The Ford Pinto exploded. The Chevrolet Vega self-destructed. The Volkswagen Beetle tweeted around like a songbird on meth, whistling it’s exhaust in what could almost be considered a middle finger to every last American automobile trait, including exhaust noise. Let’s be frank: American companies screwed the pooch seven ways from Sunday when it came to dealing with what they perceived as the import car problem. They couldn’t get it right. The surprise is that even AMC botched it, too. In the late 1950s and 1960s, American Motors had it down pat. Think of the Rambler American…a Chevy II shaped, handsome little small car that was basic in shape, design and trim. Perfect. So…how, again, did AMC go from the American to a Hornet with it’s ass chopped off, again?
The opening shot of what became the Gremlin was the AMC AMX GT, a 1968 concept car that, best described, was a 1968 AMX with the Gremlin’s rear third shape. It looked absolutely badass, squatted low on Goodyears with side pipes and a show-worthy red/white/blue paint scheme. In “junior musclecar” Gremlin X form, on AMC’s Rally wheels and striped up, the Gremlin kind of tried to get back some of that look and depending on the colors and year of the car, it works to a degree. Not this thing…oh, hell no. This is the punchline Gremmie right here, painted fresh fertilizer brown, with the giant mid-1970s chrome bumpers, powered by the basic inline six and stirred by the basic three-speed manual trans, with absolutely no gingerbread to speak of anywhere. The interior is the ultimate blank slate. It’s not that AMC didn’t have merits at this time period, or that the Gremlin didn’t have selling points…it was just that the landscape was so bleak that this is what passed as…well, passable!