Junkyard Classic: Last Generation Matador- At the End of the Road

Last week the QOTD asked which seventies car had the ugliest five MPH bumpers. Daniel M. nominated the Matador sedans, and I’ll concur. Dick Teague developed some interesting federalized bumper designs, and I actually like some of his solutions (in particular, his floating bumpers on the Hornet and Matador Coupe). However, in this case he created a grille designed to distract from the bumper. An interesting concept, but unsuccessful in execution.


This sad silhouette marked the end of the road for the Matador nameplate. Paul wrote of these flanks in his Curbside Classic article “The Stench of Death.” In the article he stated, “Most Americans pined for a new Colonnade coupe, with opera windows, not a dowdy and malformed Matador sedan.”

beforeafterBefore and after

This incendiary language compelled reader Doug Frechette to join our author ranks and write a counterpoint titled “In Defense of the 1974 Matador Sedan.” Doug stated “In addition to the startling Matador coupe, the Matador sedan for 1974 sported a crisp and fresh new nose, as well as a revised rear clip and new colors added to entice buyers into showrooms.”

Okay, it’s hard to argue with “startling Matador Coupe,” and I’ve already weighed in on that “crisp and fresh nose,” so let’s just move on.


This Matador is amazingly complete and it would seem few folk walking through our local Pick Your Part desire these parts. Given the number of Matadors I see on the road during a typical week, that’s awfully hard to believe. Someone did grab the power steering pump off this one, but the Saginaw pump used in this generation Matador could fit any number of other cars.

I should note this fine mesh grille establishes our car as a ’75-’78 Matador. The 1974 Matador Sedan had a unique grille, with a bold (striking?) vertical slat design. Given that this simple fine mesh replaced it and carried on for the Matador’s final four years, we can conclude AMC buyers preferred boring over bold.


This interior shot also emphasizes how few folks are grabbing parts off mid-seventies Matadors. Other than the steering wheel and shaft, pretty much everything’s there. I’m amazed a car at the junkyard has so many quality interior pieces. The dash pad appears complete, and is crack free. It may be the only California car of this vintage possessing a striation free dash pad. This car must have spent a huge part of its life in a covered space to look this good.


Did I say “Looks good”? Perhaps I should go with “looks unmolested.” It’s hard to gaze upon this disco era interior and feel anything but nauseated.


Another noteworthy image: the factory emissions is sticker still on the driver’s window. It’s remarkable it survived through forty years of window winding, but also strange that no owner bothered removing it with a simple swipe of a single edge blade SOMETIME in the car’s life. Perhaps this image most clearly defines AMC four door sedan owners–people with such little emotional investment in their cars that they can ignore a peeling government sticker for four decades.

So concludes this Junkyard review. Sometime in the next six months, this hulk will head for the crusher, marking the end of the road for this end of the road model.