Stumbled onto this while looking for an interior shot for Torch's AMC Cavalier story. I find the Jeep connection most interesting.
Almost before the ink was dry on the Jeep purchase, AMC's Gerry Meyers assigned Jeep stylists to create a Hornet-based hauler. Jim Angers, Jeep's chief stylist, dubbed the project 'Cowboy' and the name stuck. Enthusiasm was high, there was even talk of four-wheel drive Cowboys.
Jim Alexander worked for AMC in product planning. He was assigned to head up the project. He visited Jeep's headquarters in Toledo, Ohio where he met Jeep's product planning team and then the stylists at their rented studios in Royal Oak, Michigan.
Alexander studied their sharp little hauler, done in the El Camino tradition. The project was stymied because of the large, integral side-sail panels used in the design. The immense cost of stamping those huge panels was prohibitive.
Alexander had been a stylist at AMC before moving to product planning. He calculated that a separate-box cab was as sharp looking as a integral-box cab. The project unsnarled.
Alexander solved other problems. He reasoned "if you can build a car with a stub fame at the front-like GM's Camaro—then why can't you do that at the back?" The truck progressed. An Ambassador gas tank was welded under the front half of the cargo bed and the spare tire fit neatly under the back half.
Looks like they were considering giving it a Jeep-like face.
Aero-Detroit was subcontracted to render drawings for the team. Alexander says,"we made the metal parts. The metal boxes were hand-beaten over wooden frames. We made wooden mdels, boxes and frames. The rear stub frame was welded on."
Alexander recalls, "a red styling mockup was made with a Gremlin front end. It had a more stylish, rakish rear but the bed wouldn't take a 1.8-metre (six-foot) long object. We built two more half-tonne trucks. One was a 4.2-litre (258-cubic inch) six-cylinder with a four-speed transmission. It was a pretty basic Hornet, done in yellow. It was shipped to the Southwest for testing. The other was made from an SC 360. We didn't have any in our stock so we got one from a dealer in Royal Oak and cut it in half. The 6-litre (360-cubic inch) eight-cylinder Cowboy was tested at AMC's proving grounds in Burlington, Wisconsin."