3 of the Weirdest and Wildest AMC Gremlin Special Editions
The AMC Gemlin is one of the strangest yet underrated vehicles in automotive history. Despite the Gremlin’s unorthodox design, it was one of the first American subcompact vehicles that were purpose-built to compete head-to-head with the Volkswagen Beetle and Toyota Corolla imports. Back in 1970, when the Gremlin was released, the only other all-American competition that this AMC vehicle had was found in the Chevy Vega, which ended up being a flop, and the Ford Pinto, which was also known for its tendency to combust upon rear impact.
The AMC Gremlin aimed to change the world regarding domestic subcompact vehicles. AMC went out of its way to stiffen the car’s body, even going as far as to not offer a hatchback but just a rear glass panel that opened to expose the trunk storage. AMC knew that typical American subcompact vehicles suffered from poor build quality, so they aimed to make it sturdy despite its small size. All in all, the Gremlin sold well for an AMC, with 671,475 units sold by 1979, and despite its strange looks and odd proportions, several special edition models were sold during its production run. Here is everything you need to know about three of the interesting AMC Gremlin special edition models produced.
1. AMC Gremlin Electric
Electric car ownership today has a fair share of perks. Typically, EVs are cheaper to maintain than an average gas-powered vehicle. With fewer parts internally, EVs are relatively simple to own, with only tires and brakes to worry about replacing in the short term. This was the same thought process behind the AMC Gremlin Electric, produced in response to the 1973 OPEC embargo. The Electric Fuel Propulsion Company of Ferndale, Michigan, produced a series of electric Gremlins called the X-144.
These Gremlins were powered by a 144-volt power source which could propel the Gremlin to a top speed of 60 mph. Another inventor, Cotton Whatley of Wichita Falls, Texas, also produced a series of electric Gremlins out of his garage sold through dealerships from 1973 through 1978. Times Record News reported that these EV Gremlins could travel 50 miles on a single charge. Whatley used the low cost of ownership found with EVs as a selling point for his EV Gremlins. While a few of these cars were sold throughout the country, the end of the Gremlin in 1979 meant the end of the EV company for Whatley.
2. Denim Levi’s AMC Gremlin
In the 1970s, denim fashion was at an all-time high in popularity. To cash in on this trend, AMC teamed up with Levi’s to produce a denim-filled Gremlin, according to Hagerty. Instead of literal jean material, the interior of this Gremlin was covered in faux denim made from nylon. Copper rivets that you would typically find on Levi’s jeans pockets acted as seat buttons in this Gremlin.
This Levi’s edition of the AMC Gremlin was finished with a denim-blue paint job with red Levi’s signature tab logos throughout the exterior. The Gremlin was produced with young people in mind as a hip new subcompact vehicle to drive around town in. Still, to create a whole Gremlin with a design based around Levi’s jeans? That is pretty bold, even by AMC standards.
3. AMC Gremlin X
The “X” designation holds much respect in the AMC lineup throughout the company’s history. The flagship car for AMC, the AMC AMX, was a muscle car built to stand up against all of the other muscle car giants in the industry. The Gremlin’s X vehicle, simply called the Gremlin X, was a fantastic variant of the Gremlin formula.
The Gremlin X was produced for the 1971 model year and consisted of a $300 appearance and equipment package. The X model, which surprisingly was only available for the four-passenger body-style Gremlin, came with side stripes, a body-color front end, a blacked-out grille, bucket seats, and slotted wheels. For 1972, the X package gained an optional AM/FM radio, sunroof, interior hood release, and more. While the Gremlin X did not have any performance modifications, the X model offered a sporty, performance-inspired performance package, a typical feature found in any “sport” trim level on economy cars today.