Classic DREAMCARS Mount Dora, Fla. (352) 385-1945 www.classicdreamcars.com

"BEFORE" PIX

RUST-FREE 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"

CAR 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

AT 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

 

(THE LAST 15 PHOTO'S ARE THE PROMISED "AFTER" PICTURES OF THE FINISHED RESTORATION )

(Click on Photo to Enlarge)

SORRY, THIS CAR WAS SOLD BY ACQUISITION ORDER

1973 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 Edition, Gremlin". 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 "Levi Edition".


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.