|1978 AMC Concord D/L sedan|
|Manufacturer||American Motors Corporation|
|Production||1978 – 1983|
|Assembly||Kenosha, Wisconsin USA|
Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Mexico City, Mexico (VAM)
|Body style(s)||4-door sedan|
4-door station wagon
|Platform||AMC’s “junior cars”|
|Engine(s)||122 cu in (2 L) Audi/VW EA827 I4|
151 cu in (2.5 L) GM Iron Duke I4
232 cu in (3.8 L) I6
258 cu in (4.2 L) I6
304 cu in (5 L) V8
|Transmission(s)||3-speed TorqueFlite automatic|
|Wheelbase||108 in (2,743 mm)|
|Length||183.6 in (4,663 mm)|
|Width||71 in (1,803 mm)|
|Height||51.7 in (1,313 mm)|
|Curb weight||2,851 lb (1,293 kg) (base)|
|Fuel capacity||22 US gal (83 L; 18 imp gal)|
|Designer||Richard A. Teague|
The AMC Concord was a compact car made by the American Motors Corporation (AMC) starting with Model year 1978 and continuing to 1983. The Concord was intended to replace not only the similar AMC Hornet, but to some extent the aging mid-size AMC Matador that would be discontinued after 1978 in a market moving to downsized automobiles. Offered in four-door sedan, two-door coupé (through 1982), three-door hatchback (through 1979) and four-door station wagon forms, AMC sought to give its, by this time venerable, compact car an image of luxury, class, and value. The Concord was AMC's volume seller from the time it appeared.
American Motors was unable to develop a completely new car to replace its successful, but aging, Hornet. Competition was expected from the new Ford Fox platform (also introduced for 1978) and the RWD GM X platform was still-popular, so the financially strapped fourth American automaker needed something fresh to continue competing in a class that had long been their core market segment. The 1978 Concord was not much different structurally or mechanically from its predecessor, but with a new appearance and a higher level of appointments and features, it looked more "important" and, like the other AMC models, benefited from an urgent stress on workmanship and quality that was prompted by the growing success of cars imported from Japan.
Richard A. Teague, AMC's top car designer, took AMC's compact platform and gave it noticeable changes starting with a new front end with a slope that gave it a sporty, yet formal appearance. American Motor's design studio under Teague mastered of the art of getting attractive new cars from a minimal investment. The "new" car utilized the facelifted 1977 Gremlin's front fenders with a new hood over a chrome 6-section eggcrate grille incorporating white rectangular parking lights, as well as new rectangular headlights, bumpers, fiberglass rear fender end caps, rectangular tri-color taillights, and a stand-up hood ornament with a new Concord emblem. Increased sound insulation, suspension upgrades, and a more upscale interior featuring a new instrument panel completed the transformation into the new 1978 Concord.
Three models were available: Base, Sport, and the top-line D/L. The D/L featured many of the luxury cues that were popular on cars in the 1970s; a landau vinyl roof with opera windows (coupé only), color-keyed wheel covers, reclining seats covered in velveteen cloth, and woodgrain instrument panel overlays. The D/L wagon featured exterior woodgrain trim and reclining seats in a leather-like perforated vinyl. The Sport package included slot-style road wheels and bodyside tape stripes on the lower half of the vehicle, running up around the wheel flares. Options included cruise control and air conditioning, however, power windows and power door locks were unavailable.
A 232 cu in (3.8 L) six-cylinder engine was standard, with a 258 cu in (4.2 L) six-cylinder and a 304 cu in (5 L) V8 being optional on the D/L models. American Motors introduced an optional Volkswagen/Audi-designed 2.0 L (122 CID) I4 engine, which was also available in the Gremlin and later the Spirit. The engine was the same as used in the Porsche 924, although the Porsche was fitted with Bosch fuel injection instead of carburetors on the AMC models. This engine provided improved economy, but was not as powerful as the standard six-cylinder engine. Because of the expense of acquiring the rights to the new 2.0 L engine, AMC could not afford to make it standard equipment.
Based on the hatchback model, the AMX was available for 1978, including a different front fascia with single round headlights, a flush blackout grille, round amber parking lights, a brushed aluminum targa band roof, body color trim, the Gremlin's "power bulge" hood, and fiberglass wheel flares. Only the 258 cu in (4.2 L) I6 and 304 cu in (5 L) V8 engines were available with the AMX, the latter engine available solely with the 3-speed automatic.
American Motors marketed the Concord as a more economical alternative to larger luxury cars. The tag line in the ads at the time of Concord's introduction touted it as the car with "The luxury America wants, the size America needs." The Concord outsold the Pacer, Matador, and Gremlin combined for its first year.
The next model year saw moderate upgrades to keep the car fresh. A "waterfall" grille with a fine chrome vertical bar treatment, quad rectangular headlights atop slim, horizontal rectangular parking lights, and lighter aluminum bumpers were new for 1979. The D/L sedan was given a new vinyl roof design which extended only over the rear passenger compartment was complemented by chrome trim that overlaid the B-pillar and wrapped over the vinyl roof at its leading edge. 1979 also saw the introduction of the Limited model, available on coupe, sedan, and wagon models, and appointed with leather upholstery, thick carpeting, full courtesy lighting, body-colored wheel covers, and a standard AM radio. The Concord Limited was very well equipped for a compact car at the time. The D/L package, now the middle trim level, was extended to the hatchback, which was given a brushed aluminum Targa-like roof band and a half-vinyl roof to differentiate it from the standard hatchback. The Sport package was dropped, and the AMX moved to the new AMC Spirit liftback body.
The hatchback was dropped for 1980, and the remaining models were given a smoother appearance. The sedan versions of the D/L and Limited were given full vinyl roofs with nearly triangular opera windows embedded in the C-pillars; the coupe versions received squared off opera windows, and revised chrome opera window trim with vertical strakes occupying the space between the window itself and the outer piece of trim. Limited wagons received blackout paint and chrome trim surrounding their rear quarter windows. Base sedans and coupes retained the same rooflines and treatment seen on Hornets since 1970. Taillights were modified and given a wraparound treatment. All Concords received a new horizontal bar grille, with the Concord name in script to the driver's side, and a new, squared-off hood ornament bearing the AMC tri-color logo. That same year, options such as power windows and power seats were also made available. General Motors' Iron Duke I4 engine was also made available for 1980 to replace the rarely ordered VW/Audi four. The 304 cu in (5 L) V8 and 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6 were dropped outright for 1980, leaving only the outsourced 151 cu in (2.5 L) I4 and AMC's durable 258 cu in (4.2 L) I6 engines as the available choices. All AMCs were offered with Ziebart Factory Rust Protection for 1980, which included a new 5-year No Rust Thru warranty in addition to the Buyer Protection Plan 12 month/12,000-mile (19,312 km) warranty that AMC introduced in 1972.
A new grille treatment was featured at the front of the 1981 Concord. It featured chrome horizontal bars spaced further apart than in 1980, and added three vertical bars, one in the center and two outboard, dividing the two halves into quarters. Noryl wheel covers embodying a pseudo-starfish pattern were new to the options list. All AMCs were marketed as the "Tough Americans" in print and television advertisements, indicating the presence of fully galvanized steel bodies, aluminized exhausts, and the aforementioned of comprehensive Ziebart rust protection processes from the factory.
Fuel economy figures for the 49 states in 1981 were 23 mpg-US (10 L/100 km; 28 mpg-imp) city and 34 mpg-US (6.9 L/100 km; 41 mpg-imp) highway for the 4-cylinder with 4-speed, 20 mpg-US (12 L/100 km; 24 mpg-imp) city and 26 mpg-US (9.0 L/100 km; 31 mpg-imp) for the 4-cylinder with automatic, 19 mpg-US (12 L/100 km; 23 mpg-imp) city and 28 mpg-US (8.4 L/100 km; 34 mpg-imp) for the 6-cylinder with 4-speed, and 19 mpg-US (12 L/100 km; 23 mpg-imp) city and 26 mpg-US (9.0 L/100 km; 31 mpg-imp) for the most popular 6-cylinder with automatic combination.
There were four wheel options this year. The first was the "Custom Wheel Cover" standard on the Base model, Full Styled Wheel Cover (stainless steel) standard on Concord DL, the Wire Wheel Cover standard on Limited models, and the 14 x 7 inch Turbocast II Aluminum wheels that were optional on all 1981 Models. There were 15 exterior paint colors this year, they were Olympic White, Classic Black, Quick Siver Metallic, Steel Gray Met, Med. Blue Met, Moonlight Blue, Autumn Gold, Sherwood Green Met, Cameo Tan, Copper Brown Met, Med. Brown Met, Dark Brown Met, Oriental Red, Vintage Red Met, and Deep Maroon Met.
Interiors were available in Deluxe Grain vinyl in black, blue, beige, and nutmeg. Sculptured Rochelle Vaour fabric came in black, blue, wine, beige, and nutmeg. Leather was available only in nutmeg.
Changes for 1982 were minor, as well. A new 5-speed manual transmission made the options list, allowing a 151 cu in (2.5 L) Concord to achieve up to 37 mpg-US (6.4 L/100 km; 44 mpg-imp) on the highway, according to period United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates. The Chrysler-designed 3-speed automatic transmission received wider ratios, and low-drag disc brakes were also added, both as fuel economy measures. The DL and Limited coupes saw the removal of the vertical strakes on their Landau vinyl roofs.
Concord coupes were dropped from the line for 1983, and with them went the availability of the 151 cu in (2.5 L) I4 engine and the Limited sedan model, leaving only the base and DL sedans and base, DL, and Limited wagons in the Concord line. Therefore, all 1983 Concords came with the 258 cu in (4.2 L) I6 engine as standard equipment. Sales slowed to a trickle in the wake of the introduction of the Renault Alliance, and all Concord and Spirit models were quietly dropped by the end of the 1983 model year.
The Mexican government-owned automaker Vehiculos Automotores Mexicanos (VAM) manufactured a number of models in Mexico under license from AMC. The cars came with different trim, interiors, and model names than the equivalent AMC-made models. In addition to rebadged Concords, VAM developed model was the VAM Lerma that was based on the Concord with AMC Spirit hatchback and body panels. All engines built by VAM were of AMC design incorporating appropriate changes to deal with lower octane gasoline and the higher altitudes in Mexico. This included a unique 282 cu in (4.6 L) version of AMC's straight-6 engine.
The AMC Eagle remained in production, using the Concord platform until it too was discontinued in the middle of the 1988 model year. For 1987, AMC introduced the imported Renault Medallion to replace the discontinued Concord, as well as the similarly-sized, but poor-selling Renault 18-based 18i/Sportwagon, which had been sold at AMC dealerships from 1981-86. The Medallion, like its 18i/Sportwagon predecessors, also failed to sell in large numbers, and imports were canceled by Chrysler at the end of 1989.
In The Betsy (1978) film, 1978 Concords can be seen being completed on the Kenosha assembly line.
In the The Pursuit of Happyness film, Concords are used as some of the cars to set the time period of the 1980s.
In writer John Shannon's private detective series, his hero Jack Liffey drives a 1979 AMC Concord.
The full size 2005-2008 version of the Dodge Magnum shares very similarly styled body panels to the Concord and could even be considered by some a spiritual successor.
- Tripolsky, Bob "We Test the New AMC Concord" Mechanix Illustrated, December 1977.
- "AMC Spirit, AMC Concord, AMC Eagle" by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, not dated, retrieved on: 10 February 2008.
- Gunnell, John, Editor (1987). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975. Kraus Publications. ISBN 0-87341-096-3.
American Motors road car timeline, United States market, 1954–1988
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