(first posted 6/11/2014) Life can be funny. I didn’t set out to shoot this Green AMC Hornet Sportabout Gucci Edition, but then I didn’t set out to give a talk about the future of cars to the McMinnville City Club Pub Talk series either. Nor, when you get right down to it, did I ever really intend to write about cars for a living in the first place. Life has a plan for all of us that is almost entirely incomprehensible, except for the occasional small clues that seem to indicate things are moving along on the right path. When we’re especially lucky those clues are even as obvious as a perfect CC-condition 1972 Hornet Gucci Sportabout.
Matt, the Hornet’s proud owner, no more meant to buy a Curbside Classic than I meant to write about cars… but as he says, “just look at it.” He couldn’t say no. I’m not sure I could either, if I found this “little old lady” car at the deal he got.
It’s the kind of car that might not immediately grab your eye on a scan of the street in 2014, but as soon as you notice it it draws you in.
The details are what makers this car, and the condition is what makes the details. Everything is there, right down to the somewhat distressing warning “Keep window closed and latched while driving.”
A good warning. The gorgeous Gucci-pattern headliner is probably at nightly risk of being slashed out by the aggressive artisnal upcyclers who roam the greater Portland area in an endless search for vintage materials with which to make iPhone cases for Brooklyn boutiques.
If not for Matt’s vigilance, the leather and vinyl upholstery would already be wallets or bong cozies.
But as easy as it is to bash hipsters, I’d buy the tail ornament myself just to stare at the Italianate Hornet symbol, framed by a gear.
And don’t get me started about those hubcaps…
Not while Matt’s driving it though, and he plans to keep it running for as long as he can. That wasn’t the plan, but it is now… and it’s not hard to see why.
Postscript by Niedermeyer the Elder: I do hope Matt fully realizes what a rare and exceptional car he has. The 1972 Gucci Sportabout is the first hookup between an American manufacturer and a European fashion designer, a pioneering move by AMC that didn’t really pay off for them, but it sure did for Lincoln, which soon took up the idea. Only 2,583 of these were built in 1972, and 2,252 in 1973.
AMC expanded the idea to the 1973 Cardin Javelin and the 1974 Cassini Matador (CC here). But it seems that AMC didn’t really ignite the market that it primarily catered too. Realistically, most Hornet buyers in 1972 probably didn’t even know what Gucci was. AMC was ahead of their time, once again.
I wonder what this car would fetch in Gucci-crazed China?
Wow! Nice find!
Thank you for the post Ed. It was a pleasure meeting you in McMinnville and this could not have come at a better time for me. I was starting to feel discouraged that the Hornet needed a little more work (steering linkage is getting loose) and all these comments have invigorated me to work on it again.
I don’t remember if I mentioned it to you but she only has original 38,700 miles which is the cherry on the cake for me. I am sure the low use played a big role in it staying in such great condition.
This is a great site. You have found another regular reader in me.
Welcome, Matt, and thanks for sharing your Gucci. Take good care of it; you might just have the nicest one left in the world.
Very cool car Matt! Have you taken it to a car show yet? You’d have the only one there.
I have not done any car shows. But I do think it would be fun. I will look for one in the area.
I too have a low mileage find, in my case a 1979 Dodge Aspen stationwagon that was a true oxymoron – a “rust free Toronto car”. Finding this car at the tender age of nearly 30 and discovering that it really was not only rust free but had a pleasantly surprising 10,000 miles on it was another of those ‘cherry on top’ moments. My biggest mechanic issue was severely deteriorated exhaust valves. When I adopted the car, it ran on 5 cylinders and an examination of the cylinder head revealed that it would soon be running on even fewer. So new valves, guides and a healthy plane-ing of the joint face and it now runs like a champ.
Hi Matt, Many years ago we had that very car, just found this article this morning. We really loved ours, do you still have yours? It brings back back fond memories for us. In fact over Christmas our son and wife were really enthralled to hear about our Sportabout.
If you still have yours are you wanting to keep it? Love to talk to you about it. Ron Landwert 623.910.4190 give me a call. I live outside of Phoenix in Sun City West, AZ.
Hi Matt, if you ever want to part with this gem, shoot me an email email@example.com, sweet little AMC!
Having spent a week in a fleet grade Hornet, I should be too traumatized to get near this. But, I’m strangely drawn. Great car and comments! You have some of your father’s writing style.
Back in the 1980’s I was a full-time member of the Army National Guard. I was in one of the tank companies of an armored battalion. Our state headquarters was some 3+ hours away and driving the tactical vehicles (read deuce and a half) back and forth for minor errands was a pain in the behind. We complained long enough so that they finally assigned us a Hornet sedan to drive. It was better than driving the deuce and a half but not a whole lot. As I recall the only option this beast had was the automatic transmission; no radio, no A/C, I don’t even think it had a cigarette lighter. To give the Hornet its due it only quit on us a couple of times and never far away from help. Every time someone writes about Hornets I think about the one we had and wonder why anybody with a choice would want one. Different strokes for different folks I guess.
I was having my car painted, and I wanted the cheapest rental possible. I went to a Rent-A-Wreck where they rent very used cars. My Hornet was a tan base model with rubber floor mats in lieu of carpet and faded evidence of a Parks Department decal on the door. It did have automatic, power steering, power brakes, AC and an AM radio – or it would not have made the luxurious Rent-A-Wreck fleet standards. The AC worked, but the AM radio could not be heard over the din of a tin can on wheels with zero sound insulation. The inline six chugged along at a very leisurely pace.
Sounds like my circumstances were down right luxurious compared to yours.
Beautiful car with the best color. Always wanted one like this back in the day when my kids were young.
This is totally freaking awesome! I’ve not been jealous of too many CCs but I definitely am of this one.
I’m not a big Hornet fan or anything, but that is insanely cool. Everything is in such great shape–how could you not want it in all its weird glory???
Wow, nice find, and an Edward N CC writeup too. Never seen either before.
Those interior shots bring back my AMC ownership days:
-That armrest with the metal strip across the middle, complete with molded in stitching.
-The window cranks that keep losing their knobs and breaking (note the ones shown are mis-matched)
-Same steering wheel and pedal pads used on all models
-Single phillips screw at the front lower corner of the door card to keep it attached
Good memories! (?)
The irony of a Gucci interior, but no air conditioning. Ha.
I think that these never really hit for AMC because, well, it was AMC. Designer nameplates on an AMC Hornet or Matador, in the 1970’s to me is like seeing an ad, The Harry Winston collection, now available at Walmart, Sam’s Choice Moet-Chandon, Old Roy Brand Caviar and Pate, or a Kirkland TAG-Heuer.
You slap a fancy name on a fancy car, like the Lincoln designers, and it seems a little more in line with both the products image, but the designer AMC’s had this low brand-high brand disconnect that doesn’t work in my head. They did do one right, their LEVI’S branded cars and Jeeps seemed more in line with AMC’s values than the other designer nameplates.
I will say, that Hornet emblem is awesome, and Sportabout is such a cheerful name for a wagon. This is almost what comes to mind when Clark Griswold talks about the Atlantic Blue Sportwagon with he CB and Rallye Fun package.
Spot on comments all.
Agree with your points. The LEVI’S editions hit the target market perfectly, particularly with the Gremlin.
The Gremlin X was another marketing bull’s-eye.
A friend of my dad owned a Levi’s Edition Gremlin back in the ‘70’s. I wasn’t a big AMC fan, but I thought it was kind of cool.
Edward, it’s great to see your byline again! I owned a (non-Gucci) Sportabout of about this same vintage, finished in an impossibly beautiful metallic deep brown, with the 232 cid six and automatic. To this day, I miss that car. IIRC, the Sportabout was a Dick Teague creation, and your pictures reminded me of how good a design it was; it not only looks fresh still, but is arguably more attractive than many of today’s origami school-of design small wagons and hatches. Nice find, Niedermeyer fils!
An old brown wagon! Isn’t that the ultimate in CCdom?
Close. It had an automatic, not a stick shift.
However, I know someone with a brown Satellite wagon with a 318 and 3 on the tree.
How about the recent Mercedes – a manual, diesel station wagon. Just missing the brown part.
Surely this is the pinnacle of ironic hipster vehicles; sucks to have to drive a mere Falcon or elderly Dart!
A great find! The Sportabouts were the best-looking station wagon since the 1955-57 Chevrolet Nomads, and the Hornet was the best-looking domestic compact of the 1970s.
The Sportabouts were everywhere in the 1970s. If only the build quality had been as good as the styling.
Love it. Gucci Hornet – bring on designer edition Prii. Perhaps a Burberry Prius? 🙂
I can confirm that in my local area at least, there would be a substantial market for a Burberry Prius. (Or a Burberry almost anything.)
The Sportabout is a superb example that, while everyone remembers that AMC usually did the wrong thing, they occasionally got it right, too. The Big 3 had long ago abandoned the compact station wagon market, yet here was tiny AMC realizing it still existed and provided not only the sole vehicle for it, but a pretty good looking one, at that.
In fact, compare this with the preceding CC of the ungainly Plymouth Fury of the same year. It’s the very embodiment of the first line of A Tale of Two Cities.
Nah, it was just the worst of times. 😛
“. Everything is there, right down to the somewhat distressing warning “Keep window closed and latched while driving.””
a common warning on cars or other vehicles with hatchbacks/liftgates or opening rear glass; the air flowing over the vehicle will “roll” off of the rear edge of the roof and form a vortex which can push exhaust gases back into the interior.
Who needs D&G glasses or a Louis Vuitton purse when driving a car like that.
Very nice indeed, both the vehicle and the article.
The only problem with driving this car would be worrying about damage or theft whenever it was parked outside somewhere. I would think trim parts would be almost impossible to find. I wonder how many miles are on this garage queen. I think if I found a great example such as this, I would bite the bullet and drive it and keep it running forever. Nice to see you contribute on Paul’s site. Nice find and great write up.
What is this I don’t even.
Wow – I am at the stage where I have at least read about most old oddball cars, at least from U.S. manufacturers. This one is news to me. Again, wow. Had no idea these ever existed, and have certainly never seen one in person. I thought that the Oleg Cassini Matador was the opening shot in the designer wars. I stand corrected.
I love the Sportabout – there is something about its looks that is just perfect. Except for maybe those wheelcovers.
I think Carmine hit it exactly – you can’t sell a cheap compact with a designer badge. The snobs don’t want it, and the slobs (who are the target market) don’t know or don’t care anything about the designer.
Exactly JP – you wonder if they considered doing a Diplomat/DPL/Ambassador Gucci edition? Surely that would be more fitting. Then again in light of rudiger’s post below, maybe Mr Gucci just liked the Sportabout body style?
I never knew I could like a Hornet this much!
I could look at that photo of the interior for hours. Mesmerizing.
Ah, the memories come flooding back! In September of ’74 my dad bought a slightly used ’74 Sportabout X, and on it’s very first road trip that month it coughed up a lung in Charleston WV. After that it was a pretty dependable car, but the dreaded Rust Belt Tin Worm did quite a job on it, and there wasn’t a whole lot left when I crashed it into an F150 in the winter of ’79-’80. Probably had around 120k when it got junked, and that was pretty good for any car from the ’70s in Cleveland.
Thank you Edward, a great article and a prized addition to the Curbside Classic fleet. Never thought I’d see one of these, 40 years later. Of the three ‘designer’ AMCs, I think I still like the Cardin Javelin the best. It’s interior remains dynamic, and fun to look at. Something Steve Austin would have drove the Bionic Woman home in. And I liked the second generation Javelin’s styling. The Sportabout is definitely a close second for me, primarily because of the wagon’s advanced styling, and great packaging. The Gucci version is tastefully done, and it still looks great today. Unfortunately, I never liked the Cassini Matador. I find the copper accents and buttoned seats, too baroque. Neither of which suited the Matador’s youthful exterior.
A great find!
The Cardin Javelin interior does have this “Logan’s Run” look to it.
I could have seen Buck Rogers driving a Cardin Javelin.
If you liked the Javelin by Cardin (and I do, too), you might dig his furniture. It turns up on ebay and 1st Dibs. It was all ultra modern, super sexy and overall, sensational. What he did to the Javelin is just the tip of the iceberg.
As cool and rare as this find is, I still think the Eagle is one of the most unique (and neatest) image overhauls of a car line, I’ve seen in my lifetime. It remains the coolest ‘Sportabout’ in my books. If I had bought a ’79 Concord wagon new, I no doubt, would have been very envious of the new for ’80 Eagle wagon.
That is probably the nicest Hornet in existence. Too cool. Are the hubcaps meant to recall a hornet’s stinger? They do to me.
What a shame AMC didn’t have a great engine to drop in these when new.
They did. The 290-401 family of engines were some of the best V8’s to ever reside between the fenders of anything…
What an absolutely fantastic car! Exceptional to say the least, a true gem of a rarity. Keep this car nice, please, at all costs!
P.S. I am extremely jealous.
After doing some research, it turns out that the Sportabout actually outsold each of the other Hornet models for most of its life (and by a wide margin in the early years). The later years drop-off can probably be attributed to the introduction of the competing Aspen/Volaré wagon.
And, for all you AMC-philes, here’s an interesting tidbit about a custom Sportabout that AMC created for Gucci, himself. From Wikipedia:
“AMC also produced a one-off Sportabout for Gucci’s personal use. The car was powered by a 5-litre V8 engine and had a three-speed automatic transmission. The interior featured leather door panels and cargo area, as well as the front and rear centre arm rests. The doors and custom-designed bucket seats received red and green striped inserts. The instrument panel was given a centrally located, pull-out writing desk, graced with a scribbler and a sterling silver bamboo pen. A map light at the end of a flexible arm extended from the right side of the desk, the left carried a vanity mirror, also on a flex stem. The back of the front seats popped open. The one on the passenger’s side served as a snack table or provided a flat surface for playing games. The compartment behind the driver concealed a miniature liquor cabinet, complete with four sterling silver tumbles and two decanters—all decorated with red and green enamel stripes.”
I wonder where Gucci’s Sportabout ended up…
Here’s the interior:
Good story and a beautiful car. Owned a 78 concord and frankly am still impressed with the drive train as well as the looks. A little slow getting started but it would cruise however fast you wanted all day. Mine was a 258/auto.
I never liked the AMC rear window and nearly gassed myself with the rear window cracked on my 57 210. Things seem to have improved. My 4runner has a deflector above the rear window and guess that’s what it’s for. Drive all day with one front window and the rear cracked. Makes nice cross ventilation.
Finds like this are what keeps everyone coming back.
Wow, incredible find and nice to see an Edward article on here!
Matt, if you’re reading this, is this the same car that was on eBay a few years ago? If it’s not, then there are at least two pristine Gucci Sportabouts left in this world. I window-shop car ads on a weekly basis, but rarely am I ever serious about buying them. When I saw that Hornet on there, I was seriously counting the pennies in my bank account to see if I could make it work and figuring out what the shipping would be. To get everything – the headliner, the seats, the door panels – in this kind of condition is just absolutely amazing!
And normally, I don’t even really like these Designer Edition cars from the 70s. This one (the first, didn’t realize) is so different from the others. All the little details are so thoughtful and the color scheme works perfectly for an AMC Hornet wagon. The car still manages to keep its minimalist, utilitarian tone somehow – even with multiple crests! I can’t make up my mind which detail I like the best. It’s tough to beat the little Hornet logo… but that headliner!! It’s all so cool!
So very jealous! Take good care of her!
This is not the same car but very close! We actually purchased that eBay 1972 GUCCI Sportabout, it is the same colour, Hunter Green, however it has one VERY important difference from this one, a FACTORY “H” code 5.0 304 CI V8. Plenty of power to match the looks of this very unique vehicle. The featured car has the base inline six. Of the 2500+ Gucci wagons made for 1972, it is estimated that less than 500 received the 304 engine. It is a complete vehicle as well, however having traveled nearly 180,000 miles, shows more signs of wear than this 38k cream-puff! We’ve nearly finished restoring the engine bay, all that is left is to install the pair of NOS rocker panel covers, and reinstall the factory Gucci “GG” headliner which we still have intact, it was just removed when it began to sag back in the mid 1990s. Apparently the fabric is authentic vintage Gucci, an upholsterer told us it is indeed very valuable stuff!
We have since added the correct green period optional factory correct 5 spoke “rally” /”sport” steering wheel as well as a factory correct set of AMC Magnum 500 spoke style wheels, which were also factory optional. (It came to us with hubcaps)
On the mechanical end, the 304 is fully rebuilt, 0.030 over, mild cam, Edlebrock performer 4bbl intake, and Carter 4bbl carb. The 998 Torqueflite transmission has also been rebuilt, and has a trans-go stage 2 shift kit installed. A custom dual exhaust system is also employed, with sporty chrome tips.
Interior is all original, some minor yet fixable defects exist in a few spots of the seams, the remainder of the interior is stock and correct.
Interior pic, showing the factory sport wheel, and rare optional “tilt” steering column. This vehicle also still retains its factory package tray, the feature car appears to be missing this piece.
Engine bay picture, Non a/c car, but does have optional power steering, and of course the 304 V8. Very rare option in a Gucci. We added factory power brakes.
Front view exterior pic. Note optional factory bumper guards, and dealer installed body side scuff moldings. Gucci badges present and accounted for, with a spare new old stock set on deck should someone try to pilfer one as a souvenir.
The seats stay covered 24/7 with a green fitted sheet to protect from the SoCal UVs. Vehicle is also covered.
Did you buy this recently? Looking for a car like this!
Every time I see a Sportabout (or Eagle Wagon) it just reminds me again that this may be the most stylish production wagon ever built. It still looks great today – but as a young teenager in the late 60s, early 70s, I lusted after Cobra Jet Mustangs and Super Duty Firebirds – wagons were at the bottom of my list – but can remember doing a double take when seeing my first Sportabout; and saying, that’s a nice looking car…….
The best looking small wagon of that era was the Sportabout and this is the cream of the crop. I saw several at a dealer in Baltimore in 1972 and was taken with them; all of them had the 5 spoke sport wheels which further enhanced their appearance. I believe 1 of the cars had a 304 V8 which was an option. Great piece on a long forgotten but cool wagon—thanks Ed.
If you decide to sell the gucci car will you contact me? I missed the sale of a tan one on eBay and cannot find another.
1971 Hornet AMC Hornet Gucci edition.. interested?
What a beautiful CC! An spotless, perfect marvel!
I love this wagon!! I also have a rare Gucci car… possibly the rarest in the world. I own a 1979 Cadillac Seville by Gucci. These were personally designed by Dr. Aldo Gucci himself! In 1979 only 200 of these rear-wheel drive beauties were made. They were sold exclusively at Braman Cadillac in, where else but, Miami Fl =) This was a whole different class of Cadillac available to the fortunate few that could afford it. They were an astounding $23,000 in 1979. Sammy Davis Jr owned one. So did Luciano Pavarotti. David Ruffin had two of them! There are less than 8 of these left in the world. There’s one displayed at the Gucci Museo in Florence, It. But it’s a 2nd generation Seville with front wheel drive (boo!). BEST PART OF ALL… I have the original purchase order, original bill of sale and all of the original brochures and manuals. It gets BETTER… it only has 19,600 original miles! It sits in my garage and I stare at it every day. Life is good =D
From the sales listing pictures, it looks like it is nothing more than a few Gucci emblems glued to a stock Seville. Perhaps you can enlighten us on what else is different?
Those Sevilles were on a modified Nova chassis, which limits their value. A $60k sale price is definitely 99th percentile for a Rwd Seville. Good luck with the sale, I hope you find a buyer who will appreciate the car.
Describing the 1st generation Seville as a modified Nova is so inaccurate. There is so much more to it. If the differences need to be explained to you, then this definitely is not the car for you. Thanks again =)
Is the car still for sale?
http://www.dupontregistry.com/autos/listing/1979/cadillac/seville/631332 VERY RARE CHANCE TO OWN THIS…
Gucci gucci gooooo!
is this Hornet for sale and if so how much are you asking?
With some stretching, it could be argued that this was AMC’s second use of a Euro fashion designer. Helene Rother, born in Leipzig, worked briefly for GM then spent much of her career at Nash in the ’50s.
I saw a Hornet Sportabout with the Gucci interior in 1972; it was the only one I ever saw. I can’t help but wonder if the Levi interior-as used in the Gremlin-would have been a better choice for the Sportabout.
I enjoyed this post, and thought it deserves more one (currant) response.
I waited for someone better at this to come along but I guess it’ll have to be me.
I really like this car. Its in perfect shape and a great example of the car. Love the green, and the headliner fabric is genuinely cool.
I think there is a bit of a brand disconnect here though. I like my Craftsman drill a lot, but if there was an Armani edition with styled edges and seams I dont think it would matter. It would seem a little odd actually, and I’d have bought a plainer one, especially if it cost less. AMC to me didn’t seem like a luxury brand, even if they could have luxury features.
What I mean is an AMC wagon is cool in its own right. It didn’t need to be dolled up with pretentious badges.
It’s trying to fit in with the rich kids, and not being itself.
But again, nice car.
Under the weather today (toothache) and my thoughts didn’t flow so smoothly, but I made my case the best I could.
Well a second comment popped up while I was typing. That’s a start.
I tried to amend my comment but the edit box was jumping up and down and being kinda wonky.
Its been that kind of a day for me.
Right on, TheMann. The rear aspect is gorgeous, the wheel arches to die for. But comments like those are perhaps out of place, here ? I rest my case.
The problem was that an AMC Hornet with a Gucci interior is like a Kellogg’s Pop Tart with a Godiva chocolate filling. No matter how awesome Gucci could make those seat covers, headliner and door panels, you still ended up looking at an instrument panel and a steering wheel that looks like it was made out of recycled plastic bleach bottles with gauge faces that look like they were old glued stickers.
Gotta love how even though it’s (ostensibly) AMC’s top Hornet model, the passenger-side mirror was still optional.
1971 Hornet AMC Hornet Gucci edition for sale.