When one thinks of advanced technology, the AMC Gremlin rarely (if ever) pops to mind. In fact, these days, unless you happen to be watching re-runs of the first season of True Blood, you likely wouldn't think of the Gremlin under any circumstances. That all changes with today's eBay Motors find: a very special hydrogen-powered Gremlin that we've never heard of before.
As the story goes, back in the early 1970s, 64 university teams built cars to compete in the Urban Vehicle Design Challenge, with this machine coming out of the labs at the University of California – Los Angeles. The Gremlin was donated to UCLA by American Motors while Ford provided a 351 Cleveland V8 engine. The UCLA team worked with suppliers such as Hooker, Edelbrock, Union Carbide and none other than Kustom Kar King George Barris to get the supplies needed to convert the V8 to run on hydrogen and get the car competition ready. The Impco-provided hydrogen tanks in the back only gave the Gremlin a 68-mile range, but considering the lack of fuel injection and sophisticated electronics, that's not bad.
The wanton nostalgics among us aren't just drawn to the car's eccentric powertrain, but also to its period-appropriate mustard yellow paint, tire-tread bumpers, vintage Polyglas tires, and a couple of racing buckets that we'd like to mount on swivels and have in the Autoblog Living Room.
Incidentally, the Gremlin ultimately won the competition based on the fact that the steam emanating the from the tailpipe was cleaner than the air going into the carburetor. At this point, there are no bids on the car and it's not clear if it runs, but we'd stand we-hell back before firing it up for the first time.