In the world of automotive packaging, where style, performance, and utility are supposed to meet in the middle to create something consumers will buy, American Motors was an oddball. They started out in a perfect niche market: American-made compact cars that worked well. Then they got sporty with cars like the Javelin and AMX. And got full-size cars in the form of the Rebel/Matador and Ambassador. And got extremely funky in the forms of the Gremlin and the Pacer. They almost even got to the point of a supercar with the AMX/3 and are considered the genesis of the crossover with the AMC Eagle. AMC had exceptional talent in the form of Dick Teague, whose designs, loved or loathed, took American Motors’ super-thin budget and made the best of it. New-car magazines were usually pretty positive to AMC’s cars. Yet, none of that would keep the company alive past 1987. Those who remember AMC dealerships as an actual thing are actively being courted by AARP now, if they aren’t receiving retirement checks.
Disregarding Jeep products, most AMC products are in that “too rare or too valuable” region for me. I’d love a Javelin, AMX, Rebel/Matador “Machine”. My top pick would actually be a Hornet SC/360, with a 1971-74 Javelin in second place. A 1980 Concord DL sedan should be right there with a Pacer covered in twenty years’ worth of grime and an Ambassador that hasn’t been driven since 1984. But there is something about this particular gem that has my attention.
1980 is a crap year for new cars. The Fairmont, Malibu and their siblings are popular with hot-rodders now, but that’s after they outlived their original purposes. Mopars of this time period were still shaking off the disaster that was the Aspen/Volare recall. And despite AMC’s best facelifting efforts, there was no hiding the fact that the Concord was just a plushed-up 1970 Hornet sedan. It was an old platform. But did that mean bad? Put frankly, compared to the tin-can Fairmont and the Spartan-trimmed Malibu, the AMC was a solid choice.
Maybe I’m used to seeing these as Eagles instead of Concords. Not seeing wood stickers on the sides and seeing it lower helps. Buff up the suspension and the brakes. This might be the car where I suggest skipping the stroker six and jumping straight to the Gen III Hemi swap. Re-stance the car so it sits like an SC/360. No fender flares. No Eagle or Spirit AMX grille. Leave the looks alone, just make it perform. Nobody is bothering to restore these anyways, so why not take this very clean example and build a proper machine out of it? Oh, yeah…money. That’s right.