I hope you’re prepared for lots of trim.
The Hornet was an important car for AMC, a company known for its compact vehicles. It was a replacement in 1970 for the very long-lived Rambler American that had been on sale since 1958. To signify its newness, the Hornet name replaced Rambler American entirely in the US and Canada. Hornet was a throwback to the Hudson Hornet, made by one of two companies (alongside Nash) that merged to form American Motors. In other markets, the Rambler American name persisted on the new car. With quite an international presence, the Hornet was manufactured under its various guises in the US, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Costa Rica, and Australia.
The Hornet was doubly important because its new “junior cars” platform served as the basis for many AMC vehicles all the way through 1988. After the Hornet’s run was over, it was replaced by the Concord – a dressed-up Hornet. Long-time AMC head designer Dick Teague penned the Hornet’s inoffensive shape.
With something for everyone, Hornet was available with two doors as a sedan, a more racy three-door hatchback, and with four doors as a sedan and wagon. Engines for the North American market were inline-six or V8 configuration and ranged in displacement from 3.3 to 5.9 liters. Other markets used only inline-six engines that were of different origin to North American models. Transmissions were all three-speed if automatic, and three- or four-speed if manual.
With its wide variety of trims and body styles, the Hornet at its base was always an economical family car. Sales were assisted by sporty styling cues that made it a bit more exciting than the typical family car offering. AMC upped the style ante in 1973 with the debut of the Levi’s package, which extended to the Gremlin (also Hornet-based) as well. The Hornet wagon even went ultra-lux with a Gucci trim to make the neighbors jealous.
In 1977, AMC introduced the single-year AMX variant of the Hornet hatchback, intended to appeal to the performance-minded buyer and recall the excitement of the extinct AMX muscle car. Available with I6 or V8, a manual transmission was even optional with six cylinders. Big bumpers and exterior trim were all color-matched, and there were extensions at the lower edge of the fenders, front and rear. Style extended to unique road wheels, additional black trim inside and out, and a faux targa bar of aluminum across the roof. In some examples, sunlight at the rear of the car was filtered through louvers.
As mentioned, just 100 of the unique AMX variants were fitted with the stylish Levi’s interior. It was the end of the line for Hornet at that point, as the car was dressed up and broughamed for 1978 into the compact luxury Concorde. Today’s white over denim AMX is presently for sale in Denver. In sort of okay condition, it has 75,000 miles and asks $3,650.