Hooniverse Weekend Edition: 1971 AMC Matador Machine?

This was the little-known follow-up to the 1970 AMC Rebel Machine. This article was posted in Automotive Traveler in March of this year, but it is still timely, and a great read.

Editor-in-chief Rich Truesdell is an absolute AMC fanatic, and only he could have found this intriguing piece of history. The following is in Rich’s own words:

The 1970 Rebel Machine was a one-year-only model, with only 1,936 or 2,326 (depending upon who you quote) units rolling down the Kenosha assembly line. While most were painted a distinctive red-white-and-blue scheme, it certainly stood out in a crowd. Equipped with a 401-cubic inch V8, it was competitive with other intermediate-sized muscle cars in 1970, but it was not the sales success AMC had hoped. For 1971, the Rebel Machine was discontinued, replaced in a way by the $373 Go-Machine option package for the renamed Matador intermediate.

By offering the Go-Machine option, AMC was able to offer more choices in options and colors than the 1970 Machine, thereby making it more successful, or so AMC thought. Ahhhh, not so fast, as Rich explains:

Despite this flexibility, the 1971 “Go Machine” package sold even more poorly. Bill Deringer, who worked in AMC’s Kenosha facility and built the motor for the Breedlove AMX restoration (and still works at Jeep in AMC’s old Plymouth Road facility), remembers seeing the cars come down the line. He recalls that a very small number were built: 55 or 57 are the numbers that stick in his mind all these years.

If you want to know more about the car pictured, and some of the fascinating history of both the Rebel Machine, and this follow-up, you will just have to head on over to Automotive Traveler.
Image Credit: Richard Truesdell via Automotive Traveler

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  1. nitroracer Avatar

    I didn't know what the matador was until a few weeks ago when one surfaced on craigslist, but I must say those big coupes look good.

  2. Mike_the_Dog Avatar

    Does Hooniverse have targeted ads now, or just related to the post? I ask because the banner ad above the comments is for a '63 Rambler American on ebay. Weird…
    I've never heard of a Matador Machine, and am quite intrigued…
    EDIT: Okay, who's going to step up and buy this?

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Just adsense (which does "read" the content of the page)
      The eBay adsense spots tend to be very, very on-target.
      (So feel free to click on one or two…)

      1. Mike_the_Dog Avatar

        I do click here and there (probably not as much as I should, but definitely more than I would had I not disabled adblock for this site), but if I keep it up, I'm going to be flat broke with 100 cars…

  3. Jim-Bob Avatar

    Minor correction: The 1970 Rebel Machine came with an AMC 390, not a 401. The 401 was not introduced until 1971. As far as horsepower goes, the Rebel Machine had the highest rated horsepower of an AMC at 340. The normal 390 was only rated at 315. The 1971 401 was rated at 330hp

  4. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    As an old AMC junkie I was aware of lots of their oddball stuff, but I've never heard of the Matador Machines!

    1. muthalovin Avatar

      Agreed. Is there anywhere else on the internets that you see AMC posts? Doubtful, aside from Automotive Traveler that is.

  5. tonyola Avatar

    The Rebel Machine was a neat if somewhat "greaser" car, but it came in just as intermediate muscle-cars were going out of style. The emblem on the car was originally supposed to be a cool gear-riding hippie carrying a sign stating "Up With the Rebel Machine". However, it looks like AMC got nervous about the "protest" image and only used the figure in some promotional stuff. Collectible Automobile magazine once showed a photograph of a planned 1971 Matador Machine, but poor sales of the '70 killed the idea. http://upwiththemachine.com/yahoo_site_admin/asse

  6. Mike_the_Dog Avatar

    Stray thought: Welcome, my son. Welcome to The Machine…
    What did you dream? It's alright, we told you what to dream…
    You dreamed of a big star, he played a mean guitar.
    But you know he made a mistake, boy. He let you drive in his Matador…
    (With appropriate apologies to Roger Waters, et al.)

  7. bmw 3 series Avatar

    Chris Perry has some big shoes to fill in his new job. Hyundai has named Perry to replace Joel Ewanick as its vice-president of marketing. Ewanick, who left Hyundai in March for a short stay in the same position at Nissan, recently was appointed to that role at General Motors. Ewanick is credited with many of the particularly creative initiatives that have boosted Hyundai’s market share in the past several years, including last year’s assurance program, in which the automaker committed to making payments for laid off customers. Perry has been with Hyundai for ten years and since 2007 has been director of marketing communications. In that role, he’s been involved in developing the aforementioned award-winning programs, so things shouldn’t shake up too much. Perry will report to CEO John Krafcik.

  8. Rebel Machine Guy Avatar
    Rebel Machine Guy

    This car was originally a grey car, not red. It did not come with a hood scoop. While The Machine was rated at 340 hp the Matador Machine's engine was the more powerful because in 1971, the manner in which horsepower was calculated was changed. In 1970, the horsepower was calculated with the engine on a dyno with no options running. In 1971, the horsepower was calculated with options running at the rear wheels installed in a car. That change affected all horsepower ratings in 1971 and made all that year's cars seem less powerful than the previous year. That fact was not communicated to the public adequately and as a result sales sufffered and contributed to the ultimate demise of muscle cars along with insurance premium hikes and increases in gasoline prices.

  9. Rebel Machine Guy Avatar
    Rebel Machine Guy

    Pat Wnek owned this car for years. Then it changed hands a couple of times and was bought by Brad, a body shop owner who had grandiose plans for the car. Since he was the shop owner he figured he could change the colour back whenever he felt like it. But then he lost interest in the car and sold it. However, he did put all new OEM parts into the car so as it sits it is likely in better shape than it was when it was new. It is a 401 automatic with a console if memory serves me right. The car is missing it's Machine Wheels to make it a complete and of course the hood scoop and tach are incorrect.
    These cars did not sell well for the simple reason that AMC did not produce a graphic stripe kit for the cars or a hood scoop. The car was a sleeper in an era that mostly wanted nothing to do with sleepers. The designation Matador was a mistake too. The name Rebel meant something to the people who would buy a Machine and still does. Matador means nothing and is entirely forgetable. The Marketing of the Rebel Machine was tied to tightly to the personalities of the target market and the people who bought them mostly were Type A personalities.

    1. David Butzlaff Avatar
      David Butzlaff

      Hi, I heard that another 1971 matador "the machine" was found. Do you known any of the details of this find?

  10. Dale Avatar

    This car has a 4 spd and is therefore a true "Machine" although AMC called the equipment package the "Go Package`. Go Packages were available with 360 or 401 engines and auto or manual transmissions. However, the manual transmission was not available any other way so a Matador with a factory manual transmission was a Go Package "Machine".
    This Machine lives in relative luxury with a number of very rare AMCs including the AMX Vignale prototype, the AMXII pushmobile, a 5000 original mile SC/Rambler, James Garner's 4X4 Baja SC/Rambler, an SS/AMX drag car and the #3 Peter Revson AMX Trans Am race car.

  11. Edd e Stakes Avatar
    Edd e Stakes

    http://www.planethoustonamx.com/stuff/matador_mac… AMC's slogan for 1971 with Matador was 'AMC Matador: The Nicest Car You've Never Seen' as many people didn't know what it was. That body style was used for NASCAR also and saw only 2 year production as a sedan, basically a rebadged Rebel body. You can a TON of AMC stuf on my site here http://www.planethoustonamx.com/ Happy Hunting. Eddi eStakes' Planet Houston AMX