Story of the Week

Posted: 02.20.2017
Remembering the highly successful 1971 AMC lineup
By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images courtesy The National Automotive History Collection

 

The highlight of the 1971 American Motors Corporation auto line introduced many new and exciting automobiles for the consumer market.

Five new nameplates and two new engines highlighted American Motors’ product line for 1971. The new Javelin designs were great looking styled automobiles that attracted many from the younger generation to its product line. The 1971 Javelin models had taken on significant changes from previous designs. With an increased length and wheelbase of 1 inch, a reduction of 1-inch height and an increase of 3 inches in width, the models offered a sporty new look that performed well in the consumer market.

 

Strong sales based on the refurbished 1971 line continued for AMC through 1975. The four passenger Javelin-AM X models that the company introduced for late October offered unique standard equipment features which had placed it in a true performance category. The model availabilities were as follows: Javelin base 2-door hardtop, Javelin SST 2-door hardtop and a Javelin AMX 2-door hardtop.

The 1971 Javelin models had reflected the company's aggressive product development program. The renowned Dick Teague, one of the best auto designers in the world, headed the design studio for AMC, and the company was led by innovator Roy D. Chapin who had introduced a new program for the 1970 model year introduction.

The Javelin models offered high-back bucket seats with a selection of four trim colors along with a new Weather Eye heating system, which had been developed by Nash-Kelvinator, that was also available for most models. The Rally or “T stripes” were optional on SST and base models. The stripes were a part of the “AMX Go” optional package and were available in black, white or red.

 

The 1971 Matador models were new and longer. The 1971 Matadors offered the consumer an intermediate automobile with great utility and exceptional value for the consumer market. A bold, horizontally split grille became a signature design element for the new Matador series which was introduced within the game-changing 1971 passenger car line for AMC. There were three Matador models offered for 1971, including a two-door hardtop, a four-door sedan and a station wagon.

 

 

 

The 1971 Ambassador Brougham models offered the consumer a handsome model with many great looking styling refinements and features. The Ambassador Brougham models offered seven vehicles in the 1971 Ambassador lineup including an Ambassador DPL four-door sedan and a two-door hardtop four-door sedan and a popular Ambassador Brougham station wagon (See above photo). The Ambassador Brougham station wagon offered the consumer standard wood grain paneling which most consumers admired.

 

One of the most popular models that was introduced by AMC in the early 1970s was the Gremlin. The Gremlin was a new subcompact introduced in April of 1970; the design remained unchanged for 1971 except for certain equipment revisions and several engineering advances.

The Gremlin models were available in two and four-passenger versions. For 1971, the four-passenger model was available as the Gremlin X, which included a special custom trim and equipment. Hood and body stripes and a grille that were painted the same color as the body marked the Gremlin X. Other features on the 1971 Gremlin models included a smaller, slightly oval steering wheel for increased driver leg room, stronger front bumper mounting brackets and new rear side marker lights, which many consumers really enjoyed.

 

The last car from the class of 1971 are the Hornet models. The Hornet models were compact vehicles that were available in a four door and five-passenger vehicles. American Motors advertised there Hornet models for 1971 with a slogan that highlighted AMC’s focus on smaller cars: “We build a better compact. Wouldn’t you expect that from American Motors.”

The most popular Hornet model was the SC/360 models that many young drivers purchased. The models offered standard white rally stripes with an optional raised white lettering along with standard slot-style wheels and a 360 cubic inch V8 engine and 4-on the floor Hurst shifter engine. The 1971 Hornet was only available one year only. Other Hornet models included the Sportabout, and the Sportabout D/L.

With its highly successful 1971 line of automobiles, AMC returned to profitability gaining a net profit of about $10 million.



A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for contributing this story to the MotorCities Story of the Week Program. 

For further information on photos please visit http://www.detroitpubliclibrary.org/ or email nahc@detroitpubliclibrary.org. Please do not republish the story and/or photographs without permission of MotorCities National Heritage Area. (Bibliography: Foster R, Patrick. “AMC Cars 1954-1987: An Illustrated History” Iconografix 2004.)

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