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1974-1978 AMC Matador


1974 AMC Matador Lineup
The 1974 Matador X, with its slotted wheels and racing stripe, kept up the pretense of sport.
The 1974 Matador X, with its slotted wheels and racing stripe, kept up the pretense of sport.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The 1974 AMC Matador lineup was simple. The Coupe came in three models: base, sportier X, and ritzier Brougham. The standard model was equipped the way most mid-size American cars were back then -- pretty basic. Included was AMC's reliable 232-cubic-inch six-cylinder engine, a three-speed manual transmission, bench seats, color-matched carpeting, cigarette lighter, dual horns, and a 24.9-gallon fuel tank.

The Matador X came with rally side stripes, blacked-out grille, slotted wheels, sports steering wheel, a 304-cubic-inch V-8 engine, and "Torque Command" automatic transmission.

Brougham models added fancier trim, bright rocker panel and wheel opening moldings, a hood stripe, full wheel covers, a two-spoke steering wheel with woodgrain appliques, custom door trim panels, and nicer seat upholstery but carried the 232 six as standard equipment. This was the first year of the dratted federally mandated ignition interlock that forced front seat occupants to fasten seat belts before the ignition would operate, so that, too, was standard equipment.

AMC was famous in the 1970s for its use of designer-label interiors like the Gucci interior trim offered on the Hornet Sportabout wagon, "LEVI'S" denim-look seating on Gremlins and Hornet hatchbacks, and the outlandish Cardin trim offered on Javelins. For the Matador coupe, AMC settled on a combination of luxury interior trim matched with fancy exterior highlights marketed as the Oleg Cassini Package.

The package, available only on the Brougham, included individual reclining seats with black trim, copper buttons and Cassini's crest on the head restraints, a black headliner, a black instrument panel with copper dials and overlays, plus Cassini identification on the glove box door, a black steering wheel with copper accents, handsome copper carpeting, a copper-colored grille and headlamp bezels, a vinyl roof, scuff moldings, and special wheel covers with copper accents. According to several AMC executives, most of the Cassini package's elements were designed by AMC stylists, with little real input from Cassini.

In January of 1974, an opera window treatment, dubbed the D/L Formal Window Package, became available on Broughams. An AMC stylist remembered, "That was Dick Teague's request -- he loved things like that."

The coupe's underpinnings were nicely done. The 114-inch wheelbase (now four inches shorter than the stretch under the face-lifted carryover sedans and wagons) boasted four-wheel coil springs, twin ball-joint front suspension, and a front sway bar as standard equipment.

The body/chassis was unitized, naturally, like all AMC cars had been for many years. An Extra Quiet Insulation Package was standard on all models. Front disc brakes were standard, although power assist was available at extra cost.

The Matador offered a lot of powertrain choices. Buyers who desired more spunk than the 100 horsepower provided by the 232 six could opt for a 258-cubic-inch six with 110 horsepower or a 150-horsepower 304-cid V-8. Additionally, two 360-cubic-inch V-8s were offered: a two-barrel job of 175 horsepower, and a four-barrel version packing 195 horsepower with single exhaust or 220 with dual exhausts. The big-motor option, however, was the 401-cubic-inch V-8, which came only with four-barrel carburetion and twin exhausts. It pumped out 235 horsepower at 4,600 rpm and 335 pound-feet of torque at 3,200 rpm.

Only two transmissions were available. The column-shifted three-speed manual came standard with the sixes and wasn't offered with the V-8s. A Chrysler-built three-speed fully automatic transmission was available with either a column- or floor-mounted shifter. The floor shift could be had only on V-8 coupes equipped with bucket seats and console.

See the next page for a look at AMC's advertising campaign for the new Matador.

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