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AMC Concord

    The AMC Concord was a compact car made by the American Motors Corporation (AMC) starting in the 1978 model year and continuing to 1983. The Concord was intended to replace not only the similar AMC Hornet, but to some extend the aging midsize AMC Matador which would be discontinued after 1978. Offered in four-door sedan, two-door coupe (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.

    1978

    Because of its poor financial situation, AMC was unable to build a completely new car to replace its successful, but aging Hornet. Competition from Ford's all-new Fox platform variants, also introduced for 1978, and GM's still-popular RWD X-cars was stiff, so the struggling fourth American automaker needed something fresh if they wanted to continue competing in a class that had long been their bread-and-butter. The "new" car took the ca. 1970 Hornet body, grafted on the facelifted 1977 Gremlin's front fenders, a new hood, chrome 6-section grille with white rectangular parking lights, 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 instrument panel completed the old Hornet's 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 (coupe 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. While one could get options like cruise control and air conditioning, power windows and power door locks were unavailable. A 232 in³ six-cylinder engine was standard, with a 258 in³ six-cylinder and a 304 in³ V8 being optional on the D/L models. American Motors introduced the availability of a Volkswagen/Audi-designed 2.0 L I4 engine which was also available in the Gremlin and later the Spirit. The engine was the same one 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 2.0L 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 4.2L I6 and 5.0L V8 engines were available with the AMX, the latter engine availble 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.

    1979

    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 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 Spirit liftback body.

    1980

    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 roof lines 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 5.0L V8 and 3.8L I6 were dropped outright for 1980, leaving only the aforementioned 2.5L I4 and the existing 4.2L I6 engines available. 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 12/12 warranty AMC introduced for 1972.

    1981

    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 by three vertical bars. "Noryl" wheelcovers embodying a pseudo-starfish pattern were new to the options list. All AMCs were marketed as the "Tough Americans" in print and television advertizements, indicating the presence of fully galvanized steel bodies, aluminized exhausts, and the aforementioned of comprehensive Ziebart rust protection processes from the factory.

    1982

    Changes for 1982 were minor, as well. A new 5-speed manual transmission made the options list, allowing a 2.5L Concord to achieve up to 37mpg on the highway, according to period 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. DL and Limited coupes saw the removal of the vertical strakes on their Landau vinyl roofs.

    1983

    Concord coupes were dropped from the line for 1983, and with them went the availability of the 2.5L 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 4.2L 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.

    Epilogue

    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.
    The Mexican government-owned automaker VAM made a vehicle called the VAM Lerma, which was based on the Concord's chassis with the Spirit's body panels.
    The Chrysler Corporation, now DaimlerChrysler, which took over AMC in 1987, made a full-size sedan called the Chrysler Concorde from 1993 to 2004.