(Editor’s note: this submision is clearly a response to my Matador CC “The Stench Of Death”. We always welcome rebuttals)
In retrospect, it is very easy to condemn the Matador sedan, and lump it in with the last gasp effort of another venerable independent, the Studebaker Lark. However, in 1974 AMC was still very much a vibrant and relevant company, with the successful Hornet selling strongly, and the innovative Pacer on the horizon with an introduction scheduled for early 1975. 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.
I have to admit heavy bias in favor of the Matador sedan, and am the proud owner of the 1974 model shown here. Unlike Mr. Niedermeyer, I believe this revamp of the Rebel to be one of Dick Teague’s finer moments, especially considering the base material he had to work with; the Rebel, while utilitarian, was box-on-box styling at its most basic. It appears to me that Mr. Teague’s inspiration was a nautical one, a direction made to take the Matador upmarket and into the hands of those with disposable leisure dollars.
Am I crazy? Consider the Chris Craft XK-22 above. Notice the pointed front end, and the kick at the rear leading to a sloping deck; also note how the sail panels on the rear sit proud of the rear deck area. All of these features were prominent on the 1971 redesign, and the front end facelift of 1974 simply made the commonalities more pronounced. Far from being a death knell, the redesigned Matador was a bold move by a forward looking company still very much in the game.
Yes, these cars were favorites of police everywhere including my hometown of Edmonton, Alberta. This is a testament to their quality, durability, and available air conditioning at a reasonable price This is something to be admired rather than mocked or maligned. Very few cars are suitable for police usage, and it is testament to the engineering of the Matador that it was so widely used.
Finally, I’ll address the idea that these cars are boring. That, of course, is in the eyes of the beholder. However, I can tell you that my Matador draws more crowds at a show and shine than any of the rows of Mustangs, Camaros, and the other usual suspects found at such events.
As far as the driving experience, I can say that the power and acceleration are well up to modern standards (when stacked against Caprices and Crown Vics, their modern equivalents), and it easily out-handles my recently departed late model Crown Vic in the twisties.
But I do hope Mr. Niedermeyer and the other naysayers keep up the good work; their denigration of the Matador keeps prices sane for those of us in the know, and allows us to enjoy some of Kenosha’s finest while continuing to fly under the radar…