Cheap Muscle? 1974 AMC Matador X

Update 9/18/19 – This one has popped up again, but this time it’s listed here on eBay for $3,200 or best offer. Do you think it looks like a classic bargain?

From 7/31/19 – Yes, the Matador is one of those cars you either love or you hate, and I fall into the former category simply because of the oddball looks and rarity on today’s roads. This example is the “X” level trim, and it sports paint job that looks like it belongs on a certain Ford product accustomed to theatrical stunts. This Matador is listed here on craigslist with a $3,800 asking price in running/driving condition with a very nice interior.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Ikey H. for the find. The interior really is a treat, with those nicely bolstered bucket seats appearing to be in excellent condition. Everything else is so-so, with the covering on the console peeling off and what looks like at least some minor cosmetic flaws at the top-center of the dash. The door panels appear sound and the carpets look clean, if not slightly bunched up.

The seller says it runs and drives fine, and that the 304 V8 keeps the Matador running around town as a fully registered vehicle. The California location would indicate to me it has passed the state’s stringent smog testing, but I’d want to confirm that with the seller. According to the listing, the seller is just the second owner of the Matador and he holds the original pink slip.

New tires have been installed and it sounds like the seller went with a wider, staggered setup out back. You don’t see these white “off-road”-style wheels on passenger cars too often – they look like they belong on a Subaru BRAT – but they work here, surprisingly, especially with the white stripes down the side. If you love Matadors, you likely march to the beat of your own drum, and this one looks worthy of saving.


  1. Dan

    Unless California regulations changed since I moved away, this Matador is exempt from emissions testing. I like the styling, but I find the wagon wheels very out of place.

    Like 19
    • Rob

      Correct. 1975 and prior years are still exempt.

      Like 8
  2. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    ’74 Matador is a bucket list car for sure. I need another garage.

    Like 16
    • Bingo

      65 Rivi GS is my fav.

      Like 1
  3. dave brennan

    I really miss my 3 matadors!! If this were 1500 miles closer I’d b all over it!!!

    Like 3
  4. DonC

    Starsky drove a 74-76 Ford Gran Torino. They used about 8 of them in the series. Why refer to that with this ad? Am I missing the dry humor?

    Like 16
    • Rube Goldberg Member

      I didn’t get that either. Pete Malloy of Adam-12 would be a better reference. I read, Paul Michael Glaser hated the Torino, and did everything he could to kill them.

      Like 3
      • Rick Rothermel

        And Pete’s Matador was really ugly… yellow with a brown vinyl roof… far too foofy for a masculine character like him.

        Like 3
      • Chris M.

        Can’t always believe everything you read Ruby!

  5. Troy s

    Starsky’s hockey stick striped Torino would have smoked this Xfactor machine! Unless this had a hopped up 401, probably a different outcome.
    Most definitely a rarely seen car now, which is actually a nice change, just would have liked to seen something stronger than a 304, despite its solid dependability.
    In California it won’t need the bi-annual smog check,,,transfer of ownership I’m not sure of. I can’t keep up with these laws anymore.

    Like 3
    • Dave Mazz

      Maybe it’s the Matador Bobby Allison drove, and won with, at Darlington back in 1974…..and the newly-rebuit race motor is in the trunk…. :-) :-)

  6. Jwinters

    remove the bumpers and the trailer wheels and its not a bad looking car

    Like 9
  7. Ike Onick

    All I know is MAD magazine did one of their great parodies when they did a “Husky and Starch” cartoon.

    Like 7
  8. Bill the Engineer

    Personally, I’d be more interested in the Pontiac convertible behind it.

    Like 1
  9. mike b

    Tough one to butt slide across.

    Like 4
  10. Erik in RI

    Me 45 yrs. ago when this came out: “No. Just no.”

    Today: “Oh HELL no.”

    Like 10
  11. James Schwartz

    This car was already featured on Barnfinds just over a month ago. At that time, it had the correct wheels on it, and seller was asking $2900 for it.

    Looks like the guy sold off the wheels (quite possibly the most valuable single part of the car), replaced them with trailer wheels, and then raised the price by 900 bucks.

    Like 11
  12. FrankRIzzo

    1974 does not need a smog check in Calif.

    Like 2
  13. Bruce Jackson

    No paint job on a Matador could ever make this thing look like a Torino…

    Like 6
  14. PatrickM

    When these came out I didn’t like the looks at all. Today, I think they offer a streamlined look that rivals many of the “same rubber stamp’ cars of today. It is definitely different. AMC had some nice affordable cars. Engineering was good. I’ll stand by my statement that they should have caught on. Too bad they didn’t.

    Like 8
  15. James Martin

    Sure looked a lot better with the factory rims . Lose those trailer rims.

    Like 4
  16. CapNemo CapNemo

    Muscle? No. Looks like a Ford? Not even remotely.

    Like 6
  17. That AMC guy

    As it happens, the latest issue of “Hemmings Classic Car” (Nov. 2019) has a fairly detailed article about the development of the Matador coupe, with photos and drawings of proposals that lead up to the final design.

    Like 6
    • Frank Sumatra

      I am having a really tough time picturing that car going through any type of design process. It looks to me as if the air conditioning in the clay model studio malfunctioned on a long weekend and the model started to melt and sag.

      Like 4
    • local_sheriff

      That article is based on an older publication but it’s interesting reading nevertheless.
      Personally I’ve never really understood all the criticism the Matador has received, but it seems to boil down to its bug-eyed grill and massive bumpers. Unfortunately I cannot post images but there are circulating pics of custom-made Matadors with quad hidden headlights online. With that grill the Matador gets a more aggressive – almost Italian coupe – look to it and would probably have been more acceptable for the masses

      Like 1
  18. David Zornig

    “This posting has expired”…

    Like 1
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      The eBay link has been added to the first paragraph. Thanks!

      Like 1
  19. jerry z

    Checked the ebay ad, this one is selling for $3200 and the next ad shows one selling for $140K!

    Just who would buy a Matador for over $100K. SMH.

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      You are probably talking about this one, which has been discussed here at BF previously.

      People can ask whatever they want, as long as they are prepared to get laughed at and to hold onto it for a long time.

    • theGasHole

      Please, let us never bring up that $140k Matador ever again. Ever.

  20. Tom Member

    First off, “Muscle” and “1974” can’t be used in the same sentence…..especially when you factor in the car name “Matador”. What did this have, 150 HP? Heck, even the 454 Corvette in 1974 only had what, 200 HP? My “No HP in 1974” comments are directed at Domestics, not imports

    The only muscle involved here is the muscle it took to poop this thing out in the first place! How much more bulky can you make a front end on a car?

    Like 4
    • Frank Sumatra

      A truly disturbing image, but I totally get your point.

      Like 2
    • rpol35

      “Heck, even the 454 Corvette in 1974 only had what, 200 HP?”

      No, 270; not great but not abysmal either.

      Like 2
      • Tom Member

        I stand corrected. I did not think the HP stayed the same from 72-74 but apparently it did.

        However, 270 HP is abysmal for a BB anything. I was off by 1 year being 1975 where Corvette HP fell to 205 HP or 165 depending on which of the 2 pathetic V8’s you might have ended up with.

        Like 1
  21. Ken

    I like this heap BECAUSE of its sloppy proportions and deflated-balloon looks. It’s the poster child for Malaise Era. I think of those poor designers scrounging the parts bin and begging for a few bucks for the tools and dies for the body panels, and being told “No” at every turn.

    But I don’t $3200 like it. I $1500 like it.

    Like 1
  22. canadainmarkseh

    Ugly when new ugly now. I think they actually tried to make this car as ugly as they could. No thanks…!

  23. dave brennan

    Driver side rocker looks like 10 lbs of


    Shrink the front bumper about 90% and they look 500% better.
    Great drive train, and the 304, can be a decent performer. Nice entry level car, to a great hobby

  25. juan

    Met my ex-wife when she was driving one of these. While the wife was beautiful, this car was butt ugly. It needed constant work to keep on the road. Start it up and you heard a whistling noise – which was from about 30 vacuum leaks under the hood. I still have a scar on my forehead from the hood latch. Every surface under the hood was sharp. Doors sagged badly. I could not leave the house without jumper cables and two quarts of oil. Usually 7 of the 8 cylinders would fire.

    I also thought that this was what was put together from the leftover parts from every vendor in Wisconsin and Michigan.
    Was never so glad to see a vehicle leave the family fleet.

    Like 1
    • scottymac

      My fiancé broke our engagement, then started dating an AMC salesman who put her in a demo similar to this red car. Glad to hear she got a “quality” car!

      Like 1
  26. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    This car is at least a 3-peat here on BF:

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      No, it’s only been on here twice. This was just an update since it’s been listed on eBay with a lower price.

      Like 2
  27. Desert rat

    Strange styling ,but I think they looked great in nascar trim, so maybe if it was customized along those lines it might look cool and sure would be different at the local car show, just saying…

  28. Eric

    17 top 3 finishes in NASCAR out of 60 races gives it more than enough creds to allow the term Muscle to be used describing this car. And before people slag on a car, could you at least not be so lazy and look the information up on the web, it’s out there, 4 barrel 401 produced 235 Horsepower, not bad for 1974

  29. Eric D

    Always loved these Matadors, as long as you stayed away from the horrible two-tone paint & padded tops of the later years. Very distinctive when new, and surprisingly roomy for a coupe. My brother & I were checking these out when they were new at the Detroit Auto Show, and were amazed at the interior space.
    Roomier that many of the sedans on the market at that time. A college friend had a ‘74 Cassini Matador that she loved.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.