Lipstick on a Hornet: AMC’s Gucci X Sportabout was a weird one
I’ve just watched Ridley Scott’s two-and-a-half-hour biographical crime drama House of Gucci for the third time, because I thought for sure I must be missing something. Those Gucci folks sure did love their cars; Fiats, Porsches, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Bentleys, and Mercedes all play a starring role in the 2021 film. Do you know which car doesn’t have a starring role, or even a bit part, or even a mention by name? The AMC Hornet X Gucci Sportabout. It is nowhere. I can only guess that Scott didn’t want it stealing the limelight from his all-star cast. Or, possibly, Lady Gaga had a strict “NO GUCCI SPORTABOUT” clause in her contract.
Whatever the case, the film world is the poorer for it, because Gucci X Sportabouts are hot right now. Well, one of them is, at least: This 1973 Hornet just sold on Bring A Trailer for $23,100, a record for the model by a factor of two. Bidding opened at $500, then danced around three-figure territory until one person laid down the gauntlet and took it from $2000 to $15,000, serious money for what one might describe as a caricature on wheels.
The Hornet arrived in 1970 as a two-door coupe or four-door sedan, with either six-cylinder or V-8 power. The $2500 Sportabout wagon, with its single rear hatch door, appeared a year later as a practical do-anything-mobile aimed at the lady of the house. Meanwhile, over in Italy, Aldo Gucci was looking to expand the designer brand bearing his name. Obviously AMC was a natural fit, so in 1972, to absolutely crystallize its focus on women buyers, American Motors entered into the unlikeliest of unlikely partnerships. AMC zhuzhed up the 1972 Hornet with the new “Gucci X Sportabout.”
The $141.75 designer package added green carpeting and upholstery in trademark Gucci colors, with seats in green and ivory vinyl, accompanied by green and red stripes. The doors feature green vinyl with ivory inlays, and the headliner is awash in the fashion house’s double-G logo. A total of 4835 Gucci X Sportabouts were sold in 1972–73. This was just the start for AMC, though. The Kenosha carmaker then dove head first into designer-series models, and shortly after introduced a Javelin by Pierre Cardin, a Matador by Oleg Cassini, and the best of the lot, a series of Levi’s cars that included the Gremlin, the Hornet, and the Jeep, all trimmed with a blue denim-like material.
A few years later, Lincoln famously launched its own designer-series cars, with versions of the Continental Mk IV done by Givenchy, Pucci, Cartier, and Bill Blass. But not by Gucci, curiously, who, in the eyes of Lincoln execs, had perhaps devalued itself with America’s lowliest carmaker. Gucci would redeem itself in the eyes of Cadillac with 1978’s “Seville by Gucci.”
But back to this incredible green machine, which the seller acquired in 2022. The original 304-cubic-inch V-8 is said to have been replaced by the previous owner with a 360 V-8, and though true mileage is unknown, the odo shows 13,000 miles. The car is pretty clean, with great chome, clear glass, and nice paint. The door gaps and shutlines are pure ’70s domestic, of course, and overall this Hornet presents in solid #3/#3+ (Good) condition, with some small tears in the headliner, surface rust noted on the undercarriage, and unfortunate holes in the trim between the rear bumper and the car. Several BAT commenters note the rarity of that particular piece and offer up helpful suggestions for repair. Thankfully, the Gucciest interior bits of this Sportabout are relatively unscathed, and the new owner should be proud to show it off from Woodward Avenue to Rodeo Drive.
Five years ago, Mecum sold a regular—that is to say, non-Gucci—six-cylinder woodie Sportabout in period browns and beiges for $11,500, all the money in the world. That sale result aside, in this shape, any other Hornet Sportabout should bring about $5500. A #1 concours example might top $8000. So the seller here should be over the moon. Luxo-heritage has a price, apparently.
Besides, when have you ever seen another one so clean? Or just another one… at all? Certainly not in House of Gucci. Maybe it made the director’s cut.