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|Part 3: An AMC Weekend in North Carolina|
|Written by Rich Truesdell|
|Monday, 06 April 2009 08:05|
One of the strangest cars at the Tom Mack AMC auction was a 1973 Hornet Gucci Sportabout going to a new home in Switzerland. But covering the grounds, pavilions, and concourses of Lowes Motor Speedway, I uncovered a number of gems that are well worth bringing to your attention (and adding to the Automotive Traveler image gallery).
While a good portion of the automotive world will descend on New York this week for the International Automobile Show--for breaking news check out the coverage on CarDomain, Jalopnik, and AutoBlog--I'm going to use my Monday to get caught up and bring you the final coverage of this past weekend's Food Lion AutoFair held at Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina. In keeping with our weekend-long American Motors theme, we'll kick off the coverage with one of my favorite albeit unusual cars sold at the Tom Mack/Steve Green Auction, a 1973 AMC Hornet Gucci Sportabout, a car which in spite of its designer intentions might possibly be blessed with one of the most hideous interiors of all time. (That didn't stop me from buying one 10 years ago and later selling it at a tidy profit, doubling my money).
Throughout the seventies, AMC turned to name-brand designers for unique interior trim packages for their cars, predating better-known later efforts by Lincoln. There were Levi Gremlins, Oleg Cassini Matadors, Pierre Cardin Javelins, and this novelty, the 1972-1973 Hornet Sportabout station wagon, trimmed in tri-color buff, red, and green vinyl. Behind the wheel it's as if you're driving from the inside of your girlfriend's designer handbag. The model was something of a success for AMC, which in the larger scheme of things is relative, as 2,583 were sold in 1972 and 2,252 in 1973 before the package was discontinued at the end of the model year. It was only offered in the Sportabout wagon, but that shouldn't stop any enterprising AMC fan from transplanting this interior, with its split front reclining seats, into any 1970-1977 Hornet 4-door sedan, which shares its door-trim panels with the Sportabout.
In the paddock area at the conclusion of the auction I was able to track down Andy Tanner, the car's proud new owner, who ventured all the way from Zurich, Switzerland to add this car to his collection which also includes a seventies AMC Ambassador station wagon. (Can you imagine owning and driving a 360-powered Ambassador station wagon in a land where a gallon of gasoline costs the equivalent of $8.00? I can't.) Andy, who ventured to Charlotte with his son, was clearly enjoying the notoriety that comes as standard equipment when one purchases such a curiosity. Designer interior aside, the Hornet Sportabout is about as large a car as you would want in Europe, something of a precursor of sorts for the sports wagons that followed from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes. Andy's Sportabout is powered by AMC's reliable and ubiquitous 258-cubic-inch straight six. As I will be organizing a sports car tour this summer of the Italian, Austrian, German, and Swiss Alps, we exchanged business cards with the promise of getting together in early August. All teasing aside, everyone here at Automotive Traveler wishes Andy the best of luck with his new toy.
As far as the rest of the AutoFair is concerned, to say that it was sprawling would be the understatement of the century. The NASCAR garages in the infield were host to a collection of high profile cars that included hot rods, two drag cars that memorialize sacrifices made by the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a spot-on replica of the "Back to the Future" DeLorean. Out on the infield, along the banks, and on the grandstand concourses were more than 50 clubs from throughout the Southeast. We found many noteworthy cars among those on display, certainly a different mix of cars than would be the norm in our backyard here in Southern California. Some will be covered in the magazines that I contribute to, but others, like the Tri-powered Holman-Moody 1960 Ford Falcon, a car once featured in Hot Rod in 1960, will be profiled here on Automotive Traveler.
In the meantime check out the Automotive Traveler AutoFair image gallery. We'll start with 24 images today and will add more throughout the week.