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1970-1978 AMC Gremlin


1974, 1975, and 1976 AMC Gremlin

The 1974, 1975, and 1976 AMC Gremlin models went through a variety of changes, both in style and popularity.

The 1974 AMC Gremlin was the first re-style for the Gremlin since its introduction. The nose was more substantial-looking, with a body-color surround on all models encircling a horizontal-bar grille with integrated parking lamps.

The 1974 AMC Gremlin X side stripe looked like a hockey stick.
The 1974 AMC Gremlin X side stripe switched
to a "hockey stick" look.

The lower back panel and rear quarter panels were also slightly redone. New "free-standing" bumpers eliminated the plastic beauty panel that usually filled the gap between bumper and body. It doesn't sound like much now but was considered quite innovative at the time.

The optional rally side stripe was similar to the stripe used on the 1971-1972 Gremlin Xs. The 1974 X package sported a new "hockey-stick" stripe. A Rallye X package (available only on Gremlin X) added a tachometer, oil and amp gauges, front disc brakes, front sway bar, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power steering, and a black instrument panel cluster.

1974 XP Gremlin concept car front view.
The XP Gremlin was a concept car shown by AMC in 1974.

In its January 1974 issue, Motor Trend tested the American economy cars, including Gremlin, Pinto, Vega, and even the Japanese-built Dodge Colt. MT rated Gremlins best overall, saying they "exuded the aura of quality-built machines."

Of course, by the time that heady praise made it into print, the United States had been feeling the effects of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' oil embargo for months.

Mileage-conscious buyers were scurrying to AMC dealers. Sales were so hot during the first half of the year the company reported difficulty in obtaining enough parts to build all the cars scheduled.

Almost 140,000 Gremlins left the assembly lines in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Brampton, Ontario, Canada, during 1974. But then the economy began to sour and even AMC sales slowed.

The new Pacer was AMC's big news for 1975, so the 1975 AMC Gremlin made do with minor changes. Electronic ignition was added and overdrive became available, recognition that Gremlin needed help in the area of fuel economy. The 304 V-8 was still available, but the continued high price of gas made it less popular than before. Sales were off because of a slump in the economy and before long, AMC was offering $200 rebates on Gremlins.

1974 XP Gremlin concept car side view.
The XP Gremlin concept car was built on a 1971 chassis
and featured a fiberglass body, grille, and hood.

By the time the 1976 AMC Gremlin debuted, motorists were becoming increasingly disinterested in AMC's smallest offering. Who could blame them?

Seven years after its introduction, a new Gremlin still looked much like the first one. Its faults -- poor rear-seat space, an ill-fitting dashboard, and lack of a four-cylinder engine -- seemed more glaring, too.

Buyers were moving to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. Additionally, the Pacer was siphoning off many prospects.

Prices had climbed over the years. To offset some of it, AMC decided to reintroduce the two-model idea. This time, though, the basic Gremlin included a rear seat and rear hatch window.

A new Gremlin Custom featured full carpeting, a custom steering wheel and door panels, special grille and moldings, and better seat trim. It started at $3,160, a $109 premium over the cost of a base model. Still, sales were so poor that AMC soon reduced Gremlin prices to $2,998 and $2,889, respectively.

There were some visual changes, starting with a horizontally divided grille and round parking lights. Base models had a large decal of the car's impish mascot on the side. A vinyl roof was now available, as were new aluminum, wheels.

To boost sales and create more interest, AMC restyled the 1977 AMC Gremlin. See next page to learn more about the Gremlin's new look.

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