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The AMC Gremlin X Restomod: A V8 Hot Hatch Is All You Need

No one’s making Singer Vehicle Design-level restomods on ‘70s AMC Gremlins, but this V8 concept shows why a hot hatch muscle car is perfect for 2023.

 

 

There’s a reason why some people are prepared to pay half a million dollars or more, and wait a couple of years, for a Singer Vehicle Designs re-imagined Porsche 911. And that reason is the unbelievable attention to detail that goes into each restomodded 1980s Porsche 911. Now imagine that same mechanical and stylistic detail going into a relatively unloved American subcompact from the ‘70s. This 1972 AMC Gremlin X restomod concept makes sure you don’t have to try too hard.

Re-imagined by 3D visualizer Rostislav Prokop from the ground up, this Gremlin restomod makes for a mean-looking hot hatch. Or a mini-muscle car, depending on how you look at it. The AMC Gremlin was originally designed to be a mini-wagon, and was underpowered from factory even though it packed six-cylinder engines. There was however the 1972 AMC Gremlin X that packed a 5.0-liter V8 under its long hood, even if it only made 150 hp thanks to the malaise era. The world was just being introduced to the concept of hot hatches — all of which had significantly less power, and no V8 motors.

ArtStation – AMC Gremlin Restomod

The AMC Gremlin X was certainly ahead of its time, and in this HotCars exclusive Gremlin concept, we give it its due.

This 1972 Gremlin X Restomod Is A Hot Hatch DreamBlue 1972 AMC Gremlin restomod side profileHotCars Photo © 2023 Valnet

By all accounts, the AMC Gremlin, first introduced in 1970, was not an extraordinary car. It was designed, engineered and built on a strict budget. Meant to compete with imports like the Volkswagen Beetle and Toyota Corona, even before domestics like the Chevrolet Vega and Ford Pinto came around. The American Motors Corporation, or AMC, took its Hornet sedan and basically chopped off the rear end and gave it a glass rear hatch, giving the rear end a wagon profile. It’s a look that many considered youthful and fresh, and perhaps more considered ugly as sin.

This ’72 Gremlin restomod is a far ways off the original’s slightly ungainly proportions though. Beefed up, smoothened out and with more flair than the French, this hot hatch means business. If you spotted the subtle widebody, that’s half the difference right there. But just like a Singer Porsche looks miles more substantial than a Porsche 964 on which its based, it’s also a ton of smaller changes that take it there.

On this Gremlin restomod, it’s also the sharper shoulder lines, larger wheels and proper fitment that fill out the arches, modern, big brakes, the shaved bumpers, modern LED halo lights up front, and ducktail roof spoiler that give it the look that turns heads. The twin-tone paint job doesn’t hurt either. Smaller touches, like the marker lights on the front grille as modern LEDs are another great throwback to the original small car everyone loves to hate on.

Was The Gremlin A Good Car? Green AMC Gremlin front 3/4Mecum Auctions

 

 

The AMC Gremlin, partly thanks to its name that brought up images of things going up in smoke, or cuddly fur monsters that could eat your face off, was certainly not a bad car. Sure, the styling was quirky, but it also sat well with a lot of people in the 70s. It was offered with six-cylinder engines initially. Though they weren’t exceptionally fast, fuel-efficient, nimble or rode well, AMC sold enough Gremlins for it to be called a sales success. In its life between 1970-1978, AMC had built over 671,000 Gremlins, making it AMC’s second best-selling car! The fact that it was one of the cheapest cars you could buy must’ve helped.

In 1971, the AMC Gremlin X introduced bigger “muscle car wheels”, go-fast ᵴtriƥes and some interior enhancements that did make it a “better” car, or at least, less ugly. In 1972, it added a 5.0-liter V8 to the mix. But thanks to the oil crisis, and crippling emissions equipment, this big V8 engine in the front of this subcompact only made an anemic 150 hp. But with wider tires, it already looked a great deal better than the standard Gremlin. The Gremlin X also paved the way for the highly-limited edition AMC Gremlin 401-XR.

The larger 6.6-liter V8 was a shoehorn for the standard 5.0. Which meant a straight power bump to 255 hp. The Gremlin 401-XR was pretty much dreamt up by an AMC dealership, and only offered by them. Only 24 were ever made.

The World Needs More V8 Hot Hatches Blue 1972 AMC Gremlin restomod rear 3/4 rolling HotCars Photo © 2023 Valnet

If someone could find the market for high-quality AMC Gremlin restomods, and we know it’s out there, this concept points the way in the right direction. While the Gremlin was never a high-dollar muscle car, and prices still hold steady in the affordable range according to Classic.com, that also makes it an ideal candidate for a no-expense-spared restoration job.

Which would also address some of the issues of the original Gremlin — its built-to-a-cost feeling inside, the handling, and lethargic engines. As long as we’re talking restomodding one, how about putting a modern Dodge muscle car engine in the engine bay? Something like the 5.7-liter Hemi that’s in the 2022 Dodge Challenger R/T, making 375 hp plus. For a car that weighs about 2,600 pounds, that’s plenty. And with no other V8 hot hatches around now, it’s a surefire way to make the AMC Gremlin a modern classic car.

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