Dragin’ Wagon: NHRA Winning 1974 AMC Matador

Here’s something you don’t see every day, a 1974 AMC Matador wagon drag car. No, really! Those hood pins weren’t a Kenosha factory option as far as I know. This one can be found here on craigslist in East Wenatchee, Washington and the seller is asking $7,500 or best offer. Let’s check out this draggin’ wagon.

Our own beloved car fanatic, a senior writer, and general man-about-town, Jeff Lavery, showed us an eerily-similar car to this ’74 Matador wagon a little over a year ago in this story here on Barn Finds. I’m not positive if this is the same car or not? Of course, the paint is now a solid white and the wheels are definitely not set up for drag racing, but they say “choice of wheels and tires” so I’m guessing it’s the same car. I found an old listing with that car which includes additional photos, it sure looks like the same car to me, that dash toggle switch panel can’t be too common for a ’74 Matador wagon. You can see the same tach is mounted on the transmission hump. Thoughts?

As is often the case, even in 2020 when almost every living human on the planet has a $1,000 smartphone in their pocket at all times, (they don’t, I’m kidding) the photos here aren’t the best. There isn’t one photo that shows the whole car or any part of the car in its entirety, other than a great engine photo. And, I guess when you’re selling a drag car, the engine is pretty important, says Cap’n Obvious.

The seller has provided mainly close-up photos, unfortunately. They’re vitally important when selling a vehicle, don’t get me wrong, but it’s like zooming in on Old Faithful or Mr. Rushmore. Please give us a few overall photos to set the stage and then move in for the kill. Enough with photo lessons, what do I know about it… You can see the fuel cell above where your kids would normally be riding, or they would have back in 1974.

The engine looks very much the same to me as the previous car shown here, but there are no cross braces and the engine bay in this car is black, not white. Hmm.. could there be two of these cars or has this one been painted? The engine is… actually, we don’t know what it is but the seller has a spare parts car with a 401 V8. Can any of you decipher this one? Is it the same car?

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Comments

  1. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Same car.

    Someone spent some time doing some detailing, put in a new aluminum radiator, cleaned up the wiring, deleted the graphics/lettering….

    The result is pretty nice, for not that much more than before the work was done.

    This would be a cool sleeper! I wonder whether the sound might give it away?

    6
  2. Howard A Member

    Go ahead and laugh, but I bet this car will throw you in the “way back”. If it is the same car, and who else would build another, someone did a lot of work. Wagons as drag cars had a brief popularity. The long roof put more weight on the back for traction, the downside, was it added weight. Being CL, we can’t see what kind of interest for this, but for a wagon, it’s a bad a$$ car.

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    • Howard A Member

      Just a note, it can’t be a 401, I read, they never came with 2 barrels.

      4
  3. Rhett

    the Classiccar.db add says the car ran 14’s with a 304 2bbl in U/SA (U/SA!U/SA!), so I’d guess that’s the same motor or a version of it. Cool car, seldom seen…

    4
  4. PaulG

    I remember these when new and thought they put a 5 mile bumper a 1/2 mile in front!
    Pretty decent deal if it’s running / driving and has a decent ride. I’d want to look at any suspension “upgrades” carefully…

    4
  5. jerry z

    This would make a fun grocery getter! Take out the 304 and pop in a 401. The need for speed!

    5
  6. r s

    Looks like a steal to me. Compare to some of the complete corrosion-cases people ask far more for.

    5
  7. Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking Matador. I’ve always loved station wagons. I’ve always loved 4 door Matadors. I’ve always found them more attractive than the 2 door Matador.

    1
  8. sparkster

    I worked at an AMC dealer in 74′ while going to high school. I did then and still today think these are one of the most ugliest cars AMC ever made. Now the Javelin & the AMX were a completely different story.

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    • r s

      This isn’t what I would call a good looking car – but it’s tons better than that bug-eyed Matador that looks like a bar of soap with headlights.

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      • That AMC Guy

        I’ve never understood why cash-strapped AMC squandered scarce tooling dollars to put on that godawful schnozz. These are otherwise not bad looking cars, nothing spectacular but not ugly either. Aside from the nose job and a few details AMC’s large station wagon body was the same from 1967-1978. Here’s a 1968 model:

        https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/71/1968_AMC_Rebel_Station_Wagon-GoldWhite.jpg

        2
      • nlpnt

        It’s doubly odd that the Matador didn’t at least inherit the ’74 Matador front with quad headlights and a less pronounced pig nose, and/or they gave it a more center-defined, neoclassic, Broughamy grille design to make the protuberance at least look more intentional.

  9. JCA

    Nice, I would roll it…

    1
  10. mainlymuscle

    14’s ? It would serve me better as a tow vehicle for my 10 second SC/Rambler.
    My car is streetable,but gears and tires make it too unpleasant.

    5
  11. Miguel

    I would leave it a drag car but paint it to look like the Sargent’s car in Adam 12.

    3
  12. CCFisher

    Really should have taken the nose job instead of the Mustang when it turned 16.

  13. Weasel

    That blows my mind that someone is called a “senior” writer in this day and age. I hope your good with that one Jeff as I’d be offended by that term. Scotty, This is America ya know.

    1
  14. JoeNYWF64

    Quite surprising this got battering ram 5 mph bumpers, while Javelin for ’73 & ’74 did not!!
    Kind of a waste of a station wagon – would rather see a Pacer wasted.

    1
    • AMCFAN

      AMC was fined for every 1974 Javelin as a result of NOT having energy absorbing bumpers. Dick Teague felt there was no way to make it look good and that was the one of main reason for ending production of the Javelin.

      The Matador pictured here the inner structure is the same as the 1968’s. They were masters or adding/changing panels over existing body structure. In 1974 they built what would look to the untrained eye an all new car for 1974 plus an ad campaign having everyone asking what a Matador was.

      It isn’t horrible. It is like everything else AMC made. You liked it and accepted it…..or you didn’t. I have seen this car for sale a dozen times. It looks cleaner now. I would think with some good pics and different more updated.progressive wheels the buyer would have a unique piece on the cheap. I do mean cheap. I am afraid it is now a buyers market.

      1
      • JoeNYWF64

        Can i assume then that Chrysler was fined as well regarding the Challenger & Cuda (& possibly Duster & Dart) which had retained the look of its older bumpers & only added 2 rubber bumperettes front & rear? While camaro got terrible massive bumpers for ’74.
        How ironic that today’s “bumpers” are much worse IMO than many bumpers on cars from the 60’s!! One bump today & u can have thousands of dollars damage & of course that was done on purpose. Amazing all the auto companies’ greed today, compared to the good old days.

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  15. AMCFAN

    Very likely Chryco did get fined too. That I do not know (not a MoparFan) It cost AMC about $125. per Javelin in fines.

    1974 the automaker asked for and was granted an approval for extended automobile production from June that lasted till November. This was to take advantage of new EPA laws going into effect. For AMC there was quite a few oddities like 74 vehicles with phazed in 1975 only colors.

    I tend to disagree only as a safety standpoint. Cars today are made lighter and more fuel efficient. More importantly safer. They are crashed and studied to the point certain factors are built in. It is the governments doing. Not to go on and on.

    Those cheap bumpers are made to break away in many cases are designed not to take out other panels like fenders etc. or the hood pushing up and breaking the windshield. Not really even called bumpers anymore. In the business it is referred to as facia.

    It is $1000’s to repair because of air bag sensors and the entire structure is the unibody. Rarely do good body shops pull frames especially dealership shops in the big city. Once any airbag is deployed no one wants to be liable after repairs are made. Why insurance companies consider them as a total loss. Secondary bodyshops patch them up still. Salvage Rebuilt = New car 1/2 price.

    Yes cars in the 60’s and 70’s were tougher in a impact however and I still like them on the weekends. I would rather take my chances the rest of the week in something new. In any serious accident. Yes the car will be done. I or my family will not and will walk away.

    1

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