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The Green Hornét: A Nitrous-Huffing, Straight-Six-Powered, Patina-Clad, AMC Station Wagon

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 3/6/2018 Jacob Davis

And A Budget Disc Brake Swap That Fits Behind the Factory 14" Wheels


This 1972 AMC Hornet Sportabout, dubbed "The Green Hornt" by Freiburger himself, was acquired on a bit of a whim. After flying from Georgia to California for a Roadkill event in September of 2015, this oddly shaped and quite weathered station wagon was purchased for a mere $1,350 cash in L.A., then promptly driven 2,200 miles back to Georgia in just three days with very minimal issues then we just kept on driving it.

After the car successfully completed its first long haul on Power Tour, a plan was hatched to spray the original straight six with copious amounts of nitrous just for "scientific" purposes. Upon realizing that the buzzin' half dozen was a little more worn out than it initially let on, with lots of blow-by and valve seals that were allowing entirely too much oil to leak into the cylinders, the project snowballed as they always tend to do.

The AMC 258ci straight six was yanked out for what was most likely the first time in its long life and given a budget-oriented, dingle-ball rebuild with new bearings and piston rings that were gapped to handle the introduction of nitrous oxide without butting. While it was out for the garage rebuild, it was treated to new lifters, beefier valve springs, and the biggest camshaft that Comp Cams makes for the 4.2L engine. After completing the budget rebuild with the help of Tim Davis, the car appeared on Finnegan's Garage where Roadkill host and shenanigan enthusiast, Mike Finnegan, helped finish the build.

070-amc-hornet-disc-brake-swap.jpg© Hot Rod Network Staff 070-amc-hornet-disc-brake-swap.jpg

In Mike's basement garage, the car was equipped with two rather special parts that were sent pro bono by fan/friend Ken Robinson a Clifford 6=8 aluminum intake and the accompanying 390 cfm Holley four barrel carburetor that was rebuilt by Daniel Boshears of Red Rocket Racing Engines. Additionally, a Clifford Performance header purchased as a gift by Jacob's own mother was installed, and a programmable MSD 6AL-2 ignition box running one of their Pro-Billet distributors was slated to handle the ignition of whatever fuel should be introduced to the combustion chambers.

Then came the real party piece, a direct-port-injection nitrous fogger system from NOS, complete with its own standalone fuel system pumping in a steady supply of race gas. Since that install, the car has completely won over the owner and seemingly everyone else along the way as it road tripped all over the country making nitrous pulls at nearly every drag strip we visited and laying down some serious one-tire-fire smoke shows without the still-cast-piston-equipped straight six so much as flinching.

After all the miles and drag strip shutdowns, the original 9-inch drum brakes were starting to beg for some attention. Not only were the rear brakes hardly doing anything at all, but the teeth on the front adjusters were so dilapidated they would self-retract on road trips and fall out, making the car extremely hard to stop.

After a couple of scares, we began to look for better performing brakes that fit behind the factory wheels. Lucky for AMC guys, as well as many other owners of less-than-common cars, Scarebird Classic Brakes provides clever kits to make the swap from drums to discs easy and hassle free. While yes, there are other companies that offer conversion kits, they require their specific rotors, along with calipers and pads that might not fit behind a 14-inch wheel. Scarebird Classic Brakes offers quality conversion brackets that require no spindle modifications, and use quality, inexpensive, off-the-shelf parts available from your local auto parts store as well as through discount internet suppliers such as

After getting all the parts, we took the Hornt to John McGann's "warehome" and installed the Scarebird kit while shooting photos of the process. Scarebird Classic Brakes has done the homework to combine rotors from a 1994 Toyota Previa, calipers from a 1990 Chevrolet Celebrity, wheel bearings from a first generation Ford Ranger, and brake hoses from a 1980 Cadillac Eldorado with CNC laser-cut brackets, and billet-aluminum hubs of their own design that work perfectly on these cars for just a touch over $500 dollars (under $300 if you do some machine work to retrofit your original drum hubs to work). Yeah, we know it's a bit of a strange combination, but with all that backstory out of the way, let's take look at how Scarebird can help your car stop safely every time.

The weekend after installing the Scarebird kit, we drove the Green Hornt on a 1,000 mile round trip through the desert from Los Angeles to Tucson, Arizona for Roadkill's Zip Tie Drags. The car now stops smoothly and reliably without brake fade. So if you want to ditch those temperamental drum brakes, maybe you should check out this budget-oriented option for your own vehicle. Now we need to swap out those rear drums and rid ourselves of that pitiful open-diff, but we'll just have to save that for another time.

Parts List

AMC Hornet, front disc bracketsAMXScarebird Classic Brakes$129.99
1961-78 AMC front hubsAMC hubsScarebird Classic Brakes$265.99
Raybestos Chevrolet Celebrity right brake caliperRC4234Rock Auto$47.89
Raybestos Chevrolet Celebrity left brake caliperRC4233Rock Auto$47.89
Wagner Toyota Previafront brake rotor (x2)BD125058Rock Auto$18.56
Raybestos front left brake hoseBH36959Rock Auto$10.06
Raybestos front right brake hoseBH36960Rock Auto$10.06


Scarebird Classic Brakes LLC

Rock Auto LLC



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