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Clean Classic: 1973 AMC Hornet

With 25,452 examples rolling off the production line in 1973, the AMC Hornet 4-door sedan was not the rarest car on the planet, although it also wasn’t the highest-selling variant of the Hornet line that year. Finding a nice one today is more difficult, and I have to really thank Barn Finder Rocco B for referring this clean one to us to look at. Located in Joliet, Illinois, you will find the Hornet listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner is asking $6,000 for the classic AMC.

Apparently, this Hornet only has one side, because the owner supplies no photos of the passenger side of the car. What we can see does look very tidy, with the Fawn Beige paint looking nice and consistent across the car. There are a few minor flaws in the paint, but nothing terribly bad. It’s a bit hard to be certain, but there might be some small rust spots appearing in the bottom corner of the front door, and in the lower quarter panel. Otherwise, it looks like a clean and tidy car.

The condition of the interior is definitely a long way above what you would expect from a Hornet of this age. The carpet has a couple of marks on it, but apart from that, it is virtually impossible to fault the interior. This raises an interesting point with this car. The owner says that the odometer is showing 37,700 miles, and while he can’t confirm it, he believes that it might be original. The condition of the interior would tend to potentially support this claim. Alternatively, either the interior has been restored at some point, or the car has previously had a very fastidious owner. While the normal wear indicators for high mileage such as pedal wear and wheel rim wear aren’t present, the trim plate at the bottom of the door frame displays a lot of scuffing. This is usually an indication of high mileage, so this is an interior that is full of contradictions.

Powering the Hornet is a 6-cylinder engine, but I’ll be honest here and say that I’m not sure whether it is the 232ci or the 258ci. Whichever it is, it is backed by a 3-speed manual transmission. The owner says that the car drives well, although these things did tend to be pretty tough. Reverting back to the earlier point on mileage, it is under the hood where there are more indications that the mileage claim is not accurate. Forget engine paint, because that isn’t necessarily a great indicator of mileage. What is more telling for me is the accumulation of dirt and discoloring of the firewall below the blower motor. To my mind, this looks like an accumulation that would take more than 37,000 miles, so the mileage claim might not be accurate. Look, even if it turns out to be 137,000 miles, that’s still low for a 46-year-old car.

This AMC Hornet is a clean looking example, and I personally think that these are quite an attractive car. It doesn’t need much work to make it really shine, and in spite of the reasonable build numbers, finding a clean one today is not an easy task. To gauge this, do a bit of a search on the internet, and you simply won’t find many for sale. This particular car is priced at the top end of the market, but if it is as clean as the photos tend to indicate, then it might be worth the money to the person looking for a classic car that they can just climb into and enjoy.


  1. That AMC Guy

    Probably is 137K miles, but as stated that’s still low for a car this age. Usually the factory seats wouldn’t hold up that long though. Looks great up top and is probably OK underneath but why do so many sellers fail to provide some chassis shots, especially if located in the rust belt?

    I used to have a ’73 Hornet many years ago, but it was a two-door and had automatic, power steering, front disc brakes, and AC. Those things make a Hornet a lot easier to live with, this one is more of a base model. NOx standards came in for ’73 which caused a pretty big drop in power and gas mileage for these cars compared to 1970-1972, but that was across the board industry-wide.

    I don’t see a power brake booster so probably manual drum brakes. However AMC also offered manual front disks with no booster. (I can’t make out the master cylinder in the engine shot.) I’m pretty sure the 3-speed manual transmission used by AMC still had an unsynchronized first gear in ’73. No reclining seats here but ashtrays for the rear passengers are a nice ‘luxury’ touch. :-)

    Like 6
  2. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    I do like these Hornets, but man this car is Plain Jane’s even plainer sister! I mean…tan paint, 6-cylinder, 4 doors, 3-on-the-tree, manual brakes. And some parsimonious person from 70s took meticulous care of this stripper. Amazing, really.

    Like 7
  3. JimmyJ

    I could think of lot of better ways to spend 6k

    Like 0
    • PatrickM

      Yeah. A little much on price, for me, too. $4,500.00 tops

      Like 1
  4. Kenneth Carney

    Now this I like. Look it over good before you plunk down your 6K. These cars are
    notorios for rusting in two while you drive them. Guess that’s why we don’t see
    many of them here in Florida. Last one I saw was over 30 years ago. It belonged
    to my in laws who used it as a work car. This thing was all beat to crap but the
    258 still ran like a watch! Had to borrow it for route duty after an engine fire took
    out my ’77 Mustang coupe. Oh sure, 3 of the 5 doors didn’t open, but it got the job done. Not long after that, I saw a run-down ’72 wagon putting down Havendale Boulevard. This thing was so ragged out that there was a 5 gallon
    Jerry can attached to the roof for a gas tank! The fuel line ran down the A pillar
    and disappeared through a hole in the hood where it connected to the carburetor!
    All this went on in the ’80’s when jobs were scarce here in Polk County and people used what they had to keep their cars running. Some of the wrecks I saw
    chugging down Havendale Boulevard made me wonder if I wasn’t in downtown
    Havana instead. Point is, these things were rugged little cars that didn’t know
    when to quit.

    Like 4
  5. Rube Goldberg Member

    Now this would have been the car that Rambler American owners would have bought next. There were so many improvements, electric wipers, for one, and that was a biggie. The rest was still proven Rambler stuff. Again, Rambler ( and later AMC) were good cars that got you by. Nothing fancy, not the best road cars, there were better cars, but for what it was, these fit the bill for many folks, mostly city driving. IDK about the mileage, I have a easier time believing this, than the 12K mile American. Another great find.

    Like 4
    • That AMC guy

      Actually the first two years of Hornet production still came with vacuum wipers. Standard electrics would have to wait until the 1972 model year. Probably the biggest improvement for 1970 was finally getting rid of the ancient trunnion front suspension and going to full ball joints. (This was a company-wide move that year.)

      The main drawback to the Hornet was in passenger comfort. No more vent windows or kick panel vents, so without AC no windows-up ventilation available at all aside from a tiny, useless thing under the dash. Base seats in the Hornet were agonizingly worse and although the Rambler American’s dash was nothing spectacular, the less said about the Hornet’s dashboard design the better. Properly optioned out though the Hornet is a pleasant-enough car, I’ve owned a few of them over the years.

      Like 3
      • Gay Car Nut

        I like the changes in front end appearance. I’ve seen early AMC Hornets and I’ve never found the flat grille very attractive, I think it’s 1969-71 Hornet.

        Like 0
  6. Little_Cars

    1973 was a good year, stylewise. I had a 73 Gremlin in this color combination. The lot staff in 1973 that installed that aftermarket side molding used more length than most dealers would, including a tiny curved piece in front of each wheel arch (most notable and ugly). BUT, it did its job, obviously! Wheelcovers appear to be Javelin. That interior looks to have some added bolsters installed on the seats. As That AMC Guy states, the factory front seats on AMC poverty models were akin to sitting on a wooden church pew without the church-lady cushions!

    Like 0
  7. Glenn Schwass Member

    My parents had a 74 ,4 door like this in copper. I think its 37k. Its too clean to be 137k. They rusted out on top of the fender the bumpers. 137k in Illinois would rust it out for sure.

    Like 0

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