360 Equipped: 1973 AMC Hornet X Hatchback

By 1973, tightening emissions laws were biting hard into the muscle car segment, but while the Hornet X would not be considered to be a true muscle car, it was still a respectable performer if equipped with the optional 360ci V8 engine. That is precisely what you get with this original Hornet X survivor, which is located in Richmond, California. The Hornet is listed for sale here on eBay, and bidding has reached $3,773 in a No Reserve auction.

The original Copper Tan paint on the Hornet is showing the sort of deterioration that can be inflicted by the California sun, but the upside of this is that it is also a car that appears to be rust-free. The underside of the car looks clean and solid, while there is also no really obvious external rust to deal with. Included with the car is a new set of weather stripping, along with fresh bumper inserts. The new-for-1973 hatchback body offered the Hornet a new level of versatility for the potential owner who was searching for a vehicle with increased load-space over the sedan but was not inclined to want to buy a station wagon. The hatchback was a winner in the market because while 25,452 customers chose the sedan, a healthy 40,110 people were happy to hand over their cash to own a hatchback. This figure only trailed the market-leading station wagon by around 4,000 units.

The interior of the Hornet is largely original and has survived remarkably well. The Domino Trim bucket seats look to be clean and free of any tears or rips, while the same is also true of the folding rear seat. The dash and pad look good, while an aftermarket radio/cassette player replaces the original factory push-button radio. The carpet is definitely showing its age, but with a new carpet set being included with the car, this won’t be an issue. Given its life in California, it is no surprise to learn that the Hornet comes equipped with air conditioning.

While the Hornet X was equipped with the 232ci 6-cylinder engine as standard in 1973, the original owner slapped down an additional $179.55 to get the 360ci V8. I mean, why wouldn’t you? A 3-speed Torque Command transmission sends the engine power to the rear wheels, while the original owner also ticked the boxes for power steering and power disc brakes. The bigger engine certainly proved its worth over the standard six in the performance stakes. It wiped more than 5 seconds off the 0-60mph acceleration figures, and more than 3 seconds off the ¼ mile time. This Hornet has been sitting for a while, and the owner has performed a fair amount of work in preparation for the car to return to active duty. The brakes have received a new master cylinder, booster, and front calipers. A new water pump, radiator, hoses, belts, thermostat, and thermostat housing have also been fitted. The owner says that the car now runs and drives and that the engine feels strong. However, it does have a leaking freeze plug, and this will need to be replaced before the car can return to full use.

While more than 40,000 Hornet Hatchbacks rolled off the line in 1973, today, the challenge is to find one for sale. Sedans and station wagons tend to come onto the market on a regular basis, but hatchbacks are seen less often. You would think that this sort of rarity would result in high values in the market, but this really hasn’t been the case. Today you can find quite nice examples for under $10,000. There is one example that is currently being offered for $12,500, and while it is a really nice car, it has been on the market at that price for nearly a year. That means that depending on the final sale price, this 360-equipped Hornet X Hatchback could represent a very affordable classic car.

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Comments

  1. Miguel Member

    Can any of you AMC experts verify that the interior fabric is indeed original to the car? It looks to me like the cheap fabric everybody is putting in cars these days.

    3
    • Fred W

      I agree. I just Googled “1973 AMC Hornet interior”, and the only image that came up with a remotely similar interior was this one!

      • PatrickM

        Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!!!!

    • James Schwartz

      You’re right. Seats have been recovered. This is NOT the correct original seat fabric. The original “Domino” had a plaid like pattern to it. I’ll get a picture of my former ’73 Hornet hatchback 360 with the correct “Domino” fabric, and post it as soon as I find one.

      3
  2. Will Fox

    Talk about your sleepers! I remember these; they literally fooled all the gearheads with Camaros, GTO’s etc. and looked so unassuming! Somewhere in this time period–not sure which year—you could get the 360V8 in a Gremlin too.

    2
    • That AMC guy

      For a while you could order a 304 V8 in a Gremlin from the factory. However many dealer and owner upgrades were done. Anywhere a 304 will fit so will a 360 or 401 since their external dimensions are all the same.

      5
      • Dave

        I recall an urban legend from the time that said that AMC engineers dropped a Rebel Machine 390 and 4 speed into a Gremlin. When they power shifted from first to second the rear suspension failed in a spectacular fashion, i.e., “it spit the rear axle clean out from under the car.”

        2
      • Fitzy

        Randall AMC, Randall Az. Used to put 401’s in gremlins. Managed to have one for a bit in the early 80’s. Scary Fun, and quite the moneymaker…

        3
      • PatrickM

        Would rather have the 401

  3. Darrun

    I love this car but… Just a Pet Peeve of mine but this line makes me think it’s no longer a one owner:
    “I didn’t bother changing ownership to show proof of one owner the title comes signed with a bill of sale”. How many other Flippers have owned it, with this original title in some other guy’s name.
    Unless that bill of sale is made out from the person on the title to the buyer, our local DMV will give you a hard time.

    2
    • Dave

      I wouldn’t even know how you would get this titled in PA. Since the late 70s they’ve required the person whose name is on the title to be there to sign it over in front of a notary. When my mother passed in 05 my sister had to provide a death certificate and proof she was the executrix of the will to have the truck titled in my name.

      • PatrickM

        Same in Maryland…unless it is inherited. My Dad died in Florida. I lived in Wyoming. Title and a Death Certificate was all I needed. Not trying to be morbid.

  4. scottymac

    It’s cars like this that make me appreciate having a Hornet/Spirit clutch pedal tucked away, waiting for the right project!

    3
  5. Frank

    And let’s face it…it flew in a James Bond movie!

    2
  6. JOHN

    Now if that was a 71 SC/360, that would be a fun car. Not the fastest, but capable of easily dipping into the 13’s with some ignition and carb work. They handled respectably well also. This one is begging for a 401, but AMC stuff is hard to find these days, Get a junkyard LS, a stronger rear axle and have a blast with it.

    1
  7. Dan

    As Darrun said, the ownership history provided seems suspect. But I do like the car, aside from that damn slushbox.

    • That AMC Guy

      At least it’s a Torqueflite, pretty much the gold standard at the time. Two model years earlier and an AMC vehicle would have come with the old Borg-Warner slushbox.

      1
      • Dan

        Good point. Those Borg-Warner slushboxes, if memory serves me correctly, were no more than decent on the best of days. Still, I always prefer a three-day gearbox.

  8. PatrickM

    I like this car. Would rather have the 401. And it is too far away, plus I am tapped for cash. Blah, blah, blah. Oh well, I can dream, can’t I?

    2
  9. Troy s

    Another cool AMC, liked the rusted out Machine the other day too. Don’t know the performance numbers but that six cylinder must have been one real dog compared to this. Of course, most people aren’t into speedy cars when you get right down to it.
    This is what I’d call a legitimate sleeper, especially compared to the black 454 Nova here today. Not many people even know of AMC today, under 40 or even a little older.
    Also wonder if AMC could have actually handled much bigger production numbers, like say four hundred thousand Javelins plus all the other models, the way Ford had to with the Mustang, or even GM. Nice car here for not so crazy money.

  10. Superdessucke

    Very neat car but bidding is at 5 grand now. I personally think that’s way too much for this, considering you’d need to redo the interior to make it original and probably need put some cash in other areas too just like with any old car (though I’d never paint it). This will be a 7-8k cash investment easy before it’s done.

    At 3-4k I might be in. Looking more and more like I’m going to need to wait until after the next recession or election to get back in the game though. The collector car market has gotten too far ahead of me!

    • Superdessucke

      Somebody sprang $8,000 for a 1973 AMC Hornet. Wow. I mean just wow. Congrats to the seller and best of luck to the buyer.

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