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

  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.
  • Leonard Ostrander Pet peeve: Drivers who swerve to the left to make a right turn and vice versa. They take up as much space as possible for as long as possible as though they're driving trailer trucks or school busses. It's a Kia people, not a Kenworth! Oh, and use your turn signals if you ever figure out where you're going.
  • Master Baiter This is horrible. Delaying this ban will raise the Earth's temperature by 0.00000001°C in the year 2100.
  • Alan Buy a Skoda Superb.