Rare Rides: The 1981 AMC Concord Keeps It on the D/L

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1981 amc concord keeps it on the d l

Vehicles from plucky AMC are always welcome here at Rare Rides. Thus far, the series has featured a Metropolitan, a concept Van, a Matador Barcelona, and a very tasty Sundancer. The latter is a cousin of today’s relentlessly beige Concord two-door sedan.

Ready for some malaise?

The story of the Concord starts out with its father, the Hornet. After the compact model’s run from 1970 to 1977, executives at AMC realized they’d need a compact entry to go head to head with new Fox-body entries from Ford, downsized A-body vehicles from Chevrolet, and everything from Japan. AMC’s bread and butter had long been the compact car segment, so this new car needed to be good. But as ever with AMC, money was tight.

Responsibility for the Concord’s design was handed over to magician Richard Teague, AMC’s favorite designer. What he did was create a Hornet 2.0 on the cheap. Concord utilized the Gremlin’s fenders, mixing them with new sheet metal. The front and rear underwent a redesign, and there was a brand new hood emblem especially for Concord. Reworked visuals accompanied upgraded engineering, as the folks at AMC were scared of the build quality being observed on new Japanese competitors. A reduction in NVH was achieved via an upgraded suspension and additional noise insulation throughout the car. Interior panels were backed with sound absorbing materials, and upper Concord trims also featured a fiberglass acoustic headliner.

A bevy of features were included as standard, and the revised platform meant a bit of additional headroom and rear legroom over the outgoing Hornet. Upon its debut in 1978, AMC billed it as a luxurious compact car. Let’s take a moment and talk Concord with John Davis.

Initial trim offerings were Base, Sport, and D/L. The D/L reflected the tastes of Personal Luxury at the time; buyers who sprung for that trim received a vinyl coach roof in a variety of colors. Other D/L niceties included the opera windows seen on this coupe, color-match wheel covers, velvety upholstery, and wood grain on the dials. By 1981 Popular Science crowned Concord as “the most luxurious of all the U.S. compacts.” A new top trim level bowed that year — Limited. Instantly the best selling model in AMC’s portfolio, the Concord lived a happy life through 1983. By that time, however, AMC’s days were numbered, and Concord was replaced with the Renault Alliance.


Today’s Rare Ride is for sale presently in the salt-free location of Phoenix. It’s well equipped with the mid-pack 258 (4.2L) inline-six engine, automatic transmission, air conditioning, and cruise. With 50,000 miles on the clock, this Concord asks $3,500.

[Images: seller]

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3 of 64 comments
  • Jimbo1126 Jimbo1126 on Jun 11, 2019

    I have to admit, even though the coupe featured here is ug-lee with its overwrought opera window, the sedan in the video is beautiful.

    • Vulpine Vulpine on Jun 11, 2019

      That 'ug-lee' opera window was needed for rear-quarter visibility; I had one quite similar in my '79 Dodge Aspen and it gave a clear view of your typical blind spot when changing lanes. You might not appreciate it but I would.

  • -Nate -Nate on Jun 11, 2019

    I too enjoy these articles on long forgotten and / or orphan vehicles.... Just because you (certainly I) don't want to buy one doesn't make this a bad car or bad article . -Nate

  • Jim Bonham Thanks.
  • Luke42 I just bought a 3-row Tesla Model Y.If Toyota made a similar vehicle, I would have bought that instead. I'm former Prius owner, and would have bought a Prius-like EV if it were available.Toyota hasn't tried to compete with the Model Y. GM made the Bolt EUV, and Ford made the Mach-E. Tesla beat them all fair and square, but Toyota didn't even try.[Shrug]
  • RHD Toyota is trying to hedge their bets, and have something for everyone. They also may be farther behind in developing electric vehicles than they care to admit. Japanese corporations sometimes come up with cutting-edge products, such as the Sony Walkman. Large corporations (and not just Japanese corporations) tend to be like GM, though - too many voices just don't get heard, to the long-term detriment of the entity.
  • Randy in rocklin The Japanese can be so smart and yet so dumb. I'm America-Japanese and they really can be dumb sometimes like their masking paranoia.
  • Bunkie The Flying Flea has a fascinating story and served, inadvertently, to broaden the understanding of aircraft design. The crash described in the article is only part of the tale.