American Motors products have a reputation for being “quirky”….which is a nice way of saying that they were very, very odd. Ok, we will admit that there were plenty of times in the short history of American Motors products where you can look at the car and wonder what was really going on in the design studio that allowed such a thing to make it to market. How did the “coffin nose” Matador make it into production? Was the Pacer really as well thought-out as it should have been? We don’t mean to pick on AMC’s cars, but some of them just open themselves up to a bit of ribbing. Naming a cheap little car “Gremlin” certainly garnered a fair amount of jokes from the press, for instance.
But AMC could get it right, and when they did, they managed to knock it out of the park without making a grand show of the success. Case in point: the Hornet. This platform was the one that lasted AMC almost as long as the company that brought it out (if, of course, you only count the years that “American Motors” was the company’s proper name). It begat four other separate models with minimal changes (Gremlin, Concord, Spirit, and Eagle) and managed to survive until model-year 1988, when the renamed Eagle Wagon was finally killed off after AMC was absorbed by Chrysler. The Hornet works just like the Ford Maverick or the Chevy Nova does: it was never meant to be a full-fledged muscle car, but it was such a well-sorted smaller car that a little bit of a power boost took it a long ways.
If the year is confusing you, yes, this is a 1977 Hornet X, but it’s got the nose of a 1973, a move the builder made simply for looks. Underhood, there is a never-offered 401ci V8 (the biggest engine the Hornet ever got was the AMC 360) backed up to a AMC-sourced 727 automatic trans. It’s a looker, and for good measure: this AMC is the result of an owner who built the car simply for themselves. This isn’t a flip car or an investment opportunity, this was a build of emotional attachment and appreciation, and it shows. No Hornet ever looked this good off of the assembly line or in the showroom. It’s clean, the gaps are all correct, the engine is the perfect choice, the burgundy color is a great selection, and even the interior is super-sano. What’s not to love with this AMC? Nothing, as far as we are concerned.