1978 AMC Gremlin Reviews

1978 AMC Gremlin 258 from North America

Model year1978
Year of manufacture1977
First year of ownership2007
Most recent year of ownership2010
Engine and transmission 258 Automatic
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 6 / 10
Comfort marks 4 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 9 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.8 / 10
Distance when acquired110000 miles
Most recent distance114000 miles

Faults:

Had to rebuild transmission. Oil leaks due to being 33 years old on original gaskets! Other than that, it's just routine maintenance.

General Comments:

These cars were very unfairly criticized. Keep in mind, they were the least expensive cars on the market, and therefore are not luxurious, cushy or state of the art.

You got a very strong, durable and uniquely styled car for little money. They were quick, though not as good at MPG as the Pinto and Vega competition, but much safer. They sold half a million in its 70-78 run with almost no styling changes - a major success for a small company!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th January, 2010

4th Feb 2010, 16:20

This review gives us a nice history of AMC, but says almost nothing about the actual car that is being reviewed.

6th Feb 2010, 13:15

The Mopars prior to '75 didn't have the electrical and emissions issues that you mention. Chrysler had a lot of trouble with that Lean Burn system. 1975 was a turning point in that they still made some cars that just had a catalytic converter, while others were starting to use the smog pump or Lean Burn.

Our '71, '73, and '75 Dodges and Plymouths were good, reliable cars. Actually our '76, '77, and '79 Slant Six cars were really good, but the '75 Fury always had trouble whereas the '75 Charger did not.

All the solid state electronics and mechanical approach to emissions control just seemed spotty, and it took the micro processor to actually make the concept work.

Prior to '75 cars were good, and since the mid-'90s things have been good, but the '80s were tough. Just my opinion based on ownership experiences.

8th Oct 2011, 18:59

Well, I said it was solid, quick, uniquely styled, safe, and how inexpensive it was. What more did you want to know?

1978 AMC Gremlin 232 from North America

Model year1978
Year of manufacture1978
First year of ownership1980
Most recent year of ownership2009
Engine and transmission 232 Automatic
Performance marks 5 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 4 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
5.7 / 10
Distance when acquired15000 miles
Most recent distance78000 miles

Summary:

Fun little collectors car. Too rare for a daily driver

Faults:

Mechanically the car is great. Very few problems. Mechanical parts are easy to find.

Rust. What 70's cars didn't have it. Body parts are hard to find. Since they were cheap most found there way to the crusher. Reproduction parts for most AMC's don't exist.

Interior again the car was cheap. What do you expect.

General Comments:

If you would have told me in 1980 that I would be taking this car to car shows 30 years later, I would told you that you were crazy, but that is where the Gremlin can be found every weekend, weather permitting.

Don't expect expect the guy in the 57 Chevy and the 65 Mustang that is parked next to you to be too excited, but the public that come to the shows will be. 95% of the population owned one or their best friend did.

While the Gremlin X's are the best ones to own, any Gremlin is a collectors items. If you find one that has a good body, buy it, take it to shows. You will be noticed and you will have fun, but you better have a sense of humour because they will laugh at your baby. Real men drive Gremlins.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th August, 2009

10th Aug 2009, 06:55

If "95% of the population owned one or their best friend did"

The Gremlin would have been the best selling car of all time, and AMC would still be around.

Neither is the case.

10th Aug 2009, 12:17

I had a new Gremlin X 304, and now drive a Vette C5. I like AMC AMX 390 2 seaters as well then and now. The only other American 2 seaters like Vettes in the past. AMC Machines and the Mark Donahue Javelin are ones I would like to have one today with my cars.

1978 AMC Gremlin from North America

Model year1978
Year of manufacture1977
First year of ownership1996
Most recent year of ownership2000
Engine and transmission Manual
Performance marks 6 / 10
Reliability marks 4 / 10
Comfort marks 2 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
4.5 / 10
Distance when acquired70000 miles
Most recent distance120000 miles

Summary:

Driving feels like work, uncomfortable, too many surprise problems

Faults:

Electrical system shorted out, smoke & melting, headlights stopped working, while driving.

Drivers side floor rusted away.

Leaf springs wore out, had to be replaced, and then something else in the suspension went wrong so the tire scraped the wheel well if too much weight was in it.

Ignition suddenly stopped working, had to be replaced.

Water pump went out a couple times - partly because someone did a cheap repair that messed up the cooling system.

Radiator had to be replaced.

Muffler and exhaust pipes had to be replaced.

Transmission was wearing out, very tricky to shift gears.

Rear window trim came off.

Seats were getting to be like sitting on a grid of wires, chunks of foamy stuff missing.

General Comments:

It had a unique, cool shape, had a unique name, and I didn't see many others.

It had a tough exterior. I hit a deer on an interstate highway head-on at full speed, and it only messed up a couple parts close to the front of the car. I could also blast right through snow drifts at regular highway speed when I had studded tires in back. However, the rear wheel drive is a drawback for driving on anything slick.

The rear window that doubled as a hatch was awkward and somewhat fragile, not a practical design. It wouldn't stay open, either, also awkward.

It needed alignment of the wheels unusually often.

Driving this car felt like work. It was very loud and it always felt like it was working hard to go fast. The dark, plasticky seats made it really hot in summer. Even after I fixed the hole in the floor, the interior was kind of like an un-insulated, drafty room. The glass fogged up a lot in the winter. I got used to the sticky shifting, but no one else was able to get it to shift so it was hard to sell after a test drive! It took more effort to turn the steering wheel than most cars. The gas gage said it should have an eighth of a tank when it was actually empty.

There were also too many times when a normal trip was interrupted by sudden car problems.

Gas mileage wasn't good.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 26th January, 2008

27th Jan 2008, 04:12

It was 16 years old when you bought it - did you seriously expect it to be in perfect condition?

6th May 2009, 23:06

Indeed.

I had a '77 Gremlin handed down from my mother. It was an incredibly tough car inside and out. At some point in the eighties, it threw a rod and knocked a fist-sized hole in the engine block, but guess what? It still ran, though slower and louder than before. I wish I still had it.

6th Jan 2010, 10:43

I own a 78, and it sounds to me that you had a very used car.

I have had few problems with mine in the 3 years I've owned it, even though it has 114,000 miles on it.

1978 AMC Gremlin GT 4.2 normal aspiration from North America

Year of manufacture1978
First year of ownership1995
Most recent year of ownership2004
Engine and transmission 4.2 normal aspiration Manual
Performance marks 6 / 10
Reliability marks 4 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.7 / 10
Distance when acquired109000 miles
Most recent distance109010 miles
Previous carChevrolet C20

Summary:

A very unusual and rare collectible AMC

Faults:

Since I started with the car as a project vehicle anyway, it needed quite a lot to bring it back to normal running condition, which has yet to happen. Things that have been replaced so far :

Water pump was bad originally, when car was previously owned. Replaced it.

Carburetor was balky. Replaced with used one.

Gas lines have failed, both rubber and original steel lines. Replaced some of both.

Carburetor quit working, bought new one, still not installed.

Engine started knocking slightly, suspect sticking valve gear.

Rust has started to show on the car in several places, noticeably in the door corners, front windshield pillar, and around the rear tail lights.

General Comments:

This is a VERY rare model of Gremlin, only 1 of less than 1,000 known to have been manufactured as a GT in 1978.

The car is worth saving, I actually drove it home after I purchased it, I put air in the tires, rocked it to break the brakes loose, then drove it 9 miles to my house, where it's revival was started, and still ongoing.

The car has many options like a floor mounted gauge package and body aero package around wheel wells with a front air dam.

The paint is Sun Orange with black interior and is striking in appearance.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th July, 2004

22nd Jul 2004, 11:54

So, you drove this car 9 miles home after you bought it and it hasn't been driven since in 9 years?

That would explain the 10/10 rating on running costs.. a car that never moves would be really cheap to run!

There is actually a copy of the ad for the Gremlin GT in a car book that just came out this year.

The book title? "Automotive Atrocities"!

Average review marks: 5.9 / 10, based on 4 reviews