Oleg Cassini Edition: 1975 AMC Matador Brougham

Back in the 1970s, AMC hired famed fashion Oleg Cassini to help dress up its cars to attract a younger, hipper audience. AMC had already done this on the Hornet, Gremlin and Javelin and the Matador would be next. With the latter, it would be a two-year experiment for 1974-75 and production was relatively low. This example can be found in Eugene, Oregon where we’re told it’s been sitting in a barn for many years. It’s available here on craigslist for $2,500.

The AMC Matador replaced the Rebel in 1971 as a mid-size automobile and its styling was largely a continuation of that car’s. But it 1974, it grew in rather large proportions to become a full-size model that ran through 1978. The second generation of the Matador would become AMC’s biggest passenger car after the Ambassador was retired and it, unfortunately, came out at the time the country was experiencing the aftermath of the OPEC oil embargo. To help promote the Matador as a special car, AMC tasked Cassini with the job of dressing up a two-door special edition coupe as a very fashionable machine. Cassini’s reputation in the fashion world was well-known, including his stint at the White House as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s principal clothing designer. He was credited with developing her famous pillbox hats.

Cassini’s goal for the special Matador was to help bring a carefully matched harmony of colors, trim and fabrics to the car. The “Cassini” option ($299!) was available only on the top-line Matador Brougham coupe where only three exterior colors would be available: white, copper, and black. A vinyl top in those same colors was included. Other exterior touches included custom finned wheel covers with copper accents, copper tones in the grille and headlamp bezels, and the Cassini crest and name on front fenders. Inside the car, a rather elegant setting was created featuring black knit nylon upholstery with copper accents as the interior color scheme for all Cassini Matadors. Plush individual reclining front seats featured tufted biscuit trim with copper metallic buttons. The dials on the instrument panel were copper-colored.  And the list goes on and on. 6,165 Cassini Matadors were made for 1974, and only 1,817 for the following year. AMC pulled the plug after that. Thanks to Hemmings for the Cassini Matador tutorial!

The ad for the seller’s Cassini Matador suggests that it was a one owner car until recently. Bought new in 1975, it was used until the odometer reached 117,000 miles and then was parked for reasons unknown. We’re told its completely original and that the body is straight, but its positioning in high grass for photos doesn’t help determine if rust is a factor with this car. Given that the engine compartment doesn’t seem to have been immune to cancer, we’re guessing the undercarriage and trunk have faced similar challenges. The interior, which is what really sets the Cassini apart, has fallen on hard times. The carpeting looks shot, the headliner is falling down, and the seats may or may not require attention.

We’re not told what powerplant is in this car, but it likely does not run. It’s likely one of the V-8 AMC offered, a 304 or one of  two versions of a 360. Given the size of the car, let’s hope its a 360. This car is said to have an automatic transmission, so that would have been a TorqueFlite provided by Chrysler. Like most AMC products of the 1970s, they’re not expensive to acquire these days. As this one appears to be in fair condition at best, Hagerty says its worth $2,000, and maybe a few dollars more for the Cassini touch. So, the seller looks to have done his homework at least in setting his price. Is this a car you would save? Or appreciation to Andria Antonakos for telling us about this car!

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Comments

  1. Moparman Member

    Looking at the rusted condition of the engine/under hood components, I would have SERIOUS reservations concerning everything about this car! Even though I liked the regular version, I’d have to pass on this one.

    Like 19
  2. Mark

    Having to hang your hat on the notion that invoking Oleg’s might drum up sales was another sign AMC was doomed. Too bad. They made some great cars.
    A lot of us made fun of these versions back then and nothing has changed.

    Like 7
  3. Phlathead Phil

    I’m wondering how much cash AMC “forked” over to Oleg to screw these cars up big-time for the company?

    Let it sit. IMHO, not every car is a ‘project.’

    Like 9
  4. Racingpro56 Member

    Lawn art at this point. Too bad…these were attractive cars.

    Like 4
  5. Fahrvergnugen Farhvergnugen Member

    Just like the Marlin; had these been built in 7/8ths or the next step down chassis, they coulda been a contendah.

    I remember the commercials from years ago where the cars were covered under a sheet. A really BIG sheet. “Pardon me; does this sheet make my rear quarters look big”?

    Like 4
  6. Howard A Member

    Yeah, too far gone, and it doesn’t take much for these to be “too far gone”. These had a like them or hate them, even from folks in Wisconsin. People bought them out of sheer pity, or like most AMC fans, dared to be different. Coming from Milwaukee, we were used to unusual stuff coming from Rambler, this was just another. They were actually very nice cars. Wider stance, comfy interiors, great motors, AMC even pitched these on Adam-12 towards the end. They provided the police cars for the show, and was one of Pete Malloy’s personal cars. I think the interest would be there today, as different is king, but they have to be nicer than this. I doubt anyone would bother restoring this. Great for parts.

    Like 9
    • Steve Clinton

      ‘One Adam 12, one Adam 12. Return to the station and get a Dodge Coronet!’

      Like 6
    • Greg Hallock

      Whelp, I bought it ($2k) to restore it. The engine does turn over, though it will need a new carb. All of the hoses are leaky, but that is an easy fix. Will need to fab a new battery tray, but otherwise even the AC compressor can be spun by hand.

      The interior is in much better condition than it has any right to be, and I’m having the seats re-foamed. (The upholstery is in great shape. No holes anywhere, though the driver’s seat copper buttons are all gone.) So naturally I’m fabbing new buttons.

      Currently I’m pondering if I want to keep it white on white, or swap it to the eyecatching copper on Black paint scheme. Copper on Black is my favorite color combo.

      The shag carpet is bloody hilarious. There IS a single largeish hole (About 2″ by 3″) which I will hopefully be able to patch.

      As for body rust; fairly little. you have a bit of surface rust here and there. The underside has very light surface rust. The only really bad spots are the battery tray (Which is entirely gone) and small rust holes in the corners of the trunk.

      The interim owner tossed the headliner, so I’m going to fab one up, complete with copper buttons.

      Eventually the plan is to drag-race it against my best friend (And chief mechanic)’s 1970 Town and Country wagon, which is in similar shape.

  7. rustylink

    too bad – it’s a rare car – and seems to be in ok shape (especially if that’s a 360) but one look at that firewall and the shock towers tells me everything I need to know about what’s underneath.

    Like 8
  8. Arby

    It’s plain to see that Oleg was out standing in his field…

    Like 11
  9. Jt

    To paraphrase The Ventures: “Run, Don’t Walk”.

    Like 3
  10. John

    Ran when parked and the body is straight – I’m sold!!

    Like 1
  11. angliagt angliagt Member

    I like the overall look of these,
    & they look much better without bumpers.
    This is a parts car.

    Like 3
  12. John

    That one was definitely not stored in a Ron’s Barn, more like an Earthen floor chicken coop. Definitely a shame because it would be a great example of a unique car if it could be brought back but the Dollars vs Sense equation would leave me to think it’ll never see the road again. RIP…

    Like 3
  13. John

    That one was definitely not stored in a Dry Barn, more like an Earthen floor chicken coop. Definitely a shame because it would be a great example of a unique car if it could be brought back but the Dollars vs Sense equation would leave me to think it’ll never see the road again. RIP…

    • Jon Rappuhn

      Stored in a barn or in a boathouse on the Oregon coast?

  14. Steve Clinton

    One thing you have to admit, AMC came out with some novel designs, desperately (Gremlin, Pacer, Matador, Hornet, Eagle) trying to survive. Sadly, they didn’t work.

    Like 6
  15. Geoff

    Its hard to believe that the same company that produced the Original AMX only 6 years before could have come up with this monstrosity. It has always had a spot on my top 10 ugliest cars ever along the Pontiac Aztec just for one.

    Like 6
    • Jim

      Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. This is one of my favorite designs of the 70s.

      Like 4
  16. jwzg

    Looks like it has an extra Y chromosome.

    • Phlathead Phil

      An extra chrome some is downs, a missing chrome some is RUST!

      Like 1
      • Steve Clinton

        You took the words right out of my mouth!

  17. Jim

    But, hey…..the keys are in it!

    Beautiful underrated design. Too bad this one is so rough.

    Like 2
  18. Burger

    No question, AMC had someone putting LSD in the watercooler over in the styling department since the pre-AMC 50’s. Nothing they ever built “conformed” to the styling edict that cars should look sleek or racy. No matter what example one might choose to consider, there was always some element that was quirky, if not bizarre. They were the utter antithesis of GM. But what made them odd was also what made them cool. I think these giant land crabs were awesome, just because they were SO enormous and different. Definitely a formal looking car, and only built as a 2-door, the proportions did give them a long, if not low appearance, and trimmed out right, could look quite elegant, …. in that quirky AMC way. I fell in love with a local example back in the day that was all black, with red interior and pinstriping and rallye wheels. It was a 4-speed car, with a 401 4bbl. Probably quite the dud, being a mid-70’s emissions-choked mess, still …. it had quite the curb presence and really stood out as an elegant beast, as it floated down the road. I have always wondered if that car survives today. It was VERY pampered into the early 80’s, when I moved away.

    Like 3
    • Phlathead Phil

      Just wondering, did you have a pantsuit at one time?

      Asking for a friend

      Like 1
      • Steve Clinton

        ???

    • Farmer Jon

      What car did you like that had a 401 – 4 speed? I like the Javelins in that period, which were the only cars to have that combination, and really would like to find a rare example of the 74 Matador Coupe with a 401, automatic, with center console, now that was a classy hot rod! I think AMC would have made a little more dent in the larger hot rod sector, if they had offered a 4 speed in the Matador coupes, even with the 360.

    • Farmer Jon

      What car did you like that had a 401 – 4 speed? I like the Javelins in that period, which were the only cars to have that combination, and really would like to find a rare example of the 74 Matador Coupe with a 401, automatic, with center console, now that was a classy hot rod! I think AMC would have made a little more dent in the larger hot rod sector, if they had offered a 4 speed in the Matador coupes, even with the 360.

  19. Chris M.

    These could be considered the “Carol Channing” of automobiles.

  20. Mike Hawke

    The gas crisis of 73-74 shook up the world in a way I haven’t seen until the present situation. Dad traded in a nice Lincoln Continental Mk4 for one of these Olegs in the desperate hunt for MPG from the straight six. Don’t think it netted much gain on MPG and always seemed like big downgrade in every other way. And speaking of AMC in the 70s, who would have ever thought Jeep would end up being one of the key reasons for the survival of Chrysler (along with pickups) decades later.

  21. piston poney

    y’all sayin it to far gone, it is if your looking for one to restore but a race car is definitely in reach for this one.

  22. Nonies Kid

    Mother had one of these. Got into a low speed fender bender and it collapsed quicker than an EZ Up at a church picnic.

  23. Marko

    In 1977, my drivers Ed class had two new cars. One was a sharp silver Olds Cutlass Supreme coupe with red velour seats, loaded with a 350-4. The other was a black and copper Oleg cassini edition Matador Coupe, fully loaded with a 304-2 combo. The olds felt big and sucked a lot of air to move. It was good looking, but the matador beat it hands down in smooth ride and performance. The Matador was love it or hate it styling, but in black, with AMC mags, pinstripe, copper accents and accented interior, was actually good looking in its heavy makeup kind of way. A unique style just not as attractive as say a 73 Buick Riveria in all black. Between the olds and matador, the AMC ran better, and rode better. I wish I could have owned a black edition. They were nice cars, at least new. The olds was a better looking car, but it clearly was the second place car in my experience!

    Like 1
  24. DeeBee

    I didn’t know Oleg Cassini and AMC were that desperate in the ’70’s. In case you wondered, no, I wouldn’t consider this thing after a wild night of hard drinking!

  25. Farmer Jon

    What car did you like that had a 401 – 4 speed? I like the Javelins in that period, which were the only cars to have that combination, and really would like to find a rare example of the 74 Matador Coupe with a 401, automatic, with center console, now that was a classy hot rod! I think AMC would have made a little more dent in the larger hot rod sector, if they had offered a 4 speed in the Matador coupes, even with the 360.

  26. Farmer Jon

    What car did you like that had a 401 – 4 speed? I like the Javelins in that period, which were the only cars to have that combination, and really would like to find a rare example of the 74 Matador Coupe with a 401, automatic, with center console, now that was a classy hot rod! I think AMC would have made a little more dent in the larger hot rod sector, if they had offered a 4 speed in the Matador coupes, even with the 360.

  27. Kent Anderson

    It’s gut-wrenching when people who don’t know crap about AMC make stupid comments like most of those here. I’ve driven AMC cars since 1964 when my Dad bought his first Classic 770 hardtop and still do today. There are no more loyal car people than those who are into AMC cars. One of the most exciting cars ever designed was the 1965 AMX/3, of which only 7 were built, and only two actually sold. (Look it up, non-AMCers.) The 1974 Coupe is based on that car. And, before you AMC-haters spew another sler at them, bear in mind Rolls Royce built cars exactly the same way they did. I don’t hear any of you slamming RR’s!

    Like 1

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