Creamsicle: 1974 AMC Hornet Sportabout

I’m going to try to make it through this one without saying “Orange you glad to see this 1974 AMC Hornet Sportabout” or “what rhymes with orange?” or anything lame like that. Or at least to not say them more than once. This sporty Sportabout wagon can be found here on eBay in Simi Valley, California with no reserve and the current bid price is $5,500. Let’s check it out.

We’ve seen quite a few Hornet wagons, or Sportabouts, here on Barn Finds and we’ve seen quite a few orange cars here. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen an orange AMC Hornet Sportabout wagon. I like it. No, I love it. 1977 would be the last year for the Hornet as we knew it before it evolved into the Concord.

This car looks like it’s in amazing condition. The seller says that it has spent most of its life in Arizona and California in the desert regions, but where was it when it wasn’t there?! I’m kidding, of course, it really looks nice and rock-solid from the photos. A disclaimer: they do say that it’s had one repaint at some point in its history, so it isn’t as original as one may have hoped.

Here’s where I would normally insert a “Screeeeeeeeetch” and a whoa or something like that, so I’d better do that in case the union steward is reading this. Screeeeeetch! Whoa, look at those seats! (whew, that was close) I have to say that the first thing I would do with this otherwise beautiful car would be to change those seats back to something less creamsicle-like. I absolutely do not like them at all, but maybe others do and certainly the person who turned them into that liked the look. The back seat is similarily-adorned. The good news is that they appear to be in excellent condition as does the rest of the interior. Check out the rear cargo area, it looks like new! This is one nice car.

The engine and engine compartment both look great, too. It’s used but clean and this is what I believe is a 258 cubic-inch inline-six. This is one of the very few eBay listings that I have seen where a seller hasn’t included a VIN. I thought that was a requirement? It seemed to have been whenever I’ve sold a vehicle on eBay. I only mention that because that’s a good way to at least confirm what engine a vehicle had when it was new, but the seller just refers to this one as a straight 6-cylinder. It runs and drives very nice and that’s what matters. Are there any Hornet Sportabout fans out there? How about orange car fans? And about those seats: yea or nay?


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  1. Pookie Jamie

    Sporange. Rhymes with orange. Google it. Lol. I’d make this car my daily. Impractical. Yes. Cool. Yes. Would get noticed at car shows. Negative comments. Yes. But who cares?

    Like 7
    • PatrickM

      However, I disagree with not being practical. I think/feel/believe it is very practical. Not a hot rod or luxury car. I was quite interested until I saw “ALL THAT ORANGE.” The rest is exactly what I am looking for. That 258 ci engine is great. I would jump in on the bidding except for two things: (1) no place to store it and, (2) sadly it has been bid out of my range. Sitting at $7,000.00 right now, as I type this. Best of everything to seller and new owner. Wrong coast, too.

  2. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Scotty, I know you have no way of knowing this, but we actually had an orange Sportabout wagon growing up. I absolutely love this car and will spend the next six days trying to convince Cristina we need to buy it!

    Like 12
  3. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    Who wants an orange whip? Orange whip? Orange whip? Three orange whips.

    Like 20
  4. alphasud Member

    My roommate in college had one of these. It was a great car for him. I hope wagons make a resurgence some day. All the SUV’s driving around is pointless unless you live where ground clearance is a must. As far as eBay listings I think cars built before 1980 can get away without a VIN since they only started the 17 digit in 1980.

    Like 4
    • chad f


  5. That AMC Guy

    I had a ’75 Sportabout until about 7 or 8 years ago. It ran great but the tinworm finally took it down.

    One thing that hits me on this one (aside from ORANGE!) is that Hornets only came with dash and parcel shelf vents when equipped with AC but this otherwise looks like a non-AC car. Looking under the hood it appears to have power front disc brakes and power steering, nice options to have. The Hornet would have come with breaker-point ignition for 1974.

    Sportabouts are nice-looking cars and the 1970s battering-ram bumpers are not quite as obnoxious as some others of the period. These weren’t the most practical wagons though, with high liftover height for cargo and rakish rear styling limiting available space.

    I have not seen a Hornet this nice in many years.

    Like 5
    • lc

      Looks as if most all A/C components under hood have been removed. Seems the seller should have disclosed that little fact given many might assume the unit is there, functioning or not. :(

      • That AMC guy

        The only possible remnant I see under the hood is the vacuum-operated heater shutoff valve. I don’t think non-AC Hornets came with that. That’s the setup shown in my ’75 AMC shop manual, ’74 was likely the same. This continued in the Hornet-based cars through the end of Eagle production.

        This was a running change from the early models though – my ’71 shop manual shows Hornets using a cable-operated heater control valve to regulate temperature and shut off the core as in the earlier Rambler American, and no vacuum-operated cutoff valve for AC cars. Not sure what year the change took place.

        Like 1
  6. Howard A Member

    Believe it or not, this was one of AMC’s biggest sellers. It had one of the 1st hatchback’s, and was the only wagon in it’s class to offer that. This is the highly optioned “X” series. Wheels, luggage rack, steering wheel, graphics, and yes, probably those seats too. Hard to tell what motor, but that hose behind the oil cap should be plugged into the air cleaner. That must be a California thing, as I don’t remember midwest cars having that. Not the most collectible car out there, but a great driver for years to come. To new owner, whatever you do, DON’T run it in the salt, not even once. Was the kiss of death for these cars.

    Like 7
    • RTS

      Don’t run it in the salt? Like at the Bonneville Salt Flats? Good advise I guess.

      Like 1
  7. skorzeny

    My favorite AMC, the Hornet. Scotty, I am with you on those seats, a little too over the top for me. I would just go black Vinyl. I hope Jamie gets this, great looking wagon…

    Like 3
    • PatrickM

      C’mon, Cristina!!

  8. Stevieg Member

    It uh s unsafe to drive with sunglasses @ night, but I think I would have to do so with those aweful seats if I bought this car lol.
    Other than that, I like it! Even here in Wisconsin, home of the Kenosha Kadillak, you never see these. They all dissolved years ago.

    Like 5
  9. AnalogMan

    You’d have to pair this with the orange Gremlin X!

    Like 4
    • Doug s

      My first car was a sportabout. Ended up having a 360 in it. Lot of fun in a small wagon. Mine was semi infamous in the area.

      Like 1
  10. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    There’s enough orange here to make your eyes bleed but I like it! It’s a cute little wagon in apparently great shape that would make for a neat daily driver. I’d keep the interior as-is and enjoy the comments this ride would surely generate everywhere I went. Especially since I’d wear a safety orange hat, t-shirt and pants just to complete the over-the-top package. That would be cool.

    Like 7
  11. Redwagon

    God this looks so cool. Love the shape and color. Neighbors down the block had a 4 door sedan with full wheel covers. Center of the covers had a small hornet as a decoration. Nice, simple touch I finally noticed one day, then couldn’t wait to see it everytime I walked by. If you listen carefully you can hear this one rusting away even in California.

  12. mark

    Great find. Would be an attraction at the car show, work parking lot or the gas station.

    Like 1
  13. Roy L

    If you’re looking to be noticed this is the car for you no doubt about it.

    Like 1
  14. Larry Creech

    Love it, War Eagle!

  15. Car Nut Tacoma

    Sweet looking car. It’s nice to see one of these that’s an original survivor. I hope this car goes to a good owner. :)

  16. Eminem

    This Hornet isn’t Borage, it has plenty of Orange Storage, and you can sit and eat your Porridge, just watch out for the fern’s Sporange!

    Like 4
  17. Del

    Not an AMC expert but I think those seats could be original and should be left as is.

    Air C without a compressor ? Is this new tech ? 😁😂🤣

    Like 1

    The description says it has AC. I see the vents in the dash but I do NOT see an AC compressor or equipment on the engine.

  19. Doug s

    My first car was a grasshopper green sportabout. Ended up having a 360 in it. Lots of fun in a small wagon. Mine was semi infamous in the area.

  20. karl

    Great write-up and 37 (democrat-style) votes to Keep The Seats!

    Like 3
  21. chrlsful

    right size 4 me!
    Auto, good 4 DD.
    When they came out I wuz pissed they had that fastbac tailgait – less room.
    Some rehab done on this’un. Love that motor too. Tough color (I hate the yellows as well) to live with tho…

  22. David Ulrey

    Count me in as one who likes the seats. Whole darn car for that matter! Lol

    Like 2
  23. John

    Anybody know if the orange white interior with black trim on everything else beside the seats could be original?

    • Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

      I am not an AMC guy, but I am going to say no, the seats are not OEM in this car. I did a few Internet searches and found nothing remotely close to this, other than some weird Gucci edition (Pictured). Most were solid color vinyl or patterned cloth/vinyl combination.

      Like 2
      • bone

        Your’e correct – Hornet vinyl seats would have been a solid color that matched the interior panels. WhiIe I like AMC cars and especially Gremlins and Hornets , this one I would want to look over. The color isn’t correct ; the 74 Orange was a much darker color and the stripes don’t look right. They should go straight at the fenders ,but these dip down at the front.

        Like 2
  24. maceo

    A past owner weighs in:

    I owned this car for 8 years and sold it 6 months ago.

    I don’t know about barn find…to me that means original condition paint and interior with just regular maintaining,

    Color is not factory. It was repainted in Tuscon AZ about 10 years ago. It’s single stage, lighter and brighter. Door jambs and engine compartment are still original darker sienna orange. No orange peel and good quality but dicey prep in some areas. They painted over all dings and dents and it showed. White stripes were decals from factory but were partially repainted on white during repaint. they did a good job but not quite factory.

    It’s been hit in the right rear. Right rear door has been replaced with salvage yard blue before paint job and paint adherence to that door is not great.

    Seats were redone to the last owners ‘taste’ within the last 6 months. Originals were Tru Knit Vinyl White (ish) solid. This black white combo is the way AMC made it in 1974.

    It is an AC Car. AC was partially removed but all parts to put it back on were provided with the car to the last owner.

    Factory NOS door speakers were added.

    Original AZ car from Gallaway Motors in Tuscon. The car has zero rust which is amazing for a Hornet. Solid metal as far as the eye can see and that’s after 8 years in San Diego coastal dew.

    Rescued in Tuscon 8 years ago off craigslist for $1200 as a well worn neglected resprayed daily driver then Iimped to San Diego under it’s own ‘power’. Needed everything except paint and chrome which I never touched. Yay desert!

    Sold on craigslist in San Diego for $3800 6 months ago as a drivable, freshened solid 20 footer that still needed some front seat attention. Motor smooth but tired and leaky, tranny very good.

    Listed on craiglist San Diego about 2 weeks ago for $4500 showing the new seat work, new carpeting in rear and new radio.

    Looks like it then found it’s way to Simi Valley who listed it on eBay and made it a star! He’s done one heck of a marketing job and good for him. I’ve bought on ebay a couple of times and know the score. Optimism then reality. This car photographs great and I’m not surprised by the enthusiasm. I don’t think this will set a new standard for Hornet valuation. If presented with close ups I believe the bidding would be more in line with historical Hornet money. But then again where would you find another one so….maybe. It’s still a very cool unique car which will give the new owner a lot of good times. The car puts smiles on a lot of faces.

    Like 3
    • Miguel

      Thank you.

      I was wondering why a car in Simi Valley had no plates.

  25. AnalogMan


    Thank you for finding barnfinds and chiming in. Your ownership experiences with the car should be very helpful to anyone thinking about buying it (and were interesting and fun to read).

    It sounds like the car has made its way through a couple of flippers, first on craigslist, and now the ebay seller. You mentioned a ‘tired and leaky’ engine, presumably it still is, and the mileage is 129k and not 29k?

    Your comments are a reminder to me about why it’s so very important to check out any old car personally before buying (“optimism then reality”). Almost every car looks and sounds better in the on-line photos than in person.

    • maceo

      The last owner before Simi Valley is the person I sold it to. He lives a couple of miles from me in San Diego and was looking for an affordable old car to play with. He had hopes of adding more power to the current drive train. Knowing the current motor well I advised yanking it and dropping in a V8 as this was a factory option for this car. I offered the cross member, motor, trans and diff but he was confident in the 6. My guess is that after exploring affordable options he saw the light and sold. He’s got money in those seats for sure so no way it was a flip. probably a wash or loss. Hopefully he regasketed the bottom to stop the leaks but other than that engine bay looks as I sold it.

      Miles. It’s definitely not 29k LOL. My son and I both speculate that it’s probably 229k. Before we bought it this car had been USED and was in dire need. Anything that was rubber was gone. Doors were hanging off. joints were air gaps. Lots of parts and labor thrown at it to bring it back to a solid tight driver. The car was then mostly parked outside under a cover for years with the occasional cruise to remind it that it was a car.

      Wanted to do the V8 swap but..there’s only so many hours in a day. Car and parts are the easy part. Time is in short supply.

      This car with a 401. That’s what should be done next. Hello new owner. The parts are in my garage waiting for you!

  26. chrlsful

    funny, I like the i6 better (almost all ways).

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