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Hot Rod|September 2021
Looking Back at Some of the Coolest AMC Cars of the 1970s
Douglas Glad

On April 1, 1970, American Motors Corporation introduced the AMC Gremlin, arguably the first American subcompact car on the market. While it was homely to look at and derpy to love, it sold nearly 30,000 copies in its first year and stayed the death of AMC for nearly two decades. At the same time, AMC launched several vehicles that were aimed at the booming muscle car trade. With names like Javelin and Matador, AMC cars of the 1970s had large V8s with plenty of fins and flippers to attract America’s youth. Here are the greats in no particular order.

WAMC Gremlin 1970-1978

In the ’60s, American Motors Corporation was widely known for the Rambler and other wonky economy cars marketed to people who weren’t interested in performance. That changed in 1970 with a sawed-off AMC Hornet called the Gremlin. The new car featured a shocking new body style and was pitched as an economy car with a performance edge. The Gremlins were optioned with a three-speed manual transmission and a 199cid six or the hot X option package that appeared in 1972 with a 304 V8, and several weird interior packages, including one from Levi’s with denim seats complete with orange stitching and copper rivets. The Gremlin was equivalent with the Hornet in sales throughout the 1970s as a two-passenger commuter and a four-passenger coupe with fold-away rear seats.

The Gremlin was also used in Pro Stock drag racing. The most popular livery was the Booth-Arons Racing Enterprises Gremlin X that ran 9.40s at more than 140 mph. It used a 360cid engine de-stroked to 355 and spun to 7,500 rpm.

AMC Hornet 1970-1977

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