Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Look Back at AMC: 1974's Pivotal Year

From AMC's 1974 Full Lineup Dealer Brochure
Front and rear covers of AMC's full lineup dealer brochure from 1974. The front features the brand new-for-'74 Matador Coupe, with the Hornet Hatchback to the right and the Gremlin to the left. All appear to be decked out in X trim, the sportiest version of each model. The back cover features the luxury Ambassador Brougham sedan in the center with a Javelin to its right and a Hornet Sportabout wagon to its left. This last Ambassador, with a 122" wheelbase, is the largest this platform would become. The Ambassador and the Javelin would both be gone by 1975.

• I can't really look at AMCs of this vintage without thinking of the James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun, which used several 1974 AMC cars in its production. Bond commandeered a Hornet Hatchback coupe, and the evil Scaramanga's Matador Coupe sprouted wings and flew away.

• Further information at Wiki for Ambassador, Matador, Javelin, Hornet, and Gremlin. The cult-classic Pacer would be introduced the following year, 1975.

Four selected detail shots from the chapter openers in this brochure, Gremlin, Hornet hatchback, Hornet Sportabout and Matador coupe. Notice the white lettered performance tires on three of the cars, including the Sportabout with the woody option. Also notice the copper-toned grille inserts for the Matador coupe. They were included with the top-of-the-line Oleg Cassini edition, which also had a unique luxury interior and specific exterior colors and trim.

The Gremlin's optional interior treatments included this red "Fairway" simulated knitted vinyl bench/buckets, and the now-famous LEVI'S faux-denim bucket seats.

The Oleg Cassini edition Matador coupe interior. with copper-colored accents, including an Oleg Cassini crest on each seat back, with rich black everywhere else. This button-tufted cloth split bench seat traces its roots back to Nash's infamous reclining seats of thirty years earlier.

The AMX was now a trim level of the Javelin series, in this the Javelin's final year on the market. The original 2 seat AMXs, 1968-70, are highly-collectible now. I was never as enamored with the facelifted body of the '71-'74 Javelin/AMX. Standard engine for the Javelin was the trusty 232 I-6, and for the AMX, the base 304 V8. Optional powerplants included the 401 V8 with "Go" Package.

This color chart is so definitely NOT from this century, lol. Check out the SEVEN vinyl roof color options. The main palette is full and very saturated with pigments in every hue. I think it sure beats the heck out of the various silvers, grays and blacks we're given as choices today!


  1. The Javielin sure does look like one mean machine of its day, I can understand people's appreciation for this car
    and why they would pay top dollar for it.

  2. That plum Javelin is fantastic ! All those colors are incredible. We just bought a new car and the limited ,drab color choice was almost Orwellian !

    The Javelin's profile really brings out the beauty of its c-pillar.

    Thanks so much for sharing your collection .


  3. Oh boy, all these Nashes! I still wish I could go back in time and, instead of buying that 1967 Skylark Convertible for my first trip to California (in 1974), I'd bought a brand-new Hornet 2-door sedan! I would have said a Gremlin except I didn't really like how they did the bumpers for 1974 -- it made the Gremlin look a lot less cute and perky than in previous years -- it looked a bit heavy.

    I notice they don't show a Matador sedan or wagon -- surely they were among the ugliest cars ever. The Matador coupe is an acquired taste -- I remember Motor Trend had drawings of a Matador sedan that was basically a stretched version of the coupe. It never came to pass, of course, but I think it would have looked much better balanced than the coupe.

    The selection of colours is truly depressing! We all now what a poor selection of colors is available unless you opt for a Bentley with the Mulliner bespoke option, where you can bring in a swatch of anything and they'll match it. Cars routinely had anywhere from 15-20 color choices and almost that many interior choices. I like AP's depiction of the paucity of choices as Orwellian!]

    Thanks for posting these brochure shots -- I know I had this one (and my still) and it was good to see it again!

    Paul, NYC

  4. Paul: Oh the Matador sedan and wagon was pictured in the brochure, I didn't scan all the pages. I didn't think I could look at a Matdor sedan long enough to scan it! The Ambassador was bad enough. The wagons weren't bad at all really, not changing all that much from '67 onwards, but the sedans had the most unfortunate facelift of the roofline EVER, lol. I wish they had kept the 2 door pillarless Ambassador, I liked that roofline with the pointed rear windows. I found this image Googling:

  5. Hello Paul,

    I always liked the Hornet. It struck me as a handsome and formal looking car .

    The Matador, as you said, is an acquired taste, but that Teague-ian line along the side of the body is it's saving grace . Of course, you can put that line on a jar of mayo and it would look good!

    As for Orwellian colors : we were dumbstruck to find out we could hook into the internet , iPod, iPhone , iTunes and lord-knows-whose satillite but we couldn't get the car in crimson or British Racing green .

    Kind of spooky.


  6. CAsey,

    I wasn't doubting that the Matadors were inside but I think it's telling that they didn't put them on either the front of back cover! I guess they knew.

    I also much prefer the first generation Javelin to the updated one. The 68-70 was such a clean, uncluttered design (well, you could clutter one up with stripes, etc. but you didn't have to!). And of course the real AMX, before it became a trim option on the Javelin, is a winner. I'd love to have a first-year AMX (or Javelin, for that matter).

    AP, I always liked the Hornets too. I don't think they ever did anything too awful to them and then they transformed into the Concord, which I thought was really elegant in a very-subdued-for-the-70s way. And then they became the Eagle! I'd like one of the final year wagons in navy blue with wood and a tan interior.

    Paul, NYC

  7. Good morning, Paul,

    You have me a Googleing and refreshing my memory. I went back and looked at the Hornets beginning with the Cavalier study . A Hornet with suicide doors ! As a kid, I recall AMC coming out with a lot of show cars and concepts in the mid to late 60s. I thought they were all very smart, clean, and imaginative.

    I think the design was so good, pure and simple that they could do all sorts of updates and it wouldn't "turn bad." It certainly had legs, as you point out.

    I hope you find the Navy Blue Eagle. I still dream of having enough money to buy a Gremlin and a hopeless AMX and turn it into the AMX GT.

    Have a great afternoon.


  8. These are great looking cars. A shame the company went under. Though the Matador sedan that year, mercifully not pictured, goes down in my book as one of the ugliest cars of all time. And to think it derived from the 67 Rebel, one of the most attractive cars of it's day.

    But it seemed to me that AMC would do that a lot: start with an attractive design and add more chrome and crud with each passing year till you could barely stand to look at the result.

    A lot of AMC reminescing on your blog. I found all the pertinent posts, I think. Thanks.

  9. thanks for finding my blog, Tom. There will be more AMC posts to come. I was a fan of theirs as well. I'm a huge fan of Hudsons and Nashes as well.

  10. As an aficionado of SOME AMCs (, I would argue that killing the Javelin ultimately led to the demise of the entire company, because the Javelin was discontinued about the same time pony cars (the Camaro and Firebird) took off in the marketplace. The other thing that made me an AMC fan was the Matador squad in "Adam 12." And it should be pointed out that, however you felt about it, the AMC Eagle is the Subaru Outback (now in my garage) before Subaru thought to create the Outback.

  11. Two of the cooler Javelins I've recently seen:

    A Mark Donahue racer at Road America last summer.

    A Javelin AMX next to a Corvette at the Iola Old Car Show.

  12. very cool Javelin shots! I remember that Mark Donohue edition from magazines. I don't remember the Matadors from Adam-12. I must have stopped watching the show by then. I remember when it first came on TV they used Plymouth Belvederes.

    A very slight correction on one of your pages, the Rambler American identified as a '64 is really a '61-'63. I'm not positive of the trim on the sides, but I think it's the first year, '61. That car had some awkward angles, but I like it WAY more than most people, lol! I like your Marketplace website!

  13. Never seen the Adam 12 Matador? Ask, and ye shall find:

    The Belvedere you first remember is, I assume ...

    I also saw the coffin-nose Matador as a squad toward the end of the series. Definitely an acquired styling taste.

  14. One coffin-nose Matador squad, coming right up:

  15. (1) Is it just me, or does the '74 Matador coupe look sort of like the old Rambler Marlin?
    (2) And might AMC had survived had they done a sedan (a drawing of which I once saw in Motor Trend) or, dare I suggest, wagon based on the coupe instead of the coffin nose Matador?

  16. ah, Ken McCord, Officer Jim Reed, one of my first TV crushes, rofl!
    Yes, I remember that '67 squad car. I think i remember a '68 version too, when Chrysler changed the body.

    I've done a Marlin 4 door, and I think I might try a sedan version of the Matador coupe. I'm not sure if that style would have sold in the '70s. I think AMC just needed a MUCH better front- and rear-ends on that Matador sedan. The middle was OK though it had been around basically since '67, though it was facelifted quite a bit in '70 I think. The interiors of the sedans were really nice, especially the Brougham model which more or less replaced the Ambassador after '74. I'd still like one of these last Ambassadors, 122" wheelbase, rode like a dream, cushy with those reclining seats Nash made famous.

    thanks for the links!

  17. really, the more I look at that coffin nose Matador, I just keep thinking "What was Dick Teague thinking?" lol. He must have been over trying to design on a shoestring at that point.

  18. We had a '73 Javelin in dark brown, which I see wasn't offered for '74, for whatever that means.
    One wonders if the coffin nose was some kind of reaction to the 5-mph bumpers the feds mandated. (Except that those were mandated in '73 in front.)
    On the other hand, I remember seeing a red Matador wagon of the last vintage ('75-ish) and thinking that looked cool, for some reason. Well, there's no accounting for taste.