The Gremlin : When American Motors Corporation Took on the World
Touted as "a pal to its friends and an ogre to its enemies," the AMC Gremlin was built in Detroit to compete with foreign imports in the U.S. auto market.
Muscle cars ruled the 1970s in America and Mustangs, Camaros and Chevelles shared the highways with customized vans and their carpeted ceilings, airbrushed wizards and that little bubble window in the back. Although the Volkswagen was quite popular and you would see Datsuns on the road, Toyotas were not near as ubiquitous as they are today and Honda was still thought of as a motorcycle. Foreign cars were still considered exotic in America.
American Motors Corporation had to compete against the imports and the big three automakers from Detroit. Their secret was gas mileage and power. The 1970 Gremlin got 28 miles per gallon, more than double the average of U.S. cars at the time. The Volkswagen Beetle got 35+ mpg but the Gremlin had much more power, going from 0-60 in just 12.6 seconds, compared to about 18 seconds for the VW Beetle and the Ford Pinto.
On paper, it seemed like a winning combination. Christened "the first American-built import," the Gremlin ended up better known as one of the ugliest cars ever to come out of the Motor City. By the end of the decade, the Gremlin was no longer in production.
Just remember, whatever happens, no matter how much it stalls, no matter how much it breaks down, never, ever, gas it after midnight...