Eagle Ancestor: AMC Hornet Sportabout

71 AMC Hornet Sportabout

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So, here’s one I’ve never seen before: a 1971 AMC Hornet Sportabout, submitted by Barn Finds reader Keith C. and available here on craigslist for $5,500. The car has been gone through extensively by its current owner but still sports a few areas where improvements could be made. In my opinion, you’d be forgiven if it reminds you just a little bit of the AMC Eagle we featured not too long ago. 

71 AMC Hornet Sportabout Interior

The Sportabout was an extension of the Hornet line, and featured a single-piece rear hatch, which must have appeared revolutionary in an era of tailgates and barn doors. Given the similarities in execution, it’s not not a big jump to make that this car set the stage for the four-wheel drive Eagle that came later. Overall, AMC strikes me as a company that at least wasn’t afraid to take chances on new, functional body styles that handled daily activities with ease. A simple, affordable car, with a torquey inline-six engine and attractive estate-style body would be a car I’d buy today.

71 AMC Hornet Sportabout Backseat

The seller claims this was a father/son project that has reached its conclusion. They’ve tackled a lot the basic tune-up tasks, like replacing the carb, belts/hoses, muffler and brake system. There’s still some cosmetics and electrical left to tackle, like the radio and carpets. You can also see here the headline was sufficiently stained (or maybe it’s old glue seeping through), but the seats are in excellent condition and seem to back-up the low mileage (13,000) claims – but who knows, given the tendency of old-school odometers to roll over with ease.

1971 AMC Hornet

To me, this is simply a great looking car. The front end is a bit homely but the wagon design was well-executed to appear muscular and purposeful. The sellers did repaint it, which is kind of a bummer – usually, you can bring back these old school paint jobs with ease, which I’d think would be possible on a low-mileage survivor. But maybe they have a buddy at a body shop and it was short money for some added curb appeal. What do you think – would you take this utilitarian project home with you?

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  1. Jamie Palmer JamieStaff

    I’d have this one! Grew up with one just like it but in orange–we called it “Pumpkin”. My go kart *just* fit into the back so Dad could take me to his work parking lot so we could drive it…fond memories!

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    • Mike L.

      My mother ordered a brand new 1971 Hornet Sportabout in the fall of 1970. The color was called “Mustard Yellow”, but interestingly, my mother also called it “Pumpkin”. It was the perfect little car for her, and was her favorite car that she ever owned.

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  2. ydnar

    Our neighbors had one way back in about ’75-’76, and a friend of mine driving his fathers hot rod 69 Lemans fishtailed around the corner, slamming into the rear of the Hornet, and it was instantly a gremlin! It did not take the hit well at all. I’d also drive this one.

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  3. Lindsey Johnstone

    I had a 79 Concord wagon with a V8 (last year they offered a V8) I drove the wheels off of it.

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  4. ChebbyMember

    Best year for this car with the smallest bumpers and most horsepower, it should have some pep. In the close-ups that paint looks kind of crappy.

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  5. Car Guy

    Like anything AMC, orphans all of them. Not to say they didn’t make unique designs but they always were always out of step of what the other car markers were doing at the time. Too bad, I always like the Matador, wide low slung two door sporty car. I kind of miss AMC

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  6. bradshaw

    they offered the 360 v8 in the hatchback 2 door hornet..
    R&T said the steering was way too slow 3.turns and change lock to lock and could lead to problems in trying to stay ahead of the car in situations. they did test the wagon with the 360 later and really liked it.

    I liked the Levi denim type upholstery as an option….looked very neat.

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  7. 300guy

    I had a ’71 4 door (not the Sportabout) in green…go ahead…I’ve heard ALL the jokes…and LOVED it! The 258 inline 6 was a BEAST! I could do pegleg burnouts ALL day. The muffler fell off, and in the mid ’90s, EVERYONE had aftermarket car alarms. I’d start it in a parking lot and set the alarms off 2 rows over. LOL! Good times…wish I hadn’t sold it for scrap 2 years later. Tranny AND the started went out, and was quoted $600 to fix. That was twice what I paid for it. LOL!

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  8. Jamie

    I learned to drive in one of these. My dad finally hauled it to the scrap yard when it lost everything but second gear (including reverse).

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  9. JW

    Cool find, AMC just couldn’t muscle up to the big 3 which is a shame.

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  10. Brian

    I love this year for these. Some day I’ll find a 2 door, update the suspension, drop in a Chrysler 4.7 crate motor maybe a turbo, and autocross it.

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  11. jim s

    our family had a sportabout with a V8/auto, polyglas tires, and all the H/D parts you could order. fun moneymaker. this one is nice but for the asking price seller needs to be able to prove the miles are true. would make a nice driver if seller is taking offers. nice find.

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  12. Donnie

    The paint job is very bad should name it orange peal

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  13. Bill

    I will take that tour in a heartbeat, I would freshen it up and keep it as a survivor

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  14. Mark

    In the early 80’s my parents driveway looked like an AMC dealership. My mother’s ’77 Matador wagon, my ’76 Hornet X (258 Six and 3 speed, sounded like the Jeeps on MASH), brothers ’74 Hornet X, sisters ’75 Sportabout wagon, girl friends ’77 Gremlin and my cousin next doors ’78 Concorde. They weren’t bad cars, though on this one, being the Hornet family I’d check under the front fenders, there were no inners and they tended to rot really bad and quick, at least in New England. My mother had a ’74 Matador wagon before the ’77, it was totaled but when she bought it my father took it to work the first night (he worked 2nd). He brought it home and said the motor sounds like a bucket of bolts (it was a 258 six). I was about 15 at the time, went with my mother to the dealer. Under the valve cover they found a mangled can opener like the GI’s would carry, all bent up from the rockers. They actually showed it to us, leftover from lunchtime I guess when the line stopped for awhile. I think today they just would have said they made an adjustment, it’s all set. Looking at the list of cars, some had power steering, none had AC, all had AM radios.

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  15. JW

    Funny thing right after I made my first comment I turned on the Encore Channel and what comes on but the movie “Neighbors” with Dan Akroyd and John Belushi who happens to be driving a yellow AMC Hornet wagon, don’t know if it was a runabout but it definitely was a AMC Hornet wagon. Too bad I’m not as lucky with Powerball numbers.

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  16. Dutch 1960

    These really have almost no cargo room behind the second seat, between the high cargo floor, the narrow gap between the rear wheel wells, and the low roof along with the sharply canted rear window. But they have their own unique look.

    Like 0

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