Sunday, December 19, 2010

AMC's Designer Hornet Sportabout

The back of this one-page folder shows, at age 15, I was quite intent on pricing out this little gem. I'm sure I was using the Consumer Guides' pricing book, which was available at any magazine stand.

M Y   C O L L E C T I O N — The 1970s fascination with designer labels had a very unlikely participant in the 1972 AMC Hornet Sportabout wagon. Gucci, one of the premier Italian design houses, designed a "special" all-vinyl interior  in his then-trademark colors of green, red and cream. The headliner featured his interlocking GGs logo, and there appears to be some sort of ceiling tray illustrated as well. The 1970s were not the best for Gucci, almost going into bankruptcy by decade's end, and I can't help but think that creating a multicolored interior for an American economy car, wasn't one of their savviest decisions. According to Wikipedia, slightly more than 2500 Gucci-equipped Sportabouts were sold in 1972, with an additional 2200 in '73, so it wasn't a sales flop by any means. Italian luxury could have been yours for just a few dollars shy of $150 in 1972 currency.

For a well-written blogpost about the 1970s designer edition cars, including the Gucci Sportabout, click over to Palm Springs Automobilist from July 26, a fellow blogger that has commented here before. In fact, I just added his site to my Blog Roll on the right side of this blog.

Halston, Gucci, Fiorucci!—The music industry wasn't immune to the charms of the designer label either. Here is a link to Sister Sledge's He's the Greatest Dancer, which drops designer names like loose sequins on a dance floor, lol. Of course, the Sisters best known hit disco song was We Are Family...

13 comments:

  1. How well I remember Eighty-Eights. I knew the owners Karen and Rochelle from my days at the end of the bar at the Duplex (the original one on Grove Street) where both were waitresses and performers. However, I can think of lots of others places that would have better qualified as the "deep end" than a piano bar run by lesbians! I would have called it the shallow end if not the kiddie pool! But I have a feeling you discovered some of those other places on your own!

    Paul, NYC

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  2. You're totally correct, Paul! That shiny piano bar was HIS idea, and as soon as I realized I'd been ditched, and then found his car gone from the parking spot, I had fun. What he didn't realize is that yes I was only 18, and newly "out" but I was quite familiar with NYC and the West Village at that time as my Dad had worked in the city for years. I was always much more of a seedy, darkly-lit jeans-n-leather type bar patron.

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  3. I really find this interior attractive, even by today's standards! Designer series car's were definitely the rage in the late 70's. And it looks like little old American Motors started the trend - Lincoln didn't "label" the Mark IV's until 1976! If my memory serves me correctly, GM and Chrysler didn't have any before that time either.
    The Hornet was a handsome car, especially in wagon form. I wonder how many of these Gucci editions have survived ?

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  4. I"m pretty sure Lincoln was earlier with the Mark Designers. They used the Cartier signed clock right from the start in 1968, and I think they had a silver Cartier edition in '73 or '74? Oh, now I have to go back to the books, lol. The Pierre Cardin Javelin was quite wild too. AMC really tried out a lot of ideas in the '70s.

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  5. Now, about the Gucci Sportabout -- I LOVED these -- I thought that the whole Hornet line from beginning to the end of the Eagle in 1988 -- 18 years! -- was one of the high points of 70s car design. The Sportabout was an especially nice design and the Gucci version was very chic. If only carmakers now would do things like this -- Mercedes does their Designo editions but there are not strking colors -- it's all brown, black, etc. A few years back Audi had "atmospheres" but even then they were nothing out of the ordinary colorwise, although the materials were very nice and at least Audi has continued that into present times. They seem to be what everyone else is striving to emulate. But of course AMC did it first, as they did with so many things -- mass production unit bodies (at least in the US), the first successful compact, the modern air conditioning and state of the art engines (7 bearing sixes and the V8 they developed for 1956), etc. What if Packard and Nash had joined forces right after the war??? I'll be up all night thinking about it, and not for the first time!!

    Paul, NYC

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  6. Casey, the Cartier clocks were introduced for the 1970 model year - the earlier versions of the Mark III did not have them.
    The Mark IV's had color "groups" beginning in 1973 but the designer series made their debut in 1976.
    Go to www.automotivemileposts.com for the year by year breakdown.

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  7. My uncle Bill bought a '76 Sportabout in dark green, but oddly, after driving loaded Country Squires and other nice cars, he bought a total base model. It was pretty slim pickin's inside! Hoohoo parked her Tbird in'73 with the first gas crisis and bought a one year old Hornet SST coupe, but it was really well equipped. It was bronze with a beige vinyl roof and that Serape striped cloth interior, power steering/brakes etc. It was still no Tbird though but she gave it to me, so I was fine with that!

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  8. hahaha, here's the same site's info about the clock etc. It seems to have been a running change for '69! We were both a few months off. I guess you're right about the color packages though! : )

    http://automotivemileposts.com/mark31969differences.html

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  9. RE: Sister Sledge

    When my ex and I went on an RSVP cruise to the Panama Canal, Sister Sledge was the entertainment on the last night of the cruise. It was a pretty wild night as you might imagine!

    Paul, NYC

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  10. OK, we've seen the AMC Gremlin and the Hornet.........now I'm waiting for the Pacer!

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  11. Bring back AMC, the Caliber could have been a good candidate if they didn't go cheap with the interior. Imagine a Caliber with nicer materials and denim seats?

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