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calvan

Archival Vancouver

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I regularly frequent the hemmings .com site to see if they have any stories of interest, including their intermittent posting of archival photos of various places as kind of a "spot the cars" game. The other day they posted this picture of a parking lot on Richards St., in downtown Vancouver taken in 1974.

Cars are a bit difficult to make out, but what will be of general interest is a Lotus Europa just to the right of the lot entrance. Of more direct interest to me is a bronze coloured AMC Gremlin behind the fence on the left side. Back in '74 my girlfriend (as she then was - now my wife) acquired a wonderful Gremlin of precisely that shade and as much of a dog as that car was we never saw another the same colour. I know it's not the Europa we subsequently bought (wrong colour) but there is a fairly good chance that it is the old Gremlin come back to haunt us.

 

Vancouver1974-970x626.jpg

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I'd never heard of an AMC Gremlin before. Went and found them on the internet.

Looks like a short Elite in a kind of way.

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That ends the similarity.The Gremlin was one of the most truly awful cars known to mankind. Intended as American Motors' answer to import compacts it was essentially a Hornet (the barrel-roll car in The Man with the Golden Gun) with the back sawn off. Hers had a straight 6 engine that produced about 105 brake hamster power while putting, it seemed, 82% of the weight on the front wheels. Combined with a 3 on the floor transmission and four wheel drum brakes it understeered like a pig and stopped in slightly less space than the Queen Mary. 

The story was that she had just finished nurses training and her father was providing most of the money for a new car. We advocated for the them newly introduced Honda Civic but her dad invoked the golden rule of business (he who has the gold makes the rules) and went with the idea that there would never be parts available for one of those weird import cars. So the car of choice was the Gremlin.

We should have viewed this as an omen, but the very first day she had the Gremlin she was driving over to show it to me when a crow flew into the partially open drivers side window, eviscerated itself on the glass and flopped dead onto her lap.

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