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Round Two: 1977 AMC Hornet With 21,000 Miles

Barn Finds journalist Scotty Gilberton covered this low-mileage 1977 AMC Hornet four-door sedan in February when it was listed on eBay. It’s now here on craigslist, with a price of $11,900 after failing to sell at a high bid of $5295 back then. The car is located in York, Pennsylvania with a dealer. The tip came from Dennis H. this time around – thanks, Dennis! The seller’s ad indicates that the car has 21,000 miles, which after perusing the photos is believable despite a paucity of comments about the car’s history. The Hornet was introduced into the economical compact family car niche after a long and expensive development path. Replacing the Rambler American in 1970, the car was reputedly named for the Hudson Hornet, to evoke the innovation and racing pedigree of that august nameplate. To compete effectively with imports, the Hornet was available in a variety of trim packages, body styles, and engine configurations. It sold quite well.

This car has a 258 cu. in. in-line six-cylinder motor generating about 110 bhp, marking an improvement over its earlier sixes. The engine bay is about as nice as one could possibly expect for a car that’s over 45 years old with low mileage. A three-speed Chrysler TorqueFlite automatic that AMC christened the “Torque-Command”, power windows, and power brakes round out the options chosen by its original owner when he ticked the order boxes.

The jaunty interior is a reminder that “they just don’t make ’em like this any longer”. Faults are scarce; the driver’s door panel is wrinkled, and this AMC has been afflicted with the wonky glove box door that seems to be epidemic in plastic interiors. But for a few stains on the mat, the trunk is spectacular.  The car is equipped with factory air conditioning – no word on whether the unit works or not.

The car’s underside is another testament to its low mileage – that, or someone scrubbed the dirty side at some point. This was the last year for the Hornet before it phased into the Concord, a refined version of the same car. It was also the year – and the only year – that AMC made the sporty AMX version of the Hornet. While the four-door sedans are not the most desirable of body styles, the low mileage certainly counts for something. Two-door sedans and the hatchback both command premiums, and a couple of these are available as comparables. This hatchback sold two years ago at $11,750, and here’s a contemporary ad profiling a two-door sedan for $15,900. This snazzy Hornet might require a bit of a discount to find the right home; I’m thinking just under $10k should find it a new garage. What do you think?


  1. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    Before we go any further, I believe it’s a journalists mission to get names correct, especially fellow staff members, as a personal friend, his name is GilbertSon. It’s okay, pobodys nerfect,,now that that unpleasantness is over, what more can be said about, what I feel, was the most important car to come out of Milwaukenosha. It was the platform for many styles, and by far the most successful. Double the price, they say, coming from ebay, they say,,,well, it’s getting to the point, where if I DON’T see something crazy, like the $32 paint can, it’s a dull day.
    Thanks for mentioning SG, and followers of said staff member, he’s on well deserved holiday, but will return with more BFs wackiness. I bet he’s a stockpiling them right now! :)

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Howard A Member

      ps, Michelle,,don’t feel bad, Lassie, I thought I was wrong once, but was mistaken,,( rimshot) :)

      Like 5
      • Avatar photo Michelle Rand Staff

        Oh no, I missed that, thanks so much for the gentle correction. I will have to face Scotty with this soon, I imagine, sigh, and he’s been so nice to me!

        Like 5
      • Avatar photo Gary

        I’m still looking for the power windows that Michelle mentioned. I think she meant power steering.

        Like 2
    • Avatar photo Mohammed Singh

      You tell her Howie!

      Like 3
      • Avatar photo Howard A Member

        “Howie”? Do I know you? To be clear, I’m not “telling” anyone. She knows I enjoy her posts, and adds a lot to the site.

        Like 4
      • Avatar photo Tony Primo

        Howie, I like the ring of it!

        Like 4
  2. Avatar photo Zen

    Way too much money for a dull, slow sedan, even if it’s in great shape and with rare options.

    Like 4
  3. Avatar photo Maggy

    Brother in law had a yellow one back in the late 80’s .Good beater that rotted away in our salt belt.I would have taken the 5k before on Ebay.Just because it’s an old “anything”doesn’t make it desirable or valuable.

    Like 4
  4. Avatar photo CCFisher

    I think the previous high bid of $5295 was all the money and then some for this car. It’s just not that desirable, regardless of mileage.

    Like 7
  5. Avatar photo BA

    Like love is in the eye of the beholder there is a huckleberry for this car. It might take awhile but it will happen & after seeing rusted out hulks that will take more than the ask to even get it to paint I’m feeling confident in that.

    Like 2
  6. Avatar photo Johnny

    I owned one of these once. It wasn’t a bad car. It did ride well, but, it’s a gas saver. So, so much for performance. I think the seller should have just accepted the ebay bid though. It’s unique, but, It’s not like you can run out and get many spare parts for it. As I recall though, there is a former dealership, somewhere in the Carolinas, that still has factory parts for sale. This one, in my opinion, should be tagged, buyer be-aware.

    Like 3
  7. Avatar photo Bob19116

    I believe that the all new Dick Teague designed 1970 AMC Hornet set the standard for getting the maximum space (front, seat & back seat & trunk) in a car with compact car outside dimensions. (Today’s American car sizes have been downgraded so the size today would be called an intermediate). Year after year AMC tweaked that same unibody so it got better every year from its origin in 1970 to the last Eagle versions in 1987-88 as AMC was bought out by Chrysler. The AMC straight six was among the best around lasting from mid 1960’s 1st installed in Ramblers through to being the Jeep 4.0L continuing as a Chrysler engine. They switched from Borg Worner auto trans to Chrysler torqueflites in 1972, switched to galvanized front fenders to solve problem with rusty front fenders and many other internal upgrades. This superior designed car in all forms, chopped, lifted etc. was sold as the Hornet, Concord, Eagle, Gremlin and Spirit. It was an award winning 1970 platform.

    Like 9
  8. Avatar photo JustPassinThru

    This is typical behavior from a smaller, usually-independent, used-car dealer.

    They can’t let go. They can’t admit they took in a turkey…or at least, didn’t read the market correctly. They want $12k for this thing – tells me, however they got it, they probably paid $4k at most and want to sell for $8k at least.

    Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Not all deals are good deals. Even pros make mistakes; and it’s not always the guy coming in off the street who gets fleeced.

    It’s a sound car; historically, a reliable car. But it’s not an especially interesting car, except to study how it fit with American Motors’ corporate saga. Yes, the Hornet body shell was the last man standing – I remember Don Sherman, at Car & Driver, saying that the Hornet/Gremlin chassis would be with us as long as AMC was. He penned that in 1978; and he was exactly correct.

    Now that car is 46 years old and the design even older. “Practical” doesn’t matter at this point – with no support and few parts sources, it’s not practical as a daily driver. It’s not especially beautiful and it’s not representative of cars of that era – except for AMC cars, at a time when AMC had 1.5 percent of the market.

    I remember needing a cheap, reliable city car, in 1982…I’d just relocated to my hometown, a major Ohio city, from Houston. I was employment-challenged, as many were in that era.

    A slimy used-car lot had purchased a gofer truck from another car dealer that had failed. The logo was still on the sides – it was a Jeep DJ-5a Dispatcher. From the Kaiser era – with the Chevy II motor, Powerglide, no rust, plenty of space. Short as a SMART, economical, and they wanted $800 for it.

    No WAY. It was good for what I wanted; but if you anticipated freeway trips, or longer times on the road…no way.

    I waited three months and made a $300 offer. I was laughed out of the office. I waited A YEAR; they STILL had it; and I was given the bum’s rush out again.

    Three months later that used-car emporium closed. Never saw that truck again, and it had some features that would have made it identifiable.

    I know the scrappers didn’t pay $800 or even $300 for it.

    Likely that’s where this one is headed, too. Auction; get $500 for it; a wrecking yard will have it parked in their RUNS area, and maybe it’ll get rescued, maybe not.

    Like 2
  9. Avatar photo JMB#7

    Nice find and good write-up. This is a lot like “Mom’s ’77 Hornet”. Laugh if you will, but Mom’s ’77 Hornet 4 door 232 CID 3 speed automatic with optional larger sway bar and wider radial tire was much peppier than Dad’s ’72 2 door Nova with a 250 CID manual 3-speed column shift. The AMC motor really had the Chevy beat hands down in the higher RPM range. I drove them both hard and had plenty of fun with both. Also shamed plenty of cars that should have been quicker. Personally I prefer the styling of the Hornet over the Concord. I blame AMC’s desire to “sell upscale” as their demise.

    Like 6
  10. Avatar photo Rex Kahrs Member

    I think this car is really cool. Interesting color, crazy-cool interior, nice condition. OK, maybe a bit overpriced, but maybe the condition warrants it.

    Here’s a similar Hornet that was also on BF about a year ago. Again, it’s a dealer asking top buck, and the car isn’t as interesting as the red ’77. The dealer still has it more than a year later.

    Like 3
  11. Avatar photo matt

    There is no need to go “any further”. Michelle had a typo, that’s all.

    Like 7

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