CC Capsule: 1977 – ’78 AMC Matador Wagon – Still Getting Groceries

007 - Matador Brougham Wagon

The parking lot of the neighborhood grocery store has yielded some pretty incredible finds.  Still, I was flabbergasted to find there what appeared to be a daily-driver, mid-1970’s AMC Matador station wagon.  I wonder what kind of owner(s) had lovingly nursed it through the years as an AMC-orphan.  That’s true devotion.

I think this one is a ’77 or ’78, by the stand-up hood ornament and lack of “Brougham” (a trim level gone after ’76) script emblems on the C-pillars.  It has been entertaining to read opinions in CC threads ranging from tolerance to straight-up disgust with the end-result of Chief Stylist Dick Teague’s staff’s efforts.  Personally, I think there was nothing wrong with the related, restyled ’74 Ambassador’s front clip.  That car’s smoother, quad-headlamp front-end treatment fixes almost everything that’s wrong here.

While I don’t love the Matador’s front end, I do respect where I think AMC was trying to go with it.  A coffin-nose has proved to be dashing in some applications – the Cord 810/812, the Dodge Mirada (which, yes, came later), and I’m sure there are at least a few other examples.  I understand how Kenosha might have thought this frontal treatment would add some distinction to what was, up to that point, a very innocuous and inoffensive (if also forgettable) design.

Laura Mars Matador collage

But, still…I dunno.  I watched the 1978 movie “The Eyes Of Laura Mars”, with Faye Dunaway playing a renowned fashion photographer, on TV while doing laundry one night.  I had real trouble believing the titular character would have been squired around Manhattan by her chauffeur in such an unfortunately-faced car.  Some artists have unusually eclectic tastes, but some of the more successful ones also have a bit more money to play with than rolling in a Matador would suggest.  I’m also trying to imagine what an AMC dealership in NYC would have looked like.  But all of that is beside the point, I guess.

One of my favorite things about the featured car is that it looked like a regular driver.  AMC had been effectively gone for twenty years prior to this spotting.  The owner(s) must have known a good mechanic.  I also love how the “luxury” features like the Di-Noc woodgrain and hood ornament were in direct contrast to the lived-in (hopefully not literally) condition of the car.  Granted, this wagon wasn’t in horrible shape for being at least thirty-one years old, but it didn’t appear to be a pampered family heirloom, either.

I haven’t seen this Matador since, but I’d like to think that by its longevity and (presumed) years of faithful service, it earned a permanent spot in someone’s cache of fond memories.  Even if it wasn’t considered traditionally attractive like its Hornet Sportabout stablemate, it was at the very least memorable.

The subject car was photographed by the author in Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009.

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