To Disco Or Die For: 1975 AMC Matador

There are few 1970’s automotive shapes more distinctive than the AMC Matador fastback. Thanks to reader Rocco B., we have this great find to show you from Evansville, Indiana. It may not be quite stock, but as the seller says, “…this thing has a wood-grained dash and a fabulous blue pleated-vinyl sofa interior to disco or die for…” It’s listed for sale here on craigslist for $3,200–how can you top that for the price? 

I’ve seen several of these with the bumpers removed like this one, and it certainly changes the looks of the car, especially with what I think are reflectors filling the holes in the rear. I don’t think I realized until looking at this particular car that the rear windows went down! There’s some rust around the fender lips and in the bottom of the trunk, though.

The front looks especially clean, and I really like the way the holes were filled with driving or fog lights; it almost looks factory. With what look like two distinctly different shades of blue on the hood and fenders, I’m thinking a bit of bodywork and paint may be in order at some point.

Here’s that disco interior, with (as was typical for AMC) what looks like 12 different shades of blue on the inside. It’s a little scruffy in spots as well, but remember the asking price. Not only that, but believe it or not, the air conditioning works! As does everything else except the radio.

This is an AMC 304 V8 under the hood. It now sports a new intake and carburetor, but the originals are included with the sale if you are an originality fanatic (I’m not in a case like this). The seller has also just had the transmission re-sealed and a new harmonic balancer installed to try to combat an engine vibration. The seller tells us the vibration is still there, unfortunately, so you’ll have some diagnosis in front of you if you bring this one home. Are you ready for some disco?

 

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Comments

  1. terry

    Always liked the style of these. Especially the Penske Nascar racers.

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  2. Dan Farrell

    I believe that model was the Marlin, not the Matador which was a four door sedan used by many police departments in the 70’s including mine.

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    • Bullwinkle

      This is clearly a two door Matador. Don’t believe me? LOOK AT THE PICTURES. Two doors. A Matador emblem on the hood. Case closed.

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    • Howard A Member

      Hi Dan, no, it was the Matador 4 door.. This, I believe, was called the “Matador Coupe” and the 4 door Matador was still being produced through 1978. http://www.hemmings.com/blog/wp-content/uploads//2009/07/1973Matadorcopecar_resized.jpg

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    • AMCSTEVE

      No, Marlins were only 2-doors. It was the Matador.

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    • Mike H

      Up until 1970 the Matador was called Rebel and it could be had with 2-doors. For 1971 the name was changed to Matador and was still available in 2-door, 4-door, and station wagon models. The standard Matador 2-door was produced until 1973 and yielded to the New For 1974 Matador Coupe (like the car featured in this post).

      As a point of interest I present the 1970 AMC Rebel Machine, the 2-door early Matador predecessor with the 340hp 390 (the standard 390 in the AMX and other models was only 315hp) in all of its red, white, and blue glory.

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      • Mike H

        Also: AMC did offer an option grouping for the 1971 Matador, also referred to as “The Machine”, but it forfeited the over-the-top graphics and sold a very limited number of copies (believed to be approximately 50).

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      • Tony S

        <3

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  3. Rabbit

    No, it’s a Matador. So dang ugly it’s almost beautiful.

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  4. Leaf36

    I’ve never seen a bumperless Matador. It REALLY changes the look, one that I personally like. A little Avanti-esque

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  5. Howard A Member

    Man, if this isn’t a love it or hate it, no car is. I love it, as with all Ramblers and AMC’s. I’ll agree, this is a bit far out there, but they sold almost 100,000 of these. I’d be worried if you ever had to have the car inspected, if that no bumpers would be a problem. Far as I’m concerned, you can’t have too much blue, the most beautiful color. ( we actually have a blue sky in the N.Woods today) Pete Malloy of Adam-12, drove a Matador like this. They were actually very nice cars. http://adam12code3.com/MALLOY_TAnAMC.jpg

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  6. Vern Christy

    Matador models were raced in Nascar, not Marlins!

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    • Howard A Member

      Thanks Vern, I misunderstood Dan’s comment. If I remember, they didn’t do too well.

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    • Kermit Netherton

      The NASCAR Matador was raced and won with driver Mark Donahue. I had a ’77 2 Door Sport Coupe with a 360ci 4bbl with an automatic trans. And factory Aluminum Slotted Mags with White Lettered Tires. Had the Brown and Tan Plad interior.

      I actually won quite a few Street Races with this “Bone Stock Sleeper”! It was funny to see the look on their faces when they realized that a big ugly AMC Matador just beat their Mustang, Camaro, Monte, etc…lol…but I also lost quite a few too!

      That was the best car I ever had, I really miss it!

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  7. Nova Scotian

    …even the door handles are slip stream cutting edge. From the 70s perspective this was where the future was headed.

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  8. Dovi65

    I never realized that the rear windows were operable! Nice looking car, tho I’d add the bumpers back on

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  9. Bob S

    That is such a weird car…I’d have to rate it a Buy!!

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  10. RJ

    I was always impressed the rear windows on these went down. Would probably be a very airy cabin with all four down cruising down the interstate.

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  11. BMW Racer

    I’ve always wondered how one of those would look without the bumpers. I love the front, not so sure about the back. I think this car looks great, just needs some wider wheels.

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  12. PaulG

    Had the exact same car minus the vinyl top.
    Great driver, a bit “squishy” suspension, and the famous “single finger” power steering, but really enjoyed the styling.
    Sold it and bought a fire engine red ’74 Javelin AMX. Another great ride…

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  13. Marko

    With the bumpers shaved, I kind of see some Italian design cues, like Ghia or Pinnafarina inspired lines. Would make for a cool car at the local car shows, just for the younger guys asking, “What is it?”.

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  14. Tony S

    UGH can’t stand it’s pooper.

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    • starsailing

      Speaking of pooper car….The wife had to drive a butterscotch one with a baby diarrhea colored interior as a company car. She was the one who called it that. When she drove it home at nights I made her put it in the garage. The boss was furious about it. When customers talked to the owner many would tell the owner to get rid of it! He finally took their advice… and bought a used Dodge. Not a Disco driving car …..Dis go…….. no place!

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  15. Rocko

    Richard Petty said the wind tunnel designed car was the worst aerodynamic race car he’d ever driven. The wind resistance was so great , it would not coast to the pit lane after he shut it down for a spark plug check. Hervé Villechaise however seemed pleased when his 007 villain boss changed their’s into a plane. Personally i think this one is a beaut.

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  16. Chris N

    Ok, I hate these cars, the proportions are completely off and were labeled as ugly as sin from the beginning…but…I have to admit it is kind of cool looking without the bumpers. Throw some buckets and a floor shifter in it and it is not that bad. Throw a better engine in it, even better.

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  17. Sam

    Brings back memories! My dad was a Howard Johnson’s manager….he was awarded a 76 Matador Brougham coupe as a “manager of the month”. Metallic brown, gold pinstrpes, tan/plaid interior, am radio, ac, 304 and crank windows. I drove it through college…another guy in the dorm had a white/gold Oleg Cassini Matador.

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    • boxdin

      I met Oleg Cassini in 1966 on the Hopi Indian reservation. I always thought his designs were cool. He was a cool guy.

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  18. 86 Vette Convertible

    My x-inlaws had a Matador 2dr coupe. Sucker always gave me a back ache getting in and out of the back seat. It’s was pretty color – kind of a tan with a darker tan vinyl to but a design only a mother could love IMO.

    A lot rust after only a few years from what I remember.

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  19. David Miraglia

    always thought that this was AMC’s best 1970 design. Hell of a lot better than the Pacer, Gremlin or Hornet.

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  20. Loco Mikado

    Much rather have this car than any AMC built past 1969. It is the 70’s refinement of the Rambler American in Argentina.

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    • boxdin

      Nice improvement on the American.

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  21. Andy

    I had a green 75 Matador. We used to joke it looked like a fat pregnant camaro of the same time frame! Yes, I remember fondly the AC on that car – went on a road trip with my cousin on a VERY hot and humid summer day. You would have thought we were at the North Pole it was so cold in that car!!!

    Yes, no bumpers definitely changes the look of that car. However, I can tell you from personal experience, you would want those bumpers there in case of an accident. Mine was totaled because some dingbat list control of her car, careened across 2 lanes of traffic, and miraculously found the front end of my car! The edge of the bumper was pulled over to the first headlight, the drivers side got thoroughly crunched, and the drivers side door was jammed shut. I was able to roll the window down and exit that way. Walked away without a scratch!

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  22. Car Guy

    I hated these when they were new. Big bumpers, oversize head and taillights, skinny tires deep in huge fender openings……. Seeing it without the bumpers improves the look.

    Lose the vinyl top, paint it in a nice color that would compliment the blue interior, install some deep offset wheels and wider tires to fill the big fenderwells. Whip up some small C2 style chrome bumperettes front and rear, and the car would have a nice look. Except for those big ol taillights………

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  23. Tim W

    Wasn’t it this model that was used in a 70’s James Bond flick & it turned into a plane & flew away?

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    • Bill

      The one I’d want…

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  24. AMCFAN

    In 73 the demise of the Javelin was set in stone. A restyle was planned but due to the 5 mph bumper laws being implemented for the 1974 model year Dick Tiegue stated that he could not make the Javelin look good with those giant bumpers. They were unchanged for 1974 and still sold in respectable numbers. In fact for every 1974 Javelin made AMC was fined for not being compliant. The Javelin was killed sadly as still was a demand. AMC couldn’t develop two new cars so the emphasis went to the new Matador.

    The 1974 Matador Coupe was the replacement. The huge bumpers were the law. All cars had them some hid it better then others.

    AMC also wanted to win NASCAR. The Coupe was to replace the 72/73 Flying Brick that Penski and Donohue had been developing. They had the power but poor aerodynamics. Pretty sure the teams influence had an effect on the final design of the coupe.

    Bobby Allison was very successful driving the Matador and it looked right at home on the track.

    A Matador X would net the console and bucket seats. You could opt for the 360 or 401 engine. A lot better car then most think You have to drive it to appreciate it. A very underrated car.

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  25. AMCFAN

    The vibration issue could be the pump in the transmission.I had a Hornet with a nasty vibration and it was the trans.

    Local I could get that 904 rebuilt and maybe a shift kit for crisp shifts for about $500. Which with the asking price is a good deal. Good luck to the seller and hope the Mat finds a happy home to appreciate it.

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  26. DrewP

    Could not agree more with Marco, this thing is awesome without the bumpers!!

    I think a little more tweaking here and there and one could have a very nicely designed “European styled one-off.”

    Or refine the grill, add fluted head light bezels, refine the talilight area, route the exhaust through the bumper holes, etc. And have a ’50/’60s retro futuristic prototype.

    And, of course re-do the interiors as per version.

    Ah, to have money and time……

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  27. Chris

    They need rectangular taillights and wider wheels. AMC large cars from 67 on looked awkward in the wheel wells because of the narrow track, which I am assuming is the same as the 63-66 cars. Trying to make a wider car to complete with the big 3. At any rate it distracts for the overall clean styling of the late 60’s cars. The extra width did mean that the cars were very roomy.

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  28. Jubjub

    This particular Matador has been a fixture on Craigslist for about five years or so.

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  29. jerry z

    I wish there were some Matadors here in NC!

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