Ah…. For the good old days.

I remember 1970 when the AMC Gremlin first came out.  A friend of mine and I went down to what used to be the Rambler dealership to get a look at this new inexpensive little car.  It was a funny looking thing, but it was cheap.  The sticker price was $1879.00.  Of course if you wanted a back seat it was another ninety bucks.

The car came with a 199CI (3.3 liter 128 HP) in line six engine, a proven workhorse for Rambler for years.  The car got about 36 miles to the gallon with the “three in the tree” three speed column shift manual transmission.

This was a really small car in it‘s day, it could only fit 4 people comfortably.  It was made to compete against the Volkswagen beetle which was becoming more  popular at the time.

With $400 down a person could buy a new car (albeit small) for about $50.00 a month.  Minimum wage in 1970 was $1.45 an hour so a young man working full time could make the payment with a weeks pay.

With the help of an inflation calculator let’s move this to today’s money.

The car would cost $9930 today.

Now let’s look at today.  There is no longer an American Motors Corporation and no Gremlin. But there are small cars.  Too many of them in my opinion.  Let’s pick one.

How about the Chevrolet Aveo.  The base price is $12,625 ($2388 in 1970 dollars).  But for that you do get a back seat but, sorry,  no air-conditioning.  You get a 1.6 liter (about 100 cubic inch @ 105 HP) engine and 27 miles to the gallon.

This same young man making minimum wage today with the same kind of loan can not afford this car.  He would be making (before taxes and withholding) $262.00 a week and the payment would be $322.


Here’s what I find interesting, the Gremlin, with no computer, no wind tunnel tested aerodynamics and about the same weight (2600 pounds), got 11 miles to the gallon more than the new fancy Aveo with it’s ultra efficient computer controlled engine.

In 1970 I could buy a car cheaper than today,  a car that was roomier and got 1/3rd better gas mileage with 20 more horsepower.

What’s the difference?

Mandatory Airbags, mandatory emission standards, mandatory crumple zones, mandatory 5 mile an hour impact bumpers, mandatory catalectic converters containing platinum, non asbestos brake shoes, CAFE standards and countless other regulations built into the price and efficiency of today‘s cars.

For me, give me the simple Gremlin.  Good reliable transportation made with a minimum of government intervention.  Roomy and comfortable by today’s standards.

And all for less money.

The AMC Gremlin…. At 36 miles per galloon, a truly echo – friendly economy car.

Published in: on February 23, 2009 at 9:19 am  Leave a Comment  

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