GLEANED - 1973 AMC Gremlin
Ok, so as we’ve said multiple times, we LOVE a weird, rare car with an awesome backstory. A consulate car. A random import by Nigerian princes. A one-off build that escaped the factory.
Of course, the seller thinks to include NO HINTS as to what’s going on here.
This is an AMC Gremlin. In right-hand-drive. Like…what?
We’ve ALWAYS love AMC products; they were the fourth member of the Big Three, they built some weird cars and they just didn’t give a shit.
When Volkswagen and the Japanese essentially created the ‘compact’ niche in the US that came to dominate the lower end of the market, Ford responded with the Falcon and the Pinto, while Chevrolet brought us the Corvair.
But AMC didn’t have the Simoleons for those kinds of shenanigans, so they just cut the back off their already small-ish Hornet and… that’s actually pretty much it.
AMC had a proud heritage in Australia; the AMX, Hornet and Matador were all built here under licence by Australian Motor Industries or AMI, side-by-side with Triumphs and Toyotas.
To attract the correct tariff concessions so as to make the cars actually affordable in 1970s Australia, the cars included a degree of Australian manufactured parts; mainly the interior. But more importantly than that, they were not AMCs at all, but actually Ramblers.
The original Rambler brand, phased out by the Yanks in 1969 was retained in Australia because; back then we really hated change. It was weird and it scared us. Seriously, the introduction of a Chinese restaurant was enough for some WWII veterans to take up arms, assuming that all Asians were made from the same cookie-cutter template and were about to make kamikaze on us. Changing the brand name of a car would have caused a cultural aneurysm.
The Hornet was popular locally with people that wanted a Holden Torana but had too much money, while the Matador was popular with people who wanted to look pimp-spec but didn’t mind that the nose of the car looked like a Barbra Steisand sculpture made of steak.
But, despite its close relations to the Hornet, the whack-job Gremlin, actually a tearaway success in the USA, never made it to our shores.
Actually that’s wrong. One did. Fully assembled in Australia by AMI. As a Rambler.
Imported and constructed as an evaluation prototype, this car would be a welcome addition to any GoAer’s garage, especially those seeking to increase their Awesome levels.
So is that car, THIS car?
Seller says… no. But do they really know?
A prospective buyer has asked if the car has been registered in Australia before. The seller states that to his knowledge, the car came through the Pine Gap US Army base, imported by a US serviceman. This was a fairly common way for oddballs to enter the country, including the LHD Holden Premier we featured here.
Even now, Alice Springs is filled with bizarre (to us), left-hand-drive Momwagons that cannot be sold locally and must be sent back to the USA when deployment is over.
The seller states that the car will need a roadworthy inspection; normal procedure for any import, plus an engineer’s certificate. Not hard to get, but normally not required unless some major works have been done; such as a left-to-right-hook conversion.
We’re willing to accept this all at face value and assume it is what he states it to be. But the Rambler badge on the glovebox lid has us wondering…
Is this Australia’s only Australian-delivered, factory right-hand-drive AMC Gremlin? Sorry, is this the WORLD’S only Rambler Gremlin?
We can’t make the call. Buy it anyway; it’s on eBay in Adelaide with bidding at just under AUD$3000 reserve-not-met.
if, indeed, this was a newspaper
Some pretty basic Googling has come up with an orange Pacer… in right-hand-drive… with AMI badges on the fender. So old whitey here isn’t the one. We're old and tired and not going to re-write the article. We're happy to concede our speculation was wrong and this white Gremlin is STILL as cool as hydrochlorofluorocarbon.
The Big Bad Orange AMI-assembled item is in AWESOME condition, but sadly (for us) looks like is actually back in the States; Hemmings have actually done a little write-up on it, confirming our fears.
You can check out their article on the car here.