AMC Hornet - History

History

The Hornet's styling was based on the AMC Cavalier and Vixen show cars. The Hornet, as well as the Ford Maverick, were considered a response by the domestic automakers to battle with the imports.

Development of the new model took AMC three years, a million man-hours, and US$40 million. The Hornet was an all-new design sharing no major body components, but utilizing some of the Rambler American's chassis and drivetrain. An all-new front suspension with anti-brake dive was developed for AMC's large-sized "senior" 1970 models, and instead of developing lighter components for the new compact-size platform, the same parts were incorporated into the Hornet.

Introduced in 1969 for the 1970 model year, the Hornet was the first car in a line of new models that AMC would introduce over the following three years, and it set the tone for what designer Richard A. Teague and chief executive officer Roy D. Chapin, Jr., had in mind for the company for the 1970s. The Hornet marked the return of AMC to its original role as a "niche" marketer specializing in small cars. It also became one of AMCs best sellers.

With its manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP) of US$1,994 for the base model, the Hornet was an economical small family car. However, it took design cues from the popular Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, and the company's own Javelin with a long hood, short rear deck and sporty looks. The Hornet's 108-inch (2,743 mm) wheelbase platform (two inches or 5.08 centimeters longer than its predecessor the Rambler American) evolved into a number of other models (including the four-wheel-drive Eagle) and was produced through 1988. The Hornet was initially available in a choice of two thrifty straight-six engines or a 304 cu in (5.0 L) V8.

The Hornet was offered as a two-door and four-door notchback sedan in its introductory year. Unfortunately, the hardtop coupe body style was not continued from the 1969 Rambler American. A four-door station wagon variant named the "Sportabout" was added to the 1971 lineup. Also for 1971, the SC/360 was added. This was a 360 cu in (5.9 L) V8 powered performance vehicle available only as a two-door sedan. (The tire pressure sticker on the first 1970 models hinted at the SC/360). In 1973, a hatchback coupe was added to the lineup.

AMC used the Hornet as the basis for its AMC Gremlin, which consisted of the front half of the two-door Hornet's body and a truncated rear section with a window hatchback.

In 1973 a Levi's Jeans trim package - based on the world-famous jeans manufacturer - was offered. The Levi's trim package was popular and was offered throughout the mid-1970s. The station wagon version was offered with a luxury trim package designed by Italian fashion designer Dr. Aldo Gucci.

The AMC Hornet was the first U.S. made automobile to feature guardrail beam doors to protect occupants in the event of a side impact. The 1973 Hornet hatchback was the first U.S. made compact hatchback, one year ahead of the 1974 Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Nova hatchback models.

The Hornet was transformed into a "luxury compact" line of cars, the AMC Concord, as well as an innovative "crossover" all-wheel drive vehicle, the AMC Eagle.

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