If you walked past this AMC Gremlin owned by Bill Moss at a track day event at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pennsylvania, you might not give any thought to what the 1/4-mile potential of it is. But that’s an oversite that may come back to bite you if you lined up next to this twin turbocharged street car. Currently laying down low 8-second runs, this boosted, Chevy-powered machine is a kick in the face to anyone who has scoffed at one of these quirky hatchbacks.
After acquiring the car some 20 years ago from a friend, Moss quickly grew tired of the two-barrel, naturally aspirated small-block Chevy, which served the Gremlin well as a simple 16-second bracket car. The pursuit of dropping his elapsed time led to his love affair with turbochargers, starting with the addition of a junkyard Caterpillar piece. This addition didn’t last long, though, before another joined it after the factory 350 cubic inch mill was retired and replaced by a 383-inch stroker.
Powered by a set of junkyard turbos, the Gremlin was morphed into a 10-second ride, and the obscure snails managed to stick around under the hood for ten years, until a punk kid responded “that’s it?” after Moss told him what the car ran at a local car show.“After freshening the motor and attaching a set of 60 mm ball-bearing turbos for the Pinks All Out recording at Maple Grove Raceway, the car went straight into the eights,” Moss says.
Surprisingly enough, all this badassery is contained by a 3/4 filled factory Chevrolet block with a set of 4-bolt steel mains. A complete Eagle rotating assembly connected to a set of JE pistons, along with a high-lift solid roller Comp Cams cam, is all hidden away in the belly of this beast. The block is covered by a set of o-ringed Dart 230 Iron Eagle heads featuring a set of Manley intake valves and inconel exhaust valves controlled by a set of Jesel rocker arms. Sticking with the budget build ideology, a set of intercoolers purchased on eBay help maintain lower intake air temperatures, and are fed by a big orange Gatorade cooler — which proves that you don’t need to spend a lot of cash to make something work.
When this hatchback isn’t laying down 8-second runs, it can be seen competing in standing mile events. Once the Powerglide transmission with a Neal Chance converter is swapped over to a Turbo Hydromatic 400 with a Gear Venders, this AMC is capable of clocking more than 200 mph at East Coast Timing Association events at the Ohio Mile.
Moss recently went through the motor and added a set of 70 mm Precision turbos, along with a higher lift camshaft, to bump the power output from around 1,000 rear wheel horsepower to an extraordinary 1,320 — an upgrade that should propel this short wheelbase monster into the 7-second range, considering its 167 mph trap speed.