Home » Porsche Once Tried To Celebrate Its Racing Victories With Their Slowest Car. It Shared An Engine With The AMC Gremlin: Glorious Garbage

Porsche Once Tried To Celebrate Its Racing Victories With Their Slowest Car. It Shared An Engine With The AMC Gremlin: Glorious Garbage

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If you look through the Glorious Garbage archives, wearing the appropriate white gloves and being very sure to have placed your chili dog in one of the provided receptacles, you’ll likely have noticed something: Mopar cars are very well represented, and it’s a category dominated by American cars, with the occasional Japanese car sprinkled in, sometimes against its will as a captive import. There’s no true European cars on the list, at least not yet, something I intend to take care of right now. My friends, I’d like you to behold the very first European Glorious Garbage car, the 1979 Porsche 924 Sebring.

The reason the 924 Sebring exists is because Porsche has a long history of doing really spectacularly at Sebring, winning the Sebring 12 hour endurance race an astonishing 18 times between 1960 and 2008. That’s a hell of an achievement, and you can see why Porsche would be excited to commemorate these victories with a car that regular people could buy.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Something fun and sporty and exciting, something that captures the racing spirit of Porsche with a car that manages to bring a taste of that sort of excitement and performance into the hands of anyone with enough cash, something worthy of that Sebring name! That’s the kind of car you’d think Porsche would have to commemorate their racing victories, right? A racing Porsche for the streets!

Racigwins

Sure, they could do that or – and hear me out here – they could take their absolute slowest car they sold and slap a few stripes and stickers on it, and knock off early for currywurst, beer, and maybe five quiet minutes of daydreaming. I hope you’re okay with that second option because that seems to be exactly what Porsche did for their Sebring commemorative car.

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924seb Side

The Porsche 924 Sebring 79 is, essentially, the base-model 924, powered by the VW-designed EA831 four-cylinder, 2-liter engine that was also used in such performance luminaries as VW LT delivery vans and trucks, the 1979 DJ-series Postal Jeeps, the Audi 100, and, yes, the AMC Gremlin.

Gremlin

If you look at the copy for that AMC Gremlin brochure, you’ll note that the same engine as in the Porsche 924 Sebring 79 is described here as “perky,” a word most commonly used to describe breasts or perhaps the ears of a bunny.

Now, to be fair, in the Gremlin this engine made 95 horsepower; in the Porsche, with a special Porsche-designed cylinder head, the output rockets up to 110 hp, which is still, even in the grip of late-’70s Malaisery, pretty lame, especially for a car dedicated to racing victories.

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Of course, you could also get a Gremlin with a V8, something you weren’t doing in a 924.

924 Engine

It’s not like the car is completely unappealing; it definitely has its charms, like the extensive use of plaid upholstery, but even so, there’s nothing about it that really feels like it’s worthy of the job it was given, a representation of Porsche’s racing might.

924 P2

It did come with a sunroof, too, though its the kind you have to get out and remove and shove in the trunk, which sucks if it rains suddenly, but, as Porsche notes in their literature, it was the only way to get a really big opening and not have to sacrifice headroom, so, you know, trade-offs. Also, they like to note the seats are “orthopedically” designed, because there is nothing sexier than orthopedic things. I mean, you’ve seen the shoes, right?

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Plus, for a special-edition, limited-run car (1,292 made), it sure was full of parts-bin stuff, and I don’t mean Porsche parts bin, I mean VW’s:

Vw Stuff

Now, this has pretty much always been the case with the 924, and, really, even if those are the same interior door handles used on a Beetle, for example, they work just fine. It just makes one wonder: why did Porsche pick their entriest-level car to do this job?

Seb79

There’s an appeal to these cars, sure, especially if you’re someone who can’t remember the three digits that make up your car’s name, and need to look at the front from far away to remember. I think 924s have a lot of charm in general, as long as you, you know, don’t expect anything too fast or too sporty. Then they’re great! Just maybe not so great for commemorating racing triumphs.

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I wonder if Porsche had any other cars that would have been more suited to this? I guess we’ll never know.

Anyway, welcome to your first Glorious Garbage, Germany!

 

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Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 month ago

AHEM! IT’S ONE THING IF I CALL MY GARBAGE CAR SONS (AND THEIR TRANSAXLE COUSINS) GARBAGE, BUT IT’S ANOTHER THING ENTIRELY IF YOU DO IT.

I FART IN YOUR GENERAL DIRECTION.

AND I ATE A LOT OF CHEESE TODAY.

Martin English
Martin English
1 month ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Save your farts for driving this 924; it needs all the motive force it can get.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
29 days ago
Reply to  Martin English

THE 924 IS LIGHT AND LOVELY. IT DOES NOT NEED MY TOOTS FOR PROPULSION.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
27 days ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Maybe it doesn’t need it, but it will help.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
27 days ago
Reply to  Shop-Teacher

pfft!

CUlater
CUlater
1 month ago

Why yes, I now have seen the shoes thanks to the link. What were we talking about about?

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 month ago

Counterpoint:

It may not have been blisteringly fast, but the 924 was in fact sporty and fun to drive. My cousin had one and I drove it on many occasions with a grin on my face. You need to remember, most of it’s competitors like MG, Triumph, Fiat, etc. were economy parts bin cars too. The Porsche’s only real flaw was that it’s price was way too high in comparison.

Besides, it also had nice clean sleek styling. Something that unfortunately got ruined by the 944 bulk up. Although that was arguably a better car.

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
1 month ago

In the 70s, when it was all most manufacturers could do to meet smog requirements with standard offerings, paint and trim special editions were just a thing. Of course it is one thing for Ford or AMC to do it, and another for Porsche, but flip side Porsche has success at Sebring, it wasn’t just made up pedigree.

Any attack is more correctly aimed at the 924 itself, not just the special edition. They were about as quick as a contemporary TR7 and a tick slower than Mazda’s RX7, but the competitors cost half as much.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 month ago
Reply to  ProudLuddite

…and at least they didn’t do a denim or cola edition!

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 month ago

They should have mirrored the “924” text so that people could look in their rear view mirror and figure out what kind of car they just passed.

Mark Kress
Mark Kress
1 month ago

“Spirits soar…”, so much so that the Spirit replaced the Gremlin in the 1979 model year, finally giving the compact car a functional hatchback that would have been a better fit at the beginning of the decade against the similar looking Ford Pinto.

Having to settle for a carburetor rather than fuel injection the VW-made engine had, it still added $100 to the price of every one sold yet provided worse performance and fuel economy than the standard inline 6. The actual cost ended up being a $400 loss on every engine produced when AMC dumped the project in favor of buying the Iron Duke 2.5 directly from GM.

The VW engine was never intended for the Gremlin, but rather a line of front wheel drive vehicles dubbed “Concept II” which never made it past a full scale mockup due to the lack of funding. Unlike the Federal bailout proposal sought by Chrysler, AMC’s application was rejected by Congress.

MK801
MK801
1 month ago

Now I want that Gremlin with those plaid seats.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
27 days ago
Reply to  MK801

Plaid is rad!

Ed Dale
Ed Dale
1 month ago

The 924 won it’s class at LeMans. It won the Longest Day at Nelson’s Ledges. It won a number of SCCA races. It was, at one point, the model that won the most races of any Porsche.

This particular sticker package is hot garbage, but the car itself has a racing pedigree.

I had some thought that maybe the 924 was run at Sebring, and my god did Porsche dominate that year. The first 12 finishers are all in Porsche!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1979_12_Hours_of_Sebring#:~:text=The%20race%20was%20held%20at,Rob%20McFarlin%2C%20and%20Roy%20Woods.

But no 924 in the running.

lastwraith
lastwraith
27 days ago
Reply to  Ed Dale

Perhaps the 924 entries just haven’t finished the race yet?

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