DREAMCARS Mount Dora, Fla. (352) 385-1945
GREMLIN FRESH FROM 'THE BARN' IN CALIFORNIA - ORIGINAL 'RARE'
LEVI INTERIOR WITH MOST SEAMS TORN - AND JUST AS IT ARRIVED
BACK FROM NEW BASE COAT / CLEAR COAT. NOTE CUSTOM MADE TRANSMISSION
HUMP IN CENTER PHOTO AND CUSTOM 2 1/2" FLOW-MASTER EXHAUST
INSTALLATION BY THE LATE "AL HOFMANN"
AS IT ARRIVED BACK FROM ENGINE BUILDER 'DAVE TRIPLETT' WITH NEW
TIRES ON ORIG. WHEELS - ENGINE CAVITY SANS MOTOR THEN AND NOW
WITH CUSTOM BUILT MOTOR INSTALLED
THE INTERIOR SHOP: 'OLD' VERSUS 'NEW '. STITCHED IN ORANGE WITH
LEVI TAB- NOTE MINT DASH, CUSTOM MADE TRANSM. HUMP AND ORIGINAL
LIC. PLATE LAST TAGGED 1988
LAST 15 PHOTO'S ARE THE PROMISED "AFTER" PICTURES OF THE FINISHED RESTORATION
on Photo to Enlarge)
SORRY, THIS CAR
WAS SOLD BY ACQUISITION ORDER
AMC "LEVI EDITION" BLUE GREMLIN 'BARN FIND'
This is a Unique Story that started with a request (acquisition order)
from an Old Friend and Customer, Ed Pruitt. He called and told
us that his Son passed recently and he wanted to "Create
A Car" Dedicated to both his oldest Son and his departed
Son's Memory. A car that he had purchased 'new' in 1973 for the
boy's, and subsequently, took many a Road Trip to places like
"The Daytona 500" and the Fla. Keys. The only problem
with his choice was THE CAR.. it was a 1973 American
Motors Gremlin..... a marquee abandoned long ago with
the demise of American Motors in 1986. In case you forgot, after
losing 91.3 million in 1986, AMC sold out to Chrysler in 1987.
Replaced in the marketplace with much more popular ( and possibly
smarter looking) Sub-Compacts- the AMC Gremlin has all but
vanished into oblivion.
To make matters even more difficult, our customer narrowed the
order down to the seldom-ever-seen ( let alone, not many SOLD new) "Levi
This model was touted by AMC as "The American Fashion Look " by American Motors in a Press Release dated
June 1, 1972. It stated..... "
the AMC Gremlin would be the first U.S. Sub-Compact to offer an
especially created, Fashion-Oriented upholstery....a blue denim
"Levi's" optional trim package with a Blue Jean Look.
Authentic Blue Indigo Cloth was fitted to Gremlins Highback Bucket
Seats and Fold-down Rear Bench Seat. The familiar copper rivets
will replace tufted buttons in Seatbacks and Cushions. Orange
contrasting stitching joined the seams. This Special Model would
be identified by "Levi's" traditional pocket tab appearing
inside the car on the front seats and the LEVI'S Logo would
be mounted on the front (fender) panels".
So....our, more-than-difficult, search was on. Computer
Search Engines certainly make our lives easier but, it was a small
classified ad in the Los Angeles Times for a "rare 1973 Gremlin,
low mileage in excellent condition - not running" that finally
rounded up this Elusive Creature. Seems the original owner
blew a head gasket and decided to fix it himself, taking out the
radiator (?), removing the intake manifold and air conditioning
compressor. Just about the time the parts arrived, he had a heart
attack, passed on, and the repair was never finished. Not worth
the cost to repair at the time, the car sat in a closed, darkened
garage for over 20 years. As can be seen in the
photo's, the body and frame were remarkably "California Rust Free", the interior was actually
in remarkable condition, except for dry rot & the seat stitching,
which had come unraveled, in several places. However, the most
remarkable fact was, it was indeed a coveted, rust-free, low-mileage
The transport from Southern California to Florida almost cost
more than the car but, it gave us the start to this Great
Project. It was voted between the owner, the engine builder
and myself that the very best performance combination for this
car (weight vs. power) would be a 360 v8 ( pressed to the wall
for maximum horsepower) coupled to a 4-speed AMC gearbox, and
Positraction Rear. The entire idea of this project was to create
something BONE STOCK looking with a massive but, manageable
Power Plant. The owner determined he wanted the car painted in
'AMC #2494' , "Maxi
Blue" ( same
color as his boys' original) with a brand 'new' Levi interior
installed. The exact color was easy to locate, as 'Maxi Blue'
was a popular choice combined with the Levi Interior, and the
color codes were still available by simply buying original AMC
Color Chips and an Original Showroom Brochure. The Levi Material
however, turned out to be a tall order. Somehow, we had
pictured, at worst, buying old Blue Jean's and using those but,
after a week of shopping on the Internet and in every Major Auto
Magazine, like Hemmings Motor News... we got educated that
the material was not actually Blue Denim. I finally
found a Fabric Wholesaler who had 10 yards of the original Milliken
'spun nylon' fabric..... at $65 a yard! *
I knew the owner of the car would "have a cow"
over the cost of materials so, I gave him the phone number and
info. and let him buy direct so, he would 'get educated'
on the cost of the original material was indeed going to be
STOUT. Next, the car was shipped to famous Fla. Drag Racer
( and Points Leader), Dave Triplett, who was talked into
this project as "a fun experiment". Though he's proud as punch now,
he admits there were numerous times when he regretted his acceptance
of the project, as it was a lot more work than
"fun". What we both found out is, that the new parts
for these cars are few, far between and not cheap.
When he wasn't searching, I was.... we sourced every person we
knew to assist. And, what we found was: AMC Parts Purveyors are
very 'proud' of their wares. And, as I'm sure you
aware 'shipping' costs have gone to the Moon! At times, many items
had to be Custom Made as we jumped from a little 258 c.i. Six
Cylinder / Automatic to a Big Block / Four Speed. This effected
the entire Geometry of the Car including Suspension & Drive
Train. The clutch assembly, exhaust and floor were all Custom
Built by Al Hofmann, another Old Pro Drag Racer from Central Fla.
( Note: In Memoriam:
this was Al's last project).
The entire vehicle was then shipped to a longtime friend, Danny
Vandeveer, a Dutch Restoration Shop in South Fla., where they
bead blasted & refinished in Frame Black, what was, a mint
undercarriage & frame and then refinished the entire car,
including firewall in "Maxi Blue". Three months later,
the car arrived back in Central Fla. freshly done in Base Coat
/ Clear Coat. David Triplett reconfigured the installation and
started the engine build of the motor utilizing every minute of
his spare time - all this, between his Professional Drag Racing
Career and Managing one of the area's better Auto Parts Store....so,
our heart-felt THANKS go out to David for his efforts!
He started with a '73 AMC 360 race motor that already had TRW
Flat top Pistons installed, plus it rcvd. ARP Rod Bolts, Crane
Power Max H302-2 Hydraulic Camshaft, Crane Lifters, Crane Gold
Roller Rocker Arms, Performance Cylinder Heads; Fully Ported and
Polished with Sealed Power Valves & Springs. He then added
a Vintage '70's Edelbrock 'Torker' Manifold, Holley 650 Carb,
Cloyes Timing Set, ARP Head Bolts and Felpro Gaskets & Michigan
Bearings throughout, with a sealed Power High Volume Oil Pump
Kit. He also added Hedman Hustler Headers, G.M. Chrome 100amp
1-wire Alternator, Aluminum High Performance Northern Racing Radiator,
MSD Distributor and Taylor Spiro Pro Wires. The results is an
undisputable 360 + cubic inch road rocket.
One year later, it was apparent the vehicle had emerged, like
'Gizmo' the Movie character, a Fire Breathing Little
Hellion. On the
way here, a pit stop was made at the local Alignment Shop to have
the front-end rebuilt and tuned, then Tires Plus in Eustis was
asked to install new B.F. Goodrich Raised-White-Letter Oversized
Tires on the Original Rally Wheels (all this, in an attempt to
retain it's original look). David then delivered
it by Enclosed Trailer to our Museum. Next, this Little Blue Devil was sent to Commerce Park Upholstery
in Mt. Dora Fla. with the 10 yards of original Levi Denim Fabric
to recreate a "new" Blue Levi Interior. Great care was
taken to preserve the mint original Door Panels, Side Panels,
Dash and Headliner. Despite that 'care'.... several panels scratched
or cracked from old age on reinstall and had to be completely
rebuilt. Even delicate effort was made to restore the little Orange
Levi Tabs, stitching and repolishing the
Copper Rivets on the seats. The results were breathtaking. New 'molded' carpets were researched and purchased
from Classic Car and Truck Parts in DE. We even went so far as
having Custom Mats made to match the carpet, searching out a NOS
(new-old-stock) "Gremlin" Gas Cap & Shift Knob,
and custom binding the carpet on the transmission mount &
trunk area. Then, a trip back to the paint shop to search and
destroy any paint chinks that 'popped up'. We even added '360'
badges to the fenders and a Gremlin badge to the tail-end
so, any Stop Light
Speed Racers would
know they were about
to be pulverized by the Mogwai. The whole package started to really
take shape. Next the Original Body Stripes, and Levi Decals, (just
discovered) were now available 'new' out of Arizona. So,
Bob Sharff at Sharp Design acquired and skillfully applied them.
Sadly, the transmission 'somehow' (since purchase) acquired
a set of bad synchros and was need of 2 gears, so, just about
the time we were 'wrapped, it had to be pulled back out and was
rebuilt by Astro Tranmission Specialist in Tavares. Complete Auto
of Eustis did the R & R so, our thanks go out to "Serge",
since the car took up one of his busy racks for a week, while
we waited for the parts from Washington State. The car was ready
to be sent back to David to be "sorted out"........
after all..... it had undergone a complete restoration,
'build' and sat in a garage for over 20 years! He added the tach
and vintage AMC Gauge Package while the final detail was performed
by New Image who, incidentally, did a great job of restoring the
original steering wheel and dash. The whole project took over
a year and I must say, I wouldn't do it again as the parts
were a nightmare to find and it was way too labor intensive
of a project. 'Fun' but, way too much work.
FINAL TEST DRIVE:
Driving this car reminds me of a Griffith or 289 Sunbeam
Tiger- short coupled, way over powered, with
lot's 'n lots of torque. A car that 'can get away from
you' very quickly. Whenever you get behind the wheel......A little respect is in order for "The Blue Gremlin". Otherwise,
like the Movie Character, if you get it wet (IN THIS CASE, THE TIRES).... you might end up in a peck of trouble.
Finally, we displayed our admiration for the owner, Ed Pruitt
of Pennsylvania , and this entire Memoriam Project
by buying a fuzzy, vintage 'Gremlin' Toy Mogwai (from the Stephen
Speilberg Movie "Gremlins" -1984). My wife, Cindy, made
a Levi Pocket container for the shy little 'Gizmo' to hide
in, for display at Car Shows. But, a Word to the
Wise: Like the Movie character POSTER bi-lines; it might be.... "Cute", "Clever", "Mischievous"
......(duh).... Dangerous" but, this is one Gremlin that will
really cause a stir when it...." pops out of the pocket".
* The Levi "Seat of the Pants" Package cost
$134.95 new and included all the items previously mentioned
PLUS cargo-area insurlation, and a Custom Steering Wheel. However,
when ordered with the Gremlin X Option it only cost $49.95
extra! This super neat option was only available with five exterior
colors: 'Snow White', 'Diamond Blue', 'Olympic Blue', 'Pewter
Metallic' and 'Maxi Blue' (as seen here). Rumor has it, the Levi
Package was later offered with 'Trans Am Red' and 'Mellow Yellow'
Gremlins as well, but, we've never seen one. The package became
so popular AMC later offered it on Hornets and a few Javelin's
as well. Perhaps fueled by this handsome interior addition AMC
reported their best sales ever, with profits of over $85 million
and sales of 380,000 AMC cars. This option later surfaced, as
well, on AMC Jeeps in 1975-76.