Choosing between the Pacer and the Matador coupe is a tough one. If the Pacer were the original hatchback, that would seal it. But then if the matador had its original non-vinyl roof, that would seal it too.
I answer in truth and without irony when I state I have a genuine soft spot for these cars, even the lowly Gremlin. Of the vehicles shown, the Concord AMX is my immediate choice. A base Matador coupe would be fine. And I’m sure I could find an earlier front clip for the Pacer.
I owned a 1974 Matador X coupe, white with the black stripes and the rally wheel option. It was a heavy car but handled well considering it’s size and weight. Mine had the 360ci option. I wanted the AMX with 401 Go package but when shopping around for insurance, (I was 19) I couldn’t get it covered nor could I cover the Matador with the 401 so I settled for the 360. My car payment was $106 a month after trading in a 1965 Chevy Nova and a 1962 Falcon Fordor. Eventually I did upgrade the shocks and springs on the car, replaced the intake, added a Holley 750 double pumper, an Accel distributor and big yellow Accel wires and finally a big free flow exhaust with Thrust Turbo mufflers and tube headers. I loved that car, in dash 8-track and all.
I bet your insurance premium matched your monthly car payments?.
The insurance was about the same as my car payment. With the 401 Go Package, the insurance rate quoted was more than twice my car payment. I kept my Matador until 1979 when I sold it to my brother-in-law and bought a 1980 Audi 4000. Since then I’ve only owned European cars: Mercedes SLK320, ML320, C280, C230, CLS550, GL450; Porsche 944, Fiat 500 Gucci, Fiat 124 Spiders and Volvo 850R plus an assortment of trucks.
Where’s the Concord? Easily, their best offering at this point. I’d choose a Concord Limited wagon.
Black car in back looks like a Concord.
Strange, they use what they’d likely forecast, as perhaps the least popular Concord bodystyle.
I still think of those coupes, without the formal roof, as a Hornets.
I normally don’t care much about styling…but I don ‘t want a coupe, and the facelifted Ambassador wagon is just THAT hideous. That, plus no manual transmission available, means it’s off the list. So…Concord wagon. 4-speed, with the only options air conditioning, HD suspension, and cruise control. And if available, bucket seats.
Swap the dinky rolling stock for 15″ wheels & tires and I’m good.
The Pacer redo for 78 looks just right, I’ll take one with a 304 & 727 TF
I checked out the full brochure on oldcarbrochures.com and a post on CC to make sure I remembered correctly. For the base Gremlin, the 232 I-6 was standard equipment, but there was also a Gremlin model called “Custom 2-Liter” whose engine was sourced by AMC from VAG (the 2.0 L EA831).
In that CC post, Paul conjectured you could install a 375hp variant of the 2-liter Audi. I don’t know much about FWD vs. RWD transmissions and bellhousings and such when it comes to Audi/VW stuff, but I feel like it might be relatively simple to fit a hotted-up TDI engine into a Gremlin 2-Liter Custom. I think that might keep me entertained 🙂
Wonder if the 2 litre was also available on the Concord? Maybe not, it was a bit heavier…I’m currently driving the engine part (on my ’00 Golf 2.0).
Back in ’78, I was mid-way through my undergraduate studies, so probably none of these, I couldn’t afford a new car, my Dad’s last AMC was 15 years prior (’63 Classic Wagon). For me, a Concord would be nice, 4 doors (interesting that I like 2 doors on the Hornet but 4 on the Concord), with the 232 6, automatic (though I’ve had only manuals since 1981, I’m reforming in my old age and am looking to find an old fogey’s car…wish the Concord was still available.
I worked as transporter for Hertz in ’78, drove lots of different cars, but the only AMC was a Pacer…Hertz didn’t have many of them, didn’t get to drive a Concord back then but that would be my choice now. One of my co-workers back then had a VW 411 (but no, I didn’t own a VW till 3 years later for the 1st one)
Wonder if the 2 litre was also available on the Concord? Maybe not, it was a bit heavier…I’m currently driving the engine part (on my ’00 Golf 2.0).
Yes, the 2 litre was standard on the Concord in ’78, but it has zero relationship to the 2.0 in your Golf. The AMC engine was based on the original Audi four (designed by Mercedes) with a new SOHC head, and also used in the Porsche 924 and VW LT truck.
The Golf 2.0 is from the 827 family, which was the new smaller Audi engine first used in the 80/Fox, and then widely used by various VW brands.
Ah, okay. That means I might be able to squeeze in the 2.4 liter I-6 turbodiesel from the Volvo 745!
Thanks, Paul…didn’t realize there were two different 2.0s offered by VW/Audi.
Now it has me wondering also about my Dad’s Dodge Omni, which also had the VW block, which engine family it was from…think his was 1.7 litres, and it was carburated instead of having fuel injection (of course the Concord was also carburated.
I would think the Concord would have been a bit hefty for the 2.0, but of course fuel mileage was a big deal too, it might have been a big draw for those looking for that.
Actually the VW/AMC 2L was not the 2L used in your Golf. It was a older design lifted from Audi models and from the VW LT cab-over truck line. It was harsh, slow and noisy. The main thing I liked about that engine was the valves were adjusted not with shims in buckets but with a tapered screw that had a flat milled on one side. You turned the screw which adjusted the calve clearance tighter or looser depending on the direction turned. The same engine was also supplied to Chrysler in a 1.7L version for the Omni/Horizon line.
Always liked the AMC Hornet.
The Matador would be my choice over the Pacer.
The cannon-like headlight nacelles are very distinctive.
Did AMC really expect us to believe that the owner of this estate drove their cars?
That was my first thought also!
My parents seriously considered a Pacer wagon in 1978, but ultimately decided on the new Plymouth Horizon because they were not sure of the viability of AMC (ironic, no?). Even though the Horizon was a quality nightmare, I do think the Horizon was the better choice. The 1979 gas crisis would have made more salient the Pacer’s fatal flaw, which was horrendous gas mileage for a “small” car, plus the fish-tank windows would not have mixed well with our subsequent move to South Florida.
I personally was happy to finally have a four door, as getting in and out of our Pinto Wagon’s back seat was getting to be more and more of a hassle. Having your own roll-down window was nice, too.
I don’t think the Hornet wagon was on the list, probably because it was old by 1978 and Dad preferred new and novel.
I’ll take the Dodge. Or the Chevrolet. Or the Ford.
A lot of people did, which was AMC’s problem.
My dad went shopping for a domestic compact/intermediate wagon in Spring 1978. Didn’t even consider the Concord, for a moment.
AMC Canada, published ads specifically aimed to address potential buyer’s trepidation, and AMC’s general invisibility. Says a lot about AMC’s vulnerability in the marketplace.
“If it appeals to you, shouldn’t you look into it?”
Don’t remember this low key ad, at all. I doubt it convinced many new potential owners to look into AMC products, like the Pacer wagon.
1974 Gremlin X ‘hockey stick’ striping, was probably the best offered during the Gremlin’s run. Most flattering to the unique roof sheet metal.
1978 Gremlin X striping, has to be the weakest.
An Oleg Cassini interior Matador for me, please. 401 4-BBL V8 engine, no vinyl top, remove those hideous 5 mph crash bumpers!
Just because its quirky as hell and only four or five remain in the universe (aliens took one confusing it with the up coming Space Shuttle), I’ll take the Pacer Wagon with the woodgrain paneling and 5 cans of R12 freon to keep the A/C at full charge.
PS: If you move the time machine back a few years, I’d take a Gremlin with the Levi’s package with denim blue interior and exterior. AMC got this one right.
Put me down for the black Concord AMX….
Did anyone who lived in a house like this EVER buy a car from AMC other than a Jeep or an Eagle?
I would go for campy and pick the Pacer wagon, but I would scream every time I drove it because of that molded plastic upper door panel that rose above the beltline. So I guess I will choose the black Hornet AMX. But only if it comes with a V8.
Even if they did, would they have allowed them on the lawn? 🙂
I could do a non-Barcelona Matador very easily, that car looks like a true relic for 1978 model year PLCs and that is not a bad thing.
If I recall correctly, this is the generation Matador that Penske ran in NASCAR with Bobby Allison. Race car or no, I couldn’t stomach them. The others, especially the Pacer as a wagon, and even the Gremlin, have appeal. But I’d probably take the Hornet (Concord?) and remove the louvers and black-out the B pillar.
Where was that photo taken?
I’ll take that Matador Barcelona II, no question.
Interesting that the Matador 4 door sedan and wagon were not included in the pic.
1978 was the final model year for those.
Reminds me of the old joke: first place winner gets his choice of any one of these cars, while the second place winner must choose any two.
In the context of the fast-changing car market of 1978, it’s hard to think of a less appealing lineup. The Big Three had each introduced at least one line of modern, downsized vehicles (GM A, B, and C bodies, Ford’s Fairmont/Zephyr twins, the Omnirizon pair from Chrysler) that attempted to meet new safety and pollution regulations head-on in a vastly more efficient package. For those who still wanted old-style excess, there were plenty of better choices than anything made by AMC (last of the RWD X-bodies, most other Fords, Aspen/Volare twins and mid- and full-size Chrysler products).
All AMC had to offer was a refreshed Hornet/Concord, and even the wagon version, which long had the compact market to itself, was outclassed by the competition.
So, to answer the title question, I’ll take the cash prize in lieu of a car.
Yes, that was my first thought too: I guarantee nobody living in a house like that is buying one of these AMC products 🙂
Anyway, I’d pick the Gremlin in this case as long as I don’t have to ride in the back seat.
What a comedown after Rambler/AMC’s glory days of the late ’50s and early ’60s. Their one market advantage – a reputation for a more rational approach to car design – clearly didn’t make it to 1978. Not much in this picture, in the foreground anyway, looks rational to me.
It may be naive to imagine that a strategy similar to that of Volkswagen in the 1960’s – of deliberately ignoring the styling frenzy that other manufacturers were pushing, and focusing instead on build quality and making their cars incrementally better every year – could have provided a niche to succeed in. As others have speculated, perhaps there was a window of opportunity at some point to become a North American Volvo.
I picked up that 78 AMC brochure at the International Auto Show in New York City. I was 14 years old at the time, and I still have it to this day.
From the moment I picked up the brochure, I realized that couldn’t be someone’s home. I thought it had to be either a restaurant, a fancy country club, or maybe even a building at a fancy vacation resort or something. Definitely not a house.
When I was 14 years old, my choice of car would be the black AMX. Today I’d go with the Matador Coupe.
Easy choice-I’ll take the AMX.
My knowledge of these cars is limited. I drove a Gremlin for a weekend, and that first hand experience rules that out.
A car journalist in this area, JIm Kenzie, owned a Hornet for years, and loved that car.
A colleague of mine had an AMX, viewing that car told me it was too small for my liking.
I collided with a Javelin, which left a scratch on my bumper, but his car was totalled. I had contacted his rear bumper on one corner when he was in process of cutting me off. I’d take one of those, but it doesn’t seem very sturdy.
The Matador was different when it came out, and it still stands out with its swoopy styling. Even though it’s a heavy car, I’ll take one of those for the time being, on a trial. I might find it to be a good running car. However I would prefer a Cordoba from that year please.
Where is the 78 Concord? The fastback car is the AMX that year, which used the 77 Hornet body shell. The 78 Concord was a great success for AMC in 78. I had a 78 Concord DL 2 door for over 20 years, best damn car I ever had. Not too big, not too small, 258 auto, in firecracker red with black vinyl. A set of Plymouth roadrunner mag 500’s and T/A Radials greatly improved the appearance. Very dependable and easy to work on. Man I miss that car.
Look at all those 2 doors ! talk about being spoiled for choice.
The black AMX please, though I would rather a Volare or Aspen coupe,
Any of them. In 1978 my family were AMC fans. Their compact dimensions, spacious interiors and robust mechanicals won my dad over . He’d become frustrated
by his fragile British cars and disliked the overstyled American offerings from the Big Three.
I like that Pacer wagon, huge space in a compact size. A winner, especially if it had the 304.
And the Hornet. They’re a lot like the Fox body Mustang, but beat Ford by about seven years.
I think I would just get a used ’74 Javelin AMX personally. If I could’ve back then, I’d go back in time and buy it new.
My buddy back in the day had one of them and it was a cool car. Granted, it was a 304 powered regular Javelin with a three speed and a Pierre Cardin interior, and not a fire-breathing 401 AMX, but I liked it just the same.
By 1978 when I graduated high school, AMC just didn’t do anything for me anymore.
If asked to choose between the ones in the promo shot, the black Hornet or Concord AMX would be my choice.
My Godfather owned many Ambassadors over the years until AMC replaced it with the Matador series. His last full-sized AMC was a new 1978 Matador with the Barcelona package. It looked so nice. He went a step further by replacing the Matador nameplates with Ambassador plates. And he never wanted to trade the car in for a smaller Concord ever. There was a picture he took of the vehicle in front of the house but not sure where it is after all these years or who has it.
Could it be that these are the owner’s fleet of lawn mowers and garden tractors, for his personal, on-site landscaper who lived in the gate house? The AMX would be my choice. I think the Gremlin is funky, but never wanted one, and the Matador, like the Pacer, looked smaller and more lithe in photos than in the metal. The Matador played like an oversized flounder with huge expanses of metal and overhangs like a mid-fifties Nash, and my brain reconfigured the Pacer into a car the size of a Pinto when I saw a factory photo before introduction.
Looks like 1978 was the last year for the Gremlin? They can’t have sold many. As a kid in the 70s, I saw a fair number of Gremlins, but amazingly have never seen the front end shown in the picture.
The restyled front clip (and larger rear hatch) appeared for 1977. Production was 46,171 for 1977, and 22,104 for 1978.
Given how long the car had been on the market, and how tough the foreign and domestic competition had become by 1977, it’s amazing that AMC sold that many during those two model years.
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