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Needs Work: 1977 AMC Hornet

American Motors would resurrect the Hornet name for its all-new compact in 1970, replacing the aging Rambler American. The car would remain in production through 1977 before morphing into the Concord the next season. This last-year Hornet looks good at first glance but has rusted-out holes in several places that the listing here on craigslist does not portray. Located in Atlanta, Georgia, this Metallic Copper Hornet is offered at $4,900 (the price is firm). Our thanks to Pat L. for another vintage find!

The Hornet name would become noteworthy in the 1950s under the Hudson brand and after Hudson and Nash merged to form AMC in 1954. AMC would revive it from 1970 to 1977 and Dodge recently introduced a new compact SUV under that marque (you’ll remember Chrysler bought AMC in the 1980s). Hornet sales were in decline by 1977, yet the company sold nearly 78,000 Hornets that year of which 31,000 were 4-door sedans like this one.

The seller’s craigslist placement isn’t as revealing as the one here on Classic Cars that the seller does provide a link to. It says the car is propelled by a Ford inline-6-cylinder engine, yet it looks like the tried-and-true 258 cubic inch six-banger that found its way into tens of thousands of AMC cars in the 1970s. With an odometer reading of 41,000, the seller suggests it could well be 141,000 which would imply an engine change could have been warranted, but why go with one from Ford?

Paint-wise, the copper paint and white vinyl top on this car look okay. But the additional photos in the second listing show holes in the sheet metal on upward-facing surfaces. Did this car develop some leaks that led to the eventual deterioration of the outside metal? And if that’s the case, what do things look like underneath as a result? Fixing the body issues on this car could be a bigger challenge than the value a 1977 Hornet might command.

On the other hand, except for the worn and faded carpeting, the plaid interior looks to have held up after 46 years. But there are issues with the interior wiring that the seller doesn’t elaborate on. The radio is missing, and the heater core is “not installed” (so is the seller providing one?). Several aftermarket gauges are hanging under the dash, but we’re told that they don’t work. Is this a project car that awaits your attention and space in your garage?


  1. Avatar photo Maggy

    5k for this? Uhhhh no.My BIL had a yellow 77 that was a good beater with a heater back in 87 and basically rotted away by 90 which ain ‘t that bad for 13 years old and she always started and ran good He scrapped it because it was so rotted and unsafe to drive.No body integrity left.

    Like 8
  2. Avatar photo Keith

    Top headline tonight, AMC product suffers terminal rust.

    In other news, the sky is blue, and water is wet.


    Like 12
  3. Avatar photo Terrry

    Looking at that engine compartment, did this car spend a month nose-down in a creek? And all that rust everywhere else, and this was a model year where AMC touted their “triple-dipped Ziebart rust protection”. And the cherry on this fubar sundae is that Ford engine (it does look like a Ford -six). All for 5-grand. Good luck!

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Gary James Lehman

      Not a ford engine.

      Like 0
  4. Avatar photo Zen

    Rare air-conditioned model. Not priced to sell, though. It’ll probably be left to the elements and scrapped when the rust gets worse.

    Like 10
    • Avatar photo John

      A $500 car. Good luck.

      Like 11
  5. Avatar photo George Morrison

    Enlarging the under hood picture it does appear to be a ford 6, likely a 200 or 250. However if it was me I would prefer that AMC 258 6 cyl had some Ramblers back in the 70’s with the 232 and 258 engines they were very reliable but just like imports in those days parts were usually hard to get

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo sakingsbury20

      seller doesn’t know what He’s talking about…..thats a 232/258 amc engine

      Like 2
  6. Avatar photo Frog Man

    If it was a 232/258 id give up $600 for the motor and seats to swap into my 66 American 440 wagon with so little rust it boggles me everytime i look at it. Has typical 232 knock could let go at any time or run for another 20 years

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo Pastor Ron

    Would be a decent car to fix up. Nice 4-door with AC, I’d do it if I had time – it’s not that far away. That rust is not insurmountable by any means. Plus – a lot nicer than that silly “Hornet” in the TV ads (you know it’s just a re-badged Alfa Romeo, right? They were always such – ahem – ‘good’ cars, too). I looked at a nearly factory-fresh ’72 Hornet sedan just a couple years ago. Passed on it because of lack of AC, but it sure was nice.

    Like 0
  8. Avatar photo Rumpledoorskin

    I see the alternator is missing. Perhaps they lost it during their encounter with the mothman.

    Like 1
  9. Avatar photo AndyinMA

    I used to see these back in the day and think “that poor SOB”

    Of course things change with the passage of time and now I would think “that poor SOB”

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo maggy

      lol! Yup.

      Like 1
  10. Avatar photo Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking car. I’ve always loved the 1975-77 AMC Hornet. I’d prefer the 4 door sedan and Sportabout wagon. Given its condition, I’d pay around the asking price of $4900. I’d still have enough money to repair rust holes, etc.

    Like 0

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