AMC HORNET SST 2D Sedan 1970 - My introduction to the AMC hobby.

This is almost what it looks like right now. I've added some racing tapes & markers on the sides but the car is still the same. New pics coming soon...
I bought this Hornet in a REALLY bad shape around the year 1999 and been working on it ever since. It has gone thru some serious changes and to give you a small description, read on. But at first I'll throw you a couple thumbnails (incl. a couple burnout shots) if that's what you're looking for, and then onto the history (as I know it).


The first time I heard about this car was when an old man from Savonlinna (Eastern-Finland) called me up on an add I had in a finnish swap-magazine (Keltainen Pörssi) in which I was looking for rear lights and some other parts for my first Hornet.

He basically first asked around about my concerns for Hornet parts, and after I made it clear that I wasn't going to ruin my current car (en aikonut tehdä siitä linttaa) he approached me with a deal I couldn't refuse (I made better deals later, but right then, it seemed too good to refuse). He'd sell of his "nicely running-second owner-good looking" Hornet for just 2500FiM. Sounds good, don't it?

Only problem was that I didn't have any spare money, and the fact that the car was situated in Savonlinna the other side of Finland.(I live in Pori). So I sold my first Hornet-project and just about anything I could get rid off and 2 weeks later I had the money.

Next it was time to figure out how I could transport the car to my hometown (Pori). The Hornet wasn't registered for traffic, but the old man assured me that it was quite up to it, if I just got the transfer-plates (siirtomerkit) and drove it to Pori. The trip wasn't something I was looking forward to making in a car that hadn't been driven in 5 years, and so I looked, and found, a reasonable priced rental truck, in which the car would fit on the back. Next weekend we were off to Savonlinna.

When we got there it took a while to find the place, but when we did the disappointment was quite big. The old man, was actually an owner of a parts-yard and co-owner of a used-car sales-firm. Well after talking a bit, we took off to the parts-yard in which the car was located. This yard didn't crush any cars though, and all of the cars were actually for sale whole only, so no parting out was possible. This explained why the Hornet wasn't missing any hard-to-find parts or such. Well, it seemed to be in reasonable shape, and started up (after 10 minutes of cranking) and suprisingly ran quite fine.

I test-drove the car a bit, and it seemed to work great, if a bit sluggisly, but that was expected, since it had stood for so long. We loaded up the car, and I paid the price, and we were off to Pori. I guess we should have examined the car more closely, but we didn't, because it was getting dark and we still had a 9 hour trip to make back. But then again, the price wasn't that bad, so I just took the risk, and quite a risk it was as it turned out later on...

After the all-night trip back home, this is what the car looked like the next day after dropping it from the truck bed.


Here's a table which tells you in brief about the things that have been done to the car.

  When Bought When it actually was What happened to it
ENGINE 232cid, low milage (140tkm, or so I was told...) The six worked ok, though it had a knock, some issues with the 1bbl carb, and it slightly leaked every possible fluid, starter was also noisy and the alternator didn't seem to work adequately.

Sold off for a reasonable price, and I at first bought a 304cid V8 and after painting it, switching the alternator and starter solenoid I installed it in the Hornet's nest. It was OK, but a bit underpowered for my taste. Later on I swapped it for a slightly bigger V8.

TRANSMISSION Borg-Warner T-96J 3-speed manual Turned out to be a bit noisy, still worked fine, later found out it had some loose parts in it. Sold off for pretty cheap, bought a Borg-Warner cast-iron automatic to replace it (M-12, used with 390/401cids).Had some problems with it from the start and I'm thinking of going for a 5-speed manual soon...
BRAKES Power drum brakes Turned out to be power DISC brakes! I never checked them in Savonlinna and the suprise was quite pleasant, and they worked decently at first. Nothing at first, but the passanger-side saddle started leaking fluid, and I soon realized the problem couldn't be solved easily. A friend of mine found the whole set of discs/saddles so I managed to compline a working set from those. I also had some SERIOUS problems with the booster, and while swapping it realized it was from a Fjord, so I had to install new supporting braces as well, as the originals had been raped quite badly. Later I also added a new brake proportioning valve to even out the pressure that goes to the rear brake cylinders (to stop rear wheels from locking).
INTERIOR Looked decent, not original though Original seats gone, replaced with some strange and small separate japanese ones which were welded in to the body immobile, looked quite nasty after removing the covers. Dash was suprisingly in very good shape, as were most of the plastics and inside electrics.

Donated the jap-seats to a friend of mine and installed original Hornet seats from a parts-car and had them redone. Also redid and replaced some of the broken interior parts (armrests and such). Also the interior is now completely black, meaning I replaced plastic parts here and there taken from the parts car. Replaced a few bulbs and wires and now the dome light works along with everything else. I had the bench seat in the car for about 2 years and then it broke down (springs) so I installed buckets that are similar to the ones originally available for Hornet. I also had them redone in the same way with the rest of the interior and it looks OK for now.. Thanks to Ake Råberg for all the hard work and help on the interior!.

PAINT White, looked quite decent Painted over a few times, really faded, some paint wasted out with water, alltogether quite sad. I think the original paint in the car wasn't arctic white but more to a creamy white, the original coat of paint was visible from a couple spots (like when the wipermotor's cover was removed)... The effort was made to make the car look good, and I gave over the painting to my uncle Timo Nauha. He did most of the underwork (1/2) and because the old paint would have boiled under the new paint, he underpainted the whole car (1/2/3/4) and then fine-sanded the underpaint (1/2) to see if he missed any dents on the surface. Finally he painted the car, first the white and after drying he masked it and then the red & blue. (front shot/rear shot). A Huge thanks goes out to my painter for all the hard work he put in to the car. After 3 years the paintjob is still looking very good, thanks to the painter!
RUST Didn't seem to be a major problem, some surface rust visible here and there, but "nothing to worry about" All floor panels were GONE, I could tap thru each one with a screwdriver, and I mean 'tap lightly'. I guess they were constructed from something other than metal... Front fenders were both built of fiber and rusted metal, heavy rust-out everywhere, rear fenders rusted through, rust e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e

Removed all the paint from the floor by 'scrubbing' it off and got the rustwork started. Next I cut out the rusted rear floor panels and replaced new sheetmetal. Also bought and installed new front fenders/2 . Left rear fender was totally shot and it was removed. After some modeling, the new fender was spotwelded in, and after checking out everything, it was welded in. Luckily the right fender was fixable without a replacement. Front valance was also replaced. The car is totally rustfree now.

UNDERBODY Car steered alright, rode straight, seemed ok. All rubbers gone, manual steering was leaking badly, front springs sagged, and rear springs were quite useless. Rear-Axle was working fine, but I needed a more heavy-duty unit for the V8. Don't get me wrong here though, the AMC-15 is a fine rear, and will work with a V8 if you go easy on it, but I was quite sure that I wouldn't... Replaced all rubbers with new ones, replaced front springs with V8 ones, Took apart the rear springs and replaced a couple leafs, all seems to work quite normally now, a slight forward rake was archived by accident (used too stiff spring leafs in the rear). Rear-axle was switched to AMC-20 HD and it was painted bright red. I had 3.15:1 gears on it but I swapped them in favor of 2.78:1 gears, the car really flies now on the freeway.... Also most of the braces and underbody construction had some issues with it, replaced or fixed just about everything.. A couple years later I also installed new KYB gas-shocks in the rear and I will be installing coil-overs in the front soon... Also looking for a rear swaybar...
TIRES & WHEELS Original wheels without hubcaps, tiresize was 185/80-14 all-around hubcaps found in the locked shut trunk, suprisingly in great shape, the old tires were all worn-out and quite useless, two of the wheels were from some other make (don't know which)

I had AR-781's with spinners underneath for a little while, but then I found Cragar Street Super Tricks in decent shape, and for VERY CHEAP. (Actually I traded them for my old wheels/tires...) They were OK for a while, but then by a freak incident they rusted out while being cleaned. Happily insurance covered most of the cash and I got some very wicked looking AR Outlaw copies for the car. They're 15x8 and I'm riding with 255/55-15 in the rear and 205/50-15 in the front.

STEERING Manual steering with a manual tranny column. Worked fine, except for the flasher-switch. Fixed the old column with parts from an automatic column shift version. Worked fine for a while but some bearings for messed up in a couple years and now I'm adding a tilt-column. I also rebuilt the power steering I found earlier for the car and put it in. Ran into some problems with the pressure hoses and such, but I managed to find the parts I needed. Later on I realized the column shift wasn't gonna work very long and I put in a floor shifter (Hurst DualGate) with a cromed console.
ELECTRICS Seemed ok, lights/flashers didn't work though. Basically most wires were useless, some even burned. Also found major grounding problems all over the car, most connectors seemed OK though... Made a new wiring harness for the engine bay from scratch, replaced a lot of wires in the interior wiring, new wires to all the lights and replaced a few relays and bought a new starter solenoid. I also redid all the wires going to the trunk (rear lights, etc), becouse most of them were quite messed up.

So, where did I work in all these pics? The first ones (when the car was still white) were taken in my in-law's and when I got it drivable it was moved over to a garage I shared with a couple friends. They turned out to be unreliable, so I moved the car to my folk's garage when I looked for another place to work on it. I found a new place couple days later, and it's about 50meters from my home. Later on I started a local car club (Newfield CC) with a couple friends and now the Hornet is mostly being worked on there.

Here's a small collection of pictures of the car in it's various phases.

garage shot engine bay1 engine bay2 engine bay3 enginepaint engine_install dashboard front_2 outside_front outside_rear
testdrive1 testdrive2 testdrive3 scene1 forssa_pick_nick 2000 owner_1 owner_2 my_gf

Show Pictures
In the year 2000 my Hornet was entered into the biggest & most respected US-car show in Finland, called the Hot Rod & Rock Show Tampere. Here are a few pictures from the show (for more see AMCCF Meets section) and after the show I took a couple pics outside before driving the car home, I think it looks pretty nice. And btw, these are the last pics of the car without the license plates.

Emblems & Markers
It took me a while to finally get the emblems back on the car. Thanks to John Elle for sending me a collection of Hornet emblems etc and thanks to Raimo Vuorensivu for selling me the BEES.. =) I got the missing SST emblem and the 304 emblems from my '71 Hornet SST parts car. I also ordered all the original stickers (engineroom, interior) from the states, they fulfill the look I was driving for... I also got around to finally touching up the engine room... It's a lot better looking now with most of the parts in the color they're supposed to be... (and PS. I know the HORNET emblems are in the 'wrong' place, I just like them a whole lot better there...)

If you look closely at the picture taken from the side in this thumbnail collection, the car is parked it downhill, the front rake is starting to look kinda funny... You might also notice the problem with the front cromewheels... It's something a wheel-cleaner substance did to the crome (basically it got burned) and that's why I had to change the wheels to new ones... Also last in this collection is a picture of my car taken at mid-nite in the last cruising of summer 2001 in Rauma, Finland. I actually took the picture by a coincidence, and when it turned up on the film I noticed I had just captured some of the color-shifting essence of the paintjob... check it out... =)

Please note that these pages are constantly out of date, since the project is no way even close to finishing... I will add newer pics soon, showing the new graphics & such...