• Lettin’ The Sun Shine!

    Matt Woodstrup's 1972 Gremlin X

Matt Woodstrup‘s ’72 X with Sunroof!

The Back Story

Not a whole lot is known of this cars early life, other than the fact at some point it became a dedicated drag racer. It clearly reached a point where it was having to deal with a whole lot of horsepower, because there is evidence of the rear end blowing apart, with metal fragments tearing right through the floor.

The Gremlin was a shell. This means, no engine, transmission, interior, axles or wiring. No doors, fenders, hood or glass. It did have the brake lines and I was able to determine that it was an original front disc brake car, another rare option”.

In 2001, what remained of the now completely stripped down and parted out Gremlin was purchased by American Motors enthusiast Matt Woodstrup. Matt explains: “I bought the car in Wisconsin in 2001. It was one of those pictures on a cardboard sign at a swap meeting. The owner had a photo of the shell of an original V8, factory sunroof 1972 Gremlin X. It was something I had never seen before, other than in photos. He wanted $300 and it was mine! I got the owners number and called him a few days later. He said it was a race car in Wisconsin for several years, and that accounted for the condition, there was very little rust. He had also pulled all the body seals, and floor plugs, so that water would drain out. The photo I saw was of the car sitting next to a barn, outside. The sun roof was still in it and open.

The owner said that for $100 he would even deliver as his wife wanted it gone. I asked what happened to the rest of the car. He said that he had parted it out years ago but just couldn’t bring himself to junk the rest because the body (shell) was so clean.

The Gremlin was a shell. This means, no engine, transmission, interior, axles or wiring. No doors, fenders, hood or glass. It did have the brake lines and I was able to determine that it was an original front disc brake car, another rare option”.

Quick Facts

  • 1972 Gremlin X

    Originally equipped with V-8, Sunroof, Front Disc Brakes

  • Engine / Transmission

    AMC 401, T-10 4-speed

  • Time of Restoration

    12 years

  • Color

    AMC Big Bad Green (originally Big Bad Blue)

The Restoration

Fortunately, despite the task ahead, Matt had actually been planning for this project years before the Gremlin ever came into his life. “I had been saving Gremlin parts for a project like this for years”, he explains. “Some of my parts I had came from my first Gremlin in 1979. Over the years I had had six Gremlins that I owned and cut up for parts, most of them being V8 cars”.

Although essentially a restoration back to factory standards, Matt couldn’t help but intervene in a couple of areas, for the sake of personal preference. “Our car has had several changes, but it is all AMC. Over fifteen Gremlins have contributed parts to our car”.

Originally a 304 cu.in car with 3-speed transmission, optional sunroof, front disc brakes and a posi 3:15 rear, Matt made some changes for the sake of driveability, and performance. A 401 now sits in the engine bay, with Holley 750, AMC R4B intake manifold, larger exhaust manifold to dual pipes, T10 4-speed, side pop-out windows, remote mirrors right and left, Custom Levi interior, center console, factory V8 tach in dash from a Hornet, and AM/FM/CB radio all make the Gremlin a better driving experience, as does the 2:87 limited slip rear-end.

In addition, rather than return the Gremlin back to its factory Big Bad Blue hue, Matt opted instead for the companies bold Big Bad Green. And while he was at it, he also switched the engine color. “I wanted to have a red engine”, he explains. “The only AMC cars in 1972 with red engine blocks were California emission cars. This meant I needed firewall ID stickers to say CA emissions. Our car wasn’t an original CA car but I liked the look of the red V8 with the green paint instead of the AMC blue that was used on the rest of the AMC engines”.

The restoration was a long and quite intensive one, as you’d expect, given what Matt started this adventure with. “The car took twelve years to complete with family and friends. The majority of the work was done at home in our garage on weekends. It’s still a work in progress”. But now, Matt and his family have a great looking and very rare Gremlin V8 X they can enjoy. Its not a numbers matching car, which has allowed Matt some creative input, personalising it to his own tastes. And therefor, he isn’t precious about it either. He drives it regularly, and enjoys it for what it is. But perhaps even more importantly, Matt’s efforts have saved another rare muscle car from almost certain extinction, for future generations to enjoy.