Without the financial resources of the Big 3, AMC could not afford to make a completely new subcompact car to compete with VW, Toyota, Datsun and now GM & Ford. Instead, like Chrysler they looked to one of their existing products, in this case the Hornet compact sedan, and had AMC chief designer Richard Teague see what he could come up with. Teague, the master at turning sows’ ears into, if not silk purses, then at least convincing polyester versions of silk purses, shortened the Hornet’s wheelbase by a foot and then just hacked off the trunk, giving the car a sporty Kammback and a wide C pillar, as he had done with the Javelin based AMX-GT concept car. The resulting Gremlin may be the punchline to many jokes, and like the Pinto and Vega it often makes “worst of” lists, but AMC sold a bunch and one could argue that the Gremlin kept American Motors in business in the 1970s.
I couldn’t find an AMC commercial exclusively about the Gremlin so in addition to the ad above with a very young and hip looking Kevin McCarthy pitching the entire AMC lineup for 1971, below is a training filmstrip teaching dealer salespeople on how to sell their new small car, the 1970 Gremlin.