Is it time to love the AMC Pacer?
This 4th of July, open your heart to an underdog. The AMC Pacer may have a face only its mother could love, but there is far more under the skin with this fantastic slice of everyday Americana.
Once the toast of America’s automotive press, celebrated as ‘bold’, ‘futuristic’ and ‘unique’, the Pacer’s fortunes were fast to change. Now found in various derogatory lists showcasing the ‘worst’, ‘ugliest’ and ‘most disappointing’ cars of all time, the little AMC has entered the cultural status chamber as an automotive disaster. Unfairly so, we reckon.
Built by the long-defunct American Motor Corporation (AMC) for only five years between 1975 and 1980, the humble Pacer can be regarded in two minds. The more cynical viewpoint casts out the lumpy shape as a mere gimmick, offering a range of weird features no one asked for – or could use.
But bestow the design with some merit, and it takes on a different shape – it’s a staple of 1970s American culture, a microcosm of where the world was at that time. AMC even produced an electric version to respond to the various fuel-crisis scandals stalking the decade that taste forgot. The Pacer may have been pudding shaped, but it wasn’t without thought; even if the passenger door was larger than the driver’s…
- Richard Teague: American automobile design’s unsung hero
- Other classic American cars for sale
- Ford Mustang – how an all-American hero went global
However, over time the quirky design traits betrayed the model’s mantra. What once seemed futuristic began to look out of place and downright strange. Falling out of favour with a new wave of car enthusiasts hooked on Japanese imports, its gravitational pull to the automotive sin bin has provided no favours. Vast swathes of Pacers have been crushed, scrapped and shredded. Thusly, they are now exceedingly rare.
While its rivals of the day – the explosive Ford Pinto and outstandingly crap Chevy Vega – found new fortune on the dragstrip, transformed into muscle cars on a budget, the Pacer looked like pudding in a cement mixer no matter how hard you tried. For those seeking true horror, a wood-panelled wagon was also available to assault all five senses simultaneously.
As a final insult, the Pacer waffled like an alcoholic slug. For a vehicle designed to tackle the fuel crisis head-on, an average of 25mpg was enough to leave cash-strapped families contemplating the sale of organs or entire children. Handling was solely rivalled by a downhill wheelie bin, whereas feedback was about as on the ball as a dead seal. Top speed was just over 80mph, with a 0-60mph sprint (if you could call it that) in little under 17 seconds.
However, it’s easy to get hung up on the Pacer’s aliments. For sheer hilarity and something different, the car takes some beating. An appearance with Mike Myers and Dana Carvey in 1992 cult movie Wayne’s World brought its disfigured face back to the forefront of popular culture, aided by a Queen soundtrack and overkill flames, from which point public affection changed dramatically.
No longer a clunker worth running purely into the ground, the AMC Pacer transformed into something of a status symbol. It’s now sought by collectors and admired through rose-tinted glasses by those who remember them first wallowing up the street, and in consequence finding a solid example could yield you a firm investment.
With its inline 3.8-litre six-cylinder engine providing 90bhp, and a three-speed manual transmission, you could be forgiven for thinking the challengingly styled Pacer isn’t worth time of day. A bit like Marmite, don’t knock it before you try it…
Although examples are seldom found in the classifieds, AutoClassics currently has two listed for sale. Well, we say two – one looks like it belongs in a Mad Max film. Get a load of this...it's even got NOS!
Get a closer look with the AutoClassics classified advert if it's a rolling project you are after. However, if the concept of a Fast and Furious AMC Pacer gets your flag flying this July 4 - have a look at this. Excellent!
From a glance...
- Power steering
- Front disk brakes
- The ability to make you laugh
- Defies dictionary definition of 'slow'
- Also defies dictionary definition of 'taste'
- Can be fitted with NOS
- Works well with Queen
- Doesn't usually work well with anything else
- Can cause frenzied screaming from your local garage
|1975 AMC Pacer|
|Top speed||88mph (apparently)|
|Economy||20mpg (if you are lucky)|
Classic Cars for Sale
Competition restoration completed in 2006. Ambro body, tube frame, 350 Chevy, B-W 4 speed, Girling discs, coil-overs, Ford 9 bolt rear. 1 of only 2 V 8 Ambro’s in vintage racing. First in Class Road & Track sponsored race car concours, Elkhart Lake in 2006. Light, well balanced and well equipped, SVRA log book. E-mail for more pictures and information. Price is $120,000.00
This is the car that Cale Yarborough won the 78 championship in, his historic third in a row. It's been converted to road course and is certainly for the unique buyer who wants something nobody else can get. Fully documented by Cale Yarborough in a video. This 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass was built by the legend car builder Banjo Matthews for car owner Junior Johnson. Driven by 3 time NASCAR champ
Your car is certainly one of the Ford Europe cars we built in 1969. It has the improvements developed in 1968 like the torsion bar rear suspension made to give the rear more roll stiffness. It has got the steering rack mounted in the lower crossmember, custom made wheels in the extensively modified front suspension. The modifications that we made were extensive and done with care so that it is pos
This 1964 Austin Healey 3000 MKlll convertible left the factory in the summer of 1964 and shortly after arrived in the US. The The final iteration of the Austin-Healey 3000 was the MkIII version of 1964. Now equipped with 150 horsepower, and sporting an extensively revised cockpit the 3000 MkIII was the most luxurious of all big Healeys. The power and beauty of the 3000 make this Healey on the sh