25 July 2019

AMC USA Sales : 1970's (2nd Half)

The 1978 Concord

Years ago, I recall seeing AMC vehicles around Auckland, NZ. They weren't numerous but in a country where US brands were not selling at all, they offered something different. The other day, I noticed an AMC Javelin in the town I now live. Of course, I had Dinky cars of a Nash and Rambler models too when I was a boy.

The American Motors Corporation was founded by the merger of Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson (I had a Hudson sedan Dinky too) in 1954. In 1970, AMC acquired Jeep and turned it in a subsidiary company named AM General. However, this is about AMC vehicles.

In the early 70's, sales were in the 300,000+ area, so not huge but solid nevertheless. A limited budget meant that they had to target niches not exploited by the Big Three and investment dollar had to be spent wisely. Trying to sustain that over a long period is a challenge.

Model 1979 1978 1977 1976 1975
Concord/Hornet 85,431 114,764 79,508 81,884 97,841
Spirit/Gremlin 54,356 25,693 37,938 50,617 66,614
Eagle 14,101

Pacer 8,169 20,811 44,874 79,898 96,769
9,471 22,041 35,345 61,048
Total US Sales 162,057 170,739 184,361 247,744 322,272

Concord/Hornet: Starting with the Hornet, it was a compact model with various body options that ran until 1977, when it was replaced by the Concord. There wasn't much difference but the Concord had a nicer interior. 

Spirit/Gremlin: Looking first at the subcompact Gremlin, it was a uniquely styled 2-door hatchback. It sold well but it appears it was replaced far too late as sales were poor by 1978. The Spirit arrived in 1979 as a sedan and liftback, using the Gremlin platform with more conventional styling.

Eagle: This was basically a four wheel drive Concord, a crossover vehicle! AMC were having to be creative to survive. 

Pacer: This would have to be one of the most audacious car designs ever, in a positive way. It had a futuristic look, potentially polarising yet AMC had to try such things. It was however expensive to make and sales falling away after a promising start added to that. 

Matador: The large car of the range, it would have been the most profitable. The second generation model is released in 1974. The '73 oil crisis, large cars are going out of favour and it was not replaced. 

Summary: During the late 70's the loss of the Matador hurt sales and the Pacer fell away badly after an initial sales rush. By 1979, total sales were heading to half the average of just a few years earlier.

With sales falling, Renault took a 22.5% share in AMC. Renault cars would also be made by AMC in the US for local consumption. Would it give the company the financial lift needed? The 1980's can be followed by clicking here

The Pacer was apparently a chick magnet, albeit of the classy sort

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