One Owner Original: 1975 AMC Hornet

If you found yourself in the market for a midsize sedan in 1975 but didn’t like the looks of the Ford Maverick or Chevy Nova, the AMC Hornet may have been one to consider. In my opinion, the Hornet was a handsome car that had a more modern look than most of the competition. This Hornet is a one-owner original that seems to be in excellent condition, so if you’re in the market for a Hornet today this could be the one. Check it out here on Craigslist in Columbus, NE with a reasonable asking price of $3,000.

AMC built the Hornet from ’70 until ’77. The Hornet name can be traced all the way back to the Hudson Hornet. American Motors was formed when Nash and Hudson merged, the Hornet name was retained but it wasn’t widely used until 1970. In ’75 when this car was made the Hornet was available in a 2 or 4 door sedan, wagon, or hatchback. This is a 4 door model which is somewhat disappointing but the condition is what makes this one special. From the rear view of this car, we can see the dealer nameplate and unleaded fuel warning decal above the fuel filler remain intact which may lead you to believe the paint is original. The chrome looks to be in good condition as well.

The interior looks amazing, the seats, dash and steering wheel look great. The seat material is very ’70s but it fits the theme of the car well.  Mileage is listed as 67,790, judging by the condition of things it’s probably accurate. The ad says the car comes with maintenance records and paperwork since new so the mileage claim should be easy to document.

This car is equipped with an automatic “Torque-Command” transmission which was an AMC name for the Chrysler built “TorqueFlite”. The car is described as a garage find and was most likely stored for a period of time because the seller mentions draining the fuel tank and rebuilding the carb, the car runs and drives well.

Under the hood, we have the inline six which I believe is the 258 but it could be the 232, someone please enlighten me if you know the difference. The A/C system looks like a dealer add-on and its functionality is not mentioned, at least the belt is still there. The six should power this car adequately and still return decent fuel economy numbers. At $3,000 this seems like a good deal for a nice entry level classic car that I would not be afraid to drive around town. Let’s hope someone picks this one up and uses it while preserving the originality.

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  1. TimS Member

    These days, who but a rabid car guy or somebody who had one would even know what this was? The only thing disappointing about this 4-door at a show would be the attitudes of people whose Camaros and Mustangs were passed over to have a look at it.

    • jdjonesdr

      There’s one of these for sale next door to my house. Exactly the same colors and four flat tires. Does start right up though.

      Guy is asking $1500 for it and nobody wants it.

      • PatrickM

        YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!! I wish I had some money. This is a very practical car. Errand runner, commuter sedan. Can even carry a few more people. Almost perfect. I don’t know what it is about these but, they just cry out to me. Right now, I’m stuck with a 2003 dodge Ram 1500, 4.7L, full size 4WD, crew cab. …gas guzzler. The best thing about it is that it is paid for. I wish I could sell it and use the money for something like this.

  2. That AMC guy

    That’s definitely aftermarket air conditioning, dealer or owner installed. This car has no reclining seats, and equipped with AM-only radio.

    I owned a ’75 Hornet ages ago. Nice exterior styling but not very comfortable inside (though probably on a par with most of its domestic competition) and these have one of the worst dashboards to be found on a car of that time period. These are reliable and easy to work on. One of the weak points though is the Prestolite electronic ignition. The plastic vacuum advance tends to blow out on these and the pickup sensor connector tends to fail and stop the car dead. (The factory “fix” is to remove the connector and solder the wires together.)

    Externally the 232 and 258 look the same. I think at some point the 258 became the only six offered but don’t recall if that was the case in 1975. Rare to see a Hornet in this condition, or to see one at all.

    • dweezilaz

      1980 was the year when the 258 became the standard engine.

    • F. Ali

      I think that’s factory AC. Dealer and aftermarket installs have the controls and vents under the dash, either in the center below the radio for the universal kit or all the way across in place of the entire package shelf for the custom fit kits.

  3. Jack M.

    For three grand this looks like a great deal for a daily driver. With those big rubber blocks on the front bumper you could give the driver in front of you a gentle reminder to put their cellphone down when the stoplight goes green.

    • Dean

      Unfortunately , they may set their cellphone down and pull out a gun…

    • JoeNYWF64

      & cause several thousand dollars damage to 1 of today’s “bumperless” cars.

  4. Miguel

    This car was sold as the rambler American in Mexico.

    A total of 13,847 cars were sold for the whole year.

    They are still around, but not something people jump on.

    • That AMC guy

      Chassis-wise the only real difference between the Hornet and the Rambler American that it replaced in the U.S. was finally losing the upper trunnions in the front suspension in favor of ball joints. (This was a significant thing as it introduced some anti-dive geometry and made servicing easier.) Other than that, as one period review that I recall stated, it’s the same wine in a new bottle.

      The reason for the name change in the U.S. is that the Rambler name and reputation had deteriorated to the point where it mean a cringeworthy poverty ride for skinflints. I guess that never happened in foreign markets where the name was retained.

      • Miguel

        They couldn’t very well call it American Motors in Mexico.

        They did finally change it to VAM after a while.

        Vehículos Automotores Mexicanos, S.A.

        By the way AMC guy, I have the production numbers for Mexican made cars if you are interested. Some of the numbers are very low.

  5. Max

    I love classics and do have my collection. I was Never an AMC fan but recently I purchased 81 AMC Concord coupe DL blue exterior with blue cloth interior got 49K original miles has 2.5 Iron Duke auto Factory AC , Factory Am/Fm , Rear defrost , crank windows just beautiful AMC from past I paid $6,500 for it Not for sale just sharing passion for classics !

    • Jeff

      I’ve had numerous Concords, Spirits, and Eagles, but never a Concord Coupe. They’re pretty rare these days, along with the Concord Hatchback. Too bad about the Iron Duke engine, but regardless, that’s a cool car.

      • Max

        I know the 4 cylinder 2.5 Iron Duke is Underpowered but As reliability and problems I guess they are Ok !

      • Max

        As a collector to me the originality and condition are more important than engine size and power . at end of day my 81 Concord is Not daily driver its part of my auto collection and to me its the historical and nostalgic factors that count !

      • Jeff

        It is a hardy engine, I’ll give it that. I’ve “collected” a number of cars over the years, but always with the intent of regularly driving them. I only had one AMC with the Iron Duke, thinking the manual transmission be enough to make it fun. It didn’t, unfortunately, so I sold it and found another with a 258, which I drove for years.

        A lot of people love the Iron Duke, though.

    • Max

      This is a seller photo of my 81 Concord before I purchased it !

  6. Rock On

    Jack- until they invent something to give the driver in front a slap in the head when the light turns green, this Hornet just might do! Here in Toronto, everyone wants to run yellow and red lights, but when the light goes green, nobody moves. They are too busy looking at their phones.

    • ICEMAN from Winnipeg

      Cell phone use while driving is just as dangerous as impaired driving. First offense when pulled over should be at least a $1000 fine and lose your Safe Driving Discount on Auto Insurance for one year. 2nd offense should be car impounded for a week, $5,000 fine. Sounds harsh, but I know someone who was killed when a texting driver ran a red light.

  7. dweezilaz

    Nice car.

    A compact, not a mid-size. As were the Maverick and Nova.

    Mid-size cars were Matador, Torino and Malibu.

    • Jeff

      Matador coupe was a mid-size. The (completely different) Matador sedan was full-sized.

    • PatrickM

      Correct you are!!

  8. Gay Car Nut

    Sweet looking Hornet. I’ve always liked the 1975-77 Hornet.

  9. Mitch Ross

    That looks like an original York A/C unit. The Prestolite ignition can be switched to a GM hei unit very simply.

    • That AMC guy

      The York compressor was also used with most of the aftermarket AC systems in use at the time.

      Yeah, HEI ignition is a popular upgrade. Another is to install the Ford ignition found on the later Concords and Eagles. On my own Hornet I just replaced the plastic vacuum advance and soldered the pickup wires on the Prestolite setup. That kept the car running well until the tinworm finally claimed it.

  10. Bob C.

    About which engine is which. From what I understand, the 232 had shaft style rocker arms and the 258 had ball and stud. Of course you would have to remove the valve cover to see. Otherwise, they both physically look the same.

    • Jeff

      The only difference between the two is the crank. Whether it has shaft vs. ball/stud rockers doesn’t depend on displacement, only the year model. 232s and 258s of the same year use the same heads.

  11. ramblergarage

    Last year for the 232 was 1979. if the car had factory air it would have had the 258 but since it was added who knows?

  12. PatrickM

    I still want this car!!! I love it!! They just appeal to me. It would make a very good 1st car for me and I would keep my pick up for when I really needed it.

  13. Gay Car Nut

    I’d buy it if I were in the market for a classic car. And this looks like it could be used for anything from personal transportation, to business, to whatever you wish to do.

  14. Chebby Member

    It’s a tidy little classic in good colors at a reasonable price even by a flipper, what’s not to like?

  15. Leon Labuschagne

    These Hornets look very European in style. Almost looks like the British Mark III, Ford Cortina, same era. Do you agree?–1976)

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