Tag Archives: AMC Pacer

Car Spot: AMC Pacer

Another swing for the fence car from America’s smallest automaker.

When you’re up against big car companies with big budgets and big lineups you have to do things differently as was the case for American Motors in the 70s. They were all about different in that time period first with the Gremlin in 1970 and then with the Pacer in 1975. This week’s car spot focuses on a 78 Pacer Wagon Mark spotted at the Mecum auction in Chicago this past weekend.

Introduced as America’s First Wide Small Car, it was also ahead of its time with its cab-forward design while all the other cars were the traditional three-box designs. Developed to offer the interior room and feel of a big car but in a much smaller, aerodynamic, and distinctive exterior package. That it was. The automotive press loved it and so did I owning a 75, Autumn Red Metalic with a white interior. It had a massive amount of glass which led to one of its nicknames, the fishbowl. And I added even more glass with an aftermarket sunroof, which leaked, and my friends called mine the Astrodome.

RELATED Post: Read about the Racer Pacer.

One of the complaints consumers had was the lack of space in the back seat when adults rode along so a wagon version was added in 1977. It also gave the Pacer a more traditional design and more cargo space. Popular Mechanics described the newly added 1977 Station Wagon body style as a “styling coup”, and said: “Who needs the coupe!”

The car was introduced with a choice of two inline sixes that were fuel efficient but because of the Pacer’s weight, 3,425 pounds for the coupe, 74 more for the wagon, its 304 V8 was added to the lineup boosting horsepower but decreased mpg. It was during this time period that the Pacer became positioned as a luxury car. This 78 is a great example. A D/L level Pacer that was loaded with leather seats, power steering, brakes, locks, and windows, a Sony CD player, tinted windows, the 304 V8, custom wheels, and woodgrain. Not really wood:). It sold for $8,250, about average for a Pacer like this in good condition. However in 2020 at Mecum’s auction in Indianapolis a 77 sold for a crazy amount of money, $25,300! There is/was a Pacer wagon I found on Hemmings where the guy was asking for 30k that had been converted to electric. Yikes, can you imagine the weight of that one?

RELATED Post: My promo model Pacer.

Larger hood to fit in AMC’s 304 V8

By 1980 the public had grown tired of the Pacer’s unique styling and poor gas millage and AMC ended production. 280,000 Pacers were built in Kenosha and more at VAM in Mexico. This swing for the fence might have been the beginning of the end for AMC. Developing the Pacer cost the company a ton of money as did the new Matador coupe and neither car saved the company. Renault bought a controlling interest in AMC in 79 and that was it for building its own passenger cars. Was the Pacer ugly? Maybe but one thing is for sure like the other Dick Teague-inspired designs is that they were unique and had character unlike many of the other cars coming out of Detroit at the time. Yup, I’m an AMC homeboy and proud of it!

AMC’s unique door handles used on all vehicles and the rear liftgate on Jeep CJ’s and Wranglers.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots along with some of its history. Have a great weekend.

Chasing Classic Cars: Not your father’s Pacer

The Racer Pacer

amc pacer, american motors, cab-forward designI had never heard of this before my dad gave me a book to read “The Cars of American Motors”, by Marc Cranswick, McFarland Publishing. The “this” were not the Pacers that rolled off the assembly line in Kenosha, WI. I had one, just like this, a 1975 with a 258. My buddies and I tailgate with this at Milwaukee Brewer games and made a trip to Cleveland in it to visit a friend going to John Carroll University. Side note: Bob Hope was the commencement speaker. What fun. Named it the Astrodome or Astro for short. Later I sold it to my buddy who went to school in Cleveland after he graduated. Sorry Joe but it was good when I had it. The AMC Pacer was built between 1975 and 1980 and was the first modern mass-produced, U.S. automobile design using the cab forward concept. AMC marketed it as “the first wide small car.” Later in the production run a 304 V8 was an option.

Enter Carl Green Enterprises (CGE) who took the Pacers which came with the 304 and dropped in AMC’s 401 along with some other mods. Swapping out engines was no big deal because the blocks were the same size. Here is where the magic started. Green loved the Pacer because its design was a breath of fresh air Continue reading Chasing Classic Cars: Not your father’s Pacer

Chasing Classic Cars: An AMC Pacer?

amc_pacer_savageonwheels.com_chasing classic carsOK, not a classic and only cool in my eyes or any of the other AMC nuts that love the Pacer too. Oh yeah, they are out there. This looks to be about a 75 or 76. So here’s your Monday morning laugh. Have a great week.

Airplane takes off roof of AMC Pacer

Here’s a wacky video I did a while back where I flew one of my radio controlled airplanes off the roof of my radio controlled AMC Pacer. Told you I’m an AMC geek!

Promo model: AMC Pacer

AMC Pacer, American Motors, 1975 Pacer, savageonwheels
AMC Pacer promotional picture

I bet you’re laughing right now if you were around when it was built from 1975 and 1979. It was positioned by American Motors as “The first wide small car”. Also unique at the time, the passenger door was four inches (101 mm) longer than the driver’s. This made passenger loading easier, particularly from the rear seats. I had a 75 one, red with a white interior. I put a sunroof 0n it too and called mine “The Astrodome”. Continue reading Promo model: AMC Pacer