Bullfighter Survivor: 1974 AMC Matador

While this car didn’t actually fight any bulls, many matadors have, but likely none of them were cars. Matador sedans of this vintage were favorites of police forces across the United States and Canada for many years as they were known for their toughness. While AMC managed to acquire a bad reputation in later years, it is important to remember that many of their designs were influential and they weren’t thrown together cars comprised of parts from other makes. This Matador is in fantastic condition and is being sold for a reasonable $3,250. It can be found here on Craigslist in British Columbia, so one can assume the price is in CAD. Thanks to reader Rocco for sending it in!

There’s something about AMCs dash design from this era that is unique. Maybe it is because it is simple, yet sort of elegant. The gauge cluster is well-balanced and everything is simple without being plain. Though this Matador is painted somewhat mundane colors, it really wears them well. Having covered only 54,000 miles, it is not surprising that the interior is in excellent condition. Someone has clearly taken care of this car, and everything about it is original. The seller does not state how many owners this car has had, but it is very clear that the current owner is enamored with this Matador. The interior makes me feel like this car would be a comfortable commuter or otherwise daily vehicle.

This Matador is powered by an AMC 304 cubic inch V8 hooked up to a 727 TorqueFlight transmission. While the TorqueFlight is indeed a Chrysler product, it is important to note that the versions installed in AMC vehicles were different from Chrysler vehicles because the engine bolt pattern is not the same, thus they will not interchange. This Matador is turn-key and ready to go with new basic items such as tires, distributor, carb, plug wires, battery, and more.

Though once a common sight, AMC Matador sedans are rarely seen in this day and age, let alone in such excellent original condition. In the ad, the car can be seen with black wall tires as well as the new and current white stripe tires. The white stripes make a world of difference! This is a good looking car, and a reminder that they did in fact sell four door cars in the 1970s and that not every car produced was a Javelin. While this is not going to be a car for everyone, I personally know at least a couple of people that would love to have such a nice example in their garage.


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  1. Chebby

    When you say “this is a good-looking car” you mean ‘it’s in good shape’, right?

    To me, this looks like a real car designed after one of the generic plastic toy cars I had as a kid.

    • Andrew Tanner Member

      I would definitely say that I would like it less if it weren’t so nice!

  2. flmikey

    I must be getting old…I would rather have this than that “Mullet” Camaro…looks comfy and quiet….I even like the color…I guess my next step in life is chasing those damn kids off my lawn…very nice find!!!

  3. LAB3

    I’ll never forget moving some dirt in a trailer behind one of these with my uncle.Was probably 12 or so at the time and remember saying “That sticker says 50% of the load must be forward of this line” the majority was on the back. Sure enough, we made it a little over a mile before it swayed and jackknifed, smashing the rear fender into the wheel. The back seat was plenty worthy of a good crash test rating that day.

  4. Leon

    Front kinda looks Moparish. Like a Dart that lost its nose point

  5. Will

    Here’s the saved ad with all the images http://www.craigslistadsaver.com/view.php?name=1974AMCMatador

  6. Gay Car Nut

    Beautiful looking car. I haven’t seen an AMC Matador since I was a boy.

  7. John Newell

    The Matador in 1974 was the Rebel in 1967, the Marlin in 1965. AMC never changed the chassis in all that time. It was the same car wearing different grilles, bumpers, roof lines and so on. In 1970 this car was also known as THE MACHINE. Practically everything fit. The floors had the same four bolt holes in the floor for bucket seats every year whether the car had bench seats, split bench seats, bucket seats. The rockers and fenders were all built the same way using the same or very similar parts. You could build a Machine out of the last Matador if you had the welding skills. All the parts would fit with a little tinkering.

    All of AMCs cars were built to be as interchangeable as possible. When they built small cars, they used big car parts rather than weaken the parts by making them smaller. So Gremlins, Hornets, Spirits and Pacers as small cars were alway much sturdier than their competition.

    Matadors were popular as police cars for the same reason. They didn’t collapse like other makes. The police cars in the Dukes of Hazard were a great example of what really happened to those cars on the road. They didn’t use AMCs because they couldn’t be made to fall apart like that. Too much structure. My recent adventures in the body panel manufacturing business has exposed me to the realities of automotive architecture and how the economics impacted design and assembly.

    I’ve been an AMC guy from 1970. But after being exposed to the parts business, my respect for AMC has grown by leaps and bounds.

    • Gay Car Nut

      If only my parents had someone to help with maintenance of their Matador. My parents had either a 74 or 75 Matador coupe when I was a boy, and while it was a good looking car, they knew nothing about how to maintain the car. My dad didn’t like to spend the money necessary to keep a car running like it should.

    • That AMC guy

      Actually 1965 and 1966 Classic/Marlin/Ambassador did have a different chassis, based on the then-new 1963 models, and smaller than the 1967s. The earlier cars used a torque tube with the rear coils instead of open driveline with trailing arms.

      Another change was in 1970 when full ball-joint front suspension was adopted, finally laying to rest the old trunnion front end.

      • John Newell

        Poor choice of words on my part. What I should have said was floor. With only minor changes the floor and substructure stayed remarkably similar to almost exactly the same in many respects.

    • Andrew Tanner Member

      AMCs are well-built cars! I am by no means a big AMC enthusiast, but a former roommate of mine was. Through his assorted AMC products and his extensive knowledge of them, I came to realize that American Motors vehicles were totally undeserving of their trash reputation! He had a survivor 1972 Jeep Wagoneer, a survivor 1966 Marlin, and a 1977 Hornet that he partially restored from a beater and drives daily. So it isn’t like I was looking at expertly restored modernized vehicles when I reached this conclusion!

      • Gay Car Nut

        My parents had a 1974-75 Matador coupe when I was a boy. Sadly, my dad didn’t take care of the car. Had he been willing to spend the money needed to keep the car running like it should, I would’ve inherited the car. :(

      • John Newell

        American Motors would still be with us if the Internet had existed in this format so AMC owners could have refuted the negative claims made in the performance magazines of the 70s and 80s about AMC products.

        As a direct result many truly revolutionary designs and ideas born at AMC were still born for lack of money.

        Google these: The AMX III was the most famous market miss extinguished by the ill-timed bumper laws that went into effect for the 1971 model year. That product collapse killed what would have been North America’s first Mini Van. That one was such a stunner I’d have traded my Rebel Machine to get one.

  8. Sam

    I like the artsy photo…looks like its driving off into the sunset…great beyond or the bright white light.

    I’d like to see a posting for Quincy’s coroner wagon or an Adam 12 tribute police cruiser.

  9. Gay Car Nut

    I’ve always found the sedan and wagon Matador more attractive than the coupe.

  10. Tommy D

    You’ll be the only one in a Matador on cruise night! Great car with a unique drive and feel compared to the big three…refreshing. I had a 68 Ambassador
    that I really liked, the little 343 w/ posi that would burn rubber on command. Seats that fold flat, great materials, I only wish it had a 360!

  11. GP Member

    Hi staff people, How come when I give a thumbs up it does not change the number on the screen? Been going about 3 weeks or so. Am I grounded or something?

  12. Randy

    I have never understood how AMC managed to produce all those cars in that one tiny factory.

    • Gay Car Nut

      I’ve often wondered that myself. I would think they’d have more than one factory if they’re going to build their cars.

      • Frank

        Kenosha, Wisconsin, Mishawaka, Indiana, Toledo Ohio and two plants in Ontario……they weren’t that tiny, they were half the size of Chrysler at the time.

    • Frank

      They didn’t have one tiny factory and they weren’t that tiny to begin with. They had Plants in Kenosha, Toledo for Jeep and also Ontario. The Kenosha plant had two production lines, for large cars and small cars. They also had Jeep plants for military assembley in Indiana that once belonged to Studebaker, the Misshagawa plant that is still owned by AM General which produces those Taxi and Handicapped Person’s vehicles.

      • Gay Car Nut

        I would think so. They had assembly plants all over the world. It wasn’t just in Kenosha Wisconsin. :)

    • Tim Rusling

      What about the Brampton, Ontario plant? And the new plant not far from there that AMC built for the Premier now builds the Challenger, 300 and formerly the Magnum.
      A former boss had an AMC very early production Premier ES, while we had two Eagle Premiers which were very nice cars.
      I have, in storage, a rolling shell of a Brampton-built ’70 Hornet 2-door [base].

  13. Frank

    I get complements everywhere I go in my 74 Sedan….and to correct others, the pre 1967 AMC is a different plateform, they aren’t interchangeable. The platform was used from 1967 till 1978…..to put things in perspective, GM’s full sized 1977 was in production till 1991…..not uncommon to use a good platform for a long time. That’s how you stay profitable, by making cars share common platforms, 67 Marlin, Rebel, and Ambassador Sedan coupes and wagons used the same platform as the 78 Matador coupe and sedan and wagon.

    • PaulieB

      Nice car Frank!

    • Gay Car Nut

      Lovely looking car, but I don’t think that’s a 1974. The 1974 Matador has a “divided” grille. 1975 and later models have a different style grille, like what’s in the pic above. :)

  14. Dennis M

    As an AMC/Jeep field rep during those years I drove a lot of Matadors – new field car every 5,000 miles and I was covering 50 to 60 per year back then!

    The Matadors were very nice drivers, nothing sporty, but more than adequate performance and very comfortable.

    That was also the height of the CB radio craze. My CB “handle”? Bullfighter!

    • Gay Car Nut

      That fits. Matador = bullfighter. :)

  15. Jim

    I had a ’71 Matador. Blue in and out. That car was bullet proof. It took a beating and kept ticking. I was 18 and drove that car HARD. Never had a min. of trouble. Never broke down. Hell I don’t think I even changed the oil. but every time I turned the key it started. Loved that beast.

  16. Gay Car Nut

    I wish I had the same positive experience with the Matador when I was a boy. My parents had nothing but trouble with their ’74 Matador coupe. Since I was just a small child, probably 3 or 4 yrs old at the time, I didn’t know first thing about cars or car maintenance. My opinion towards AMC cars in general was coloured by that negative early experience. I’m trying to develop a more positive attitude towards these cars. If someone can show me an AMC Matador or any 70s AMC that hasn’t been neglected, abused, or otherwise mistreated, then I may check it out.

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