Fair, Fat, and Wide – 1979 AMC Pacer DL Wagon

Everyone who grew up in the 1980s has at one time or another mocked the AMC Pacer, when they were just weird old used cars. Ignoring the ordinary old-tech engine, the AMC Pacer was a very innovative car when it was introduced. The fishbowl design allowed for great visibility, a perimeter frame and built-in rollover bar, along with a longer passenger door for ease of access, allowed for improved safety. It was equipped with rack and pinion steering and the engine and front suspension rode on a separate subframe, isolated by rubber bushings. The original plan was also to include a rotary engine, so the ancient engine was actually simply AMC’s Plan B. You can find this 1979 AMC Pacer DL wagon for sale for $3200 in Redmond, OR.

1979 AMC Pacer DL wagon left side

Regular Pacer too weird for you? Well, you’re in luck since this is the more conventional wagon. The car is said to have been repainted in pewter metallic, and while the seller indicates the last two pictures are the ones showing the new paint, it is not readily apparent what the difference is. Just be happy you’re not stuck with a color inspired by the digestive outputs of an infant. The car is said to run quietly and smoothly, and to handle very well on mountain roads. This car is equipped with the 258 and a manual transmission, which should allow you to make the most of the unfortunate power-to-weight ratio – due to comprehensive safety equipment, the cars tended to be rather heavy, and thanks to new emissions laws, rather underpowered.

1979 AMC Pacer DL wagon interior

Much innovation could be found in the interior space – AMC was said to have built the car around 4 passengers, from the inside out. There were a wrap-around dash, large windows for good visibility, and that longer passenger door for ease of access. The squishy seats no doubt helped keep folks going slowly so they wouldn’t fall out.

1979 AMC Pacer DL wagon engine

Not much to see of the engine here, but the 258 (also known as the 4.2 liter) was used in various applications, so parts and upgrades should be easy to get. The real story is probably in the torque of the engine, but expect it to run out of breath pretty quickly. In emissions-testing-free states, some upgrades on the intake side might help extract more power from the lump, and a modern 3-way cat would probably do a lot on the exhaust side.

1979 AMC Pacer DL wagon right rear

In the interest of full disclosure, here’s the other side of the car. In some pictures, it’s shown with 4 steel wheels, 3 with caps, so you’ll want to ask about that. Finding matching caps for one of these can’t be too easy, but without them the car looks neglected. Another relatively innovative feature is the full-height hatch, when most hatchbacks (this is really more of a wagon-hatch hybrid) would leave you with a foot-high lip to heft your things over. Would you drive this fishbowl?

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3 Responses to “Fair, Fat, and Wide – 1979 AMC Pacer DL Wagon”

  1. steve in podunk Says:

    I had one of these in 83; my very own Mirthmobile for $200 and it was clean.

  2. Bob Hershgeer Says:

    They were great cars, smooth riding, no road vibration to amount to much and was a better ride than my Caddy. Had a 79 DL Wagon. Wish I still did.

  3. oldfoxbob Says:

    They were great little cars, had a 79, DL Wagon. rode better than my caddy did.

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