Optional for the Hornet AMX was a large hood decal that was right around the time of Smokey and the Bandit, so perhaps AMC was trying to benefit from the halo effect, or maybe Mr. Wangers was applying the same ideas to both cars (he advised on the modifications for the Trans Am used in the movie).
Starting in about December 1976, AMC also made available a giant flaming hornet graphic on the hood and decklid that aped the Trans Am's "screaming chicken" decal. AMC approached Jim Wangers of Motortown Corporation to create a more exciting version of the Hornet.
While most people know Wangers for his involvement in Pontiac product development, Wangers also managed to give the Hornet one last hurrah with the 1977 Hornet AMX.
Wangers had already dealt with AMC via Hurst with the SC/Rambler, Rebel Machine and S/S AMXs.
Later in his post-Pontiac days, Wangers started Motortown Corporation, a specialty shop similar to businesses like American Sunroof Corporation and Cars and Concepts that worked closely with the auto manufacturers to modify production vehicles for limited runs that the manufacturers couldn't be bothered with.
At Motortown, Wangers embarked on a crusade of sorts to revive the muscle car, resulting in the limited-run specialty editions of production cars Volare Road Runner, the Dodge Aspen R/T, the Pontiac GTO Judge, the Ford Cobra II and the Pontiac Can-Am. Sometime in 1976, he set his sights on reviving the AMX.
When Motortown installed the flaming hornet graphic, they replaced the hornet badge on the hood with a bullseye badge similar to the bullseye badges on either base of the targa band. Some enthusiasts have suggested that the bullseye badges were included as a tribute to the Javelin, which wore similarly styled badges.
An appearance package was developed along with some suspension tuning, but unfortunately, the EPA certification requirements triggered by drivetrain upgrades prevented the possibility of a larger engine such as the 360, which would have been a drop-in replacement.
So the Hornet AMX debuted with either a 110 hp 258 c.i.d (4.2-liter) straight-six coupled with either a four-speed manual or an automatic with floor shift, or the 150 hp 304 c.i.d (5.0-liter) V8 with a Chrysler-sourced automatic.
How many Hornet AMXs AMC and Motortown built has been a matter of speculation for some time. Edrie Marquez, in his book, Amazing AMC Muscle, claimed that between 330 and 376 Hornet AMXs were built, but other sources claim a total of 5,207--broken down to 3,196 six-cylinders and 2,011 V-8s. Eddie Stakes of Planet Houston AMX believes the total is closer to 5,300, but noted that AMC never confirmed any production figures. Wangers wrote that those numbers were "lukewarm" and that the Hornet AMX "probably did more damage than good by infuriating anyone who had fond memories of the original AMX."