Have you ever seen a 1977 Hornet Camino?
Well, I kind of found one while surfing the net. It’s a custom job with license plates that read “ONLY 1”, and I believe it!
- Year: 1977
- Prototype: Pickup
- Chassis: 197 Hornet SC/360
- Engine: 360 cid V8
- Transmission: 4-Speed Manual
Patrick R. Foster, of the Olden Milford Press, spotted this pickup and mentioned it in an article he wrote for their web site for their National Meet titled “Rambling Ride”. The following is an excerpt of this article:
“Also there was Ed Bicknell and nephew Eric, current owners of the only surviving AMC Cowboy prototype. Although I had written about this unique prototype pick-up before, I had never actually seen it. To my surprise the Bicknell’s not only had the truck with them- they handed me the keys and let me take it for a drive! To those of you who don’t know about the Cowboy, it was built on a 1971 Hornet SC360 chassis, with 360 V8 and 4 speed, so it’s faster than you would guess. I took it down the lakefront road, burning rubber on every takeoff.”
Frank Swygert, Publisher of the American Independent Magazine provided us with this update:
The “Cowboy” prototype pickup was indeed based on a 71 SC/360. Why such a car I don’t know, because it wasn’t meant to be a “Hornet Camino”, but a small utility truck to compete with the then new crop of Japanese pickups. The original prototype had a 71-72 Gremlin front end with modified grille complete with Jeep logo. This gave it more of a utilitarian truck look. Jim Alexander added the Hornet front clip at a much later date — couldn’t have been built in 71 now, could it? The Hornet clip does give it a totally different, classy look.
It wasn’t produced for two reasons:
- The Hornet and Gremlin were already selling about as fast as AMC could build them, especially the new Sportabout, and a hatchback was already planned to come out soon. The lines would have been strained with yet another Hornet based vehicle.
- There was no four wheel drive developed for the truck, and that was a hallmark of Jeep vehicles. It would take time and money to develop a four wheel drive system, and most of that was going into new cars (the Hornet hatchback and Pacer). I don’t think an El Camino/Ranchero type vehicle was ever considered by AMC. I have never seen a mention of it, but have seen photos of the original prototype with the Gremlinesque front end.
Would you believe the “Cowboy” sort of lives in the Jeep Comanche? The Comanche employs “uniframe” construction — the framework that supports the bed and rear axle are deep box sections of formed sheet metal and are part of the cab. This type construction was first used for the “Cowboy” prototype. I believe (but can’t prove) that another legacy of the Cowboy is the Eagle four wheel drive system. The #2 reason the Cowboy wasn’t made (no four wheel drive) had to have planted the seeds for the Eagle!
AMC Cowboy Links: