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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

C&T 1974: AMC Matador X Road Test

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I always thought this was one of the top 5 ugliest cars of the post-war period. I swear I gave it a fair chance, too...

Cripes- 11 sec to 60 with a 401 4bbl in a 3500lb coupe ??

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I always thought this was one of the top 5 ugliest cars of the post-war period. I swear I gave it a fair chance, too...

In a rare disagreement with you, I always really liked the Matador coupe. I would love to find one. But I liked a lot of the '70s AMC cars.

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That 0-60 time doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the numbers. It turned a 16.5 second 1/4 mile at 89 mph, that's not bad for a smog-strangled engine in 1974.

I always liked these Matadors too.

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IMO, the purest, best design of this era AMCs is the AMX & the American (esp '64, but even up to the '69s). The Matadors, the Hornets, Ambassadors.... all ungainly to my eye in various degrees. The Rebel is right on the line- pretty good but a bit of bloat in the quarters, a bit stuffy in line. But the Matador above always looked like a stretched Pacer, like it should have been much shorter...

As always- to each, his own. :)

Edited by balthazar

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IMO, the purest, best design of this era AMCs is the AMX & the American (esp '64, but even up to the '69s). The Matadors, the Hornets, Ambassadors.... all ungainly to my eye in various degrees. The Rebel is right on the line- pretty good but a bit of bloat in the quarters, a bit stuffy in line. But the Matador above always looked like a stretched Pacer, like it should have been much shorter...

As always- to each, his own. :)

Its hard to believe the Teague started at the '64 American and worked his was up to the Matador. The Matador coupe was styled as a homage to the '64 American.

I agree with your view on most of AMC's larger car offerings. Matadors, Ambassadors, Rebels... always just a little ungainly... but some are better than others... the later Rebels and 1st gen Matadors work better for me.

AMC did most of their best work in the smaller cars, something the big 3 didn't do very good. While I like the American... it was very generic during the '60s... I'm not sure exactly why. The general motorhead public can clearly tell a Chevy II from a Falcon from a Valiant... but throw the American in there and suddenly they can't tell if its a Chevy II, Falcon or Valiant. I feel for the American guys who get complements of "Nice Nova" all the time (I used to be on the AMC mailing list).

Then something happened in the late 60s... AMCs got distinctive... I really like the way the underfunded underdog managed to put together cars that differentiated themselves, for better or for worse, from the big 3. I can't put my finger on it...

In my eye, the AMX and Javelin are the best AMC offered. The Matador coupe is probably my 2nd favorite AMC bodystyle... followed by the Hornet hatchback... then the American (esp. the Rogue)... I even like the unloved Gremlin and Pacer. The only AMC-related cars I don't like are the '50s... I just didn't like the '50s Ramblers. The Nash Metropolitan was cool though... no way on Earth I could fit in one, though.

How would I improve the Matador coupe? A little shorter... probably snip an inch or two from the rear overhang. I would have used a slightly less kicked up rear window... I would have preferred a window line that followed the vinyl roof line. I also would not have extended the grill opening wide of the headlights.

I also would have kept the round front turn signals... the later squarish once look out of place.

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i think a lot of the 'genericism' of '60s Ramblers were because they were almost always price-driven purchases (at least, I believe that was the case)... so instead of seeing an American 440-H 2-tone 2-dr hardtop, you were far likelier to see an American 220 4-dr sedan with dog dish caps.

But AMC was able to 'sling-shot around the sun' on that perception with the performance offerings in the late '60s. I think the thing you can't put your finger on, samadei, is that these were RAMBLERS. The SC/Rambler really didn't 'out-MoPar MoPar' as far as engine/body combo or graphics, it's just the stunning upset that this loud 390 CI coupe usually had a 80-HP six in it & a grandma behind the wheel and the dog dishes had big red 'R's on them. Advertising did a fantastic job then, too.

Samadei- ever see the prototype for the Rebel Machine- all flat black with the gears graphics? Have a link to a pic; I can't seem to find it online- neat, badass concept.

Back to the Matador- I think the whole thing should be 2 FEET shorter and 3/4 foot narrower, and that's HIGHLY unusual for me to say. Better yet, leave it unborn and stick with the original AMX.

Sharp :

hrdp_0802_59_z%2Bhomebuilt_heros%2B1965_amc_rambler_american_440h.jpg

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i think a lot of the 'genericism' of '60s Ramblers were because they were almost always price-driven purchases (at least, I believe that was the case)... so instead of seeing an American 440-H 2-tone 2-dr hardtop, you were far likelier to see an American 220 4-dr sedan with dog dish caps.

But that same issue affected Chevy IIs, Falcons and Valiants. And this genericism seemed to also effect the fullsize Ramblers.

I can only chalk this up to the big three outselling Ramblers... but I know several Ramblers still sold very well.

But AMC was able to 'sling-shot around the sun' on that perception with the performance offerings in the late '60s. I think the thing you can't put your finger on, samadei, is that these were RAMBLERS.

Oh, I'm talking about the details on the '70s AMCs. But actually, you can see some of it in the even in the Marlin pictured above... the grill and headlight surrounds are not simply aluminum or chromed pot metal... it looks like plastic to me, but I'm not sure... in any case, its a look that the rest of Detroit would use 10~15+ years later. Also, Teague had a gift for putting subtle bends and details into the sheetmetal that Ford, GM or Mopar would not.

Another bit... the AMC paddle door handles.

Samadei- ever see the prototype for the Rebel Machine- all flat black with the gears graphics? Have a link to a pic; I can't seem to find it online- neat, badass concept.

Most likely I have, but its not coming to mind right now. I like the AMX/3 and AMX GT prototypes. I've always been surprised nobody built a AMX-GT.

Better yet, leave it unborn and stick with the original AMX.

I would have liked to have seen the AMX live on... but the Javelin, like a lot of muscle cars was at an end... and the luxury coupe was the thing in the mid-70s.

I'm sure you didn't care for the later AMXs... the '78-'80 ones... so a '74 AMX would likely have been based on a Matador.

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SAmadei ~ >>"Also, Teague had a gift for putting subtle bends and details into the sheetmetal that Ford, GM or Mopar would not. Another bit... the AMC paddle door handles."<<

I don't know that those creases were usually successful... never cared for the paddle handles (even tho they were so similar to the Corvette's)- they kinda 'stuck out' visually to me (Corvette's were 'hidden' by pointing skyward.

>>"I like the AMX/3 and AMX GT prototypes. I've always been surprised nobody built a AMX-GT."<<

AMX-2 is one of the hottest sports car designs EVER, and the AMX-3 is extremely nice, too.

Not sure what the AMX-GT's advantage over the plenty-short-enough AMX was... but it was striking all the same.

>>"I'm sure you didn't care for the later AMXs... the '78-'80 ones... so a '74 AMX would likely have been based on a Matador."<<

They are not as bad in my book as the Matador in question- somehow they evoke the original AMX better than the 'dor.

Kno what else I like- the circa '60 American, cute little bathtub. Another idle daydream- 350 4bbl SBC in a '60 2-dr with Torque Thrust IIs.

Edited by balthazar

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