Cheap Classic: 43k Mile 1981 AMC Concord

Update 7/9/19 – After a few months, this AMC has been relisted here on eBay with a $2,000 buy-it-now. Seems like a bargain price for a nice uncommon classic!

From 4/24/19 – As a lover of all vehicles big or small, fast or slow, expensive or cheap, American or not, beautiful or.. not quite as beautiful, popular or oddball, I give you this 1981 AMC Concord DL, a rust-free Florida car with just 43,000 miles on it. This fancy Hornet can be found here on eBay in Rotonda West, Florida. There is an unmet $3,000 opening bid and no reserve after that.

The Concord was an updated AMC Hornet with a bit more sound insulation and was slightly upscale, at least compared to the Hornet which was a successor to the modest Rambler American. They made them until 1983 at which point the new Renault Alliance started stealing a bit of the Concord’s thunder and its sales. It’s hard to believe that now when the Hornet and Concord are both cars that could withstand a nuclear war whereas the Alliance didn’t seem to last more than a few years if even that, at least from what the comments typically are when we highlight one here at Barn Finds.

As a rear-wheel-drive car, the Concord is enticingly retro-cool today if not somewhat gaudy compared to the clean-lined Hornet. I am one of the last people on earth who would say anything against a four-door car but as far as the Hornet or Concord goes, that’s the body style that I personally like the best. This car looks as clean and nice as any that we’ve seen recently but I’m wondering about the vinyl top, has that center section been replaced or was it normally a slightly different color and pattern vinyl? Maybe it’s a trick of the camera and the Florida sun.

The interior looks great in this car other than having some normal wear and maybe a little sun damage, especially on the dash top. The back seat looks great, although I wonder what caused that unusual stain line on the rear carpet? The door panels look nice, AMC sure threw everything they had at those door panels! There are so many colors and fabrics and carpet and plastic and plastic wood and layers and strata, etc. You almost need a pith helmet like you’re on an archaeological dig just to look at those door panels. They’re busy but nice. There are no engine photos but it should be AMC’s 258 cubic-inch inline-six which would have had 110 hp. It runs and drives perfectly and all is well other than the AC needs to be charged. Are there any AMC Concord fans out there?


  1. Shawn Fox Firth

    My Mother bought one new and it burned to the ground N/B hwy 27 at Belfield rd it was only a coupla month’s old .

    Like 2
  2. That AMC Guy

    These are real nice cars. However “AC needs to be charged” means there is a leak that needs to be taken care of. Could be minor, could be a major headache.

    Note the headlights are at a bit of an angle. Headlight buckets are plastic and very prone to breaking. Doors use nylon pin bushings from the factory. Needless to say, sagging doors are common.

    There don’t seem to be any underhood photos and just a couple of limited ones of the chassis. These cars were Ziebart rustproofed at the factory and in Florida rust should not be a problem. However a complex emission system was employed and in a lot of these cars that system gets butchered over the years which can cause problems in states requiring emission testing. I’m pretty sure the infamous 258 plastic valve cover was used in ’81. These always warp and leak. The cure is an aftermarket aluminum cover for Jeeps of the same era, though this requires tapping some blank holes in the head for fasteners.

    Looks great overall!

    Like 19
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      You, sir, are an absolute wealth of AMC knowledge. No wonder you’re known as That AMC Guy – thanks for that great info!

      Like 12
      • That AMC Guy

        Thanks for the kind words, but it’s just from owning and working on a variety of AMC cars since they were current, everyday vehicles. (I even owned stock in the company.) However decades-old memory sometimes plays tricks and I certainly know of people who have much more extensive knowledge than I do!

        Like 13
    • Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

      I owned a couple AMC cars back a few decades ago. Both had the 258 engine which was a very good engine that scooted those cars along quite nicely. Ofcourse mine were a bit older than this one, the first a 74 Gremlin X with three speed standard on the floor. The other a 77 Hornet wagon with automatic and nice A/C. I have no doubt this car will make someone a happy owner.
      God bless America

      Like 1
    • Robert Reynolds

      I want to buy a manual transmission Concord, sedan or station wagon. Any leads would be appreciated. I loved my 1983 Brampton-made silver station wagon (5) speed! Vert sorry, to this day, I let it go. I bought it in 1983 and drove it 18 years. The Concord was like my right arm. I hope, at 75 years of age, there is an AMC in my future. Thanks, Robert Reynolds, South Kansas City, MO 64030

      Like 1
      • Gary Fox

        I have one if still interested.

  3. Howard A Member

    We don’t need That AMC Guy to tell us what a nice car this was, but it’s good to hear.( there is credibility in his moniker) These were some of the last great AMC cars to come out of Milwaukee, still had Hornet roots, with a modern style, before the Alliance/ Eagle fiasco when production shifted to Kenosha. My ex father in law drove one as a state car, put a jillion miles on it. When they quit making these, all us Wisconsinites knew, workers included, the end couldn’t be far off,,,and it wasn’t. The Milwaukee plant closed in 1985 and the Kenosha plant a year later as AMC. Chrysler used the plant to assemble M body cars and the 4.0 six for several years after. Collectible? Maybe, but for now, you want a decent comfy car that gets reasonable gas mileage, you simply can’t go wrong here.

    Like 6
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      I agree. I was never a fan of the Renault Alliance and Fuego. They were probably good cars. The problem with Renaults, and French cars in general, was the service network. If something goes wrong with the car, you want to be able to take it to a certified service centre to make sure it stays running safely.

  4. ramblergarage

    I love the old Concords, my day had a new silver anniversary edition. I like the first two years the best, the 78 with the less fussy grille most of all.

    Like 3
    • Tom

      I have one, although repainted (badly) that I plan to re-repaint back to correct. Oddly they used the highest trim level “Limited” but called it a “D/L” Made for a very plush cruiser I cant find out how many were made

  5. Jett

    I can proudly say I’ve had AMC’s in the family continually since I was five or six years old. Mom was first with a burgundy Pacer woody wagon, and Dad later bought a new silver ‘77 Hornet hatch. He traded the Hornet a couple of years later for an F-150 Supercab, and Mom traded the wagon in for a ‘78 Concord hatch, which she motored in until 1987, when she replaced it with an ‘87 Topaz. At that point, it sat it the back yard until becoming my first car in ‘91 (cost me $1!). Dad restored it several years later, and we still have it for summertime enjoyment. I’ll love AMC/Rambler vehicles until the end!

    Like 3
  6. Chrischris

    I’ve owned 4 AMC/Ramblers. I currently have a 79 Concord 4 door DL. It’s my daily driver and as never let me down. It runs on Smile per gallon.

    Like 1
  7. David Zornig

    Forgive me for repeating this story.
    We had a Budget rent-a-car franchise in out Texaco back then.
    We had Avis before that, but we manned it for them using the Avis Wizard computer system.
    The owner of the Budget franchise had burned his bridges with the big 3 by late `78, to the point that only AMC would extend him credit.
    So he had a fresh fleet of Concords.
    AMC was happy cause it put more of their models on the street to be seen and driven by potential buyers.
    One local guy rented one for so long, that around 1981 they just signed the title over to him.

    Like 3
  8. Rube Goldberg Member

    This car was the last stop for devout Rambler fans. Over the last couple days, we saw the progression, the American, the Hornet, and now this and were great cars. My ex father in law drove one of these as a state worker, put a jillion miles on it. A few bought the Alliance, my brother had one, was an ok car, but after these, AMC fans begrudgingly went with the Asian cars, only because being long time AMC fans, they wouldn’t buy another Detroit car, never did, it’s why we were Rambler fans in the 1st place.

    Like 2
  9. Gay Car Nut Tacoma

    Lovely looking Concord. I used to see these when I was a boy, in the early 1980s. At the time, I didn’t find them very attractive, at least not when compared to the 1978 Concord.


    The person I bought the SCRAMBLER from and his father were mechanics at the local AMC dealership his sister at one time had a 63 or 65 RAMBLER Classic (I think) anyway as she turned a corner at about 5 MPH the trunion let go and she hit a parked car. But they all continued to drive RAMBLER/AMC vehicles that’s what I call devotion. Anyway I almost bought a Hornet wagon when I lived in FL. I didn’t like the Concord as well as the Hornet which was closer the good ole American. Just my 2 cents.

    Like 3
    • That AMC Guy

      Unless it was some kind of manufacturing defect you really had to abuse those trunnions (like never grease them) and ignore the warnings signs to let them get to the point of total failure.

      Rambler did have a problem when they first went to lower ball joints on their larger models which I think was sometime around 1960. (Prior to that upper and lower control arms both employed trunnions.) Due to defective parts from a supplier those joints would let loose the first time you hit a good-sized pothole or otherwise stressed them. At that time it was very common to see Ramblers on the side of the road with a front wheel splayed out from the bottom.

      Like 3
      • Rube Goldberg Member

        Wasn’t just grease, it was the inner fender the trunnions were connected to, that rusted. Like I say, my grandfather had a ’61 Classic with 40K miles, in perfect shape, except the front inner fenders rusted, trunnions let go and nobody would fix it and he junked it.

      • That AMC Guy

        On Ramblers the inner fender is a structural element where the control arms attach. It’s quite possible the trunnions were actually OK, but rust caused the control arms to pull out.

  11. Gay Car Nut Tacoma

    I admire such devotion. It can happen with any car.

    Like 1
  12. ctmphrs

    I don’t see how you can call that thing a classic. It’s even extremely ugly for Rambler

    • Crash

      Go look up a camaro, then, and leave the AMC’s for those of us that like them.

      Like 3
      • Gay Car Nut Tacoma

        I agree. I’ve never owned an AMC Hornet, Concord, or Eagle. But I’ve always loved AMC cars.

        Like 2

    THAT AMC GUY AND RUBE GOLDBERG I appreciate your knowledge and reading your posts always informative. Thanks SC
    I may have been wrong on year of the car mentioned in my original post I was very young

  14. Darryl Grant

    In ’82 my grandmother had recently purchased an ’81 Concord she enjoyed very much. She was feeling generous one day and said I could drive it, even though i was only 16 yes of age and had recently gotten my permit. While coming back from our trip a mischievous thought came to me (too much ac/dc) and I flicked the wheel over and put the car in the opposite lane. She started yelling and if I remember correctly older people back then used funny terms when they were angry. They would call you names like a crumb or an imbecile. Anyway, I was laughing very hard and she was so angry she said she’d never let me drive it again. Even though I begged her later on to drive it again she never let me drive it again. Not too happy about that memory. Oh well. Kids….

    Like 2
  15. Mike Austing

    First new car I ever bought was a ’78 Concorde DL s/wagon. Purchased it through the Mannheim, Germany PX for shipment to me through the port of Bremerhaven. Beautiful blue color; tan interior with HD cooling, 302(?) V-8 and plush seats. One of the best cars I ever owned; wish I had it back!

    Like 1
  16. jim Eberle

    You could buy a two piece header for dual exhaust, bigger carb all parts sold for a Jeep. My 258 ” l6 3 speed Gremlin beat many v8,s between red lights. The smaller 232 was a reliable engine too.

  17. Robert Reynolds

    In Oct ’85, I bought a silver 1983, Brampton-made, Concord DL station wagon (w/o vinyl wood trim, radio or air) equipped with the (5) speed manual transmission, 2:36 rear. I drove it 18 years, changed the wheels to 15 in, did my own maintenance and I loved every minute of my proud ownership. I had to let it go when the clutch failed in Arizona. I would buy another Concord, sedan or wagon w/manual trans. If you are reading this, and have a manual transmission, road-ready Concord for sale @ at reasonable price, any year, LMK. Robert Reynolds, Kansas City, MO. Thank Y You!

    Like 1

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