304 V8 Equipped: 1974 AMC Matador Coupe

The more that I see cars like this 1974 AMC Matador coupe, the more I miss this era – at least design-wise, maybe not safety or reliability-wise. There are unusual vehicle designs today but AMC seemed to have a lock on them in the 1970s. The seller has this example posted here on craigslist in Turlock, California and they’re asking $16,000. Thanks to Pat L. for sending in this tip!

This car looks great, there doesn’t appear to be a flaw anywhere inside or out. There’s a very good reason for that, the seller mentions that this car has been restored! I know, An AMC Matador Coupe, I love it. That’s something that I would do so it’s good to know that there are others out there who like unusual cars enough to spend way too much money on restoring one than they’ll ever get back out of it.

No bumpers! Ok, that’s a gutsy move, I wouldn’t have done that and there’s no mention that the bumpers go with the sale so the next owner may be tracking down a set of bumpers for this car unless they aren’t worried about the Hoboken parallel parking syndrome (bump, crash, bang). I like the look with no bumpers but there has to be something that could work and provide some protection but not look like a 1974 battering ram bumper.

AMC made the Matador Coupe for the last five years of Matador production: 1974 through 1978. Not having bumpers on the front really trims up the look of this car and the headlights almost have a Chrysler Turbine look to them. It has come up before on Matador Coupes, but some of you are also fans of the show Adam-12 and Officer Pete Malloy (Marty Milner) had a nice tan Matador Coupe in the 1974 episode, Krash, towards the end of the sixth season.

If the body of this car looks great in restored condition, the interior looks like new! This isn’t a Matador X but it sure looks nice. The seats are beautiful front and rear and the underside looks solid, but I’m not personally a fan of spraying everything underneath black, even the exhaust! Hopefully, it’s all good under there but it’s impossible to tell with everything being sprayed black.

The engine and engine compartment look clean but there’s that flat black again. Besides that, this is AMC’s 304 cubic-inch V8 which in 1974 would have had 150 horsepower and 245 lb-ft of torque. There is no word at all in the listing as to how it runs or drives but I’m assuming that it works perfectly since it’s been RESTORED (sorry for yelling). This car is listed for $900 less than Hagerty’s #1 Concours value and it’s not quite there, yet at least. I would think that it’s closer to their $9,100 #2 excellent condition value. Restoration is rarely a profitable venture on a car like this, unfortunately. Any thoughts on this Matador Coupe?


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  1. Stevieg Member

    304 cubic inch engine, not 302. No biggie…2 inches! Anyhow, nice car. I question the wisdom in removing the bumpers too. I had one like this though. It had a “brougham” emblem in it, although it had the same interior (just worse condition). It had the 258 inline 6 & 3 on the tree, and manual steering. Mine had a really solid body. It would probably have been better to drive if equipped like this one lol.

    Like 6
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Arrrgh, that was a typo there, sorry. Thanks for catching it. It was listed correctly in the title at least!

      Like 5
      • Stevieg Member

        Mistakes happen! Whenever I make one, I just blame fat fingers or spell-check lol.

        Like 5
      • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

        Ha, thanks for going easy on me. I’m just glad that it was correct in the title so I didn’t type it wrong twice.

        Like 3
      • Stevieg Member

        Scott, after what I went through in the last 15 months, your little error is so minor & petty lol. I wasn’t even correcting you because I am a perfectionist, I was just letting people who might not know which one is accurate. So glad to be home!

        Like 8
    • Dion

      Ha, that’s what she said!

      Like 1
  2. PaulG

    Like Stevieg, 304 V-8
    I owned the twin to this in the late 80’s except top was also blue.
    Car ran extremely well, took several trips from Phoenix to Las Vegas in it and never a problem.
    I was tempted to remove the bumpers but sold it before I could decide.
    Probably sold it for less than $2500.

    Like 7
  3. Mike

    I remember not liking the styling years ago, but I’m coming around to it now. The interior is a bit of a let down. Looks like seats were made from the sans-a-belts of my late uncle.

    Like 8
  4. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    IMO, the front looks better without the bumper, which, AMC applied too far out from the car in the first place, and never used a filler between the body and the bumper. It just “floated” out there. I feel the rear bumper enhanced the look of the rear, but again, needed to be brought in closer to the body and a Chip Foose shave so it didn’t extend further on the sides.
    Many times when these appear on BF there are so many negative comments about them, most people don’t care for them. AMC was quirky and it shows in their unusual cars. I personally like the Matador coupe. I worked at an AMC dealership for a minute, unfortunately, that was in the 80s after all the cool cars were gone from the lineup.

    Like 15
  5. Ed H

    I like these, to me they look like the second generation Camaro’s older brother who is not quite as handsome or talented. There is no way I would pay anywhere near that price.

    Like 7
  6. Rich

    It’s always easy to pick an AMC out, with there quirky designs. James Bond actually had a Matador that could fly in The Man With the Golden Gun

    Like 11
  7. Cobrajetter

    There’s a reason AMC died. You are looking at one of them. Add this to the Hornet, the Gremlin (WHAT were they thinking?) and the Pacer, and there’s no question why AMC is no more.

    It’s one thing to be quirky, but the market segment wasn’t there, especially for a small player like AMC.

    Like 6
    • That AMC guy

      The Hornet and Gremlin were not bad cars and sold well by AMC standards. The problem is the Company blew all its scarce development capital on the Matador Coupe and Pacer when the money should have been spent on refreshing their existing models instead.

      Like 15
      • Phil Parmelee

        And later, when they Renault linked up with AMC, Renault was supposed to be their salvation, but ended up being the anchor that helped sink them. I am both an AMC and Renault fan, but the match-up didn’t do AMC any favors.

        Like 1
    • John S

      AMC Made some decent looking cars. This is not one of them!

      Like 11
      • Tman

        I agree John S. I’m trying to let it grow on me but I NEVER thought this Matador style was cool. It does look a little without the bumpers. The interior is nice but sorry, way too Uugly or double ugly

        Like 2
  8. angliagt angliagt Member

    According to the California Vehicle Code (CVC 28071)
    you are required to have a front & rear bumper,if originally installed
    by the manufacturer.
    Probable cause to get pulled over.

    Like 4
    • Fuzz

      Just a guess but you probably wouldn’t get pulled over because most of the contemporary Fuzz (60’s/70’s slang) wouldn’t realize they were missing.

      Like 4
  9. SubGothius

    Love the basic design of these, but the vinyl roof treatments many of them got always look so awkward, like poorly-integrated afterthoughts, that I’d reckon Dick Teague never fathomed that would be done — or maybe he anticipated it and designed it to be hard to do gracefully — yet Marketing and/or dealer demand inflicted it on them anyway.

    Like 3
  10. joenywf64

    Back in the day, 1 would have been pulled over for not having any bumpers. But today, anything goes – including loud-as-racing-car exhausts, & recent BACKFIRING exhausts on ugly 4 door imports – which i thought had a new type special muffler installed – but rather an exhaust shop told me that the muffler(& possibly cat conv) has(have) been removed! You hear that, authorities & EPA?
    I have yet to hear ANY 4 cyl or v6 that didn’t sound terrible after ANY exhaust modification(s), except on a ’72 ohc pinto with racing headers, 3/4 race cam, offy, & 4 barrel & muffler – which sounded great back in the day – but my friend got several expensive tickets for that. & finally gave in & removed some of the mods to quiet it down. Imagine that happening today.

    Like 4
  11. Psychofish2

    A trivia note: The rear windows in the Matador 2 door rolled down at a time when other makers were dropping that capability [unless one bought one of those horrible opera window equipped versions] and adding ‘opera windows’ to every coupe or ordinary two door.

    The bumpers were called “an elegant solution” to the 5 mph standard by the automotive press [Motor Trend IIRC ] and part of that was their free standing aspect.

    This is very nice. But the bumpers need to be put back on to protect that complex [and rare] sheet metal.

    That was the whole purpose for the 5 mph bumpers in the first place.

    Like 9
  12. Jim

    Asking price would be more fitting of a 401 equipped Matador X model in near-pristine shape.
    Not a 304 bench-seated regular model.
    Worth less than half the asking price, but who knows….might find a buyer that REALLY wants one.

    Like 8
    • Tom H

      This car has continuously been on craigslist for at least 5 years

      Like 2
  13. Vance

    If the Police Officers of today have the time or inclination to pull you over for a bumper violation, you must call Mayberry home. Agree to snug up the rear bumper, the lights just don’t do it for me. These cars looked a lot better in dark colors, that seemed to hide the bloated look a bit. Bigger tires and Cragar’s would help a lot with some air shocks to lift the ass end. The Police comment wasn’t meant to disparage the Police, they can’t win for losing. I feel bad for them underpaid, overworked, and under appreciated. You couldn’t pay me enough to be in law enforcement.

    Like 7
  14. sign guy

    Removing the bumpers transformed this car. I can easily imagine young folks who never heard of a Matador, thinking this is some sort of wild custom or prototype. No matter what you think of the original design, you have to admit that back then, designers took chances. Not like today’s copy-cat look-alike designs.

    Like 7
  15. Howie Mueler

    What is a Matador?

    Like 3
    • John Harmer

      A Bull fighter in Barcelona Spain.

  16. Sam Shive

    My mom had a 68 Rebel SST with the 343. It was a Screamer. It got totaled in 71 by a Lincoln. Mom get a new 71 Matador with the 304. Dam thing wouldn’t get out of it’s own way and you were lucky if you could get a tire even in the snow. It was the beginning of the end of the family being a LOOONG time Ramble / AMC Family. Mom kept it 2 years till she had had enough and got rid of it. When this body style came out she said “NOT A CHANCE IN (*&^^%*) WOULD SOMETHING THAT UGLY SIT IN HER DRIVEWAY.

    Like 3
  17. HRJR

    Some cars are so ugly they’re cool. This is Not one of those !

    Like 3
  18. DON

    “A nice TAN Matador coupe ” – You’re probably the only person who ever said that !

    Like 2
  19. Richard Todte

    My dad had a 1974 AMC Ambassador station wagon with a 304 V8, I got my license on that car, had the same interior and dash/instrument panel. But the 304 was a dog for the car ended up having to nget the motor rebuilt by AMC. Was a fun car though to take on dates and such :)

    Like 1
  20. Mont

    This particular car has been for sale since I started looking for a Matador coupe over 10 years ago. I think they were asking $12,000 back then.

    Like 1
  21. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    You Matador Coupe and Adam-12 lovers out there, and I know there are a few, that episode is on right now on ME tv, oddly enough.

    Like 3
    • MrBZ

      I remember watching when it originally aired with my dad and 2 brothers.Pete was trading in his Mustang I believe. When the Matador appeared on the screen, we lost it! Great memories

  22. Ensign Pulver

    In 1978 I was in junior high and our very young Spanish teacher had one ….we told her that her Camaro melted ….ha! 14 year old humor still is the best!

  23. GCS Member

    Drove my boss’s all the time to get practice with the 3 on the tree back in 1978-79. It had been hit and had a bad vibration but practice was good. I had a 57 Chevy with a 3 on the tree but never finished it. This looks so awesome without bumpers but I’d be a fraid of someone tapping it.

  24. FredG

    Just have to say that the haters are missing the point. Is it ugly? Of course! Does the plaid interior look like a bad leisure suit? Yes, it does! But that’s the whole idea. Show up anywhere in this thing and you’ll get nothing but grins a mile wide. Anybody can drive a Pacer and pretend to be Wayne, but the cool AMC people drive a ’74 Matador! As the old TV commercial said, “IT’S A MATADOR!!!”

  25. glenn marks

    Yes. They are so goofy they’re cool. Don’t even get me started on Pete Malloy. Maybe Jack Webb’s humor was more scintillating than we thought (we’re still laughing at it aren’t we). But, if you built or bought ready-built models in the ’60’s there was AMT, Jo-Han (both of whom seemed to have a direct line to product engineering their details were so good) and then there was Premier Models whose bodies only bore passing similarities to the real one AND the body always came in 6 different pieces instead of one-good luck with that. AMC was the Premier Models of American cars, they only kinda looked like real cars.

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