Times Change and so do Car Prices: Bring back the Gremlin!!


gremlinBy Greg Johnson. I remember when my dad sold AMC Gremlins for $1,999 in the early 1970’s.  Yes, I grew up with Hornets, Javelins, Matadors, Pacers and Gremlins — probably the most bizarre car line ever produced in America, or anywhere else for that matter. (I was called “Gremlin Greg” when I was a kid.  I guess I had kinda pointy ears). Fortunately, my dad also had the Jeep line.

The Gremlin was introduced on April 1, 1970 and a red Gremlin was featured on the April 6, 1970 cover of Newsweek magazine for an article, “Detroit Fights Back: The Gremlin”. The “base” two-passenger version (no rear seat and a fixed rear window) had a MSRP of $1,879 and the four-seat hatchback (with opening rear window) listed for $1,959.

Now, according to a recent FTC report:

In 2015, the average price of a new car sold in the U.S. was $33,560, according to Kelly Blue Book (see Kelly Blue Book, Average New Car Transaction Prices Rise Steadily, Up 2.6% in April 2015 (May 1, 2015)) while the average price of a used car was $20,057.  See Used Car Prices Hold Up in Strong New-Vehicle Market), J.D. Power (Sept. 8, 2015). Used cars available from independent dealers and from “buy here pay here” dealers were lower in price.  In 2014, over 42% of cars sold by independent dealers had an average sales price of $5,000 – $10,000; the average cost of cars at “buy here pay here” dealers was $7,150.  See 2015 NIADA Used Car Industry Report, at 6 and 16.

On a much more upbeat note, anyone can buy the dilapidated, tax-foreclosed former American Motors headquarters in Detroit for $500 — provided they also pay the back taxes of around $240,000.  (See, The Detroit News, “Wayne County voids $500 sale of former AMC headquarters” (October 26, 2015)).

Perhaps some young automotive entrepreneur will fix up the place and bring back the Gremlin!!  Nah.

PS:  If sold today, the Gremlin would retail for around $11,500 in 2015 dollars.

This blog is for informational purposes only. By reading it, no attorney-client relationship is formed. The law is constantly changing and if you want legal advice, please consult an attorney. Gregory J. Johnson ©All rights reserved. 2016.

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