Name: 1971 AMC Gremlin Cowboy Prototype
Year Produced: 1971
Number Built: 3 (?)
Class: Concept Car
Body Type: 2-door sedan
Engine: 360ci V-8
Power: 183 kW / 245 hp
0-60mph: 7 seconds
Top Speed: 112 mph
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Wheelbase: 108 in
Base Price: (?)
Rich Truesdell of vintagetruckmagazine.com shares his experience of attending the 100th anniversary of the Rambler in 2002 at Kenosha, Wisconsin. After more than a decade, he is still fascinated with the “quirkiness” of the 1971 AMC Jeep Cowboy prototype. He was fortunate enough to witness and take a photo of probably the last surviving piece of this AMC concept. There has been some dispute regarding how many prototypes were built, but there is no doubt that the one Trusdell took a snap, like it’s plate suggests, is the “ONLY 1”. Admiring this prototype, Trusdell explains some of its salient features, “The Jeep guys were nothing, if not clever. What would become the Cowboy prototype started life as a 1971 SC/360—a two-door Hornet stuffed with a 360ci V-8, mated to a 4-speed transmission. What’s interesting is that the Hornet/Gremlin-style front clip was attached to deep-box frame rails, to which the fiberglass pickup bed was attached.”
Leading these ‘Jeep Guys’ were Jim Alexander, head of product planning for the Cowboy prototype. Alexander recalls, “a red styling mock-up was made with a Gremlin front end. It had a more stylish, rakish rear but the bed wouldn’t take a 1.8-metre (six-foot) long object. We built two more half-tonne trucks. One was a 4.2-litre (258-cubic inch) six-cylinder with a four-speed transmission. It was a pretty basic Hornet, done in yellow. It was shipped to the Southwest for testing. The other was made from an SC 360. We didn’t have any in our stock so we got one from a dealer in Royal Oak and cut it in half. The 6-litre (360-cubic inch) eight-cylinder Cowboy was tested at AMC’s proving grounds in Burlington, Wisconsin.”
So why does the Cowboy didn’t make it into production? Alexander recalled how emotions ran high against a rival team who was developing the hatchback concept at the same time. Factory floor space would be a problem, and it became clear later on that only one of the two new body styles would be produced. Management eventually selected the hatchback.
Was the Cowboy a missed opportunity for AMC? Probably, but we can never fully tell. This is actually a great looking concept vehicle and it’s a shame it was never produced.
Check out the pics below of the AMC Hornet Cowboy.
Which one do you prefer?