The Truth About Cars » gremlin http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 12 Apr 2014 23:33:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » gremlin http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Gremlin Of The Forest: Another Kenny Stork Adventure http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/gremlin-of-the-forest-another-kenny-stork-adventure/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/gremlin-of-the-forest-another-kenny-stork-adventure/#comments Thu, 25 Jul 2013 15:36:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=497012 1971_amc_gremlin_emblem

The used baby-shit green AMC Gremlin arrived in the Stork’s driveway about the time their long lived 1967 Chrysler Newport made its last tip out of the driveway and into its final resting place in the forested acreage behind the house. The oil shock had meant a lot of changes, but Wayne had been willing to deal with the high prices so long as it hadn’t meant purchasing a new car, but by the time the old Chrysler finally gave up the ghost it was a given that the next vehicle he purchased would be smaller and more fuel efficient. Compared to the Chrysler, the Gremlin was smaller and more fuel efficient, but compared to my family’s Opel Kadett it was an anachronistic piece of junk. It’s a wonder it lasted an entire year before it broke down.

The little car languished at the side of the carport and gradually became a sort of semi permanent shop bench where the various odds and ends of daily life ended up when their usefulness had passed. The unused part of a 2×4 found a home atop the car as it waited to be used in some other project, a broken toaster found its way into the back seat and a well used weed-eater was placed atop the cowl at the bottom of the windshield as it awaited a trip to the hardware store. Along with these and various other things that gradually accumulated over time, virtually all of the Stork’s dozen or so outdoor cats established their own perches atop the car and soon after that, a place atop the car’s hood was cleared for their food and water dishes. Like so many other things around the Stork’s house, the car soon became a part of nature itself and we kids found ourselves ignoring it.

Photo courtesy of aaca.org

Photo courtesy of aaca.org

When the forest behind the Stork’s house grew tall enough, Wayne saw the opportunity to make some money contracted with a local logging company to come and harvest some of the trees that grew there. The entire crew appeared on our street one morning, a small group of men driving big trucks with impressive looking log skidders atop lowboy trailers. In a matter of minutes the crew had their machines off the trucks and into the woods. The sound of chainsaws and cracking trees filled the air for days and soon the big skidders had clawed out rudimentary roads through the undergrowth as they worked to bring the long logs to a central landing where the trucks could load them and carry them to the mill. Truck after truck came and went and the forest behind the house was gradually denuded of its many alders, though the tall cedar trees, which required a special permit to cut, remained. When the job was done, what had once been an are of perpetual twilight beneath the tall trees was a barren ruin of broken stumps and trimmed branches. Amidst this carnage, dozens upon dozens of primitive roads wended their way through the destruction.

The roads soon became bicycle trails and we wore them flat with the passage of our tires. Nature reasserted itself over the scene and soon a mass of undergrowth sprang up and wherever the sun’s rays shined salmon berry bushes, vine maples and large patches of giant sticker bushes we called “devil’s clubs” grew thick. As time passed many of the lesser traveled paths were lost to us, but the ones we used remained. But pedaling a bicycle through the various hills and gullies of the Pacific Northwest wilderness can be tiring and so, one day, we determined that we should find something with an engine.

amc_gremlin_gray_1971

The whole project began with the surreptitious questioning of Wayne Stork. Why exactly had the Gremlin been parked, and why had it not been consigned to the graveyard behind the house? It turns out that it needed a simple repair, a new alternator, and that Wayne had been waiting for the right time to fix the little car. I knew enough about basic mechanics to know that an alternator is a nice thing to have, but that it isn’t really essential to make a car run so long as you have a fully charged battery. It was a small step to dig out the Stork’s battery charger, which had been conveniently left on the front seat of the car anyhow, and hook it to the battery. A day later, we filled the car’s four flat tires from a nearby air tank and, with the battery now fully charged, commenced to cranking. Lo and the little car fired and struggled into a smokey idle.

We added a couple of gallons of fresh lawn mower gas to the car’s tank and, after we had cleared off the bits of junk and shooed away all the cats, all the neighborhood kids climbed aboard while Kenny claimed the driver’s seat as his own. Throwing the car into reverse, he backed it down the driveway, pointed it into the woods and mashed the gas. The car responded with an unhappy groan as its six cylinder engine worked to move it forward but failed to even spin the tires in the gravel driveway as it began to work up momentum.

cc-27-173-1000

Trees flashed by at the grand speed of around ten miles an hour and at the main intersection of the property, the area that had been used as a landing by the loggers, Kenny threw the car down into low gear and headed down one of the old skidder trails. The undergrowth closed in around us and branches slapped at us through the open windows as we passed. The Gremlin ground its way on through the brush, up and over a hill and down into a gully where a small woodland stream ran nearly empty in the summer heat. Water splashed as we dove headlong in and the car’s wheels began to sink but our momentum carried us across and up the hill on the other side. At the back of the property Kenny spun the car around and we headed back through the forest to the driveway.

All day long Kenny drove the car through the forest like a madman. At one point he missed a curve and slammed the Gremlin into a giant boulder, a remnant of Western Washington’s ice glacial past, and made a huge dent in the car’s fended. Undeterred he plowed on, back through the small saplings and assorted undergrowth and back onto the road. By the time we finally ran out of gas the car was covered in long streaks of mud, bore the scratches of a million branches and had leaves and branches hanging from the grill. The situation was so bad that there was no hiding it and so we put it back on the car port and awaited Wayne’s return, or rather Kenny did as the rest of us beat feet before he got there.

As Kenny tells it Wayne came home, walked past the little car and came into the house where he found his son watching television. A man a few words, Wayne sat down in his chair and began to watch TV before broaching the subject. “I see you’ve been driving the Gremlin.” He said simply.

“Yeah,” answered Kenny, “We had to work on it. Can you believe that it still runs?”

“Of course it does.” answered Wayne, “It ran when I parked it.” And with that, the subject became a non issue and so far as I know was never raised again.

Looking back now, I am sure that Wayne had mixed emotions about our adventure. On one hand he was probably upset that his son had virtually destroyed the little car, but on the other he was probably proud that his son had the wherewithal to actually get out under the hood of the car, figure out the problem and implement a solution. From that day on, the car was Kenny’s plaything until it had been so broken and so abused that it could not run again. Then it too joined the others in the great junkyard that it had so often passed by on the way down one trail or another. By the time it arrived there, it had truly earned its place and I am sure that it remains there today, quietly decomposing amid the others, but alive still in my memory and now yours.

Not the real car, but close - photo courtesy of amcrc.org

Not the real car, but close – photo courtesy of amcrc.org

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Endurance Racing a Gremlin: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/endurance-racing-a-gremlin-what-could-possibly-go-wrong/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/endurance-racing-a-gremlin-what-could-possibly-go-wrong/#comments Sun, 28 Nov 2010 14:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=374749

Some might say that the AMC Gremlin, being one of the crudest simplest cars ever built, should be as reliable a tool as the stick used by chimps to extract tasty ants from anthills. It wasn’t quite like that for Substandard Racing and their Gremlin, as we saw at the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons last weekend.
Our first sighting of the Substandard Racing AMC came at the 2010 Gator-O-Rama LeMons, back in February. As the second-ever AMC product (after the Hornet that races in the West Coast events, and if you don’t count the Renault Alliance and/or Eagle Premier as AMC products), the Gremlin’s presence made everyone at LeMons HQ very happy… until its flank ended up serving as the perfect launching ramp for an Escort ZX2:

After that, things went downhill fast for the Gremlin; first, the four-wheel-drum brakes kept catching on fire, thanks to the never-anticipated-by-Kenosha-engineers duty cycle of a high-speed endurance race (yes, you could still buy a car with full drums as late as 1974). Then the allegedly reliable AMC 258 six-banger blew up. Total laps finished, in a race in which the winner got 328? Twelve glorious laps for the AMC!
For the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez race, Substandard Racing came prepared! Not only did they hang a couple of Black Ice Little Trees from the rear-view, they’d installed front disc brakes and a beefy 4.2-liter Jeep engine out of a 1990 Wrangler. For good measure, they even threw a rings-and-bearings rebuild at the venerable AMC-Jeep-Chrysler six-cylinder powerplant. Checkered flag, here we come!
As their secret weapon, the Substandards brought along a complete parts car with running engine: this frighteningly hacked-up AMC Eagle! The plan was to let the LeMons Supreme Court use the Eagle as the Judgemobile, which would have ranked it right up there with the Greatest Judgemobiles of All Freakin’ Time, because the new engine would be utterly bulletproof! Right?
Well, not exactly. For some reason, the “bulletproof” engine wasn’t getting any oil to the top end. Actually, the horrible bearing scream sounded like no oil was getting anywhere. Kibitzers from other teams kicked around some theories: The main bearings are in backwards! The lifters are in wrong! The oil pump is bad! The oil pump has an air bubble! The pushrods are clogged! Anyway, the green flag waved at 3:00 PM and at 9:00 PM the team was still thrashing on the engine, trying to figure out the problem.
I’d been recommending that they just give up on the 4.2 and swap in the Eagle’s 258 since about 3:05 PM, because years of LeMons experience has taught me that a simple engine swap is always simpler than a complicated engine repair. However, this wasn’t quite as simple a swap as you might think; much had changed on the AMC Six between 1974 and 1990, including headache-inducing stuff like throttle linkage and exhaust manifolds, plus the Eagle’s primitive AWD drivetrain made for a totally hellish somewhat challenging engine removal. Still, Substandard Racing didn’t give up!
Helping the Substandards for about 36 hours straight was John of Hoonatic Racing (shown here posing with Judge Anna aka Bikini Racer). John won the Heroic Fix and I Got Screwed trophies at the 2010 Yeehaw It’s Texas race in September for the all-weekend, one-total-lap madness he performed on his Integra after his whole team bailed. He figured, what the hell, the Gremlin should be easy after that nightmare!
As it turned out, nothing about the man-versus-Gremlin struggle was easy. When the sun came up on Sunday morning, the Eagle’s engine had finally been dropped into the Gremlin and most of the fasteners had been more or less installed.
The engine ran, sort of, but the Gremlin wasn’t quite ready to hit the track. Their junkyard transmission was a computer-controlled automatic, only they didn’t have the computer. No problem! Just use buttons zip-tied to the roll bar to control the second- and third-gear shifts! Then it turned out that they didn’t have enough transmission fluid. Then Western civilization collapsed and all of Louisiana reverted to savagery, making transmission fluid impossible to obtain. Anyway, the hurdles kept appearing in front of Substandard Racing, and Substandard Racing kept staggering over, under, and around them.
Eventually, with a couple of hours left to go in the straight-through 24-hour event, the Substandards managed to drive the AMC over to HQ for a tech inspection. Aside from the bad alternator wiring, the car was just about ready to race!
Oh, wait… is that a radiator leak? Meanwhile, an asteroid with a diameter of three kilometers smashed into the Gulf of Mexico, engulfing No Problem Raceway in boiling seawater and destroying all life in the Northern Hemisphere.
Still, Substandard Racing soldiered on, this time setting up shop in the LeMons Supreme Court’s Penalty Box.
Good thing they had the shop manual! In this case, they had the Chilton’s for every motor vehicle made from 1972 through 1979.
Finally, the car was ready! We all rushed over to the grandstands to watch its glorious Laissez Les Crapheaps debut.
It wasn’t exactly fast, but it went around the track. 37 times it circled the No Problem Raceway aka The Circuit At Grand Bayou course, more than tripling nearly matching its previous lap record!
The car pitted a couple times for driver changes and repairs, and each visit was a cause for celebration.
The Substandard Racing entry overheated repeatedly, but the team held it together long enough to take the checkered flag. The crowd gave the Gremlin a standing ovation when it clattered off the track at 3:01 PM. At the postrace awards ceremony, there was no doubt about which team most deserved the Heroic Fix trophy. Add Substandard Racing to the Heroic Fix Honor Roll!
Thanks to Nick Pon and Scott Carr for photographic help!
1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin racing in the Laissez Les Crapheaps Roulez 24 Hours of LeMons 1974 AMC Gremlin wrecked at the Yeehaw It's Texas 24 Hours of LeMons AMC Gremlin enabler Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Honda CR-Z Design Inspiration Discovered http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/honda-cr-z-design-inspiration-discovered/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/honda-cr-z-design-inspiration-discovered/#comments Tue, 12 Jan 2010 17:47:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=341550 CRZ: a chopped-off sedan with too much front overhang

another chopped-off sedan

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