Against all the economic doom and gloom…
AMC tightened their belts and new spending was cut. Dwindling sales and the economy were taking it’s toll. With dealers sitting on large inventories AMC had to fight back and revive sales.
A new tactic was tried for the Hornet lineup, as the sedans and the hatchback were now all priced the same, $3199, while the Sportabout was $3549. It didn’t help all that much, as the problem with the Hornet had little to do with price. The Hornet product line was entering it’s seventh year in the market without a re-skin or redesign, and they just couldn’t get anyone excited anymore.
On the positive side, AMC’s Jeep division was a showing a little more life than their automobile lines. With working capital continuing to be a real issue, AMC pretty much carried it’s product line over from the previous year with little that was new.
In addition, the Sportabout was no longer the only family compact wagon. Rivals started to enter the market with competing products. Dodge introduced the Aspen while Plymouth weighed in with the Volaré. Despite all, the Hornet remained the battle horse of AMC.
￼Changes for 1976 included revised interior and exterior trim, and mechanical refinements that improved performance and economy.
Standard engine for all of the four Hornet models was the 232 CID (3.8 Liter) six, with three-speed manual transmission. Optional engines include the 258 CID (4.2 liter) with a single barrel carburetor and a 304 CID (5 Liter) V-8. Overdrive was available for either of the sixes equipped with the three-speed manual transmission.
A new electronic choke on the six-cylinder engines with manual transmission, along with a new-design thermostat, provided quicker warm-up and reduced emissions. Carburetor revisions improved the fuel/air mixture flow for greater efficiency, and a longer cruising range was provided by a new 22 Gallon (8.3 Liter) fuel tank.
Exterior appearance features were tailored to enhance the character of specific Hornet models. For example, the optional “X” package on the Sportabout included body striping different from that on the other Hornet models. Vinyl roof coverings, in a choice of six colors, were a new Sportabout offering. A new style wheel cover with painted accent were optional on all Hornet models, as were styled 14-inch aluminum road wheels.
Numerous refinements were evident in 1976 Hornet interiors. Instruments utilized white numerals and indicators on a black background, with the speedometer displaying red figures. Sun visors were larger, stowage/litter containers for the front doors were redesigned, and a new dome lamp provided brighter light distribution.
For added personalization, the 1976 Hornet line offered optional packages. Both the Hatchback and Sportabout offer the plush Touring interior and the sport “X” package. A D/L package could have been ordered for two and four-door sedans and Sportabout.