Here it is, the last ‘big’ AMC car. The Matador. Technically a midsize when it first appeared in 1971, alongside its slightly flossier, slightly longer Ambassador sibling. Essentially, the ’71 Matador was a facelifted 1967-70 AMC Rebel with a new front clip and name.
It became American Motors’ largest passenger vehicle after the Ambassador (itself a Matador with more chrome, fancier interior, and longer hood and front clip, but with the same interior dimensions) was cancelled after the 1974 model year.
Many, many folks have questioned why the ’74 Matadors got such a Jimmy Durante style facelift to go with its new 5 mph front and rear bumpers, with the pronounced proboscis of the grille jutting away from the front fenders and headlights. I’ve heard they simply wanted the car to look bigger. But for whatever reason, I’ve always liked these. The sedans, the woody station wagons, even the big, blowsy 74-78 Matador coupes. What can I say, I like the offbeat stuff!
So I was intrigued this past weekend when I saw this final-year specimen on one of my preferred Facebook groups, 1970’s Great American Land Yacht. I eagerly clicked on the pictures when I saw the black paint and top and those excellent optional aluminum wheels, but upon closer inspection, it’s a project car, not a turnkey driver. But still, I felt the need to share it here on RG.
Coupes rode a 114″ wheelbase while sedans and station wagons had a 118″ span. Approximately 6,800 coupes and sedans were built, along with 3,746 wagons. A sedan based at $5,039 with the standard 304 V8; $4,849 with the 258 CID six. A 360 V8 was standard on station wagons and apparently optional on sedans, though my reference book was a little vague on that.
At any rate, sixes were virtually non-existent on ’78 Matadors; only 23 sedans and coupes were built with it. Well, compared to new, modern cars like the Fairmont, Omni and full size B body GM cars, the AMC was pretty old hat by this time. I doubt many people went Matador shopping in 1978. And the few that did probably drive off the lot in a Concord instead.
Numbers were way down over ’77 Matadors, as over 30,000 were sold that year. But Renault had essentially taken over the Wisconsin firm, and changes and uncertainty ran rampant. I imagine the 1967 Rebel-based Matador was on the short list for cancellation.
From the auction description:
“This 1978 AMC Matador Sedan was purchased by Fred Russell of Canton Ohio in February 27 of 1979. It was a Dealer Demonstrator model and had 10,000 miles on the car. The total price was $6,899.00 which was pretty hefty for an AMC in 1979. The car was lovingly cared for until May 1997 when Mr. Russell sold it to Michael Lafoilleitte.
“Every single penny spent was included in a log book. Owners manual and receipts for many many transactions included thru 1996. Warranty paperwork and old registrations included. Mr Russell had installed after the car was a few year old a Sun Roof from Tidy Cars. It was also factory Ziebarted from new, you can see under the car and also in the troughs in the engine bay, the car is literally covered in Ziebart.”
“The car runs and moves. I bought her for 800 dollars in November 2018 from an AMC collector’s estate. I’m the fourth owner. It appears that between 1997 and 2010, 11,000 miles were put on the car. It was left parked outside to sit for 9 years. The last inspection sticker is from PA in 2010. You can see the damage done to the hood, roof and rear trunk paint job from being outside in the elements.”
“The car itself is extremely solid, but the almost 10 years of being parked outside took it’s toll on the Roof and C Pillars. It isn’t that bad, the rust, two spots at a seam. The trunk is solid as is the floors board snd rocker panels. These tend to be in very bad shape normally in an AMC and require restoration. Unibodies don’t normally hold up in the North East USA. This car needs no rust repairs on the underside or sub-frames, only the two spots on the roof.”
It needs some help for sure, but boy, it really would be something if fixed up. Probably will never be worth much, but hey, if you’re looking to make money, you’re not really a hobbyist, ha ha.
Black, black top, black interior and those excellent styled wheels. If you’re so inclined, check out the auction. If not, simply enjoy the pics. But hey, when’s the last time you saw one of these?