1976 AMC Pacer X

Illustration for article titled 1976 AMC Pacer X

I'd been keeping my eyes open for one of these on the street in Alameda for quite a while (we see one in a driveway behind the '50 Pontiac Chieftan, but driveway cars aren't, like, on the street), so I had the camera out and shooting before you could say "defunct automobile manufacturer" when I saw this '76 on Alameda's main drag. Not only is it a Pacer, it's the coveted X model! And in great condition to boot.

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Illustration for article titled 1976 AMC Pacer X
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The Pacer was supposed to have had a GM-built Wankel under the hood, but The General canceled the program (after a billion or so bucks down the drain) and AMC was stuck with a car that no longer had the oddball powerplant that would have justified the crazy styling. The Pacer X was the "performance" version, though in the Malaise Era that meant tape stripes and not much else.

Illustration for article titled 1976 AMC Pacer X


When I photograph these cars, I'm always careful to set the camera's zoom so that there's minimal distortion of the car's lines. However, this is absolutely impossible with the Pacer- a photograph from any angle looks like you used a crazy fisheye lens.

Illustration for article titled 1976 AMC Pacer X
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Your world looks like this once you've stared at a Pacer for long enough.

Illustration for article titled 1976 AMC Pacer X
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I was nine years old when the Pacer first appeared, and I recall having a lot of bewildered discussion with my classmates about what the hell was the deal with this crazy-looking car. We'd drone out the Pacer's advertising slogan "It's small... but wiiiiiiiide!" whenever we'd see one (which was often; the Pacer actually sold pretty well). For what it's worth, the VW Thing rated highest on our collective Cool-O-Meter at the time.

Illustration for article titled 1976 AMC Pacer X
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Since the later Pacer was available with a 304 V8 under the hood, a 401-powered machine should be a junkyard bolt-in. Anyone who's done this gets instant Hoon of the Day status in our book.



First 100 DOTS Cars

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DISCUSSION

I remember when these things came out, and I visited the AMC Dealer in town. They were just putting a Pacer on the Showroom Floor when I was there. It had the 3 Speed Stick on the floor, with overdrive that you had to engage on the dash (or was it the end of the signal stalk?). Anyway, the salesman said that at this time there were no 4 Speeds available. The price wasn't all that bad, but it really needed the optional A/C. I really couldn't afford a new car at the time, but I was driving a Rambler American back then (My late Grandfathers car) so my AMC lust is still growling inside me somewhere. This is a great DOTS Car....