6 + 2 = V8: 1976 AMC Hornet X Sportabout

A sporty wagon sounds like a bit of a misnomer (some would say, oxymoron), but this 1976 AMC Hornet X Sportabout is just that, given its “factory” V8. More on that in a bit. This gem is on craigslist with an asking price of $8,700 and it’s in Troy, Ohio.

Yes, this car really is as nice as it looks. It’s looks as close to being factory-fresh as they come. The seller tells us that “most of the paint on the car is original with exception for a few spots where it has been touched up. The stripes going the length of the car are original. This car was treated to a rust-proofing process when sold new and the plastic caps can been seen throughout the car in the door jams.” But, it isn’t 100% rust-free as there is “a very, very minor spot on the driver’s side lower quarter panel (see pictures in gallery). (2) Very minor surface rust on the bottom of the front driver’s side door. (3) Very minor surface rust on the bottom of the front passenger side door.”

I could personally do without the wheels, give me OEM any day of the week. But, I can see where some people would like such a thing on a V8 wagon such as this Hornet. And, the factory original 14″ rally wheels come with the car! The details are so nice on this car that it’s hard to imagine it being in this condition after over four decades. But, the top side is nothin’, wait until you see the underside! A.m.a.z.i.n.g! You can see inklings (inklings?!) of surface rust under there in some areas, but overall it’s in such nice condition that it’s hard to believe that this car has even 38,059 miles on it, but it does. It can’t have ever been driven in an Ohio winter.

The seller mentions that the passenger side of the dash has a small crack in it but other than that this interior appears to be almost showroom new. There is an aftermarket stereo but other than that it seems to be as it left Kenosha four decades ago. From the back seat to the headliner to the rear compartment, this is one nice, well-preserved car.

Speaking of Kenosha, this car left the factory with a 258 cubic-inch inline-six, but it now has an AMC 304 V8 that “was recently freshened up with a 0.030 overbore and a mild street cam. There is about 1,000 on the rebuild. The cooling system was also updated with a new water pump and an aluminum radiator” You can hear the burble of that cool cam here on this YouTube video. What a sound! Two observations about this car: 1) thank you, owner, for not sticking the exhaust tips straight out the back like I would have expected. 2) This car doesn’t sound like it has a mere 120 hp like the original 304 V8 would have had; 45 hp less than the 20-year old, 4-cylinder Subaru that I drive in the winter has. This car sounds mean. AMC’s 360 for the Hornet would have had around 175 hp, I’m guessing that this one is around there or better? Who knows, but it sure sounds and looks great! Any thoughts on this slightly resto-modded AMC Hornet X Sportabout? It looks great to me, but is it worth $8,700?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    It never ceases to amaze me what some folks will do to basic car like this. It sure is nice looking, but these weren’t the best. AMC quality had already begun to slide. They were popular, I remember quite a few. While researching this, I came across the “Cowboy” concept truck. Why wouldn’t they make this? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMC_Hornet#/media/File:AMC_Cowboy_pickup_truck_Kenosha-s.jpg

  2. Tom Hall

    Hard to believe you could find all these surviving AMC’s lately.
    Really nice but not $8700 nice

    Like 1
    • Mike H. Mike H

      Personally, looking at what’s been asked for clean AMC’s lately I think that the price on this one is appropriate. It’s cleaner than most, and while the mileage claim is slightly debatable it’s well presented and wouldn’t take a lot of work to enjoy.

      Overall, the 70’s vintage AMC’s are overlooked and generally undervalued until they come around with low mileage or cleaner bodies than the norm (sadly, they were VERY prone to rusting, especially the doors and the tops of the front fenders); at that point they are usually overpriced. This one seems pretty honest and I’d think that getting it for <$10k would be a good score.

      This is, of course, my personal opinion. Other views may vary.

      Like 1
  3. johnj

    I like it. I think the wheels look great on it , kind of makes the car to me. But a set of AMC Rally’s would look good also. Its different, and you can take the family along. Cool, and probably a good deal for a solid car with nice paint and ready to go.

    • Mike McCloud

      It’s a driver! I’d love to have seen this when it was first offered; It’d be mine today! To me, the phrase would be; ‘Just Right’! Great car.

  4. Rock On Member

    Nice find Scotty. The aftermarket stereo looks easy enough to remove hanging there under the dashboard. The factory radio is still there in the dash!

  5. z28th1s

    If you are in the market for one of these I doubt very seriously you would ever find a nicer one!

    I like the addition of the 304 V8 and the aftermarket wheels. Pretty cool car!

    Like 1
  6. Jeffro

    I like this ride. Looks good. Sounds good. Nor familiar with AMC pricing, so is this a good price?

  7. CapNemo

    I like this car a lot, and would proudly own it just as it is!

  8. CKKurtz Member

    That dashboard is horrible. And cool.

    • Jason

      Mostly horrible.

  9. sir mike

    Best looking AMC ever…and it’s a wagon also….love it….

  10. Gunner

    How can one not like this car? Equipped with a V8 as a bonus! I just love it! Very nice shape, and great color combination. I am sure it gets compliments wherever it goes!

  11. CelestialGryphon

    I mean… I wouldn’t kick it out of bed.

  12. JW

    Nice ride wheels and aftermarket stereo and all. I also don’t know the market value for AMC vehicles but for the condition it doesn’t seem bad. You could probably haggle them down a grand.

  13. Bradshaw from Primer

    When R&T tested the Sportabout…a Hornet hatchback…it had the 360 in it and did the quarter in 16 seconds…which was pretty good back then. Driving a Matador in 77 with a 304 in it…I was very impressed with its accelleration…..maybe 120 hp back then was a lot more than it is now. I think the 350 Vette was 175 hp…and it felt fast back then…( I drove it also)

  14. Ron Wheeler

    The $ 8,700.00 price most likely takes in the engine change
    cost. Leaving in the 6 cyl engine would have made it worth the money.
    Interior quality has always been a problem with AMC. Bought a 1968 Javelin
    witha a 290 high performance 4 spd and got over 200 thousnad out of it before selling it. The seats were replaced in less than 4 years.Very cheap interiors. Window cranks about the same time.

  15. Rustytech Member

    This car looks great. It’s not a sports car, but definitely sportier than most of the lumbering tanks they called wagons from its era. Nice to see the V8 under the hood too. These cars had some quality control issues, but proved to be quite dependable, IMHO this is an attractive car, though I would have picked a different color.

  16. Paul R,

    Really nice looking wagon and with the right gears in the dana 44, it could be a blast to drive!

  17. JW454

    This one has been listed on C/L here in Southwest Ohio for several months. With some national exposure it may find a buyer. Nice looking ride but, the price seems to be keeping it at it’s present address.

    • Mike H. Mike H

      I’ve seen it come up on The Flea-Bay a few times in the last few months also.

  18. Mike C

    This car was on eBay several months ago for around 10 grand. His picture gallery is good but doesn’t address the minor rust issues. Great car! I have no idea about AMC pricing, however the Grocery Getter has my attention but not at the asking price. GLWS

  19. tasker

    My brother had a 75 two door hatch back in the early 80’s….304 with 3 spd manual, yellow…Never saw another one but it was pretty quick for what it was.

  20. John

    My Grandfather drove a Hornet. In fact it’s all he ever bought.from the 60’s to 2000. He had 1 F150 and then shocking to us all a Tie ota.

  21. AMCSTEVE

    Nice car but what puzzles me is why he would put a 304 instead of a 360 or even a 401?
    The 258 was a better engine than the weak 304. I like the thought of keeping the original radio in the dash. This is a fair price.

    • Mike H. Mike H

      Only thing I could think of is that he used what he already had.

    • z28th1s

      As Mike H said he might have already had a 304 laying around. The 258 might be a better motor than the 304 but it wouldn’t sound near as good as the 304 does with that Comp cam and dual exhaust. I know which setup would draw more attention when you roll up in a cruise-in.

  22. Joe Howell

    Funny but the cars I wouldn’t have given a second look way back when seem really cool now. I love this AMC wagon.

  23. Dennis M

    Nice looking Hornet, but no AC.

  24. mark

    someone once gave me a 73 sportabout with a mix matched door, that was a handy reliable little machine with its three on the tree, and living in NYC we didnt really have to worry about it getting stolen so much as our 68 el camino

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