T5-Upgrade: 1976 AMC Hornet Hatchback 5-Speed – Sold!
American Motor’s Corporation (“AMC”) marketing its compact Hornet line through most of the 1970s, adding a hatchback model to the lineup several years after launch such as this 1976 example originally listed on Craigslist in March 2020 in Berwick, Pennsylvania for $6,500. A quick check of the NADA Guides Classic Car Online Valuation Tool confirms this private seller has his Hornet priced well above the current “Low”, “Average”, and “High” retail value range of only $495, $1,080, $1,980, respectively. However, given the rare five-speed combined with what appears to be a rust-free and straight, you’ll have to decide whether the premium is well worth it.
Introduced in 1969 for the 1970 model year, American Motors Corporation (“AMC”) launched the Hornet as the first car in a line of new models the independent company would introduce over the following three years, and it set the tone for what designer Richard A. Teague and chief executive officer Roy D. Chapin, Jr., had in mind for the company for the 1970s. Not only did the Hornet mark the return of AMC to its original role as a “niche” marketer specializing in small cars, it also became one of AMCs best sellers. For the 1973 model year, AMC added a hatchback version of the Hornet Car and Driver magazine called “the styling coup of 1973.”
By the mid-seventies, as AMC’s limited resources focused on developing and launching the new PacerFocusing on the new Pacer, the company kept the Hornet mostly the same. A new grille with vertical grating was the primary change. A new “Touring Package” included special upholstery and luxury features. In a return to its philosophy of economical compact cars, AMC emphasized its comprehensive “Buyer Protection Plan” warranty in marketing the Hornets.
Here’s a dealer promotional film strip summarizing the features and benefits of the 1976 Hornet Hatchback:
Dare to be different! That’s what we say about this rare AMC Hornet model. With a virtually bullet-proof 258 cubic inch inline six connected connected to a much more reliable and easier-to-service Borg-Warner T-5 manual transmission, this is a great alternative to show at AMC-themed car shows where Pacers of the same vintage usually dominate the landscape. Good luck with the purchase!
Here’s the seller’s description:
“a straight [ no bondo] and 98% rust free 1976 hornet .. has a 258 six cylinder motor with a t5 5 speed trans / interior is basic stock and clean .. has antique pa plates and title in my name .. no cats on exhaust / all glass good and working .. NO TRADES .. CASH ONLY . . car is in Berwick,pa“
Do you have a Hornet story you’d like to share? Comment below and let us know!