Thursday, August 23, 2018

1976 AMC Pacer - An Original Survivor

The short story of the Pacer is this: AMC wanted to create a revolutionary car. Short, but wide. Airy. It was to use a rotary engine. It would be a car that would make AMC relevant again. Hell, it would even make AMC a cutting edge car company. AMC's often brilliant designer, Richard Teague, designed the body. General Motors was to supply the rotary engine.

All was good until GM stopped development of the rotary engine. The revolutionary Pacer was left without an engine.

AMC had no real choice other than to stuff its tried and true I6 engine into the Pacer. The I6 was powerful and incredibly reliable, but it was long and heavy. AMC had to redesign the firewall to make it fit. This took away from interior space the wide body was supposed to provide. Despite having a better suspension and steering than many US cars, it was just looked at as an oddly styled car. It was no longer revolutionary.

The Pacer was by no means a bad car. I had one back in the early 1980s. It was white with a blue interior. It had a column mounted 3 speed manual shifter. I was living near Albany, NY, at the time. Hot or cold outside , the Pacer never failed to start. It went through whatever amount of snow we had. It was as reliable as a car gets. It was comfortable. It handled safely. It wasn't revolutionary at all.

The Pacer was built from 1975 through 1979. It's unique styling along with the engine's relatively low gas mileage kept it from becoming the huge success AMC hoped it would be. They sold around 280,000 of them.

For reasons that I still don't understand, the Pacer became the punchline to many automotive jokes. Not many were preserved. Somehow, this car survived.

The seller says he pulled this 1976 Pacer out of long term storage. It has just over 87,000 miles on it. It is rust free and the paint is original. It has a 4 speed manual (floor mounted shifter) transmission. It has A/C. In my opinion, this is the Pacer to have. (Some would argue that the V8 Pacer, introduced in 1978, is a better choice. However, in 1978 AMC updated the Pacer's stying, adding a front grill. I prefer the original front end.)

The Pacer will never be a collector's car. It will never be worth any real money. But, it's a car that represents an American car company trying to do something different, something new, even something revolutionary. For that reason and because of it's rarity and originality, this Pacer would be a hit at any car show.

Located in Maple Valley, WA, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

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