Saturday, March 15, 2014

Detroit AutoRama: Gremlins!

A confession: I've always had a soft spot for AMC Gremlins. This isn't my fault, you understand. When I was just a young impressionable lad my father bought us a red and black AMC Gremlin X with a V8 engine that my Mom hauled me, my brother, and my sister around in for years.

"What's a Gremlin X?" asks the gentle reader (because the gentle readers of the Patio Boat blog have never been exposed to such raucous compact cars.) A Gremlin X looks like a meaner version of the regular Gremlin, with more stripes and black bits, and usually a bigger engine.  In the case of our Gremlin that meant a big, honkin' 304 ci V8 engine. That's a bigger engine than the V8 in my 2000 Dodge Dakota pickup truck.  

Eight-year-old me spent many an hour zipping around the Adirondacks in the passenger seat of a tiny AMC car with an inexplicably enormous V8, sure that it must be one of the coolest cars in all the world. So, when a ridiculous Gremlin with a big, honkin' V8 shows up in our driveway one day, I hope that Monique remembers that I'm the victim here. It isn't my fault.

There wasn't just one Gremlin at the 2014 AutoRama. There were two!

Melanie Monagon of Amherst, Ohio, brought this 1972 AMC Gremlin dragster to the show. With their light weight and big engine bay Gremlins made popular dragsters for a while. With its blown alcohol-burning engine this one has a bit of giddyap off the line.

Melanie brought a photo in case you had any doubts:

I also got to see the single nicest Gremlin I have ever seen or ever expect to see:

I have no idea what inspired Ray Lewis, Jr., to make this 1973 Gremlin so much nicer than any Gremlin that left the factory. But it was truly splendid. Jaguars and Cadillacs would look at that leather-trimmed interior and slink away feeling just a bit shabby by comparison.

And finally, a bonus car that fits well here: Carol DeBeaussaert brought this beautifully restored 1976 AMC Pacer to the party!

Truly discerning Patio Boat readers may think this car a familiar sight. And they'd be right! It also made an appearance at the 2013 Orphan Car Show in Ypsilanti, Michigan! Apparently I am your source for all breaking AMC Pacer news in Michigan.

The funny thing about the Pacer is that the more I look at them, the more I start to think they're really well designed. I suppose one day I'll have to get one and find out if it's so.

After I acquire a Gremlin, of course!

Tomorrow? Smoooooooth and Swoopy.

[Edit: This post was corrected to show that Ray Lewis, Jr., was the actual owner/creator of the burgundy Gremlin. My apologies to Mr. Lewis and his inexplicably awesome Gremlin for the misattribution.]


  1. Gremlins!! Nice to see someone still appreciates these gems. Haha!

    -melanie monagon

  2. Thanks for stopping by the ol' Patio Boat, Melanie, and thanks for the link. Good luck with the 2014 season!

  3. Please make a correction. The owner / designer of the 1973 burgundy Gremlin is Ray Lewis, Jr. Not Roger Dean, Jr. Thank you for your story and your kind comments.

  4. Done. Sorry about that. I must've mixed the listed names at some point. It's a great car, so I'm happy to try to get the man behind it right. Thanks!