Random # 207: Rambler Hornet

When people are asked to identify their favourite American vehicles, most nominate muscle cars like Ford Mustangs, Chevrolet Camaros or Dodge Chargers.  

Others will cite Cadillacs or other full-blown 'yank tanks' as the automobiles that most float their boats.   

UMPH's views are different, of course; for him, the USA's best car is the American Motors Corporation's (AMC's) Rambler Hornet, as shown here with this magnificent example photographed in Hobart on a gorgeous early autumn morning.  

According to Wkipedia:
A total of 1,825 Hornets were built at the Australian Motor Industries (AMI) factory at Port Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, between 1970 and 1975.[45] The Hornet was sold in Australia as the Rambler Hornet, only in four-door sedan body style.[45] It was fitted with either a 232 cu in (3.8 L) or 258 cu in (4.2 L) six-cylinder engine and with an automatic transmission.[45]
While the Hornet was the least expensive compact model in the United States, the Hornet in Australia was a luxury model, with high levels of trim, carpet, [tyres], and accessories.[46] These included high-back seats, fully lined boot and covered spare wheel.[46] The Hornet used a PBR fully assisted dual braking system, and front disc brakes from the Javelin Trans Am.[46] The Hornet sold for $3,999 in 1970, with 407 cars being sold in Australia in that year.[46]

So why does UMPH love the Hornet so much?

Of the 1,825 Hornets sold in this country, one - a blue 3.8 litre model fitted with Dunlop Aquajet radials, Victorian registration number KTY 225 - belonged to his aunt since new in the early 1970s, which was a formative time for UMPH's automotive tastes.

Compared to similar Australian cars of the time - the Falcons, Holdens and Valiants - Hornets were magnificently equipped, as well as having styling that easily eclipsed that of the Aussie 'Big Three.'

Hornets were, however, relatively similar in size to its Aussie counterparts - maybe Kingswoodish-sized but a bit smaller than a Falcon or a Valiant Regal and, for an American car, had a relatively small engine.

In addition to the equipment and accessories listed in the Wikipedia entry, the Hornet also featured a stylish centre console surrounding the T-bar auto shifter (no crappy column change for this baby!), the front buckets were finished with bold horizontal ribs and there was, from memory, a clock in the middle of the dashboard and a half decent, possibly cartridge-based, stereo system (remember, even a single speaker AM radio was a big deal back then!). 

Even better, for one golden two-week summer break in the early 80s, UMPH was allowed to drive the Hornet in and around Croydon, Victoria, and even drove it into Melbourne one evening - a big deal from a Hobart boy still on his Ps! 

Look at those flared wheel arches - none of the Hornet's Aussie counterparts could rival them.

The particular example shown here - a later model equipped with a 4.2 litre motor - was, quite simply, perfect; the paint was lustrous, the panels straight and rust free, the chrome mint and the interior faultless.

All the trim was present, too, right down to the AMI badges on the front guards, as well as the one bearing the Hornet emblem below the boot-lid. 

Even if the car featured here wasn't in such first-rate condition, it would be hard to argue that it's not a very handsome vehicle indeed, with its wide stance, muscular flared wheel arches and relatively wide wheels for its time.

It's a design that has aged well, looking as good today as when it was first introduced in the early 70s.



All iPhone images.

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