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Watch The Rise And Fall Of The AMC Pacer

By Jeffrey N. Ross Jan 27, 2020
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By Jeffrey N. Ross Jan 27, 2020
The car that everybody loves to hate.

After the Ford Pinto and Hummer H1, the AMC Pacer might be one of the most misunderstood American car ever made. These uniquely styled hatchbacks were only produced from 1975 until 1979, and it would probably be even more obscure if not for the 1992 movie, Wayne's World. To learn a little more about the Pacer, check out this 24-minute documentary from 2013 including information from people who built the car, collect the car and even automotive journalist John Davis from MotorWeek.

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It's always easy to pick on the underdog, and the AMC Pacer has definitely been picked on a lot in its time. Designed in an era of land yachts and muscle cars, the Pacer was almost as wide as a Cadillac Eldorado with a short overall length and a lot of real estate taken up by glass – the large quarter windows and glass rear hatch meant that more than a third of the car's exterior was glass!

The small size and fish bowl design actually made the Pacer a bigger hit than AMC expected, but the boosted production created more headaches for the brand in terms of quality and reliability issues. Making matters worse, the Pacer was originally supposed to utilize a GM-supplied Wankel rotary engine, but late in the car's development, GM canceled the engine and AMC was forced to shoehorn an inline-six under the hood. Not only did this larger, heavier engine negatively affect fuel economy, it was also harder to work on.

Today, the quirky hatchback is seeing an uptick in popularity, and proof of this is a 1977 Pacer with 66,000 original miles that sold for around $16,000 through Raleigh Classic Car Auctions. After you're done learning about the Pacer's history, check out this full gallery of images that we dug out of the car's archives!

AMC Pacer
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