Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage – The 1971 AMC Hornet SC/360

AMC_Hornet_SC360_71_1

Welcome to the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage, a regular feature which aims to expand the notion of what a muscle car is, and to shine a little light onto vehicles that certainly deserve a second look. At the beginning of the 70′s, when muscle cars were at their pinnacle, the signs were there for those who chose to look. Federal safety watchdogs, state and national emissions regulators, insurance companies, and even a changing social climate took aim at the high-performance car. For ’71, the shots began to hit the target. Compression ratios retreated to accommodate regular-grade fuel, gross horsepower ratings reverted to net figures, and public relations-conscious automakers backpedaled. Into these turbulent times stepped the 1971 AMC Hornet SC/360.

1280px-1971_AMC_Hornet_SC360_red_md-Dl

The 1971 AMC Hornet SC/360 was a muscle car that reflected the changing times. “Introducing a sensible alternative to the money-squeezing, insurance-strangling muscle cars of America,” said its advertisement. “The Hornet SC/360.” Hornet was the company’s newest compact, and the two-door sedan was a reasonable basis for a low-profile muscle car. Original plans called for both an SC/360 and an SC/401, but when AMC discovered that a 401-cid Hornet probably wouldn’t provide much of an insurance edge, the 360-cid V-8 alone was borrowed from the Javelin AMX.

200143

In standard form, it had a two-barrel carb and a modest 245 bhp. The $199 “Go” package included a four-barrel and a ram air setup for a more satisfying 285 bhp. These were gross ratings. Optional in place of the standard three-speed was a Hurst-shifted four-speed or an automatic. Polyglas D70Xl4s were standard, with upgrades running to the handling package and the Twin-Grip diff with 3.54:1 or 3.90:1 gears. Hot Rod Magazine tested this hot Hornet with a 1/4 mile time of 14.80, at 94.63 mph.

5563811249_04fdb06a4c_o

An SC/360 couldn’t stay with the big-cube holdovers, but it did combine respectable quickness with a taut suspension, big tires, and modest size for a package praised by Motor Trend as “just a plain gas to drive…it handles like a dream.” It was more than competitive with the other “compact” muscle offered at that time, including the Duster 340 (and its twin, the Dodge Demon 340), and the Chevy Nova SS 350. The Ford Maverick Grabber with the 302 just started production, with only 210HP.

c901

The SC/360 didn’t set any sales records. Even with a base price of just $2,663 (about $40 below the ’71 Duster 340), it made up only a fraction of the 75,000 Hornets built for ’71. The SC/360 died after just one year as one of the muscle car era’s better-kept secrets. Only 784 were ever produced.

x22g6t

Well, what do you think of this very rare, and very obscure AMC? Is is a Muscle Car, and does it belong on the garage? Remember, this was the most potent of the “compact” muscle cars, unless you compare it to a Nova SS 396, which wasn’t offered after 1970. It also has rarity going for it, with fewer than 800 produced. And you’ve got to hand it to AMC for offering something that was just this side of quirky.

[poll id=”155″]

Please Note: All Images are screen grabs from around the web. If you want credit for any image, please let me know in the comments section. Thank You!

21 Comments

  1. Growing up as a Ramblerhead, I remember these. I just wish I'd had the cash to buy one of the promos – they had a mail-in offer at the time (I don't remember what it cost) for a 1/25 promo, in four different factory colors.

  2. In my opinion, it's the best looking of the "compact muscle" that came out at the time. I'd love to have one of these.

  3. "What is it with AMC cars anyway? (3%, 1 Votes)"
    What. The. Eff.?!?!?!
    Also, Dodge should bring back the Demon nameplate, make it a BRZ fighter with the Abarth motor.

  4. Outstanding find! It must the pinnacle of Hortnetness, at least for the ones without wings…

  5. Crap, I gotta stop reading articles on this site. I knew about these, but never wanted one. NOW I want one of these… but with only 784 made, surviving examples are probably getting to be damn expensive.
    But you know, garden-variety Hornets can still be found relatively frequently and fairly cheaply. You could build one into a functional equivalent pretty easily and relatively cheaply, while having the freedom to update and personalize the build without ruining something rare.
    Crap, I gotta stop reading articles on this site.

    1. From what I've seen, they are pricey, but they don't come close to comparing with a SC/Rambler, Rebel Machince, or even a really nice 68-70 AMX. You're more looking at brand new Mustang rather than brand new Corvette prices.
      If you can find one. There's a registry, and they've only confirmed something like 130. I'm sure there are more out there because not everyone goes looking for a registry to put their car on, but yeah, sounds like there aren't a lot left.

    2. Yeah, I'm thinking a resto-mod Hornet SC/401 is in order.
      It'll be far more tasteful than the Pacer in town with a blower equipped 401. sticking up out of the hood.

  6. Had one of these for lunch with my dad's unmodified '73 Olds Omega a very long time ago.

      1. A basic '73 with a Rocket 350, TH350, vinyl seats and it was orange-gold-brown. Quick, basic transportation.
        If I had a picture of it last, it would engender me to BCAS all day long. It got really nervous above 65 mph towards its unfortunate and stolen end. i think it had about 130k on the clock.

    1. I have one still since high school, never lost a run. It has a 4 speed and I shifter as fast as an automatic with the pedal to the metal

  7. Don't know where you got the pic,but the first car is my original-Bought in San Diego and ran at Carlsbad Raceway in the early 70's. Now in Fla.

  8. My dad left me his 1971 and Hornet SC360 it has 53000 miles on it and has been setting in a garage since 1985 I have began to get it back on the road and can't wait to take my kids for rides would love to post pictures . As I was pulling it for garage was offered $27000 for it ..

  9. My surprise to see my red SC/360 here. Bought it brand new in April of '71. It has been primarily a bracket racer for the last 15 years. Been to the NE division 1 finals a few times and a Wally winner. Almost bone stock with the Borg-Warner automatic it has run a best of 13.531. No headers – just an Edelbrock intake and Holley carb. We don't race it too much anymore and limit ourselves to mostly nostalgia events. Had it out 5 times this year and won 2 times. Where is that "fast" Omega?

  10. My father left me his 1971 AMC Hornet SC360 It has 53000 on it and I just got it running again . It hard to find parts and it's a gas lover but it has a go package and twin grip rear it is just fun to drive took a boss Mustang and the guy chase me home and ask to buy it . Should have seen his face get smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror . Just started a complete restoration on it and man if you can find the parts they want your first born .I am now looking for a sport about wagon for my 401 need a grocery getter …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here