Sun Orange Survivor: 1977 AMC Hornet DL

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A true survivor, this 1977 AMC Hornet DL was purchased and owned in Los Angeles for the first 38 years of it’s life. The second owner purchased it earlier this year and after some maintenance has chosen to sell it on with only 64,100 miles. It’s located in Lake Elsinore, California now and is listed for sale here on eBay, where the buy-it-now is $4,850 but the seller is open to lower bids.

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The car really looks nice in these shots, especially considering the seller says it’s wearing 99% of its original Sun Orange paint (how does one decide what 1% is?) and tan vinyl top. The narrow whitewall tires fit the whole image as well, although a set of the AMC rally wheels wouldn’t hurt the overall appearance any. The slight nose-high attitude is probably due to the seller fitting new front springs this year. They also replaced all four shocks.

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This is the only shot in the listing where the orange looks so light; I’m guessing this one is just washed out somehow? I’m definitely not a photographer, so maybe one of you can tell us. It does show that the passenger side of the car is just as clean and nice as the driver’s side. We owned an orange 1971 Hornet wagon at one point and it was more the color in this picture, so you may want to check with the seller if one shade looks better to you than the other.

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Both the front and rear seats look perfect as well, and the dash is uncracked. You can see the factory air conditioning vents in this shot; unfortunately the system is non-functional at the moment, probably necessitating a conversion to R-134? I do like the steering wheel and general layout of the dash. Power steering, power brakes, and a tilt wheel round out the creature comforts in this DL model.

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The venerable 258 cubic inch inline 6 is one of the most robust engines I’ve ever come across. We’ve owned four of them and all have been trouble-free. It’s unusual around here to see the air pump still in place. A new, shiny fuel filter indicates some of the recent maintenance, although I wish the owner had found a smaller hose clamp – that exposed end will cut your hand in a skinny minute; ask me how I know! The seller describes cruising the California highways with the only issue being an irregular-reading fuel gauge, although I know I’d want the air conditioning working! So, would you cruise around in this plain but nice-looking survivor?

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Comments

  1. Stephen

    AMC’s individual reclining seats were a step above what any other American compact had to offer in the ’70s. I could cruise all day in this one.

  2. jim s

    listing has ended. sure looks good in the photos. nice find

  3. randy

    At the risk of offending someone, I’d say the price is fair, and apparently a buyer thought so too. I seem to recall that a lot of the AMC sedans squatted in the rear.

  4. Mark Fletcher

    I listed the car yesterday both on E-bay and locally. the car sold locally within a few hours for my asking price and so I took down the Ebay Ad.
    Thank you for recognizing the beauty and purity of this car, I will miss it. To answer one of the questions concerning how do you determine that the car had 99% original paint? I had touch up paint correctly mixed and used a small modelers brush to touch up the minor paint chips (mostly on the front). I realized I didn’t have a Passenger side shot and used my Camera Phone which produced the washed out photo.
    The car has been purchased by a local collector who occasionally has his cars used as period pieces in Movies, so it may be seen again sometime in the future.

  5. Howard A Member

    Away she goes. Was a pretty nice car. Don’t worry, they made plenty and these come up from time to time ( usually in estate deals)( typical gramma’s car) I thought these were the best AMC cars, and never cared for the Concord that came out in ’78. It’s nothing really special, but just a good older car for driving. That’s pretty cool.

    • Rich Truesdell

      Howard, being familiar with this car (having taken all but one of the photos) and having owned both Hornets (including a 304 Gucci Sportabout) and Concords, while this car is exceptionally nice, I’d rather have a Concord, especially a 1978 Concord hatchback, than any Hornet, save for another Gucci Sportabout. They are simply better trimmed and so much quieter because of all the Dynamat-like sound pads AMC installed at the factory on the 1978 and later cars.

      And while the Concord still has the multi-piece dashboard like the Hornet (it’s attached over the same frame meaning that if you wanted, all the pieces would install in a 1970-1977 Hornet) it just looks so much better and rattles less.

      Still, this is an exceptional car that you see less and less now. You’re more likely to see a 1964-1969 Rambler American or Rogue on listed on eBay rather than a Hornet or Concord. It was basically an estate sale as the previous owner stopped driving and was in an assisted-living facility I believe.

  6. Todd Zuercher

    As another noted, this was a pretty typical stance for these cars. Hard to believe any exist in this condition anymore.

  7. Rich Truesdell

    As the seller described it — Mark is the co-author, with me, of the 2012 book Hurst Equipped — this is a wonderful survivor that because of his tenacity trolling eBay and Craigslists ads he was able to jump on. And now in retrospect, with the car having sold locally on Craigslist with the first person calling and viewing it, leaving a deposit, Mark might have gotten a little more for the car.

    As it is, I’m happy for him, with us both being AMC fans, as I’ve given him a lot of teasing about the car’s color, saying that you can see it from space on Google Earth.

    I took the photos of the car a few weeks back and the car is as nice as the photos — except for his cameraphone shot of the passenger side which I didn’t take — indicate it to be. It does prove the point, whether you’re posting on Craigslist, eBay or anywhere, take the best photos possible. It’s all about someone looking at the ad and then calling to set up an appointment to see the car. Then it’s up to you to close the deal.

    Here’s a link to all of my edited photos, including the photo below that I took, showing the passenger side of the car. And I think Mark described the car accurately with regard to the paint; it’s 99% original.

    http://bit.ly/1977AMC_HornetDL

    If you would like to see how to take shots that will help you sell your car, here’s a link to a feature I wrote years ago about how to photograph your car to sell or for publication.

    http://bit.ly/AutoPhotography

    • tasker

      Being and AMC guy, maybe you could tell me. My brother had a 75 hatch 2 door with the 304 and 3spd. Only one i have ever saw or heard about…..how many did they make of these? could not of been many…..thanks for your consideration!

  8. randy

    I think it is good form to leave a little money on the table, so long as the beneficiary does not take advantage. At any rate, it is the gift that counts, not how it is used.

    Great car and I’d drive one now, I do not think I would have driven one when they were new. There was too much other cool stuff to drive back then.

  9. 64 bonneville

    Nash, Rambler and later AMC, had some of the better engineering in cars of the 50s’ and 60s’. I think Chrysler products were the cutting edge at that time, in engineering. The biggest downfall I have heard from owners and previous owners is the use of a king pin front suspension. If they had been able to change over to A frames and an SLA suspension I believe they would still be around. You can not beat them for fuel mileage and minimal maintenance (except for the king pins), and since they are not seen that often, you can be the only one at cars and coffee, or local shows.

  10. Marty Member

    Rich, thank you for posting the link to your excellent tutorial on photography.

  11. piper62j

    Ended at one bid for $500.. Evidently, the demand just isn’t there because the reserve wasn’t met.. Maybe next time.

    • randy

      Wow, that surprises me. I wonder what the seller is wanting out of it? If he is a gambler, he could start a no reserve auction. I wonder if he could tweek the listing as to get more views.

    • Rich Truesdell

      @Piper62j, Mark sold the car for just about the full asking price by the first person who saw the ad locally on Craigslist, within an hour of posting the ad. Mark did good selling it and the buyer did good buying it as he places cars in movies. While I think he bought it for street scenes, because of how clean and original the car is, it wouldn’t surprise me that at some point, maybe a music video, the car will have more than a supporting role.

  12. Rex Kahrs Member

    Thanks BF for posting cars like this. Back in those days everybody was all agog at Trans Ams and IROCZs, and nobody appreciated the wacky colors and shiny bits on a car like this. Now, nearly 40 years hence, this car really evokes an era where designers took chances (certainly could be said of AMC).

    In the 80s and 90s designs evolved into mind-numbing sameness for a long period, but in the last 10 years there has been a little loosening on colors and shapes, and that’s a good thing.

    • randy

      Agreed, I am appalled at the US car manufacturers lack of taste. I was looking at a yahoo article on the 24 most rare US cars, and happened upon a pair of ’41 Willis coupes? They were beautiful. What happened? It’s like all of the automotive designers were given a cardboard box, and were told to do the best they could with it. Imagine where our nation could be if our best and brightest were not held back.

      I am ashamed for our children.

  13. piper62j

    Rex Kars.
    You’re right.. the cars of late have no design or color options much past silver and white..AND they all look like pregnant roller skates these days.

    • randy

      I am afraid to ask, “who’s the daddy?”

  14. Rex Kahrs Member

    So the car might be in a movie some day? Well of course it will be a Wayne’s World sequel where Wayne and Garth upgrade out of the Pacer, eh?

  15. 300guy281

    I had a green ’71 Hornet (yeah, yeah…had more than one Yellow Lantern joke when I drove it) back in the early ’90s. Paid 2 or 300 for it to make it through the winter…drove that little monster for 2 1/2 years. Replaced the original bias ply tires on the way home with it, replaced the fuel tank…when the muffler fell off thanks to excessive rust? Yeah…whatever…lol! It was louder, and helped with acceleration (at least in MY mind). I hated when the starter AND tranny needed replaced. They wanted $600 to fix. Decided I got my money’s worth and walked away. Sold it for scrap metal. Biggest mistake I ever made…

  16. The Chucker

    My father purchased one of these new. Same year, but it was the station wagon model. At the time, I recall marveling at the “Desert Only” setting on the A/C controls….I was 8 years old.

  17. Randy

    This shows the Hornet at its absolute best: James Bond, “Man with the Golden Gun”

    https://youtu.be/sCU8fVgGsPg

    I owned my mother’s 1973 AMC Hornet hand-me-down. As I used to say, if it didn’t break down so often, I wouldn’t know how to fix it so well. The pic shows it in 1982.

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