Pacer is a name used by both Edsel and American Motors, which is probably why it hasn’t been used again. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe wagon harkens back to the days when AMC was still a going concern. Let’s see just what it should cost to still set the pace.
Yesterday’s 1989 Toyota Corolla GT-S was a bit of a hot mess. On the plus side, it had a healthy injection of power by way of a supercharged engine swap. It also seemed to be fairly straight and complete. On the downside… well, there was that engine swap, which came without much in the way of description. That had also been planted in a car with over 300K on the clock, which means that everything else in the car might be as loose as a pigeon’s pucker. Combine that with a sizable $6,000 asking, and the result was an unsurprising 90 percent Crack Pipe loss.
The 1977 AMC Pacer we’re looking at today is phat. Do people still say phat? No? Okay, we’ll call it “thicc” then. The fishbowl-styled Pacer was one of American Motors’ attempts to be different at a time when the company had to do so on the cheap. The later and even more fishbowl-like wagon was even more different.
Part of the difference was its design as a small-wide car. The additional width was supposed to imbue the little two-door with a sense of roominess not found in its competition. The expansive glass and low beltline added to that impression but did make you feel like you were driving around inside an astronaut’s helmet.
Of course, it wasn’t all for looks—or looking in—the Pacer offered a combination of practical features you couldn’t get elsewhere. Those included an asymmetrical door design, giving curbside passengers a larger opening for rear seat egress while keeping the driver’s door shorter for parking lot access. The Pacer’s floorboard is also appreciably flat with just a low tunnel between the seats to add to the roomy feel.
This wagon adds utility to the mix, offering five inches of greater overall length and a squared-off roofline above that which improved upon the coupé’s cargo capacity substantially. Despite that, the Pacer wagon is still pretty weird looking.
Offered up in a respray of canary yellow over a nut-brown interior, this one seems to be reasonably solid, albeit one of the low-end editions as evidenced by its lack of external trim. These could be had from the factory with faux wood trim on the lower body-sides, which is just as glorious in appearance as it sounds.
The bodywork looks to be straight although there does seem to be some rust poking through in the rear rockers. The 5-mph bumpers stand proud of the body, a design that makes it feel like they’re repulsed by the association. The chrome coat on each looks good though, and there’s a nice roof rack up top making the car a prime choice for holiday tree shopping.
The interior is complete but somewhat hard-worn. The seats are alarmingly flat both front and rear, but you need to realize that the car was never intended, nor capable of the kind of heroics that would warrant cosseting passenger containment with extensive bolstering. A three-spoke sport wheel heads up a GM-sourced tilt column with the shifter for the three-speed slushbox.
That old school gearbox is bolted to a 232-CID OHV straight-six. That’s an engine that any of you Jeep aficionados will find immediately familiar. A Wankel engine, to be sourced from GM, was AMC’s original choice for Pacer power. When the General ended Wankel development, AMC had to scramble to make the lin-line six fit. Amazingly, they did so with the sloping hood intact. Later models with the optional V8 had a substantial bump in the hood, but that just spoiled the overall design. Here, you get the cool looks and a rollicking cough 88 horsepower cough. Let’s move on.
The ad says that the car passes smog and has a clean title. There are a mere 137,000 miles on the clock and the car carries a new battery and tires as well as all sorts of fresh fluids. The glass on these is pretty hard to come by these days so it’s disappointing that the windshield suffers both a star and a crack. All the other glass seems to be without issue, however. Another issue is the A/C (R12). That needs a recharge so plan on sweating to this oldie unless you’re friends with a home HVAC repair person.
Other than that, it’s all said to be straight and to dive without issue. The asking price is $3,950 and the seller is uninterested in dealing with lowballers, scammers, dreamers, or time wasters.
Since we’re none of those, let’s dig in and vote on this phat Pacer and its potentially phat price. What do you think, is this bit of kitschy history worth that much as it’s presented in its ad? Or, is this a Pacer priced to knock you off the pace?
H/T to RevUnlimiter for the hookup!
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