1978 Rambler Matador coupe
American Motors Corporation occupied second-rung status as a car-maker for just about all its short 33-year history.
Originally formed out of a merger between Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Company in 1954 to take on America’s Big Three car-makers - General Motors, Ford and Chrysler -- American Motors Corporation (AMC), produced some memorable cars. Some, sold under the Rambler brand, were even produced in Australia.
Although Rambler was too much in the background to remain especially notable today, some cars, including the good-looking Hornet compact sedan in the 1970s, the rakish Javelin coupe and large Rebel sedan from the late 1960s, were not unfamiliar to Australians.
The Rambler Javelin and Hornet were assembled locally by Australian Motor Industries (AMI) in Port Melbourne, as were the sexy AMX coupe (only 24 were assembled here) and the later Matador sedan, wagon and coupe models that saw Rambler out as a local entity.
Among the two-doors for which Rambler became notable was the 1974 Matador coupe, which was acclaimed at the time by the US press, particularly by the auto magazine Car and Driver where it was described as the “best-styled car” of the year.
The five-seat two-door was an immediate success and actually outsold four-door Matadors in its introduction year. AMC produced nearly 100,000 coupes during its four-year lifecycle.
Sold here alongside the bigger sedans and wagons as the Matador X coupe for just one year (1977) the Rambler two-door was a sort of latter-day Ford Mustang, hefting a substantial 182kW/492Nm 6.9-litre V8 driving through a three-speed auto transmission. It is believed AMI built around 70 during the car’s brief appearance on the local market.
With its short Australian availability, right-hand drive Matador X coupes are very rare today, which indicates this bronze/black model, which is believed to have been originally registered in 1978 and is offered for sale via carsales.com.au, is something special.
Purchased from its original owner in 1980, the car has been in the hands of its current owner, who lives in the Melbourne suburb of Ashwood, ever since - although it has been garaged for most of that time, venturing forth only rarely.
The owner describes the Matador as being in close to new condition and the photographs indicate that is probably not an exaggeration. The miles are low for the car’s age and the interior and exterior were extensively refurbished over two years, with the aim of bringing it back to original condition.
To be sold complete with a roadworthy certificate, the Matador X coupe looks like a potential winner at the asking price of $23,500.
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