The Hornet Chassis Dick Teague designed was a touch of pure genius.
It was a design that was inexpensive to build yet allowed several body types and models to be derived from it: the Hornet sedans, the Sportabout, the hatchback, and the Gremlin. Management even nixed a small pickup that was to have been a part of the line, the Cowboy, when demand for the regular Hornets exceeded projections.
This success would certainly have to carry the Hornet series for the 1974 model year. A good deal of the company’s energy and financial resources were focused on bringing to market its only new car for the 1974 model year, the Matador. With it’s odd styling, enormously expensive design, and tooling it was a big gamble.
When AMC created the new Matador it departed from its tried and true chassis sharing philosophy, that worked so well with the Hornet line, in order to deliver a pure coupe with no visual ties to any sedan. An estimated $40 million was spent on tooling for the new coupe. Which meant that any real re-styling of the Hornet for 1974 would have to wait. It was considered a safe move since the Hornet line sold well for 1973.
The four versions of the compact Hornet returned in 1974. Each recording better performances in sales than in 1973. Among some of the changes for 1974 were two big vertical rubber stops in on the front and rear bumpers, compared to the full horizontal band seen on the 73′ model.
The hatchback is again available with an optional Levi’s interior and a new “X” styling option. The Sportabout is also available with the new “X” styling option. The luxurious D/L returns for 1974. Only the Hornet Sedan is not available with no specific body of option. Despite this, a long list of individual options is offered.
Available power plants included the basic 232 cid (100 hp) six cylinder. Optional power plants included a 258 cid (110 hp) six cylinder, 304 cid (150 hp) and 360 cid (175 hp) V8s.
The Hornet line would be counted on to tow the line as minimal changes were made. AMC had turned it’s attention to the new Matador and an all-new compact being planned for 1975, the Pacer.