PACERS, GREMLINS, AND MATADORS!
THE BRILLIANTLY WEIRD CARS
FROM THE 1976 LINEUP FROM AMC MOTORS
From its meager beginnings in 1954, to their last
gasp when Chrysler absorbed them in 1987, AMC has been one of the
most fondly remembered independent car companies in American
history. Though they went through many changes during those
decades, it was the mid-70s in which they made their biggest
pop-culture impact. Their 1976 lineup, in particular, contained some
of the most unusual cars to have ever graced this country's
Perhaps the most well-known AMC car
was The Gremlin. Made during 1970-1978, the unusual car with
it's "chopped off" end was one of the first true economy cars of the
time. With a whopping 21 gallon gas tank, it was built for
long commutes, and with V6 and V8 engines, it had a surprising
amount of power for a car that looked so goofy. As you can see
from the picture above, its lack of trunk space made storing
hundreds of tennis balls rather difficult.
These pictures clearly demonstrate
that the stylish and luxurious Gremlin was welcome on the lawns of
the finest estates of America. The catalog makes note of The
Gremlins high resale value as a solid investment, as well.
"Treat yourself to some fun along with big helpings of savings and
If you really wanted to impress the
ladies, perhaps the AMC Matador was more your style! With
patented "Luster-Guard" acrylic baked finish inside.
If you click the picture to see the larger version, you'll notice a
man dressed in what may very well be the ugliest blazer ever created
(next to those in old Century 21 uniforms). The police car in
the series ADAM 12 was a Matador, as well.
The Matador came in a coupe, sedan,
or special "Brady Bunch Wagon" model (theirs was a Ford, but this
wasn't too far off). In the catalog literature I have, they
make special note that the Matadors are "trimly sized overall for
easy handling and painless parking?" Trimly sized compared to
what...The Partridge Family's bus? The hatchbacks on the wagon
were actually pretty cool because they featured a "dual swing" door
that would open down, or to the left. Even the cars swung both
ways in those wild 70s!
Next we have the Hornet (The Green
Hornet, in particular), which was
really the full size version of The Gremlin. Made until 1988,
it was the longest surviving of AMC's modern cars.
Like The Matador, the Hornet came in
a sedan, hatchback, and wagon model, and included a special "Sportabout"
edition, as well. And with a secure warranty of 12
months/12,000 miles, what more could you want? Let's see those
guys at the PINTO dealership BEAT THAT, EH?
Of course, any look at AMC would be a
rip-off if we didn't feature the marvelously bizarre Pacer, which
made it's debut in 1976. So stylish and "futuristic" this car
is easily one of the most recognizably weird automobiles of its
time. The intent was to give you, "broad expanses of glass for
virtually 360 degrees of visibility", but what it really did was
give you broad auto-glass repair bills because nobody but the AMC
dealers had that strange rounded shape if you ever needed to fix it.
It was a tough car to have private
makeout sessions in, that's for sure. Unless you could find
girls that were in to indulging their fish tank fetish, it was not
built for romancing.
I miss the cool cars of AMC.
There was a wonderful ugliness about them that is still charming to
this day. To think that a 70s family or a young adult ready
for their first car would haggle for hours to finally drive a new
Pacer or Gremlin home says oodles for the culture of the time.
We've loved goofy cars in all eras. Lord only knows what
website will be making fun of our SUV obsession 40 years from now.
If you have any neat old family
photos with an AMC or other funky car featured prominently in it,
send it my way, and I'll be happy to show it off here in a special