Home » What It Might Look Like If Tesla ‘Gremlinized’ The Model 3 To Make A Tesla Model 2

What It Might Look Like If Tesla ‘Gremlinized’ The Model 3 To Make A Tesla Model 2

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Does an AMC Gremlin make you want to vomit? This truncated compact often appears with its Pacer brother on those Worst Cars Of All Time lists, the sort of tiresome click-bait posts typically written by people that aren’t qualified to talk about cars. No, the Gremlin was not a spectacular car, but an outstanding example of cost-effective development that was really no worse than its competitors at the time. It certainly doesn’t cause me to have an urge to toss my lunch, but in a rather ironic twist it seems that ‘vomit’ is indeed part of this little car’s lineage.

American Motor’s compact cars were usually competitive against the Big Three, but in the late sixties they wanted to hit the Volkswagen Beetle subcompact market.

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If you know anything about AMC, you’ll be well aware that America’s last independent automaker was always short on cash, and to make develop this new little import fighter they had the kind of development dollars that GM or Ford might spend on a taillight refresh. Ah, but American Motors had an ace in the hole with design leader Richard ‘Dick’ Teague, a man who could do more with next-to-nothing than the Big Guys could do with the GNP of Tunisia.

Apparently, Teague was flying back home to Wisconsin on a Northwest Orient flight and thinking about this seemingly impossible challenge when an idea hit him. For whatever reason, Dick didn’t have any paper handy, so he grabbed the next best thing he could- the air sickness bag from the seatback in front of him and scribbled out his rough concept:

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American Motors via Silodrome and Psyne

Earlier, Teague had taken the Javelin pony car and chopped out a foot from the wheelbase to turn it into the AMX ‘sports car’, so it made sense in his mind to do a slicing with a cleaver on the 1970 Hornet compact (a car that would stay ultimately stay in production in different forms, like the later Concord and all-wheel-drive equipped Eagle, for nearly two decades). The design team took a Hornet coupe and removed ten inches from the wheelbase and ten inches out of the overall length to make a car an inch shorter than the Beetle. Still, the entire front section of the Hornet and the whole drivetrain was retained, so the tooling and time investment was remarkably minimal for such a different car. AMC knew that it was a rather odd-looking creation, but so was the Beetle. That was part of the appeal. “Nobody would have paid attention if it had looked like one of the Big Three” said Teague. In fact, the company doubled down on this weirdness by making a goofy ‘Gremlin’ character on the badge and even releasing the car on April Fool’s Day.

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Gremlin 2
American Motors, Wikipedia/CZ Marlin

Surprisingly, the Gremlin did sell relatively well, with 670,000 examples leaving AMC dealerships during its 1970-1978 run. Remember, the primary domestic competition for this car was the Ford Pinto and the Chevrolet Vega, so there’s no way on earth that you can call it completely subpar. Other manufacturers actually tried this cut-off-the-back trick later on, like this Peugeot 104ZL. The French car maker took their popular four door hatchback and reduced the length by a foot to make it into a super mini:

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Oddly enough, other manufacturers seemed to be inspired by this idea to do the opposite. Volkswagen famously added a trunk to their iconic Golf hatchback to create the very successful Jetta sedan; a smart move considering that in the early eighties hatchbacks started to fall out of favor with the buying public.

Golf
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Such chopping-of-the-sausage car design really doesn’t make sense in today’s more sophisticated automotive world. That isn’t going to stop us from trying it out, of course.

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Just for shits and grins, let’s look at Tesla. Tesla didn’t really chop the sausage as much as it pushed, pulled, and decontented the Model S sausage until it got to the price point they need to be at with their progressively cheaper cars. Unlike AMC, Tesla does not appear to lack for money, but it has to be said that their development capabilities of new models appear to not be their strong suit. That Model S is over a decade old, and the upcoming Cybertruck and Roadster have been upcoming for seemingly forever. None of this means that a Gremlin chop on their least expensive car- the Model 3- is the answer to a low cost vehicle, but it’s probably as good as any, and certainly worth a laugh.

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Tesla

So here’s the proposal: the Tesla Model 2. Like the Gremlin, the Model 2 would essentially be just a Model 3 with the wheelbase and length cut down drastically; everything from the windshield forward would be unchanged, as would be the front seats and chassis [Ed Note: Given the battery is essentially in the floorpan, this seems like it would cut range, but an even cheaper 200-mile Tesla Model 2 could be dope. Also, I’m applying logic to a very illlogical conversation – MH.

Compositor 2The bob-tailed rear would indeed be strange, but hopefully sort of in a ‘shooting brake’ way; a kind of distorted Ferrari GTC4 Lusso. I’m thinking that the rear could open in a ‘clamshell’ way with a flip up rear window and fold down tailgate similar to the much-loved fifth generation Honda Civic hatch.

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Screenshot (718)

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Rear seat comfort would be non-existent, but at least it would be a place for kids or very short rides for adults. In fact, the bottom cushion would be so much shorter than the backrest that you couldn’t fold the seatback down all the way without it hitting the front seatbacks. The solution would be taken partially from the French, so you KNOW it’s gonna be weird. The Renault 16 was one of the first hatchback sedans ever sold, and instead of a fold down seatback, the backrest actually folded up and strapped to the ceiling grab handles to increase cargo space:

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Renault

The Model 2 would have a split rear seatback, but it would be split horizontally down the center.

The bottom section would fold down in the traditional way, while the top section would fold up into the headliner. This might block rear vision slightly but considering that they’re releasing cars today with no back windows at all that might not be an issue, especially with all-cameras-and-self-driving Elon Musk.

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As a lower model, this Tesla compact would be decontented even more than the 3 with fewer features; additionally, there would be fewer power options since with the smaller size and weight this thing could easily outperform the more expensive car. Of course, they could certainly make a ‘hot hatch’ variation to take advantage of this off situation.

Overall, a Tesla Gremlin is an answer to question that would be asked by someone that needs to have their head examined. Still, that doesn’t take away the brilliance of Dick Teague’s idea from half a century ago. Indeed, whether good or bad, the Gremlin is still remembered by people that couldn’t tell you what the Big Three’s concurrent competitors were. The strange, quirky appeal of AMC’s abbreviated compact is present in the Model 2 concept; it’s too bad that the only potential buyers would be people looking at EV replacements for the BMW ‘Clown Shoe’ coupes in their garages.

Relatedbar

A Daydreaming Designer Imagines An AMC Sports Car Based On The Look Of The Pacer – The Autopian

Our Daydreaming Designer Reimagines The AMC Pacer To Make It More Appealing To Normies – The Autopian

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Parts-Bin Puzzle, What-If Edition: Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines AMC Export Cars For France – The Autopian

A Trained Designer Imagines What American Motors Corporation Would Have Been Like If It Had Survived – The Autopian

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Strangek
Strangek
10 months ago

Holy shit! I want a Tesla now?

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
10 months ago

Nice VW Golf ha ha

STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
10 months ago

Chopping the back of a car off you say? I’m all for it.

Great piece Mr. Bishop – really enjoyed it.

Jalop Gold
Jalop Gold
10 months ago

Am I the only one seeing CR-Z here?
https://www.cars.com/research/honda-cr_z-2016/

Redfoxiii
Redfoxiii
10 months ago

It’s looks sorta awkward except from the rear 3/4… which is just absolutely gorgeous.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
10 months ago

I’m thinking that the rear could open in a ‘clamshell’ way with a flip up rear window and fold down tailgate similar to the much-loved fifth generation Honda Civic hatch.

My first impression looking at the Gremlin-ized Model 2 was that it has a lot of EG Civic in it. And then you confirmed with that statement.

I find it rather attractive. If cutting it down didn’t kill the range too badly I could be a target buyer.

Dennis Frederickson
Dennis Frederickson
10 months ago

Nicely done!
You over achieve in answering questions no one asks!

Jim Zavist
Jim Zavist
10 months ago

The Gremlin solved the folding seat challenge by raising the pivot point, using a two-plane bottom cushion. (They also had to to clear the driveshaft and the differential.) The other, literally, huge challenge was how much space the full-size spare consumed under the hatch.

Dolsh
Dolsh
10 months ago

Thing is… I think the Gremlin fixed the Hornet’s proportions. Gremlinizing the Model3 doesn’t really fix it’s proportions. I think you’d have to push the passenger compartment forward.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
10 months ago

This would be the first Tesla I’ve ever seriously considered. Well seriously considered in a hypothetical way.

Gremlinize everything. I’m here for it.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
10 months ago

Don’t Teslas already have enough gremlins?
Nice work, The Bishop! As a huge fan of the Volvo C30, I say “gremlinize” all things. My best friend in high school had a dark green 1975 Gremlin with the straight 6 engine and a sweet 8-track player. We spent countless hours bombing around in that car.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
10 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

As opposed to a prick in the passenger seat? Yeah, it was the same color, but it was a 1971, 72 or 73 – they looked similar enough that I can’t tell the difference. One of my favorite movies, btw.

“DarKhore”? well at least you didn’t insert a “w” 😀

Motorhead Mike
Motorhead Mike
10 months ago

I really like the design. The Tesla 3 always looked a little… bulbous? potbellied? in the center. Anyway, the proportions of the 3 look, off somehow. The hatchback/Kamm tail solves it all. Lovely!

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
10 months ago

I remember AMC had an 800 number with a recording of a helium voiced Gremlin giving a sales pitch. A friend had one. I liked it.

ChrisGT
ChrisGT
10 months ago

I love the look of this thing. Not sure it’s a viable option, what with the very astute editor note about battery capacity. But it looks great – kind of like a Golf, but somehow sleeker.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
10 months ago

I genuinely like the styling of the hypothetical Model 2. My initial reaction was that it could use a bit more length between the B pillar and the rear wheel, but the more I look at it, the more it looks right as-is.

Last edited 10 months ago by Stig's Cousin
Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
10 months ago

The Gremla – this thing looks fun! I really liked the originals. My uncle had a silver one he got through an estate deal and it only had twenty-some thousand miles on it. I was hoping to buy it from him and some point, but he turned around and sold it before I could even get my name on the list.

As to this concept, I would definitely want some kind of eerie-looking green colored lights to be glowing/pulsating from the bottom of the car when it’s charging.

Day One Dave
Day One Dave
10 months ago

Gremlins > Pintos
Fight me!

DONALD FOLEY
DONALD FOLEY
10 months ago
Reply to  Day One Dave

AMC Spirit greater than AMC Gremlin greater than Ford Pinto.

Day One Dave
Day One Dave
10 months ago
Reply to  DONALD FOLEY

Can’t argue with that.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
10 months ago
Reply to  Day One Dave

The only really controversial thing about the Gremlin was that it looked a bit weird on the outside, which was pretty mild given the baggage the Cricket, Pinto, and Vega all had.

Motorhead Mike
Motorhead Mike
10 months ago
Reply to  Day One Dave

Not a chance.

While not a great engine, you could get a 304 in a Gremlin. SWB Fun!

Day One Dave
Day One Dave
10 months ago
Reply to  Motorhead Mike

Exactly!

1029
1029
10 months ago

Best part about all this is the Tesla lineup would be the models 2, S, 3, X, and Y, or too sexy!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
10 months ago

For my money you can create a successful cheaper version of a successful expensive car but not a successful copy of a cheap successful car.

Hotdoughnutsnow
Hotdoughnutsnow
10 months ago

Tesla already has Models S, 3, X, Y, I suppose this could be Model M or F.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
10 months ago

The “2” designation still works (un?)fortunately. Models 2, S, 3, X, Y

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
10 months ago

Love it. Bishop’s Gremlin-style Model 3 turned out better than I imagined. Well done!

If the economic gloom-and-doomers are correct and a crash happens anytime soon, the Tesla Gremlin could become a reality. In a Second Depression, you cannot beat a cheap to develop and hopefully not too expensive to buy car. “History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.”

In that vein, follow me on a thought experiment into the near future where Tesla struggles after losing millions in a class action lawsuit involving stainless steel panels flying off from Cybertrucks and maiming bystanders. Tesla’s board ousts Musk and hires Raymond Loewy’s great-great-great granddaughter who inherited 100% of Loewy’s design and style genius. Ramona Loewy commissions a New Avanti, a personal luxury car intended to gobsmack car buyers.

And no, I haven’t been smoking anything.

TheWombatQueen
TheWombatQueen
10 months ago

I want this timeline

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
10 months ago

Can you even write an article about Gremlinizing a car without mentioning the Volvo C30, the Swedish Gremlin?

Just like an AMC Gremlin, the original C30 got more or less a huge slab of glass in the back rather than a real hatch.

If I ever get a C30, I’m slapping AMC badges all over it, including the Gremlin mascot.

Last edited 10 months ago by PaysOutAllNight
Cautionary Tail-Light
Cautionary Tail-Light
10 months ago

This is absolutely the magnificent love-child of a C30:

https://editorial.pxcrush.net/carsales/general/editorial/ge5469082996354549814.jpg

and a 5th-gen Civic:

https://cdn.carbuzz.com/gallery-images/840×560/848000/800/848841.jpg

…and I’m here for it.

If they marketed this Model 2 at two-thirds the price of the Model 3 (and Elon does love a memorable pricing strategy) I would be sorely tempted!

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
10 months ago

Or its grandma the Volvo 480?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volvo_480

415s30
415s30
10 months ago

As long as Elon owns Tesla I don’t care what they do, I won’t be buying one!

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
10 months ago
Reply to  415s30

Oh yeah, more Elon comments. Because Elon specifically offended you very personally, and no other CEOs of any other companies have.

Bork Bork
Bork Bork
10 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Oh yeah, more Elon comments. Because Elon specifically touched you very personally, and no other CEOs of any other companies have.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
10 months ago

A Gremlin was one of the first American cars I wanted as a kid. I’ve always loved small cars.

With the AMC Hornet conversion to Gremlin, I’ve always been puzzled about the Gremlin’s unique rear window. They could’ve taken the Hornet’s rear window and simply turned it upside down.

When I was a kid, I used to take automobile brochures and cut them up to make collages of my own design. I did that rear window switch to a Gremlin and think it looked better that way. Followed up with sketches.

Also, some days I’m filled with regret about throwing away so much of my artwork over the years. I never thought of it as having any value as I made it, but looking back, some of it was really good.

Scotty Scott
Scotty Scott
9 months ago

Glass is cheap to tool. The only reason to reuse glass on a volume car is because it happens to fit the carryover window frame.

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