My Continental Airlines Gremlin
in Dreamworks Movie
Not to be confused
with the Southwest Airlines Pacers & Gremlins
By Eddie Stakes
I had a ad running in 1997/98 west of Houston looking for a
new project and had several leads. One of them was from a lady named Marlene Kelly in
Bellville, Texas. Marlene had a Gremlin. So I decided to go out and look at it, which it
was sitting up in the back yard, not being driven. She said it would run, but it looked
like it had not been driven for awhile either. I had brought a extra battery and can of
gas, and my tools, and proceeded to change the battery, which was dead. A spray or two and
it fired right up, smoked a little but then leveled out and seemed to need some new gas as
you could tell the gas was old. Digging around in the car the first thing that caught my
eyes was the strange interior. It had the old 1970s style Continental Airlines
"Meatball" logos all over the seats. The car showed 45,000 miles, which was
original. Nothing special except it was a giveaway car. Engine was a little 232, 3speed on
the floor, and only options were Rally rims and power steering. No AC, radio, tint,
nothing. The side of the car had a weird triple stripe, red, yellow and orange, and on
each 1/4 panel was 'CONTINENTAL SPECIAL' in black letters.
I asked her about this and she said she had won the car in a contest in 1974. When she had won the car, Continental Airlines, which is based here in Houston, wanted to display it for several months at their sprawling headquarters downtown, of which she said ok, and took delivery of it after a few months. I didn't think about asking how she actually won it, whether a raffle, drawing, bingo, or what.
We agreed on $600, as the car needed attention, brakes needed bleeding and it had a nasty dent in the lower passenger 1/4 which would have to be cut out, and there was a rust issue around both doors. Otherwise, it ran and drove like a Gremlin did, creaks, and klunks, and was difficult to keep straight at speeds above 60mph. I decided to put it in my warehouse and evaluate it in a week or so, as I had too many cars at that time.
After going over the car, I decided even though it was a one
of a kind, I would sell it, as I really didn't have enough time to concentrate on what all
it needed, and I had 16 cars, and this was low man on totem pole. I had it advertised
nationally in a number of auto rags and AMC clubs, for $1500, but no bites. After 6 months
of ads I got a strange call, it was from Gary Shepard, who told me he was the Director of
Transportation of DreamWorks in California. He said that he found me on the web and that
if I knew of any Gremlins for sale, as they needed one or two for a movie. I told him my
Gremlin was for sale, and would take $1500 for it, the car ran, drove, and was basically
I emailed him some photos and he called me back. I received the check The car would be needed in a hurry for filming. Gary FedExed me the money from the DW/SKG Releigh Studios, 1600 Rosecrans Ave, Bldg 2A, 2ND, in Manhattan Beach, CA, 90266. They would be picking up the car in less than 3 days, no time to wait for a transport which would be 2-3 weeks, they wanted it NOW.
The Gremlin was quickly whisked off, I was assured that the car would not be destroyed in the movie, as many had found out about me selling it to a movie company for THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, and expressed their concerns. But Gary told me it would get a bump or two but not be wrecked or destroyed. I told him otherwise I would not have even considered selling it.
The movie title would later be shortened to just THE HAUNTING, and did pretty good at the box office for a few weeks. I went to see it and didn't think it was as scary as the original it was modeled after in the early 1960s, it seemed to have the special effects of Casper (great special effects), and the who done it of Scooby Doo (I would have gotten away with it if not for you meddling teens!) and the fright factor of say, Carrie (Speilberg's first big hit in early 70s, it had about 3-5 really scary scenes). In the movie, Lili Taylor and Liam Neeson drive the car, and Catherine Zeta Jones also starred in this movie, but never got in the vehicle. Towards the end of the movie, the Gremlin hits a fence really hard and spikes go thru the roof, but that was special effects, the Gremlin was not harmed just the bruises Gary had mentioned before I sold it. You can buy the movie off ebay for about $8 or at Wal Mart for same and save shipping.
Paperwork and seat material I saved from Gremlin includes copy of original title, (the winner who won this in 1974 from continental Airlines!); several photos, and some seat material, also kept any records I found in glovebox or the original owner gave me, due to historical significance. Even kept the original AMC Owners Manual. That seat material is the same kind used on airline seats in the 1970s!!!!!!
If you ever come across this rare little Gremlin which was immortalized in a movie by one of the best known director's of our time, this is the information from the Gremlin. It was sold off in England at a auction for $100, as it would have been too expensive to ship it back to the US.
1974 AMC CONTINENTAL AIRLINES SPECIAL Gremlin
Texas License #409-VRC
Vehicle Weight 2900
Body Style 2dr
Body Door Tag Info:
Marlene L. Kelly
Bellville, Texas. 77418
Sold to: (1998)
3400 Ocee #1601
Houston, Texas. 77063
Sold to: (1998)
The Haunting Of Hill House
Dreamworks Productions LLC
100 Universal City Plaza B-84
Universal City, CA. 91608
Sold to: (1999)
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