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Last Call: So Conflicted Edition

Peter Tanshanomi September 12, 2018 Last Call 26 Comments


I’m old enough to remember when the AMC Matador Coupe was sold new. I was 13 when the landau Barcelona II version was introduced. I can recall ruminating for hours on whether the original profile or the opera-windowed version was more desirable, but I was never quite able to decide. Frankly, I was utterly conflicted about it even as an eighth grader. I found it undeniably odd, peculiar, ill-proportioned—and yet somewhat irresistible. I still do. This extremely clean, lightly modded Barcelona coupe that sold for $18,500 on Ebay last month shifts the balance a little bit more toward the irresistible side.

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  • Batshitbox

    Well, it all comes down to asking yourself, “What do you want from life?” A new Matador? A new Maverick? Mustang? Montego? or a moped?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owFn0k0y4p8

  • outback_ute

    Why not leave the half vinyl roof off?

  • Joe Dunlap

    I was old enough and in the wrong place at the wrong time to have had the misfortune to be working in an AMC dealership when this POS was foisted on an ignorant public. There is a very good reason AMC folded. By the time the this final version of the Matador was introduced, AMC was so heavily in debt they couldn’t afford toilet paper for the executive bathroom, if indeed they still had one. This thing was a dying gasp of an attempt to stay afloat by introducing something unique. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your POV) it was just another hole in the sinking ship. Build quality and materials sucked, and performance was pathetic, though to be fair, so was everyone elses at that time. Assembly line sabotage was a factor (I found a large rear brake drum nut that had been dropped into a rocker panel of one, that would roll, klunk, klunk, klunk, every time the car was accelerated or braked). Plastic interior trim that screeched like a raped banshee, and then there was the curious case of the “65mph surge”, which we diagnosed as excessive EGR being pumped into the engine at cruising speed. The fix? That was delived by an 80+ year old service rep. When he came out to look at the car with myself and the service manager, the first thing he said was pull the carburetor, which I did. Once it was off, he reached into his pocket and produced a couple of tapered corks. “See those holes in the floor of the manifold? (EGR ports) Pound these into those holes. They’ll last long enough to get the car sold.” I did, and they did. I quit the dealership the following week. Yeah, great company, AMC. I didnt miss them.

    • tonyola

      Fascinating story. Seems that the Matador coupe and Pacer losers sucked away the money needed for a new platform. All the Hornet and Gremlin variations that followed were ultimately dead ends. The only thing of value was Jeep. No wonder AMC ended up in the less-than-loving arms of a larger company, and unfortunately it just had to be Renault.

      • Zentropy

        Actually, the Hornet platform went on to become the basis of the Eagle line, which itself almost brought AMC back to life. It was just too little, too late. Let’s be honest, when the Matador Coupe hit the market, literally EVERY American car was taking a nosedive in quality and performance. The mid-late 70s were fine if you liked European or Japanese cars, but otherwise it was a dark period of automotive history.
        I will completely agree that AMC had its issues, but I’ve always been a fan of the little underdog.

    • Don Karnage

      The quintessential disgruntled ex-employee…

      • Joe Dunlap

        Disappointed? Yes. Disillusioned? You bet. Disgruntled? Not at all. When you are shipping water faster than you can bail, its time to abandon ship. Evev a peon like myself could see that.

        • Don Karnage

          Just joking, Joe. You can be disgruntled for excellent reasons.

  • tonyola

    No conflict here – the Matador coupe was a dog no matter what form it took. What might have worked in 1969-1970 was desperately too little/too late by late 1973, when interest in intermediate performance cars was fading away even before the October Fuel Crisis.

  • Don Karnage

    You guys are being too harsh. This was a failing company desperately trying to do something bold and revive the company. And it was a small company without the resources of its competitors. Wiki: “The coupe was designed under the direction of AMC’s vice president of styling, Richard A. Teague, with input from Mark Donohue, the famous race car driver.” I think Dick Teague was a pretty good stylist, and if nothing else his designs didn’t look like every other car on the road at the time. And then there’s the Pacer, which is just one of many cars that started with a bold and innovative concept that was later stunted by lack of funds or flux capacitor power plants that never materialized: Wankels, gas turbines, et cetera.

    The overriding consideration here is the essential truth that ANYTHING connected with Mark Donohue is cool simply by association. How could it be bad if Mark sat in it?

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1f7812884fb24362387d42f229b782ba0ab3945cdf136cc75a39a92865a642b5.png

  • Zentropy

    This particular example looks far better than what you normally find for sale. Credit the deeper, larger-diameter aftermarket wheels, the custom paint, and the front bumper delete (especially that!). I’m on the fence regarding that vinyl half-top and sofa-like interior, but I would certainly drive this before considering a ’78 Camaro or Mustang.

  • Dustin Williams

    So what is my 74X worth? 30k? This is exciting

  • dukeisduke

    If you missed out on this and are still pining for something from Kenosha, there’s a ’70 Ambassador SST wagon for sale, with possibly an original 62,000 miles. Beg enough, and you might also be able to score the big AMC dealer sign in the background. https://www.ebay.com/itm/1970-AMC-Other-SST-/223138623021?oid=332757033501

    • Zentropy

      Cool car! But, as the prior owner of a 1971 Matador Sedan and a 1972 Ambassador Sedan, I think I’m probably biased. And perhaps in need of psychiatric help…

  • I liked the Matador when it came out but bought a Mercury (Ford) Capri V6. No regrets except the add-on ac in the Capri really was terrible in Texas summers.

  • 0A5599

    I guess that’s a popular spot for red cars.

    https://www.primoclassicsllc.com/galleria_images/560/560_p11_l.jpg

    • Rover 1

      with vinyl roofs.

    • The dealer that sold the Matador uses that location a lot.

  • I followed this on eBay. I think they had it on their web site for $20K. It was relisted on eBay 6 or 8 times before it sold.

    I love the lowered stance and those oversized Mopar like wheels and the bumper delete. It really needed the rectangular bumper mount holes filled in and a rear bumper delete as well. Or maybe replaced with a slimmer, tucked rear bumper, maybe split like the nose of a 1970 Camaro RS.But then you’d really have to do a nice, slim front bumper too…

    Yeah, I spent way too much time thinking about this car.