Nothing you don't already know, but interesting to fellow Kenosha lovers by virtue of being in the NY Times - of all places... http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/04/automobiles/04CARS.html? Uncle's your Uncle April 4, 2005 AUTOS ON MONDAY | COLLECTING Marlins and Hornets and Gremlins, Oh My: The Quirky Classics of A.M.C. By JOHN MATRAS DRIVING a car from the sketchbook of a distinguished American designer need not be prohibitively expensive, so long as one is willing to think beyond pricey collectibles like the Chevrolet Corvette Sting Rays by Bill Mitchell or the Studebaker Avantis credited to Raymond Loewy. Cars designed by Richard A. Teague for the American Motors Corporation sell for thousands of dollars less than many of their more popular contemporaries, yet have a devoted following of their own. Mr. Teague, who died in 1991, led American Motors' design team for more than 20 years, overseeing attractive models that included the 1963 Rambler Classic, a paragon of stylish simplicity; the 1968 Javelin, a Mustang competitor; and the 1968 AMX, a two-seat muscle car that dared to challenge the Corvette. Other designs done under Mr. Teague's direction that have aged well are mainstream models like the 1970 Hornet compact sedan and the 1974 Matador coupe. Still, A.M.C. is remembered by many old-timers for designs that were far afield of mainstream tastes - cars like the Marlin, an ungainly fastback of the mid-1960's, and the Pacer, a stubby but spacious hatchback introduced in 1975, distinguished by its glassy bubble of an upper body. Working for a small company whose primary business was economy cars, Mr. Teague had to make do with a much tighter budget than his counterparts at Detroit's Big Three. Fortunately, he had a knack for making the most of his employer's investment, a skill he had honed at Packard in its waning years. When A.M.C. needed a subcompact to counter a growing stream of import cars, Teague found himself in a familiar predicament: a budget far too small to respond with an all-new design. Inspiration struck on an airline flight - Mr. Teague decided to bob the trunk of his new Hornet and replace it with a flat, forward-sloping rear end. He sketched his plan on the closest available paper, a Northwest Orient airsickness bag. The Gremlin arrived in showrooms on April Fool's Day 1970. Its looks weren't universally acclaimed, to say the least, but Motor Trend singled it out for praise in an economy car comparison and customers appreciated its strong 6-cylinder engine and compact dimensions. A.M.C. sold nearly 30,000 Gremlins in the car's first model year, which was just six months long. Today, a well-equipped Gremlin X in excellent condition sells for about $3,000, according to a classic-car price guide compiled by the National Automobile Dealers Association. While the Gremlin was an efficient stopgap that eventually spawned offshoots with V-8 engines and Levi's denim trim packages, the car's chopped-off look lacked styling refinement. But A.M.C. again took an unconventional approach when it introduced another small car, the Pacer, in 1975. The Pacer looked like nothing else on the road; its tall, glassy passenger compartment resulted in something of a fishbowl effect. Road & Track called the Pacer "fresh, bold and functional looking" while noting that it was about as long as a Pinto but as wide as the typical American intermediate car. To permit easier curbside entry, the right door was longer than the left one. As different as they are, the Gremlin and Pacers have small but fervent followings with one thing in common: the desire for something different and very noticeable. "It's a good attention-getter, no doubt," said Donnie Solomon, 47, of Roxboro, N.C., owner of a 1974 Gremlin X. "It gets everything from jeers and laughs to 'How cool!' " Jeni Panhorst, 27, of Phoenix, is a Pacer enthusiast. Owner of a 1977 Pacer D/L Wagon, she is the Webmaster of www.amcpacer.com, and says her car gets the same reaction. "It's an experience that every Pacer owner has, driving around and being the center of attention." Mr. Solomon says that Gremlin collectors tend to be typical car enthusiasts, though ones with an affection for a certain unusual car. His first car was a Gremlin so, he says, he has "repurchased his youth." Ms. Panhorst said there are several kinds of Pacer owners: general-interest car buffs who bought a car they always wanted; collectors who specialize in American Motors cars; and a third group who want Pacers just because they are unusual cars. These buyers, Ms. Panhorst said, usually don't stay Pacer owners very long because they don't appreciate the effort required to maintain a 30-year-old car. And there is little chance of a generous return on the investment required to restore a Pacer: a fancy D/L version powered by a V-8 barely tops $4,000, according the N.A.D.A. value guide. Gremlin and Pacer shoppers should look closely for rust, said Glen Hoag, an Athens, Ala., owner of four Pacers in various levels of restoration. Despite the huge glass surfaces of the Pacer, Mr. Hoag said that glass usually is not a problem, though he says owners sometimes joke that a Pacer with a broken window is said to be "totaled." The large windows make the plastic trim of the Pacer's interior vulnerable to sun damage. Both the Gremlin and Pacer share many powertrain and suspension parts with other A.M.C. cars, and most are easy to find and replace. Replacements for odd items, such as the Pacer's engine mounts and front shock absorbers, can be improvised. Though offbeat creations like the Gremlin and Marlin are among the best-remembered of A.M.C.'s offerings, the Teague designs of earlier years hold up remarkably well, even decades after they were introduced. The 1963 Rambler Classic was the first A.M.C. design that Mr. Teague had a hand in, a handsome and modern shape that replaced earlier models considered garish and overwrought. In 1968, the Marlin, which had originally been introduced in answer to the Mustang, was replaced by the Javelin, a coupe with a decidedly more attractive profile. Though it was a late entry in the pony car class, the Javelin hit its mark in sales, and later, on the racetrack, winning the Sports Car Club of America Trans-Am championship. A choice 1970 model with the Mark Donohue trim package, built to qualify the cars for the road racing series, is valued at about $17,000 by the N.A.D.A. Later in the '68 model year, Mr. Teague worked his magic once again, delivering a sporty two-seater, the AMX. Built on a shortened version of the Javelin chassis, the AMX emphasized performance with engine options up to a 390-cubic-inch V-8. The limited appeal of a two-place car ended the original AMX's run after 1970, but the name lived on in high-performance editions of the Javelin and Hornet. A 1970 model with the high horsepower option is at least a $20,000 car, and falling square in the muscle car class, it has enjoyed rapidly rising prices in recent years.