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      Your path: Home >> Wall-E's World >> Model Cars >> 1974 American Motors Hornet
1974 American Motors Hornet
Manufacturer: Motor Max
Release date 2007 (This one: Fresh Cherries)
Catalog number: 6421
Date Purchased: May 2007
Date Completed May 2008
Number in collection: 6

This car caught my attention in the store, partially because it is not the kind of car that I would expect to be reproduced in scale. The America Motors (or AMC) Hornet. was not much more than a typical compact car from this time period. It offered styling that the manufacturer intended to be sportier than its competition. From a mechanical and engineering standpoint, however, it not much different from other compacts. It was popular mainly because of a low purchase price, inexpensive operating costs, and decent utility. The Hornet was a pretty common sight on the roads during the 1970's 1980's, but are seldom seen today. They were not generally considered worth keeping when they reached the end of their useful life. A large percentage were simply scrapped.

Motor Max made a nice replica of the AMC Hornet, as part of their "Fresh Cherries" line. They offer nice enough detail to look good as purchased, but a bit of detailing can make them look even nicer. They also have a metal chassis and soft tires, for what I recall as a very reasonable price.

As I originally worked on this car before I started photographing them, pictures will be limited to ones taken when I originally wrote this page.

Click to zoom Click to zoom
What I started with. Actual car I used for reference.

Disassembly was started my removing a small screw under the front of the chassis. The parts breakdown is as follows:
  • An unpainted die-cast metal chassis, with decent engine, suspension, and frame details cast into it.
  • Tires are soft vinyl or rubber. Wheels are chrome-plated plastic, with a design very close to a wheel that was optional on the actual car. Backing plates are black plastic, and probably have the ends of the axles riveted to the inside surface. I did not disassemble them any further to confirm this, as I didn't want to risk damage to these parts.
  • A black plastic one piece interior with seats, dash, and side panels moulded to it. The steering wheel appears to be a separate piece glued to the dashboard. I didn't separate these parts, as I didn't want to risk damaging them.
  • a one piece die-cast body, painted copper. Emblems are tampo-printed markings.
  • A single piece clear window assembly, riveted to the inside of the body. I didn't remove it, as I didn't want to risk damaging this part.
  • Chrome plated front bumper with attached grille, rear bumper, and two clear red tail lights, which are attached by heat applied to moulded-in pins. I cut these bonds and removed the parts. The grill also has two clear head lights attached to it in the same manner, bit I did not remove them.

I felt that the overall casting and printed markings were close enough to the actual car. After disassembling the car, only paint and foil were used to further detail it.

The following is a summary of the changes I made:
  • Wheels and tires: Sanded the tread surface with 220 grit sandpaper to simulate wear. Detailed the wheels with silver and flat black paint to closer resemble those on the actual car.
  • Chassis: Entire piece is painted Testors acrylic flat black. Engine, transmission, frame, suspension and exhaust system details were painted with Testors flat light blue, Tamiya flat steel, aluminum, and semi-gloss black.
  • Interior: Carpeted areas are painted Testors acrylic flat black. Seats, dash, steering wheel and door panels were left as unpainted black plastic to simulate vinyl. The steering wheel is mounted to the dash in a way that is not very realistic. I decided not to attempt to remove and remount it, as I did not want to risk damaging it. Remaining interior details were highlighted with appropriate colors, using pictures of the actual car as a guide.
  • Body: Painted grill with flat black, then rubbed paint from grill bars after it dried. Applied Bare-Metal foil to window trim, wheel mouldings, rocker panel mouldings, rear deck trim, and door handles. Painted bumper guards and rub strips with flat black. Applied silver to inside surface of head lights and tail lights. Detailed tail lights with flat white and silver. Painted front side marker lights and park/turn lights with Tamiya clear orange.
Disassembled parts, before reassembly To the left is the car prior to re-assembly.

It was re-assembled by reversing the procedure used to disassemble it. No glue was needed.

Pictures of completed car (click to enlarge)

The proportions of the completed car look very close to the actual car. The table below shows how close they are.

Actual car 
(mm / in)
(mm / in)
Dimensions of actual car based on model scale
(mm / in)
Calculated scale based on model to actual car
Length 4750 / 187.0 79 / 3.10 4740 / 186.0 1:60
Wheelbase 2743 / 108.0 44 / 1.76 2640 / 105.7 1:61
Width 1821 / 71.1 30 / 1.19 1829 / 71.6 1:60
Height 1331 / 52.4 22 / .88 1320 / 52.8 1:60

No scale is listed on the package, but Motor Max did cast 1:60 into the base plate, and my calculations confirm that this is correct. My wheelbase came up a bit short, but not by enough to really matter.

I decided not to add or change any details while I had this car disassembled, as I am reasonably happy with my original efforts. I supposed I could have done some additional work on the interior, but I'd rather keep it as a reference point to where my abilities were when I originally bought it. At that time, I also remember several other American compacts from this time period also in the "Fresh Cherries" series. Unfortunately, I did not buy any of them then, and I haven't seen them since. Hopefully, Motor Max will reissue them someday. Until then, I'll just have too keep looking for them in the resale market.

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