Sunny Sedan: 1973 AMC Hornet

Sunshine Yellow is such a great color and a great color name. It brings me back to the 1970s when times seemed so simple and life was good for everyone all the time… Ok, I know that it wasn’t, not even close, but still, who doesn’t love a Sunshine Yellow 1976 AMC Hornet sedan? This sunny little car can be found here on Craigslist in beautiful Parks, Arizona with an asking price of $5,500. Thanks to Ikey H. for sending in this Hornet tip!

This is a nice looking Hornet but it does appear to have a bit of rust unless I’m seeing things. The seller says, “This is a very nice garage Kept. All original.” The Hornet would have one more year of production before AMC evolved it into a somewhat more plush Concord. They made over 71,000 of them in 1976 which is pretty impressive. I recently looked at a 1973 Hornet with the factory tent option that fit over the hatchback but it had a lot of rust, a lot, too much for me, unfortunately. I love this sedan body style more so than the hatchback but that’s just me. And, of course, the tent wouldn’t make much sense on a sedan. I really wanted that thing, too!

The seller only uploaded five photos, two of the exterior and three interior photos. The back seat looks unique with that pattern, although it can’t be original fabric. The front seats look original to me. Thoughts? The seller says that the interior is original but there can’t be two different patterns like that from the factory. The other photo is one showing the passenger door panel. I’m not quite sure why they showed just that door panel, maybe because it looks good, which it does. I’d rather have an engine photo, but as is often the case, the engine isn’t shown. Is it a 232 with 90 hp or a 258 cubic-inch inline-six with 95 hp? We don’t know, but a call to the seller would clear it up, pronto. Are there any Hornet fans out there?

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Comments

  1. That AMC Guy

    The front seat is original. I have one just like it sitting in my garage, taken out of a Hornet I used to own much like this one. (I had installed more comfortable seats out of a Concord – sitting on the stock Hornet seat for any length of time is like being subject to a medieval torture chamber.) So I’d say the back seat is a transplant or was reupholstered.

    Since the car seems to be fairly low-spec with three-on-the-tree and no air conditioning, the engine is probably a 232. Manual steering and drum brakes are likely as well. Power and gas mileage were significantly down for 1973 due to then-new NOx emission standards. AMC was still using breaker-point ignition in 1973. If stock it will be a GM-Delco distributor.

    I can just about make out what looks like an aftermarket stereo in the center. This usually requires cutting up the plastic fascia for installation. At least it looks like the door panels were not cut up for speakers.

    Like 7
  2. NMCarNut

    Since this does not appear to have an overdrive it is equipped with the 232 six. The 258 was not available with the non-overdrive 3 speed column shift.
    While not a great following still a nice car.

    Like 3
    • dweezilaz

      The options list doesn’t make any distinction between floor or column with O/D.

      Like 1
    • Matthew A Edmonds

      Hi, I know the owner and this car. It has a 232 I6 with a 2.73 axle ratio and a 3-speed column shift manual.

      Like 1
  3. XMA0891

    It seems to my observation that the majority of Hornets that come around are automatics. Love the three-on-the-tree. Nice find of little golden nugget!

    Like 2
  4. Jeff

    I’ve always liked the Hornets. Mom drove me around in a ’71 SST when I was a kid, and she later had a Concord that I would borrow on weekends after I got my license.
    This is a very nice car, though I’m personally not a fan of yellow. The six has potential, but in ’76 it was detuned and strangled to the point it couldn’t breathe. Fortunately it has good torque, and the three-on-the-tree is very cool.

    Like 1
    • That AMC Guy

      Ah, the headline says it’s a ’73, but the ad say ’76. Basically the same car of course. A 1976 model will have the funky Prestolite electronic ignition with its problematical plastic vacuum advance and weak trigger sensor. I can’t remember whether the manual trans would be fully synchronized in 1976 or still equipped with unsynchronized first gear.

      The Hornet is a nice, clean design that has held up well but in terms of comfort it was a step backwards from the old Rambler. Ventilation is poor with no vent windows and no kick panel vents. No vents in the dash either without AC. (The wimpy under-dash vent – you can see the pull knob for it to the left of the steering column – is like a cruel joke.) Ramblers had comfy coil-sprung seats, Hornet seats are the worst you’ll find this side of sitting on a crate. The Hornet dash is so bad you have to wonder how it was approved. (The Concord was much improved despite being essentially the same vehicle.)

      Like 3
      • dweezilaz

        So true, AMC.

        The seats in the 71 Gremlin my parents had were slabs and the frame work started to poke through the upholstery on the sides within a few months of purchase.

        The plastic joints in the dash were crooked and the plastic was the industry worst. The trim above the gauges and the glove box came warped right from the factory. Floor filled with water in a storm on a trip to PA. It was way less than a year old.

        Same sort of thing with their 72 Ambassador Brougham: ill fitting Gremlin/Hornet grade plastic, cheap braided wire for the glove box door.

        AMC had the Concord concept in 1970 with the “Little Rich Car” Hornet marketing and could have beaten the Maverick LDO to market by a few years as well as the Granada/Monarch.

        I love em, but they had their flaws.

        Like 2
  5. James Martin

    Cool candidate for a 304-403 up grade.

  6. Lance Platt

    Cute car but I would pass because of the lack of equipment. A 304 V-8, automatic on the floor, power steering, power front disc brakes and a working factory air conditioner would make this yellow beauty desirable. Guess I’d have to spring for a heavily padded seat cover too after reading the comments.

    • That AMC Guy

      Optional equipment makes all the difference with these cars. Yeah, I hate to sound like a broken record, but the seats really are unbelievably bad. Your eyes can get used to the crummy dashboard but your back will never forgive you after driving for a while.

      Concord seats though are a direct bolt-in if you can find a set and are much more comfortable. (Eagle seats are not a drop-in due to the floor mods made for the 4WD transfer case.) My Hornet had the bigger six, automatic, power steering, front disc brakes, air conditioning, plus the seat transplant and was actually pretty pleasant to drive. Tinworm finally took it down, R.I.P.

    • Jeff

      Granted, the 304 is a step up on the 232 or 258, but it’s still pretty underwhelming without aftermarket upgrades. I’ve had better luck out of the 360s and 401s when dealing with relatively stock engines. Regardless, pining for a V8 when you find a Hornet this clean is really being picky!

  7. Matthew Edmonds

    Please listen to me as most of this post is wrong. The owner is a friend of mine. I have spent a lot of time around this car and I own a 1977 Hornet myself. This yellow Hornet is NOT a 1973. Anybody who knows anything about AMC’s can see that. It is a 1976 with a 232 I6, 3 on the tree, and manual everything. A radio is the only option it has. I realize that turns off most people, but it’s really cool to see a base model and it is really fun to drive. The owner is the second owner and has owned it since 1987. The front seat upholstery is NOT original. He had it recovered some time ago. The back seat IS original. I know it’s funky looking fabric, but that is what AMC used in 1976. I understand the 90 horsepower factory rating turns people off, but my own 1977 Hornet has the exact same engine as this 1976 but is slower because it has an automatic transmission and nearly every option. Even so, I have personally taken it over 100 MPH many times and clocked it 0-60 MPH in 12 seconds. Yes, on a level road. Is that fast? No. Is it plenty to keep up with any modern traffic? Absolutely. They are faster than their horsepower rating leads you to think and do not actually have many emission controls on them. I have driven mine over 40,000 miles in the last four years including many long interstate trips with the cruise control set at 80 MPH, getting 20 MPG in the process. The interiors have poor fit and finish but they actually are quite comfortable. I drove mine 17 hours straight once: 980 miles in one day. I was tired, but I felt fine. Both the owner of this 1976 and myself agree that our Hornets are nice, quiet, comfortable, smooth-riding cars and we love them. He should know too, he’s owned this car for 31 years.

    The owner is not asking $5500. That is what the person he asked to list it on Craigslist posted it as. The owner is asking $3200 and is very negotiable. I advised him on what to accept as a bottom dollar. He and his wife are retired and need to sell it to replenish their savings. It’s breaking their heart because they know that nobody will love and treat this car the way they have. They are extremely nice people. They love this little car and want it to go to a good home that will love it and take care of it. If that is you, they will negotiate on price.

    Like 1
  8. Matthew A Edmonds

    Please listen to me as most of this post is wrong. The owner is a friend of mine. I have spent a lot of time around this car and I own a 1977 Hornet myself. This yellow Hornet is NOT a 1973. Anybody who knows anything about AMC’s can see that. It is a 1976 with a 232 I6, 3 on the tree, and manual everything. A radio is the only option it has. I realize that turns off most people, but it’s really cool to see a base model and it is really fun to drive. The owner is the second owner and has owned it since 1987. The front seat upholstery is NOT original. He had it recovered some time ago. The back seat IS original. I know it’s funky looking fabric, but that is what AMC used in 1976. I understand the 90 horsepower factory rating turns people off, but my own 1977 Hornet has the exact same engine as this 1976 but is slower because it has an automatic transmission and nearly every option. Even so, I have personally taken it over 100 MPH many times and clocked it 0-60 MPH in 12 seconds. Yes, on a level road. Is that fast? No. Is it plenty to keep up with any modern traffic? Absolutely. They are faster than their horsepower rating leads you to think and do not actually have many emission controls on them. I have driven mine over 40,000 miles in the last four years including many long interstate trips with the cruise control set at 80 MPH, getting 20 MPG in the process. The interiors have poor fit and finish but they actually are quite comfortable. I drove mine 17 hours straight once: 980 miles in one day. I was tired, but I felt fine. Both the owner of this 1976 and myself agree that our Hornets are nice, quiet, comfortable, smooth-riding cars and we love them. He should know too, he’s owned this car for 31 years.

    The owner is NOT asking $5500. That is what the person he asked to list it on Craigslist posted it as. The owner is asking $3200 and is very negotiable. I advised him on what to accept as a bottom dollar. He and his wife are retired and need to sell it to replenish their savings. It’s breaking their heart because they know that nobody will love and treat this car the way they have. They are extremely nice people. They love this little car and want it to go to a good home that will love it and take care of it. If that is you, they will negotiate on price.

    The phone number on the Craigslist add is not the phone number for the owner. That is the number for the person who listed it at too high of a price. The owner’s phone number is 928-707-1118. His name is David.

    Like 1
  9. Matthew A Edmonds

    The owner is a friend of mine and a lot of what has been said about this car is wrong. It is a 1976 Hornet, not a 1973. That should be obvious to anybody who knows anything about Hornets. The Craigslist ad was not created by the owner, it was created by a used car dealer. The owner and I have both agreed that $5500 is too high. $3200 is more fair and the owner is very open to negotiating offers.

    The owner has owned this car since 1984. He says the back seat fabric is original but he had the front seats recovered. I’ve seen other 1976 Hornets with their original seat fabric and it looks different from either of the fabrics that are on his seats, but who knows. It may have been recovered before he bought it or it may have been leftover 1975 fabric.

    It is an absolute base model except for a radio. 232 I6 engine, 3 speed column shift manual transmission, manual brakes, manual steering. I’ve ridden in it and it runs and drives very nice. I realize being a base model turns off a lot of people, but it actually is a really nice little car. I know the 90 hp rating turns off even more people, but just hear me out. My own 1977 Hornet (pictured) with the same 232 I6 is SLOWER than his because mine has an automatic transmission, more options and emission controls, and is a heavier 4-door. Even so, mine pushes itself 0-60 MPH in 12 seconds and I’ve routinely taken it over 100 MPH. It tops out around 110. Yes, on a level road. They have better performance than people think. Are they fast? No. Are they adequate? Yes. I’ve put 40,000 miles on mine in four years, mostly interstate miles at 80 MPH, getting 20 MPH doing it. I once drove it from Kansas to Arizona in one day…17 hours straight. Hornet interiors may look cheap and flimsy (’twas the times) but they are actually pretty comfortable. I love driving mine on long trips. I actually like Hornet seats better than the later overstuffed Concord and Eagle seats. I should know: I have an Eagle too.

    The owner and his wife love this car a lot. They are only selling it because they are retired and need to replenish their savings for medical purposes. He wants this car to go to a loving new owner. He wants his car to be loved and cared for above all else and is afraid that nobody will because it’s a base model mid 1970’s sedan with a six cylinder engine that somebody would just V8 swap or use as a parts car. That is why he asking a high price. However, he will come down if you talk to him and convince him that you will give his car a good home. That is what he really wants. Don’t lie. Be truthful. He is extremely kind, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

    Here is a photo of my Hornet and his Hornet together so you know I’m not full of BS.

    Like 3
  10. Del

    Nice car

    3000 sounds better per previous post

  11. John T.

    Message on Craigslist: “This posting has been deleted by its author.” Perhaps Matthew A Edmonds could Please Confirm if the car has been sold or will it be relisted?

  12. Matthew A Edmonds

    It has not sold. The Craigslist ad has been removed because the owner agreed that $5500 was too high and asked the person who created the ad to remove it. It will soon be listed for sale on the AMCRC (AMC-Rambler Club) web page sale section. Otherwise, I have the owner’s phone number and can put someone in touch with him if they are seriously interested.

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