Tuesday, April 1, 2008

AMC Gremlin Cult following


Time magazine named it one of the 50 Worst Cars of All Time.

But Gremlin car owners bristle at that classification.

"I think it's completely undeserved," said Patrick Bridge, a Fluvanna County resident who is the proud owner of a yellow 1977 Gremlin.

The much-maligned 1970s-era Gremlin also is one of the road's most conspicuous cars, leading some to wonder about the logic used by Slade Allen Woodson, who is charged in last week's shooting spree west of Charlottesville.

Woodson was driving an orange 1974 Gremlin.

"Talk about giving my car a bad name," said Bridge. "My first thought was, 'How stupid can somebody be?' And then it turns out to be orange with a big, black stripe on the side!"

The Gremlin, produced by American Motors Corp., hasn't been built since 1978. During its production, which began April 1, 1970, about 670,000 cars rolled off the assembly line.

Like so many cars of the 1970s, few intact Gremlins remain. But even with few in existence, the collector's market is low for Gremlins.

Gremlins are not really popular as collector cars, said Leonard Shepherd, president of the central Virginia chapter of the Studebaker Drivers Club. "Most AMC cars aren't.

"AMC was a smaller company and made mostly economy cars, and those aren't the types that collectors want to buy," he said. "They want something they would have wanted as a teen, something fast and flashy."

The average price for a Gremlin today varies widely.

On eBay, a 1972 AMC Gremlin X yesterday was selling for $1,425.

Bridge, however, bought his 1977 model in late 2006 for $700, though it required some sprucing up.

"If you talk about a Gremlin without standing beside one while you're doing it, people will laugh, but they really don't remember them," Bridge said. "But when they see my car sitting right there, suddenly, it's not so bad. It's kind of cool."

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