The AMC Gremlin goes on sale in the U.S. April 1, 1970, competing against imports such as the Volkswagen Beetle and Toyota Corona, and beating the Chevrolet Vega and Ford Pinto to market by five months.
The Gremlin, touted by American Motors as the first U.S.-built modern subcompact car, became the company's best-selling nameplate since the Rambler Classic.
AMC initially offered two basic Gremlin models: a bare-bones two-seater and a more accommodating four-passenger version. The two-seater with a fixed rear window was targeted as an import-fighting price leader and was initially offered at $1,879. The four-seater, which added a flip-up rear window hatch, was priced from $1,959.
The Gremlin took root in 1966 when AMC chief designer Richard Teague and stylist Bob Nixon discussed the possibility of a shortened version of AMC's compact car. Teague's solution, which he said he sketched on a Northwest Orient air sickness bag during a flight, was to truncate the tail of a Javelin pony car.
Nixon had joined AMC as a 23-year-old and did the first formal design sketches in 1967 for the car that was to become the Gremlin.