1969 Chevy C70 Fire Truck or 1978 AMC Matador Barcelona: Which Weirdo Wins?

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Good morning, Autopians! It’s that time once again, and today we have two random oddball vehicles from opposite ends of the country. Why? Because I can. But first let’s see how our derelict ’50s yachts fared:

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Looks like smooth sailing for our Packard Clipper to an easy win. The Olds might be a little easier to find parts for, but its eight cylinders are arranged the wrong way.

Today, there is no theme. No tie that binds. Once or twice a week, in the course of looking for vehicles to feature, I come across something that just doesn’t have an obvious mate, that doesn’t really match up with anything else. We’ve had a few odd pairings before, but nothing as mismatched as these two. They go together like chocolate sauce and iron filings, which is to say, not at all. [Editor’s Note: Pretty sure I’ve seen David eat that. – JT] But I think they’re both cool, so let’s dive in and see what we can make of them.

1969 Chevrolet C-70 fire truck – $1,000

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Engine/drivetrain: engine not specified, manual, RWD

Location: Concord, CA

Odometer reading: 11,000 miles

Runs/drives? Sadly, no

The first two things you need to know are 1.) it’s a fire truck! and 2.) No, lookit, it’s a fire truck!

The third thing you need to know is that it’s really hard to find definitive specs on these older medium-duty trucks. As far as I can tell, this truck probably has either a 366 or 427 cubic inch gasoline V8 in it, and although the ad lists it as an automatic, there’s a manual gear lever clearly visible in the interior. It’s either a 4 or 5 speed, with a “granny” first gear either way, and possibly a 2 speed rear axle as well.

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It’s a hell of a long way from home, I can tell you that: the Brussels-Union-Gardner Fire Department is in Door County in northeastern Wisconsin, and the truck is for sale in the San Francisco Bay area. How did it get there? Was it driven? Are a couple thousand miles of its scant 11,000 mile total from an epic cross-coutry journey somebody made in a decommissioned fire truck? (If so, I’m envious as hell, because that sounds like a lot of fun.)

Look, it’s even still got the pump on the front! And gauges on the top edge of the grille! Does your truck have gauges on the top edge of the grille? Didn’t think so.

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Sadly, this wonderful old relic does not run, and has no title. I’m sure there are ways of fixing both of those problems, but then what? You’ve got a kick-ass classic fire truck that you can’t really do anything with, and have to find someplace to park. Rent it out as a movie prop maybe? Drive it in the Fourth of July parade with Miss Small-Town Whatever waving from the back? Just sit and admire it and think, “I have a fire truck?”

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I wonder if the siren still works?

1978 AMC Matador “Barcelona” sedan – $1,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 360 cubic inch V8, 3 speed automatic, RWD

Location: Stony Brook, Long Island, NY

Odometer reading: 72,973 miles

Runs/drives? Ad says it runs, but also says bring a trailer

Just about as far away from Concord, California as you can get in the US, and jst about as far from an old fire truck as vehicles get, is this last-model-year AMC Matador sedan. It’s the “Barcelona” edition, which as far as I can tell has no connection to the Spanish seaside city. But then, I often wondered what the Spanish-speaking world thought of a car named “Matador” anyway.

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This weird, beaky, second-generation of the Matador sedan looked nothing like the sleek personal luxury coupe of the same name. Nicknamed the “coffin-nose,” this car’s honker puts W.C. Fields to shame. However funny-looking, the Matador did well in contemporary road tests and earned praise from the press. Quite a few of them found duty as police cars, and not just on TV.

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This Matador is equipped with David’s favorite engine, AMC’s 360 cubic inch V8. By 1978, emissions controls choked down much of the performance that made the early Matadors such effective police cars, but then, nothing was very fast in 1978. The engine is backed by a Chrysler Torqueflite automatic, marketed by AMC as the “Torque-Command.” Whatever you call it, it works.

Inside, where most of the “Barcelona” trim package resides, things look mighty comfy. There isn’t much rust showing on the outside of the body, but a few of the photos show pronounced holes in the floors and in the trunk. Something to check more closely, for sure.

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The funny thing about the Matador is that the longer you look at it, the less weird it seems. I’m not sure I’d call it a handsome car, exactly, but when you take a minute to study it, it starts to make sense. Kind of.

So. I don’t know how you begin to compare or contrast these two, but they’re what you’ve got to work with. Discuss, dissect, vote.


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75 Responses

  1. While the fire truck has the kid in me going “ooohh” The reality is getting this running and driving it not viable option. Unless I had a huge plot of land in the middle of nowhere and needed my own truck.

    The AMC is one of oddballs that I just like and it runs (ish). It would be a more useable vehicle for me.

  2. Fire truck is only cool because it’s a fire truck, otherwise it’s just a worn out Chevy truck. The Matador though, glorious in two-tone brown and where have you seen another one? I’d rock the hell out of that thing!

  3. The firetruck is cool but utterly useless as currently constituted. The Matador could ultimately be a fun ride. I do wish the Matador was pre-’75 to avoid California smog, though. Then again, I have a soft spot in my heart for the AMC family of products.

  4. Has to be the fire truck for parade or toy use.

    Any auto parts store in your local farm town stocks parts for the medium duty big blocks, and if you’re not close to one of those, RockAuto probably does. They big stupid lumps of iron, and worst case scenario, it’s a great yard ornament.

  5. Matador for me, the fire truck would be fun if you had money to burn for things like finding a truck tire shop that’ll handle those split-rim wheels.

    I’m not that clued-in on Spanish but I’m given to understand that “Matador” literally translates as killer but has the definite connotation of the bullfighting context. That being said, VAM in Mexico marketed this car as the “Rambler Classic”. But again, not to avoid the Matador name but because the older Ramblers avoided the fogeyish connotations they had north of the border, and there was capital in the old name rather than the need to keep rebranding to run away from the oldfartmobile image.

  6. I’d buy the AMC Matador *Barfelona*.

    It is an orphan after all and it is also the perfect excuse for me to break out my Polyester Leisure suits to wear whilst navigating the Matador down to the local flea market! 😉

  7. We were an AMC family in the 70s 🙁

    We had an early 70s Matador wagon that was always mildy failing in small ways but also had these high*/lowlights:
    – run off the road into a telephone poll – dent could not be fixed so it just rusted instead
    – stolen in Mexico for weeks (sadly returned)
    – Rest of the car literately rusted so fast I can’t remember the original car color (Midnight Blue?)
    – dropped it’s transmission right in the middle of the street one day

    My Dad had finally HAD ENOUGH, so he towed the wagon to the dealership and blocked the front doors so no one could get in until they gave him some recompense.

    Which they did by giving him a “great deal” on a …

    Brand new 1975 Pacer! : o

    It was the same Blue as the one in Wayne’s World, with the every popular Southwestern styled interior. Heaviest doors every made. Trans also feel off of that one. ugh. Somehow my cousin’s Gremlin ran for 20 year though….

    So yeah, give me the fire truck.

    * The wagon still serves up some nostalgia though because it had the back door that had a window that opened/closed and the door both swung out and flattened out. Plus you could fit an entire little league team in the wagon and we often did.

  8. I’d take the Matador sedan. I don’t understand the fascination with fire trucks, unless you’re a farmer who needs a mobile irrigation pump, or have a swimming pond and want a summer fountain.

    I love the Matador Coupe, but we actually had a 1978 Matador four door, in chocolate brown. It really was a great car.

    That car was solid, smooth, and completely reliable, as long as the battery had a good charge. There was a flaw in the electrical system that regularly drained the battery over the course of a few days.

    We never found the problem. The Matador was rear-ended and totaled when struck by a commercial duty truck of a similar size as that fire truck.

    It’s an odd coincidence that you selected a big ol’ Chevy C70 truck on the same day you picked a ’78 Matador sedan.

  9. I’ve got to admit the fire truck is tempting. It would suit occasional farm use,especially for harvests.
    It almost certainly has a pto for driving accessories.Could be super useful

  10. I went matador, as I feel like it’s more something you could get, fix up a little, and use in and of itself; it looks in decent condition for $1500, so with a bit of patching up etc. you could have an old-school period piece land yacht to cruise about in. While the fire truck is cool, I feel its the sort of thing you could only really buy as a base for a project, to turn into a car hauler or an RV or something, by which time, the bulk of the cost of the project isn’t really going to be in the purchase price of the vehicle, but in the time investment, parts, materials costs etc. for the rest of the project.

  11. Ugh. I like ’70s domestic iron, but that Matador is just an ugly, weird-looking 4-door festival of brown-n-beige. It’s like an off-brand peanut-butter-cup turned inside out that you discover too late is actually made out of carob and cashews. The fire truck, however, is a big pile of potential for pocket change. Yard art! Parade queen! Period movie picture car rental! Custom themed food truck or drinks dispenser! Swimming pool accessory! Cut & weld a big tub in the middle and use it as a backyard fire pit! It’s only a grand, go nuts! Have fun! I don’t want an ugly, non-smog-exempt grandpa sedan that has The World’s Shittiest Engine in a butterscotch wrapper, not when I can set my very own fire engine on fire for less money.

  12. I had a 74 Matador in State of MN Maroon. It was running and unloved junk to me. That would be worth more to me than a fire truck. Barcelona edition it is with all its wood paneled glory

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