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It’s A Matador! 1973 AMC Station Wagon

The wagons keep on rollin’ here on Barn Finds! Breaking away from the standard fare Ford and Chevy, we featured this ’70 Buick Estate Wagon a few days ago, and now we have heard from the last of the independents, AMC, with its 1973 Matador wagon. Bet you haven’t seen one of these in a while. This Matador is located in Chicago, Illinois and is available, here on Facebook Marketplace for $6,600, OBO.

Listed as a 55K mile example, this station wagon is a seldomly seen version of the Matador, a car that is rarely found in any body style today. The good news is that the body is straight and aligned. There are some scrapes,  missing side fender lights, and some primer or spot putty covering up something on the tailgate. And speaking of the tailgate, the seller mentions that it’s stuck closed and the window doesn’t operate though he has most of the mechanical parts to affect the repair. The bad news is that the car looks like it was painted with a rattle can. The chrome, stainless trim, and glass, however, all look fine. Interesting to note are the BFG radial tires, if you haven’t priced those in a while, check them out, they’re no bargain any longer. Anyway, the white letters combine with the doggie bowl hubcaps to project a sporting image for this wagon.

The seller refers to this AMC’s driving characteristics by stating, “Runs great. Highway driving is a blast“.  The blast is provided via a 150 net HP, 304 CI V8 engine. Unfortunately, no image of the engine is included. He also claims to have invested $10K in such items as, dual exhaust, a new radiator, new carb, all new hoses, new battery (2015 – not so new now), new suspension and rear air shocks, all new pumps, a rebuilt trans, new brake system, and a  new master cylinder. As is usually the case, an automatic transmission gets the power to the BFGs.

The very green interior looks great. The simplicity of the instrument panel is appreciated. While exposed screwheads wouldn’t cut it today, they sure made servicing instrument panel components easy. The original, vertically stacked radio, complete with an AMC logo, is just perfect!

There isn’t a comprehensive image of the interior but what is visible, other than the driver’s side carpet, looks green and good. The seller mentions one problem in the form of a split seam in the driver’s seat but that’s it. There are no included images of the cargo area.

The styling of this Matador, save the jutting jaw, is pleasant and smooth – it all flows nicely. And actually, the jaw is a subjective matter and enhanced, courtesy of the new for 1973 U.S. Federal bumper requirement. I’m not sure about the wisdom of putting $10K into a $6K car, and that’s assuming that $6K is the right number. Nevertheless, finding an example from one of the former domestic independents is always a nice discovery. And being a station wagon just makes it that much more special, wouldn’t you agree?


  1. alphasud Member

    Jim, I much prefer the looks of the AMC over the Buick. This could be the basis of a muscle wagon. I would keep it AMC and install a warmed over 401 backed by a 4L80 for easy cruising and better economy. Add a brake upgrade, vintage air, do some mild suspension mods to sharpen the response and go have fun. Would make a nice daily driver.

    Like 13
    • angliagt angliagt

      Just adding the rally wheels would
      be a big change for the better.

      Like 5
  2. Howard A Member

    Adam-12 fans, if any left, will recognize this car. Sgt. MacDonald ( William Boyett, who I always thought looked like James Arness) drove a Matador wagon like this as their mobile command post car. It was also shown assisting in traffic stops. In the mid-70’s, the old man picked up an Ambassador, similar car, that was a former park ranger car this same color, but had all the pursuit equipment. 390 AMX motor, posi, all the HD suspension, we dubbed that car, “The Burnout KIng”. It would lay 2 strips of rubber for a block. They really were lackluster cars, but it’s what people wanted. Great find, for sure, nobody hung on to a Matador, of any kind.

    Like 26
    • Sherminator

      My first thought was “Mac’s car!”

      Like 14

      “One-Adam-12, meet One L-20 on Tac Two”

      Like 7
    • Steven Doan

      EXACTLY my thoughts the second I saw it, some black and white paint, a little roof hardware and it’s Mac’s Supervisor car for the last season!

      Like 2

        Seasons Five through Seven of ADAM-12.
        (I grew up on that series, and EMERGENCY!.

        Like 1
    • Miguel

      That is all I see when I look at this car. Black and white with the pod roof lights.

      Like 1
  3. Big_Fun Member

    I like the green color, I think it is “Fairway Green”. Rally wheels would certainly change the dynamic. I like rally wheels, but this is fine the way it is. Well, maybe, instead of the black rims, paint them body color. Wheels and tires go on/off in less than and hour.

    Like 2
  4. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    I had to laugh when I saw the missing window crank knob. We drove Jeep Cherokees back in the early 80s when I worked for the Ohio EPA, and those drivetrains and chassis were tough as nails. But not so much the coachwork.

    Like 4
  5. Bob C.

    Give it a paint real paint job and enjoy. That vertical radio brings back memories of my 73 Ambassador wagon.

    Like 3
    • That AMC guy

      I have a Ambassador wagon (same body and interior as this) so I can go out and look at the vertical radio any time! My wagon is more of a beater though, solid underneath and runs well but has rust in exterior panels and bad paint. It would take a small fortune to make it nice, so I’m just satisfied keeping it from the crusher. It gets used for occasional light hauling.

      The jutting jaw on the 1973 Matador is really not so bad, especially compared to the Jimmy Durante schnozz that the this model was festooned with for ”74.

      Like 6
      • WL TAYLOR

        You mean that ‘ God Awful’ coffin nose…….had the designers MANAGED to propose a slightly different
        front grille type of design , things might have turned out a little differently for AMC back in the mid-seventies. My aunt bought a ’74 Matador wagon with the 258-I6 1bbl carb. in burgundy; it had a roof rack & ‘ those simple-designed dog-dish caps that had a concave center made of chrome and a circular black line.

        Like 0
  6. Car Nut Tacoma

    Sweet looking car. Although I was way too young to drive at the time, I remember when the AMC Matador was on the market.

    Like 4
  7. Eugene W.

    Love this Matador wagon. Very unique. Right down to the black rims and the mopar dog dish hub caps. I agree that it would make a great daily driver. AMC always seemed to march to a different drum than everybody else. A friend of mine once told me that they used Chrysler transmissions, GM distributors and Ford starters. Exposed dash screws aside, it is delightfully old school, and a common working stiff like myself can work on it.

    Like 4

      You mean that ‘ God Awful’ coffin nose…….had the designers MANAGED to propose a slightly different
      front grille type of design , things might have turned out a little differently for AMC back in the mid-seventies. My aunt bought a ’74 Matador wagon with the 258-I6 1bbl carb. in burgundy; it had a roof rack & ‘ those simple-designed dog-dish caps that had a concave center made of chrome and a circular black line.

      Like 0
  8. Skorzeny

    I really love this one. The Matador is one of my favorites of the AMC lineup. I would probably go crate Hemi with a 5 speed, some Torque Thrust wheels, a paint job, and a new black interior. And no, I don’t care how much it would cost.
    And Jim? I see no ‘jutting jaw’… Maybe on a ‘74…

    Like 0
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      Yes, basically right, the ’74 is worse. I’m thinking of just the basic shape of the front bumper and grille – the way it protrudes a bit.


      Like 1
      • WL TAYLOR

        that would be ‘ jaw jutting’ or ‘coffin-nosed’ as it was so popularly known from ” Car & Driver” in 1974.

        Like 0
  9. Vinny W

    I was a police officer in the 70’s. We drove AMC Ambassadors for years until AMC stopped building police packages. They were really fast and comfortable, but one heck of a time to get them to stop. All drum brakes would fade away after one panic braking.

    Like 4
  10. Dan

    The 73 bumpers were identical to the 72 – they went single headlight & big safety bumper in ’74.

    Like 3
    • Bear

      Yeah, they got pretty UGLY in the latter years. These earlier models looked the best.

      Like 2
  11. martinsane

    If i could make adult decisions without the scrutiny of another this would be mine today.
    Beautiful car and not priced to crazy imho.

    Like 1
  12. Robert White

    A friend of mine had one of these Matadors back in the day. Seemed like a cheap solid car to me when I rode in it. Met a guy once who said they had the best ride of all, and even better than Ford full size 70s.


    Like 4
  13. chrlsful

    “…putting $10K into a $6K car, and that’s assuming that $6K is the right number. …”
    Probably daily-ing it. I know I would! Wanna have it the way U wanna have it – fixed. o0OP, then gotta sell it (or like me, nother one to get, play with, drive around, then, oop, sell again)…

    Like 1

      Well, if the car ‘ grabs’ you by the heart & mind , how does $$$ figure into it ?? If you ” love” this ‘thang’ and gotta have
      it……right ???

      Like 1
  14. Frank

    Adam-12 😂 My thoughts exactly.

    Like 3
  15. PatrickM

    This jalopy ain’t gonna git none of my money. $2,000.00 tops. No haggling. Too many issues to address for replacement and/or replace. Not sorry.

    Like 0
  16. Bear

    I had a ’71 Matador 4-door (…an ex-military car, originally bought by my older brother via a GSA auction in approx ’80) as a daily driver during a couple of my college years.
    It had well over 200K miles (maybe closer to 300K?) on the original 304 V8 by the time I got it (in the mid-80s), and the auto trans had been replaced by the previous owner (yes, my brother paid for that one).
    That thing was a tank!
    Overall it was pretty reliable, only requiring brakes, a muffler, oil changes, and typical stuff like tune-ups & hoses during our ownership. (+ the tranny.)
    Eventually the timing gear failed (AMC unwisely used a large gear with plastic teeth & these eventually wear and fail) and although I replaced the timing gears & chain (with an all metal set) there was some sort of valvetrain damage (bent valves? collapsed lifters?), so I ended up selling it for $200. Next owner was a mechanic & he drove it home (…his plan was to pull the heads & fix whatever was bent).
    Rust around the roofline drip rails was pretty common on these & ball joints do tend to wear out on the front end. But for an early 70s American sedan they were pretty sturdy & reliable.

    Gotta say $6600 seems pretty high to me.
    …but perhaps that is because I bought mine (in the mid 80s) for under $500.

    Like 1
  17. Kurt

    I’d guess the odometer is on its second time around, judging by the wear on the brake and gas pedals, and the number of small dents and defects in the bodywork.

    Like 1

    This Matador wagon was the last model year that shared a very similar design with the 1970 Rebel Cross-country wagon ( with a better looking frt clip) Growing UP OUR Dad bought a ’70 Rebel Wagon with a 304 V8/ 2bbl ( back then they were rated@ 210 HP w/ 235 lb/ft of torque) right off THE LOT. It WAS WHITE w/ beige vinyl seating. It had factory airshocks and the ” chrysler” dog-dish caps placed against the 14″ x 7″ black steel rims.That almost PUT THIS wagon in ‘sleeper’ mode on the streets. My Dad loved the POWER FROM the engine to tow our tent trailer & canoe for summer trips. However the Carter 2bbl carb. wasn’t the greatest in the world.

    Like 0

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