blue nylon fabric with the Levi's familiar orange stitching, plus brass buttons.
Seats and door panels were done up in imitation blue denim (actually a spun nylon since denim couldn't meet fire-resistance standards), complete with orange stitching, brass buttons-even the logo tab usually found on back pockets of Levi's hard-wearing pants. Levi's Gremlins included a pocket-tab decal on the front fenders.

Otherwise, things were going so well that
the 1973 AMC Gremlin boasted only minor refinements. Instrument panels sported control knobs with international function symbols, and front bumpers were a new recoverable type that absorbed minor impacts, as per government edict. (A Gremlin might dress in blue jeans, but it still had to answer to "The Man," man.

A similar system was optional for the rear. A fully-synchronized floor-shifted three-speed became standard equipment, as did 14-inch wheels. Gremlin Xs got a slightly revised side stripe. A gated floor shifter for the automatic transmission was a well-received new option. Gremlin hit a new high in 1973, with calendar-year sales totaling 133,146.

Check out the next page to learn about the 1974, 1975, and 1976 AMC Gremlin models.

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