Affordable AMC: 1972 AMC Hornet SST

So, you have the overwhelming desire to own a classic car, but the budget is looking pretty tight. What do you do? Well, you could place the whole idea into the “too hard basket,” or you could search for an affordable classic like this 1972 AMC Hornet SST. It might not be the ultimate muscle car, but it is a clean and tidy survivor that seems to have very few pressing needs. That means that you could be out enjoying the classic car experience fairly quickly, and you could do it for a mere $2,400. If that sounds like a winning deal to you, then you will find the Hornet located in Bridgewater, Virginia, and listed for sale here on Craigslist. I have to say thank you to Barn Finder Pat L for referring this great AMC to us.

I think that the styling of the Hornet is quite tidy, and it is only helped in this case by the combination of Surfside Turquoise paint and a white vinyl top. The paint looks to be in pretty decent order, with no signs of patchiness, and a nice shine across the entire vehicle. The top is less promising, and it appears as though it might be split or separating in a couple of spots. Making matters worse is the rust that is just beginning to reveal itself from under the lower vinyl trim strips on the rear quarter panels. Sadly, that isn’t the end of it, because there is also some bubbling around the rear wheel openings on both sides, along with some bubbles in the bottom corner of the passenger door. This is all unfortunate, but as long as the rust that is visible appearing under the edge of the vinyl isn’t too severe, then it need not be the end of the world. The reality is that if we’re talking about rust issues, the sooner these can be addressed, the better. However, there is no reason why the next owner couldn’t enjoy the car as it currently stands during the warmer months, and save the rust repairs as a Winter project. Beyond that, the trim, chrome, and the glass, all looks to be in good order. Also included in the sale is a waterproof car cover, and this is said to be brand new.

I find the interior trim combination with this Hornet to be quite interesting. The trim is predominantly black, but the white covers on the seats provide a real contrast. Some positive news comes in the form of the front seat wearing a nice new cover, while the cover on the rear seat appears to be free from splits or tears. However, the cover is looking pretty dirty and discolored, and it isn’t clear whether or not it would respond to a deep clean. However, with a replacement cover being able to be sourced for less than $300, this need not be a major problem. Otherwise, the rest of the interior looks good, and the inclusion of an aftermarket stereo promises to make life pretty pleasant on the road.

The owner doesn’t supply any engine photos, but an even more obvious omission is the fact that he doesn’t tell us what sort of engine lurks under the hood. We know that it is a 6-cylinder, but that means that it could be either the 232 or the 258ci versions. Backing this is a 3-speed automatic transmission, while the Hornet features drum brakes on all four corners. The only issue that the owner identifies is a problem with the brakes. It would appear that they are only functioning on one wheel, but judging by the fact that a new master cylinder is being included in the sale, you can probably guess where the owner thinks that the problem lies. Otherwise, the radiator has just been replaced, a new battery has been fitted, the carburetor has been rebuilt, and the ignition system has received new points, a new condenser, and a new coil. While the owner doesn’t elaborate on how well the little AMC drives, he does say that he has enjoyed driving it throughout the 3-years that he has owned it.

As I said initially, this 1972 AMC Hornet SST is not a muscle car, but it is a nice example of a vehicle from a manufacturer that is no longer with us. The harsh reality is that not everyone is going to be able to afford classics like Mustangs or Camaros, and that’s where cars like the Hornet come into their own. They allow people on tighter budgets the opportunity of experiencing classic car ownership. With that in mind, I suspect that the Hornet will be finding a new home very soon.


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  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    With the girlie blue paint, six cylinder engine, and three bum brakes, it is definitely not a killer hornet!

    Like 7
  2. Jack M.

    You are featuring some nice inexpensive turn key classics today Adam. That is why I tune into Barn Finds. Keep the rusty carcasses out in the fields. Great job Adam.

    Like 6
  3. DualJetfire

    True, Bluetec, but it’s a very good car. In 1969, AMC was on the ropes (again), after the really bad idea of competing head to head with the big 3. So they rebodied the Javelin. The Rambler name was thought to be too stodgy, so they named it the Hornet. When the gas crisis hit, the Hornet was the only US compact, and they sold like hot cakes. AMC made so much money that they bought Jeep.

    Like 6
    • Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

      @DualJetfire, I agree! I wasn’t really knocking the car or the price, I was stating that if this were to be a “Murder Hornet”, it would have to be painted orange and black and have 360-V8 dropped in it.

      Like 2
    • bone

      What about the Maverick , Valiant/Dart, Nova/Ventura ? All of these were out before 1973, and all were available in base six cylinder form. .

  4. Rhett

    I always liked these, I thought they were very attractive and well proportioned for what they were. And a 4bbl SC/360 cars will give any musclecar a run for their money. Now, about the splined rear axles, body integrity and other things, that’s a much longer debate…

    Like 1
  5. Joe Haska

    If only these cars were within driving distance. The cost of getting it arcross the country is almost as much as the car.

  6. jerry z

    If only someone would buy my Crown Vic! I would rather have a fastback version but this is close enough. I don’t see this being for sale long.

    Like 1
  7. Mitchell Ross Member

    Nice car and the brake problems are best adressed by getting the frond discs from any 1970-1983 AMC with them, you need the proportion valve and a new master and done. Do a little rust work, add sone AMC rally wheels or the Magnum 500s that were factory options and you’ve got a nice car. Best of all you enter the AMC community, and that makes it all worthwhile.

    Like 5
  8. Skorzeny

    I love this one, but there would be a lot of changes. Disc brakes, wheels, v-8, 5 speed, paint… Too bad it’s not a 4 door. Would be nice to have in my garage…

    Like 1
  9. mikethetractorguy

    If it was closer, I’d own it!

  10. CCFisher

    Wait… is the owner driving this with brakes on one wheel? I would expect a bad master cylinder to cause problems with either two or four wheels, but not three.

    Also, is this really a “classic,” or is it an “antique”? I was always told that a classic is a car formally recognized by the Classic Car Club of America, and they’ve never recognized anything built after 1948, let alone something as plebeian as an AMC Hornet.

    Like 2
  11. Mike Mims

    Its nice that you post various types of old cars. Guys like me who are on a very tight budget searching for a classic car that obtainable

    Like 4
  12. Kenneth Carney

    My late wife and I had a Sportabout wagon and I liked everything about it except for damage the tinworn caused.
    Ours had a 232 cube six mated to a 3-
    speed automatic. Bought it in ’84 for
    $200. Everything worked on it, even the
    A/C! But all good things must come to
    an end and so it was with our Hornet.
    While I had it on the lift replacing a rusted
    tailpipe, a mechanic friend of mine told us that the rust damage was terminal and
    it would soon rust completely in half. That being said, I put my wife into a ’74
    Pinto wagon. Somewhere, I have a sketch of this car as a convertible. I made it 35 years ago and it looked very
    attractive. Too bad AMC never did it. If
    they had, it would’ve sold like ice on a hot
    day. Once I find the sketch and become a
    member, I’ll post it for all to see. Until then, great find and stay safe.

    Like 2
    • That AMC guy

      Although the Hornet was not made as a convertible, the Concord and Eagle (the same basic body was). The targa-style convertible was called the Sundancer and the conversion was done by an outside company, Griffith, with AMC factory approval. Not many were sold.

    • That AMC Guy

      Dang, the comment I left seems to have gone into the bit bucket, seems to be happening a lot lately. Trying again…

      Although a Hornet convertible was not made, there were Concord and Eagle convertibles. (Same basic body as the Hornet.) These targa-style convertibles were called “Sundancer”, and were converted by an outside company with AMC factory authorization. Not many were sold.

    • That AMC Guy

      What’s going on with comments disappearing and reappearing? My first suddenly vanished, so I tried again and now both are here! For that matter I’ve noticed sometimes going into a posting and having none of the comments show up. Very strange.

      Like 1
  13. PatrickM

    Looks like a nice car… But, no engine, underside or trunk pics. Not sure which six it has. Strike four. This is just about the kind of car I would love to have just to put around town in. Almost perfect. It’s even close enough for me to consider. However…….

  14. JoeNYWF64

    Would have making it a ’71 SC360 clone been worthwhile toward a future sale?

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