Car Show Classic: 1974 AMC Hornet Sportabout – A Dorky Cupid Moment


(first posted 6/29/2015)    Leave it to me.  At a car show surrounded by seductive chariots spanning from 1933 to 1977, I manage to fall in love with an AMC Hornet.  I guess in terms of old machinery (and brunettes with glasses, aka my wife), love at first sight is no myth.  I already have the girl, but if it’s possible to have a crush on a car, I’m lost, man, lost.


We’ve had Hornet Sportabouts on here before, and judging by the response to those, I’m not alone in my whirlwind affair with this wallflower.  Of course, this nerd girl has come to the dance dressed to kill.  Oh, Hornet, your butterscotch paint and harmonizing white stripe leave me weak in the knees.


Of course, sometimes there’s just a little detail that makes you fall in love all over again, like a Hornet badge that’s almost a touch too precious.  Ah, what’s the use?  Let’s suspend our disbelief a while longer.


I was meant to adore thee, oh Hornet.  Your hubcaps have stung me like Cupid’s arrow.  When I was a kid, I saw a ladybug and a bumblebee sitting near each other, and I was hell bent on petting just one of them.  I chose the bee…was it cosmic foreshadowing?  It stung like hell, the price I paid for thinking a bee was fuzzy and beautiful.

Of course, an AMC Hornet could cause similar exquisite pain; all old cars do.  Their beauty and allure draw a poor, mixed up fella in until one day he’s trying to yank the driver’s side axle out of his Dart wagon on a nasty garage floor, and he just can’t get it and he wonders why he bothers.  Oh wait.  Too close to home…Damn you, Hornet, you temptress!


Of course, what makes the Sportabout is the tailgate.  Somehow, a Hornet sedan or even an SC/360 with its bellowing engine can’t fascinate like the wagon can.  How backwards is a company when its workaday choremobile is the Brigitte Bardot of the bunch?  Oh god, did I just compare a Hornet to her?  I’m a mess, and it’s not just the car…why am I using a 50 year old cultural reference?  Hornet!!!!


I’m fairly certain I’m off the deep end here, but just in case anybody is following me like a lemming, here’s another shot of the Hornet’s best angle.  Even those government bumpers can’t spoil the Hornet.  Not to mention, is it just me, or did AMC get these bumpers far more right than the Big Three did (Firebirds, perhaps, notwithstanding)?


Remember that scene in The Graduate where Benjamin Braddock wistfully signed Elaine’s name over and over again on a piece of notebook paper?  I’m not saying I’ve copied that scene, replacing “Elaine” with “Sportabout,” but I’m not saying I haven’t.


Alas, this love affair is not to be, and it’s just as well.  All the magnets at the car shows share a similar warning, for good reason: “look, but don’t touch.”  In fact, here’s this Hornet’s owner locking her up so no weirdos try to run off with her, uh, it.  Additionally, one must respect the bond between owner and car; after all, I don’t like when overzealous old guys drool all over my ’53 Special.  It makes me jealous and defensive.  Therefore, I’ll just chalk this up to a chance encounter on the street.  Just a glance, nothing more.  Please, Hornet, don’t haunt my dreams!