The Hornet line was expanded to four models for ’73 with the addition of the new Hornet Hatchback.
This was a new concept in automobiles for most of the American buying market. The new Hatchback was fresh, exciting, and practical, not to mention that of all the hatchbacks being offered by other auto manufacturers, the Hornet Hatchback was clearly the best looking. Car and Driver called it “the styling coup of 1973,” a quote that AMC used frequently in their printed advertising.
￼This sporty two-door Hatchback seated four passengers with the same 108-inch wheelbase as other Hornet models, the design of the car reflects the growing demand for personal transportation combining striking appearance with utility, passenger comfort and roominess as well as operating economy.
A fold-down rear seat more than doubles luggage volume. The top hinged counterbalance”Hatch” panel, combining window and trunk lid, raises or lowers easily with the aid of “gas” springs. AMC made a dealer accessory vinyl cover with mosquito netting to convert the open hatchback area into a camper.
This car holds the “first compact hatchback” industry first title.
Few changes we made to the sedans, but the SST designation was dropped and all models were now just Hornet. The new three-speed synchromesh transmission was standard, while the Rallye package was longer available. The X package was now only offered in the Sportabout and the new Hatchback.
The Sportabout wagon became a available in a new upscale trim package, the D/L. The Sportabout D/L package came complete with woodgrain panels on the outside of the doors, roof rack, with air deflector, and individual reclining seats in a plush “Scorpio” cloth.
The idea behind the new upscale D/L package was to move the average Hornet buyer up the price ladder while at the same time improve AMC’s image.
Also this year the memorable Levis interior option was applied to upholster the Hornet with unique comfort.
Major appearance changes from the windshield forward, plus new trim and ornamentation including wraparound taillights, mark American Motors 1973 Hornet Line. A new Grille, Hood and front fenders have been styled to blend smoothly with the new energy-absorbing recoverable bumper system.
￼The vehicle overall length was increased 6.5 inches over last year’s model due to the installation of this new bumper system.
Four engines with either three-speed manual or “Torque-Command” automatic transmission, were available. Choices included the 232 cid and 258 cid six-cylinders engines, or 304 cid and 360 cid V-8 engines. The latter delivered 175 horses.
Hornet prices were up for ’73. The two-door Hornet Sedan was $2,298 while the more profitable Hatchback was $2449. The Dick Teague Hornet design was paying dividends for AMC. The shared chassis design allowed the company to build the new Hatchback for about the same cost as the Sedan.
Only 1973 Hornets and Gremlins were available with a optional shock absorbing safety bumper. Vehicles optioned with this safety bumper had a different Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Probably to tip off insurance companies so that they could give customers a better rate. After the letter specifying the motor in the VIN, there was a series of sequence numbers. On those optioned models the sequence numbers started with a double “00”.
You can also find the “new energy absorbing rear bumper” option listed under “Protection Options” in the ’73 sales pamphlet and a picture of it in the Gremlin option pages under “E”.
The only visible clue of this option is a horizontal rubber bumper strip on the bumper. The standard bumpers had the vertical bumper guards. Model year 1974 and beyond had these energy absorbing in both the front and rear bumpers. It was required law. – Provided Courtesy of Rob Pederson, Idaho