Original Owner: 1977 AMC Hornet AMX

We don’t generally see the term “gently used” when it comes to what was essentially a company’s muscle car, especially one that has a V8. But, that’s what the seller says about this 1977 AMC Hornet AMX. This unusual variation of the AMX name can be found here on craigslist in Cypress, California, just southeast of Los Angeles and they’re asking $7,500. Thanks to Dale D. for sending in this tip!

These are interesting cars, especially given the history of what most of us would say are the real AMX cars, those based on the AMC Javelin, not the AMC Hornet. The left-front side of the car doesn’t look as gently used as the rest of the car does, but anyone can have some meatball run into them in a parking lot or whatever happened there. This car is owned by the original owner after a stint with their brother, and then after they passed away, it went back to the original owner again.

AMC mothballed the Hornet name after the 1977 model year but it was restyled and/or generally freshened up as the Concord and it lived on for another few years. A Concord AMX may have been a stretch as the Concord was a little more luxurious – if that’s the right term – than the Hornet was. I normally think of muscle cars as being based on simpler models but having bruising V8 engines.

The interior needs a little help with some of the soft surfaces (don’t we all?) but those seat bottoms and door pulls should be able to be fixed and nobody would be the wiser, as my friend Oliver Hardy says… (everyone under 40 just said, “Huh?”) I always hope to see a manual transmission in vehicles shown here, which in this case would have been a 4-speed. But, it was only available with the 258-six, not with the 304 V8. This car has Chrysler’s Torque-Command 3-speed automatic.

Believe it or not, and you absolutely can believe it because it’s more common than not, the seller didn’t include an engine photo! Now that we’ve recovered, this one has AMC’s sweet little 304 cubic-inch V8 which had just over 120 hp and 219 ft-lb of torque. In 1970, the 304 would have had 210 hp so that’s quite a drop. Are there any fans of the Hornet AMX out there? Any current or former owners?

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Comments

  1. Moparman Member

    Looks like a solid survivor. At the onset of emissions controls, cat/cons and diminished performance, it was encouraging to see these light weight descendants of their ground pounding ancestors. Faux muscle was better than no muscle, if it was a V-8, then, it could be hot rodded; and they gave cause to hope for better! :-)

    Like 6
  2. JoeNYWF64

    Why would AMC not offer a 401 in these & new car rule the streets in ’77?
    Might have saved the company.
    I sure would have test drove one!
    Was the 401 in short supply? How hard to fix that?
    Pontiac still put 400s, etc. in heavier firebird.

    Like 3
    • Franksave30 Member

      Maybe like my 79 Hurst Olds which has the 350 The 401 wasn’t certified in that car thru the
      Emissions and fuel economy. They would have only been allowed to to put that 401 in a certain number and not have to go thru all the certifications?
      Just a guess though on my part.

    • JoeNYWF64

      This car was already imitating the t/a with its own hood decal, wheel flares, front spoiler, gages, & engine turned dash!
      To me it makes no sense at all, why the same drivetrain had to be EPA certified in each body model.
      Shouldn’t the emissions be the same with the 401 4 speed & say 3:08 rear in any amc car? If anything, i would think emissions would be lower in a lighter wt car when in motion.
      But back then, didn’t they test emissions only when the car was idling(maybe not in California)?
      Ridiculous certification rules.

      • Franksave30 Member

        I think it was more of a gas mileage thing. It’s to long but read the 79 Hurst Olds and it explains why only 2499 were made and why a 403 wasn’t made available (2499 is the magic number not 2500)

      • Miguel

        In the early ’80s, the California smog test was on a dyno at speed. There were no independent shops doing tests. You had to go to a state run facility.

        How do I know this? I had to take my first car, a 1963 Plymouth Fury that had no rear brakes and a burnt valve (she still has that same burnt valve but finally does have rear brakes).

        The inspector couldn’t get the dyno to stop turning, with no rear brakes, so I told her to put the park lever down after it slowed down which did stop the roller.

        That was a fun day.

        Not long after that, the state allowed independent shops to do the tests but only at idle and at higher revs, but no dyno.

    • Paul

      Emissions would have been the issue. AMC did not put the 401 in any passenger cars after 1974. They did put it in Jeep Wagoneers, but those would have had a less stringent emissions requirement. Plus, gas was expensive in ’77 and going up. They wouldn’t have sold more than a couple hundred of them.

  3. Mark P

    I had a 1976 Hornet X, It was black with the red X striping package and factory X rims. With its wide fenders and sloping roof it really was a good looking car. Mine had the 258 with (it’s been so long I can’t remember) a 3 or 4 spd manual. It ran and handled well. With the standard and holding onto gears and down shifting, people would tell me its sound reminded them of the Jeeps on MASH. The interior was black and working at a stereo store at the time it had a really nice sound system. Not long ago my wife and I were thinking about all the cars we had, she cracked that she can’t believe we used to get in the back seat of that car. Not happening anymore but great memories!

    Like 9
    • Alan

      Mine was a ’73 Hornet X in school bus yellow with the red and black stripes and black interior. The 304 automatic in that lightweight car ran about even with 340 Dusters. Wish I still had it. That carpet in the hatch could cause a nasty rug burn. ;)

  4. Superdessucke

    In 1970, the 304 would have been rated under the old pre-SAE net horsepower system, so comparing to the two is misleading. But yes, this car’s 304 made less power than the 1970 version.

    The good news is it would be relatively easy to bump the power by installing a true dual exhaust, a cam kit, an aluminum intake, and Holly 600 cfm carburetor. Put in a mild torque converter too and it would be reasonably quick. Low 15s maybe?

    Like 7
  5. jerry z

    That would look good in my driveway! Always was a fan of Hornets. Maybe it was the red/white/blue Pro Stockers that did it for me as a kid in the 70’s. Wally Booth was the man!

    Like 1
  6. XMA0891

    For their off-the-shelf weirdness, I skew to the ‘78’s, but this is a nice little car. A neighbor bought a poppy red one of these new when I was growing up. She didn’t keep it long, and traded it in on some lame Pontiac, I remember her son telling me she did so because the AMX was “too fast for her”.

  7. Skorzeny

    Look, I love these, but as David Bowie sang, there would be some ch-ch-changes.
    Like Superdessucke said, hot rod that little 304, add a manual, lose those louvers, and down the road you go. Now, what 5 speed will bolt up to an AMC V-8?

    Like 1
  8. JOHN Member

    I like the appearance except for the over the roof stainless band and the body colored louvers. I’m pretty sure they came this way (body colored) but I think matte black would look much better. At the end of the day, I’d much rather have a Hornet SC360 if I was in the Hornet market.

    Like 1
  9. Bob

    In 1972 I ordered a new Hornet SST with a 304 and Chrysler’s Torque Command automatic for my wife. That was one quick little car! That’s one I wish I kept. My wife picked the color……..Wild Plumb!

    Like 1
  10. JimmyJ

    120hp…..man makes you wanna cry.

  11. ramblergarage

    Had one, loved it. Got it from the original owner paid $1000 sold it awhile later for $2500. Should have kept it.

  12. MichiganDoug

    Had 1 in red bought used in 78.
    If you fold back seat down and have a sleeping bag you can spend part of a winter in it. (helps if your only 19)
    Also, curves marked 35 should not be taken at 55 in this car.

    Like 1
  13. Dave B

    I bought a 1976 Hornet X in black with black interior. A 258 with a manual transmission. It was definately a beauty. I only kept it for one year as driving down an expressway in Chicago at 55mph, I suddenly was driving on washboard pavement and the car went sideways. The car was extremely light in weight. It scarred the pazoozas out of me. I traded it in on a 1973 Pontiac Formula 400, one of the many vehicles I wish I still owned…

    Like 1
    • JoeNYWF64

      The 70s f-bodies with the heavy big v8s & turbo 400 were terrible in the snow. Even worse if you had heavy a/c under the hood.
      http://www.gomog.com/allmorgan/engineweights2.html
      The AMC 258 was oddly 60 lbs heavier than the chevy strait 6. Makes no sense.
      A 1st gen nova or camaro with the 6 were good in the snow.
      Did you hornet have radial tires? – should not have been an issue. Maybe the bias plies tires were all worn out too?
      &/or maybe there was a big blast of wind at the time?
      Were the roads wet? How was it in the snow?

  14. Mark C.

    I .picked up a red one in 86. 304 auto and fully optioned. I’ve had many “real” muscle cars over the years. My 77 AMX has been one of the best and most fun of all. Great for road trips. I liked it so much that I still own it.

  15. bob

    In 1972 I ordered my wife a brand new Hornet and ordered a 304 in it. We were only in our mid 20’s. She picked out the color, Wild Plumb with a black vinyl top. It was the SST model. Boy, I wish I kept that one!!! It was a great little car.

  16. BOOTJACK

    this is my dream car…but a little concern about the location of the car…..unless it’s given to me …dream on

  17. Mark G.

    Tomorrow I take delivery of this car. Despite the criticisms, I consider myself very fortunate! Another interesting piece of history: This particular car–at least for its first 13K miles–was driven by AMC’s VP of Marketing. He turned it over to a dealership in Detroit when he was done with it. That’s where the “original” owner bought it.

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