If the Hot Wheels Gremlin Grinder emulated the AMC Gremlin in any way other than the obvious design of the car, it would have to be its short life as a Hot Wheels casting. Oddly enough, this happened not once, but twice!
While the real AMC Gremlin was quite popular in its 1970 to 1978 run (selling 671,475 units in that time), its cheap-build and horrible handling led it to become one of Time Magazine’s “50 Worst Cars of All-Time“. Some people thought the design was so horrible, they joked that AMC designer, Richard Teague took a cleaver to the back of the AMC Hornet and came up with the Gremlin.
Sometimes when ugly & unique combine with California custom car culture at the 1:64 scale it forms “Hot Wheels Beauty” as that is precisely what Larry Wood accomplished with the Gremlin Grinder — all it took was a blown engine and a “Hot Wheels Rake”. Originally introduced in 1975 as part of the Flying Colors, the Gremlin Grinder only lasted two years as a Hot Wheels casting. Due to popular demand at HotWheelsCollectors.com from members within the Red Line Club, the Gremlin Grinder was re-tooled in 2008 (shown below). The very next year the Gremlin Grinder was voted on by collectors to be included in the 2009 RLC sELECTIONS Series — albeit was on a technicality**. Little did collectors know at the time, but this would be the last time we saw the Gremlin Grinder.
In a 2013 discussion on the HotWheelsCollectors.com message boards, Hot Wheels Graphic Designer Steve Vandervate did some research as to what happened to the Gremlin Grinder. He found that the tooling for this casting was lost/stolen from the China plant along with another Gremlin casting — the Open Fire. He also mentioned that since the original 2008 version (shown below) was still in the Hot Wheels Shop, that the likelihood of it being recast was slim to none. To this day, you can still get this version in the Hot Wheels Shop for its original $14.99 (+$5.95 Shipping) sale price. However, with the ones on the secondary market undercutting the shop at anywhere between $9.50 to $18.50-Shipped, its no wonder why all 10,000 units haven’t sold out. Still, if you don’t have one in your collection, I highly encourage you to add it as you may never see it recast again.
**NOTE: The Beatnik Bandit was unable to be produced. A replacement bracket with 2 cars (SS Express & Gremlin Grinder) was used to determine the replacement casting. The Gremlin Grinder got 52% of the vote & the SS Express got 48% of the vote. The color & wheels remained unchanged.