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1974 AMC Matador Oleg Cassini

New_matador_pics_034_2 The AMC Matador is a particular favorite of mine--I have both sung its praises and defended its honor from those who would impugn it.

After the most recent Matador post, reader Gary Thoreson dropped me an e-mail describing his Matador. It's the prettiest Matador I've ever seen, bar none, and the story behind the car is truly touching.

Here's Gary's story:

Submitted by Gary Thoreson

It was Feb. 19, 1999 in Abbotsford, B.C., and my Dad, Edwin Alberta Thoreson, became the proud owner of a 1974 Oleg Cassini Matador. The past owner, according to the transfer papers, was a man by the name of Henry Edge. The transfer papers had also stated the car was white in color. I believe this was the original color, but since then it had undergone a complete color change and was now green. The original gold vinyl top had been repainted white, but the front grille and base color for the hub caps were still gold--that didn't match too well with the green.

Cal_herald_pics4_1 Although Dad received many offers to sell the car, he worked on it whenever he could and had visions of someday restoring the car. In 2003 Dad's legs weakened from age, making it very hard to get around, and after a serious fall the family decided to move him to a home where he could be taken care of. We brought him back to the house numerous times to check on the house, and his first concern was always checking on his old Matador. I remember him being very angry once when someone had stolen the rare "Oleg Cassini" emblems from the front fenders.

On Jan. 10 2005, Dad passed away peacefully, after joking with a nurse about where she was planning to put a flu shot. As the oldest son, and having seen the hidden beauty in the Matador that my Dad had seen, I decided to have the car moved to Calgary to try to make my Dad's dream come true. I am an Automotive teacher at Bishop Grandin High School in Calgary, which was convenient--I was able to utilize the school's resources and the student's help to work on the car.

Cal_herald_pics10 The car was stripped and sent out for minor body repair and another complete color change. Both my Dad and I were lovers of blue cars, and so I decided to paint the bottom blue and leave the original vinyl top white. I later learned that this shade of blue was one of the original colors offered for Matadors in 1974. We removed the engine and rebuilt it in the school, we serviced the differential, and sent the transmission out for a rebuild.

When the car returned from the body shop, the underside was undercoated and drive line installed. We installed new carpets, reupholstered seats, and a new dash pad. To modernize the car and still keep it original the AM radio was left in the car, fully operational, and a hidden Pioneer deck was installed under the dash with subs and amp secured in the trunk. The "X Package" stripe kit was installed (it was still available from Sweden) and the final touch was gluing on the missing "Oleg Cassini" emblems purchased online.

After two years of hard work, Dad's dream had become a reality. We commemorated the moment by putting on a special front plate that states "BEWARE THE MATADOR--This one's for you, Dad."

New_matador_pics_035The car has traveled to car shows all over Canada. She has seen rain storms, snow storms, and one major hail storm in Red Deer. Other than one other Matador at the Chestermere show, I have not seen another Matador, but one comment seems to come up often--"Hey look at this! A Matador! I haven’t seen one of these for years!" The funniest part is that most people have owned one.

The Matador wasn't as sporty as the Javelin; it was primarily a family car. For my family, it is just that. I go to most shows alone, but I feel that my Dad is with me for every mile we travel. I would like to thank my sisters, Linda and Lila, my brothers Larry and Danny, all the members of the AMCA, and all the contributors for all their donations and encouragement.

--Gary Thoreson




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Gary: a lovely story. You have certainly done well by your father's memory.

Excellent! I'm more of a Hornet guy myself but that's one sweet Matador. I love "Beware the Matador".

Beautiful car and your Dad sounds like he was a great guy. Nice job Gary!

Great story, great car. Can't see how one can go wrong with this.

Good story, I remember these cars and remembering thinking that automotive designers had finally figured out a way to use empty five pound Maxwell House coffee cans as headlight buckets. I'll argue that the first Ford Pinto and early 70s Camaro did a better job of incorporating the coffee can headlight idea into their designs, whereas AMC inset the design just enough to make them look even more like coffee cans.

Wow! From the white vinyl roof to the whitewall tires, this car is a dream! It says 1970s all the way, but not gaudy with brazen hood ornaments, opera windows, and (Egad!) fender skirts.

My biggest amazement is the parts availability for the car! A new dash pad? Original Oleg Cassini badges? Carpet? Wow! again! The color is a knockout, too! And the shiny differential has not gone unnoticed.

I hope you keep this car forever. What an amazing testament to the love for your dad.

very clean. nice car. great story.

Great story! Its good to know that its not just the Mustang II guys that can appreciate the "underdog" 70's cars. The local flavour helps, too (I'm in Surrey, BC)

I got to see this great car in red Deer Alberta last spring, got some great shots of it in my DA gallery

Mr. Thoreson, a true story. In 1974, a friend saw a 1957 Mercury Meteor driving past him. He shouted to the driver, "Oh, so THAT's a Mete-ore!"

That's is really a heart touching story,
And that front plate is looking awesome,
it makes me remember The 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS which my dad had,

I'm 44 and I remember the commercials. "What's That!!!???.... It's a Matador!" or something like that.

Looking at the nice long bottom seat cushions reminds me of the brown 1970 Ambassador DPL wagon my Dad bought from a coworker for $150 in 1976 and had till about 1984. Those seats were soooo comfortable and substantial. What a TANK that car was. The seats on most cars today, especially Japanese, are so short and lacking support.

I remember riding in a red Matador coupe that a friend's Mom owned. I was amazed that those big rear windows rolled down. All other car companies by that era would have had them fixed.

Well, no thanks to Chrysler, AMC is now gone.... and now Chrysler may be on their way.
I would like to see someone rich start a new AMC with new interpretations of these great, distinct cars.

In the early-mid 1980s our neighbor bought a used Matador wagon with the roof rack. We went fishing a few times and we would put his 12' aluminum boat on top of the rack, strap it down and go.

It is notable (to me) in that he bought just enough vehicle to do the job and did not have to buy a pickup truck. (Try strapping a 12' aluminum boat on your average family sedan or minivan today and see how far you'll get.)

my dad was a diehard amc fanatic, and despite chronic problems that plagued each and every one he owned over the years, he swore by them...........of course my mom always wanted to swear at them, but that was her well deserved opinion. I remember many a saturday and/or sunday in the driveway holding wrenches and flashlights while my dad did as much backyard diagnosis and repair as he was able to do. many fond memories!he loved his amc's and it showed in his time and devotion he spent over the years. as i look back, it was definitely quality time... I have been the proud owner of two different 1969 javelin sst's and a 1974 matador sedan. Also at one brief moment, a 1975 matador wagon. I would love to have any one of them now.. I would like to swap amc info, sales, and war stories with anyone who has the time.

I knew Oleg quite well, I met him in 1975 or so and I remember the TV commercial for this car. Glad you appreciated it, it is a very pretty car. I have a '65 Karmann Ghia to which I am attached, I come from a long line of car buffs.

My father had a 1975 Oleg Cassini Matador. His was white with that copper colored vinyl roof and the black interior. I think the only choice of paint color was either black or white for the Cassini model.

Great story, nice car. My dad has two 1974 Matadors. We always have people asking us what kind of car is that.

nice car man, dont ever sell it. its one of those type of thing you cant put a price on. i have a 75 amc matador, and alot of mystery surrounds that car. but what i do know to be true is that i aint ever selling it

I am interested in finding parts for my 1974 Matador.
Do you have any sources?

It should be noted that the Matador used in this article was a 2-door, which is obvious, but 4-door and wagon Matadors used a completely different body, a warmed over version of the 1970 Ambassador.

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