While the AMC Pacer was mocked in its time for being a fishbowl, for looking weird, or just for being made by the number-four American manufacturer, it was quite innovative given their limited budget. It was designed from the passengers outward, made to be easily serviceable, and was the width of a full-size car to give drivers the feeling of being in a large car. Rack and pinion steering helped with handling, and the isolated engine and suspension designs helped with passenger comfort. The car also included many safety innovations – while the Big 3 were busy whining to the government about the impact on their bottom line, little AMC was diligently working towards the new requirements. Of course, that may have been part of what led to their undoing. Take a look at this 1977 AMC Pacer wagon for sale for $3995 in Portland, OR.
Would you have ever expected a Pacer to look sporty? Okay, so there was the Pacer X, but this is a wagon. Cragar wheels, black paint, lowered front end – it almost looks aggressive. And the factory roof rack means that unlike every older VW enthusiast, you’re not required to run out to find a roof rack before attending your first club event. Being somewhat ahead of its time in 1977, many of the features that were then controversial look quite normal now – they certainly don’t stand out like they used to. Of course, things like the chrome bumpers, recessed headlights, and side mirrors still give away when the car was built.
It’s not clear if this car runs the 232ci or 258ci inline six, but either way the engine is said to be remanufactured and professionally installed. It’s not likely to be a later Jeep engine since it still seems to be running a carburetor. Clifford Performance and Offenhauser provide performance parts for this engine, so maybe some upgrades on the input and output sides will help negate the impact of late 1970s smog tuning.
Those bucket seats look wide, but the bolsters are high, and they’re said to be firm. The steering wheel also looks sporty, while the 2-pedal set up does not. The dash seems to be free of cracks, and while the seats have some taped-over splits, the interior gives the impression of being well-kept.
Here it is from the rear – there was a famous French advertisement that marketed the car’s large rump as an asset. Note the longer door on the passenger side, designed for easier entry and exit. In spite of the thick pillars, which help with safety, outward visibility must be pretty good thanks to the tall windows and low belt line. If you’re looking for a usable family classic, this just might be the car for you.