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The 6th AMC

The clean and still very contemporary profile of the AMC Hornet SST 2 door sedan was featured on dealer post cards in 1972

1972 Hornet SST two door sedan

Model # 7205-7

VIN # A2A057A706951

AMC's compact two and four door sedan Hornet models continued unchanged from their introduction for the 1970 model year. They came in the base and upscale SST versions.

This American Motors car was built in AMC's Bramlea (Canada) assembly plant (to this day an important DaimlerChrysler production facility) and shipped to Courtesy American (dealer number 50-6713) through a final assembly point in Buffalo, NY.

Factory options: 258 cubic inch 1-barrel six cylinder engine with automatic column shift (this was the first AMC model year using the "Torque-Command" Chrysler-built transmission), air conditioning package (above the heavy duty cooling and electrical system that was part of the A/C this option also included tinted glass, power steering, insulation group), manual disk brakes, AM radio, full wheel covers, and oversize C78x14 white wall tires.

The car was finished in a medium shade called Jetset Blue Metallic (code C4) with a Blue vinyl roof and the interior with blue hounds tooth cloth on individually adjustable reclining seats (code T-243C).

This Hornet was a well appointed, comfortable, economical, as well as a very handsome two-door coupe. Its total MSRP came to just a few dollars over $3500.

1972 AMC Hornet 2-door window sticker

Strategic change at AMC in 1972 and in action with its new Hornets

by Christopher Ziemnowicz

The 1972 model year was pivotal in AMC's history. The company continued the philosophy of timeless design rather than continual styling changes. However, the key element was a new focus on quality. American Motors introduced "The Buyer Protection Plan" with the 1972 models. This was done at a time when consumers were often dissatisfied with the quality that was found on domestic automobiles. Increasingly, consumers were buying Japanese and European cars. They were perceived to have higher quality. Therefore, AMC attempted to leapfrog the competition with not just a marketing gimmick, but by implementing a new management philosophy. As a result, AMC made several industry innovations. It provided its consumers with the first toll-free hotline to an automobile manufacturer, an ironclad guarantee to fix whatever goes wrong that is not the customer's fault, and offering a loaner car program that reinforced AMC's conviction that if there must be an inconvenience in owning an AMC, then the company will accept responsibility for providing a solution. Underlying this "Buyer Protection Plan" was an important corporate strategic realignment. Making the "guaranteed car" concept possible was only possible by insisting stringent quality controls not only within AMC's own plants, but also among their many suppliers. Furthermore, to make quality control effective, AMC had a steady but not publicized drop in the number of model changes - and these were primarily engineering improvements - as well as a reduction in the number of models themselves.

American Motors introduced the concept of "extra value" for automobile buyers with the 1972 Hornet line up. For example, the low price stripped down base models were no longer available. All Hornet 2 and 4-door sedans, as well as the 4-door wagon were the so-called SST models. The Hornets had the competition beat with a higher level of exterior and interior trim, in addition to more standard comfort features. For example, every Hornet came with full carpeting throughout the interior, a locking glove box, under dash package tray, an upgraded steering wheel, as well as rear seat arm rests and ashtray. These were items that the vast majority of consumers expected and were standard on the foreign cars. Increasing the content and appearance of the Hornets in a highly competitive market segment also helped boost the value of the cars down the road at trade-in time, as all were nicely equipped. Therefore, the Hornet line is a perfect example of the strategy to compete with the ever-growing threat posed by imported autos. AMC's Hornets were the ideal American economy cars in the 1970's.

AMC Hornet production in 1972 by body style:
2 door sedan: 27,122
4-door sedan: 24,254
Sportabout wagon: 34,065
Total Hornets in 1972: 85,441

American Motors made the "Buyer Protection Plan" a central promotional feature for all its 1972 models. In the magazine ad pictured on the left, AMC explains that:

It's not our strong guarantee that makes our Hornet a Tough Little Car.

No guarantee ever made a car durable, solid, or economical if it wasn't built that way to begin with.
Because we feel this way, we made 10 major engineering improvements this year.
We spent more money on quality control equipment.
We hired more inspectors. And more supervisors to inspect the inspectors.
To show you how sturdy a Hornet is, we make this promise: If anything goes wrong with your '72, and it's our fault, we'll fix it. Free.
And if we have to keep your car overnight to fix it, over 1900 dealers will loan you a car. Free.
Finally, you get a name and toll-free number to call in Detroit if you have a problem. And we promise you'll get action, not a runaround.
There's one point you can't escape from. If we didn't build the Hornet better, we couldn't back it better.

Advertisement on the right is for the 1972 Hornet Sportabout -- the only wagon of its kind:
When you buy a 1972 Hornet Sportabout you get the only wagon made in America that gives you a sleek, racy look, a rear lift gate, and 60.8 cubic feet of cargo space.

Comare the 1972 American Motors automobile with the types of cars that selling well to consumers that want versatility in 2005. The article below once again identifies that AMC was ahead of the curve with its innovative Hornet "Sportabout" four door hatchback wagon.

Ward's Auto World
February 1, 2005
by Tom Murphy

"Fifteen years later, the hatchback is storming back onto the U.S. automotive scene, virtually undetected. The name "hatchback" still has a negative image, so auto makers have cleverly devised new monikers such as "5-door" and "sport back." Hatchbacks are everywhere - and not doing too shabbily, by the way - with GM as the key purveyor of the trend. The No.1 auto maker had a hand in at least seven that have arrived within the past four years, including the Pontiac Vibe, Chevy Malibu Maxx, Suzuki Reno and the Saab 9-2X. Malibu Maxx sales, in fact, are exceeding forecasts. Yes, Saab, the keeper of Scandinavian style, proves that "luxury" and "hatchback" need not be mutually exclusive. This summer, Saab introduces a hatchback 9-3, called the SportCombi. Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus brand has been selling the 5-door IS 300 SportCross in the U.S. since 2001, and Audi AG brings its similarly bodied A3 to the U.S. this summer, base priced under $25,000. Like others, Audi steers clear of the "hatchback" name for the A3, preferring instead to label it a 4-door....
Within the past four years, 4-door hatchbacks have quietly gained prominence in the U.S., despite the market's alleged aversion for the body style."

Performance American Style in 1972
The "muscle car" craze continued through the early '70s - albeit significantly dampened by insurance liability issues, as well as changing economic and social attitudes. Air emission controls had taken a toll on engine performance and lead was taken out of most grades of gasoline. Nevertheless, AMC soldiered on with its "Awesome Muscle Cars". No longer were the legendary "red/white/blue" SC/390 Americans and Rebel Machines available. The Javelins increased in size, comfort, and power with a 401 c.i.d. high-output performance mill. The AMX model was no longer available as a two-seater grand touring car.
The car to get for those wanting the ultimate in acceleration in the compact car segment was the Hornet X with rally stripes, slot style wheels. fat tires, a sports steering wheel, and optional 360 CID V-8 with automatic transmission. All this for about $2,700!
If you wanted an engine this big and similar equipment on any other car, it would cost you more than $3,100. In other words AMC was targeting the young performance seeking customers. A perfect car "without getting in over your head"!

Premium AMC Hornet gas cap.

Photo Courtesy of The Randy Stallsworth Collection, Photo by unknown, Source:

Performance American Round track Style in Colorado

Colorado super-modified racing legend Tom Leonard raced a 1972 AMC Hornet short track late-model stock car at Denver's Englewood and Century-21 Speedway during the 1972-1973 racing season. The Hornet was owned by a group known as "All American Racing" (Jim Tibbits, Racing Associates) which also owned Wayne Stallsworth's kool 1969 Boss 429 Torino and 1971 Mustang. Anyway, based on the quality of their cars, AAR put some serious money into their racers. And, most people don't realize this, but the little Hornet's engine was built and tuned "in-person" by none other than H.L Shahan. Of course, everybody know's Mr. Shahan's wife is the famous "Drag-On-Lady" herself, Shirley Shahan. As you might recall, in the 1970 timeframe, the Shahan's switched from Hemi-MoPars to AMC AMX's that they raced in NHRA Super/Stock, and later in PRO/Stock. I assume a factory supported money deal was involved in the switch...dunno. But, why the Shahan's moved from California to Denver in the early 1970's to support this AMC short-track project is unclear. But, probably nobody on the planet could make more power out of an AMC engine than H.L. Shahan could during this timeframe, no kidding. So, those of us in Denver were sure glad they arrived in the mile-high city, because we not only got to see a great running and unusual make of car at the roundy-round tracks, but we also got to regularly see Shirley Shahan drag'n her AMX's, Hornet's, and Gremlin's at the local strips. And, Shirley regularly accompanied H.L. in the pits at the oval tracks....gee, what a nice, nice lady.


Englewood Speedway veteran modifed, and super-modified, stock car champion, Tommy Leonard, switched to late-model stock cars and drove the little Rambler. The Hornet was painted the AMC factory-spec red/white/blue racing colors, was number #15, and was sponsored by the Denver Area AMC Dealers. And, with H.L Shahan tuned 360-cube power under the hood, this baby would flat-scoot around a track...the lightweight 360 engine probably helped handling too. Leonard and the r/w/b Hornet were always setting quick times at Englewood....Tommy must have logged 1,000's of mile around that 1/3-mile track over the years...make that over the decades! And, the Hornet would usually end-up leading the feature events. However, the Hornet's nemesis seemed to be catastrophic engine failures about 30-laps into a 35-lap feature event....which, naturally, caused H.L. to be a grumpy interview in the pits afterwards. However, I did witness this little Rambler stay together and lead a bunch of 454+cube Camaro's around the track to win the feature one night out at the Century-21 Speedway 3/8-mile a standing ovation by the crowd! It was always great fun to see something other than a Chevy win a stock car race! What a great little stock car!


"Stinger" Hornet funny drag car kit by JO-HAN




A special Canadian version of AMC's Hornet is featured in the vintage magazine advertisement on the right:


the Green Hornet

with the guarantee that protects you from getting stung

Presenting the Green Hornet - an exclusive Canadian built, sporty version of American Motor's popular compact.
It features a special green paint job, "Baja" grain vinyl roof, sports styled wheel covers, white side wall tires, three-speed Torque Command automatic transmission, and special Green Hornet I.D., all standard equipment.
It is powered by a thrifty 232 cubic inch six that moves you around on regular grade, low lead, or no-lead fuels. Also helps keep your insurance premiums down.
You can get your own Green Hornet together the wide range of performance and appearance options. Options like gold "Rally" side stripe trim, bucket seats, and engines all the way up to a 304 cubic inch V-8.

Note: 304 CID is equal to almost 5 liters or exactly 4982 cc.

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