Classic Wagon: 1973 AMC Hornet Sportabout

If you look across the total AMC Hornet production for 1973, the wagon was a clear winner in the model’s sales stakes. AMC managed to shift 44,719 examples of the stylish vehicle, although finding a nice example for sale today can be a bit of a battle. This particular 1973 Hornet Sportabout presents nicely for its age and is a guaranteed eye-catcher. It has spent some time in storage but is now ready to head off to a new home. It is located in Moreno Valley, California, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has reached $3,650, and the reserve has been met.

The Sportabout is finished in Copper Tan Poly, and it generally presents very well. The paint on the hood and the tops of the fenders is beginning to show some deterioration, so a partial repaint is probably in this wagon’s future if it is to present at its very best. The rest of the paint appears to be quite nice, while the faux woodgrain is also in good order. The panels are about as straight as you could hope to find on a vehicle of this age, while there is no rust to be found anywhere. The condition of the trim and chrome is quite good for a driver-quality vehicle, although I think that if the bumpers were sent off to the plater, that would really lift the overall level of presentation. All of the glass appears to be nice, with no signs of any significant chips, scratches, or flaws. The wheels aren’t original, but I think that they really suit the Hornet. One bonus is the fact that the spare is a match to these wheels, which means that replacing a flat tire won’t leave the Sportabout looking odd. An extra bonus is the fact that those wheels wear a brand new set of tires.

One area where this Sportabout really shines is the interior. It isn’t perfect, but hey, it isn’t bad either. I’ll admit that the carpet looks like it might be a bit dirty and potentially stained, while the carpet in the cargo area has been replaced at some point, and does not match. Cleaning the carpet would be an option, although fitting a full carpet set for around the $250 mark would make quite a difference. There are also some scratches on the glove compartment door and around its lock courtesy of the keys, but the rest of the interior does present well. The door trims have been cut to fit a set of speakers, and it isn’t clear where they receive their music from. The original radio remains in the dash, but there are both an 8-track player and a CD player hanging under the dash. Talk about covering every eventuality! The rest of the dash looks really nice, and the remaining upholstery and trim is in great order.

Hiding in the engine bay is a healthy 304ci V8. This produces 150hp, which finds its way to the rear wheels via a 3-speed Torque-Command automatic transmission. This combination should be capable of pushing the Hornet through the ¼ mile in around 17.4 seconds. The engine bay presents fairly well, although a clean and detail would leave it sparkling nicely. From a mechanical perspective, this would appear to be a very solid classic wagon. The engine runs very well, while the transmission shifts smoothly, and the brakes also work well. The owner does note a significant exhaust leak, so this will need to be addressed before the AMC is driven any distance. He also notes that the heater hoses have been disconnected, so I suspect that there might be a problem with the heater core. If this is the case then it doesn’t represent a huge capital outlay, because it is pretty easy to find replacement cores for under $90. Beyond that, this appears to be a wagon that needs very little work before it is ready to hit the road once again.

Given the sales volume of the 1973 AMC Hornet Sportabout wagon, finding one for sale today is a surprisingly difficult undertaking. When they do pop up onto the market, good examples seem to command prices of around the $10,000 mark. This looks like it is quite a nice example, and it wouldn’t involve a huge outlay to have it really shining. Bidding has been reasonably strong, but by no means extraordinary. That means that if things don’t pick up, this could be a nice classic station wagon that could potentially be a very affordable buy. That makes it quite interesting.


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  1. XMA0891

    I saw this the other day, and wondered if that wood was factory – It has been a long time since I’ve seen this one this nice. The 304 is a bonus! Needs to be a manual, but as I recall, a manual transmission and V-8 weren’t an available combination? Neat little driver just the same!

  2. jerry z

    I like the Hornet brigade! Never seen this many Hornets in decades! This sucks cause there is no room in my driveway for one. An AMC will be in my possession some time in the near future.

  3. Chris

    Paint it Black with Yellow accents, hop up the engine and call it a Murder Hornet!!!

    Like 4
  4. That AMC Guy

    Probably the best AMC design of the 1970s. Judging by the master cylinder this car has manual front disc brakes, same as the ’75 Sportabout I used to own. I found that high pedal pressure was needed but the brakes otherwise worked well. (Mine was a six, brakes may be even harder to work with the heavier V8.)

    For 1973 there would be breaker point ignition unless converted somewhere along the way, 8 cylinder models using GM’s hex-key adjusted points.

    Too bad there’s no AC, but I love the under-dash 8-Track player! I have 8-track players in my own older vehicles and a good collection of tapes, just the thing for that true 1970s feel.

    Like 1
    • chrlsful

      get rid of the points. Use the later orange brainbox. Or go GM HEI 4 pin. Pep that baby up ! Truth? I;d like the i6 better…

      Loved these w/the ’80’n above Eagel w/the 4WD/AWD (dana 30 same as in my ’70 bronk).

  5. Little_Cars

    I’d much rather have this than that money pit 74 Pinto Squire from Barn Finds the other day. Some of the same characteristics, but much better condition and this one runs out on those Cragars and wide paws! Won’t be using the spare on the side of the road though, its just a wheel sans tire. Ouch!

    Like 1
  6. mainlymuscle

    5 grand now,and still a nice price point for a cool ride.

  7. S

    My friend’s mom had a 75 Sportabout wagon that was also brown – but with no woodgrain. I do remember some of them having woodgrain at the time.

    Does know why GM, Ford, and Chrysler did not offer station wagons in their compact car lines at this point in time? It seems like a missed opportunity to me. The Hornet was the only smaller 4 door wagon offered at the time.

    There were the Vega and Pinto 2 door wagons – but those were much smaller than this, and would have had less utility due to their smaller size and lack of 4 doors.

    • chrlsful

      pinto for ford, no? Wuz the nova II or whatever the name change still around? Ford’s next’s the 1 I want – the ’83 LTD.

  8. Ford Fixer Member

    I traded a thirsty international Travelall in on one of these, ( loaded, but 6, and 3 on the tree). Almost ran under a horse on the way home, was thinking bad trade!!,
    Fuel miser, and good driver. Cruised the Navajo reservation and Colorado mountains with lots of torque. A few years later, feeling flush, traded for a jeep wagoner. So much for fuel Miser, but bigger for child seats.

  9. Rob't

    Love this wagon. And with no weight penalty since a v-8 is already in there an easy upgrade with a 360 or 401.
    I’m ready.

    Like 1
  10. dogwater


  11. Car Nut Tacoma

    Lovely looking car. Given how old it is, 47 yrs old, I could pay up to $4000 for the car, and still afford to have it inspected and possibly enjoy the car for a few years. :)

  12. PatrickM

    Wrong coast, dang it!! I’d have bid on this one. There is just something about these that I really like. This is a very practical car and I want one. Price and color are great. So, why isn’t it closer??

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