No Edsel – 1979 AMC Pacer D/L Wagon

From a North American perspective, the AMC Pacer is mostly viewed as an albatross – not terribly successful, poor image, and overly futuristic (for 1975) styling. But step back a little to a global perspective, and let go of the cultural baggage, and this car is a real oddball, and for all the right reasons – AMC made an aggressive move during a time of crisis in the US auto industry, and unfortunately the gamble contributed to their demise. Think of it as America’s Citroen DS, or perhaps its Lancia Gamma – the latter is maybe a more apt analogue since it was very creative and interesting to a specific enthusiast subculture, but didn’t do anything to help its maker’s fortunes. Check out this 1979 AMC Pacer DL Wagon for sale for $2395 in Smith Ferry, ID.

1979 AMC Pacer wagon left front

This one is in a fairly subdued shade of black, paired with unusual black alloys, which probably helped town down the weirdness 20 years ago, but now this car is nearly 40 years old, you might want to celebrate the weirdness. It’s got an odd face, with a strangely traditional hood ornament crowning the raised-center grill and bug-eyed headlamps. It’s odd that people felt exposed in these cars in the 1970s, given that cars like the BMW 2002 were celebrated for their good visibility. That said, there was probably not a lot of crossover between owners of those two cars.

1979 AMC Pacer wagon rear

AMC certainly did nothing to disguise the general roundness of the car. The car is said to have 81,000 miles, new gas shocks (owner says air, but gas seems more likely), a 2-year-old battery, and is said to be generally clean. That said, it’s also got some small dents, worn carpet, and a bit of sagging in the headliner, but at the price, those items can probably be overlooked.

1979 AMC Pacer wagon engine

The engine is the uprated 258ci version, with 95hp and a diesel-like 195 lb.-ft. of torque. Just think, Jaguar’s 4.2 put out a gross figure of 265hp, probably still double what the Pacer managed after switching to SAE net. Things look dusty but not filthy underhood, while the visible shiny metal suggests a new-ish alternator. Air conditioning hoses are also present, so while there’s no guarantee it’s functional, at least all the pieces are present – you’ll want to revive the a/c in this fishbowl.

1979 AMC Pacer wagon interior

The interior is in decent shape, though perhaps not the original fabric. It’s a shame this is not in one of the louder colors, as that would truly highlight the oddball-ness of this car. There were also a lot of wacky interior choices, including basketry (Native American looking) material, or cocaine white vinyl. If the door panels are anything to go on, the car originally had black vinyl buckets, so perhaps the best laugh with this thing is to make it into a short-n-wide hearse.

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3 Responses to “No Edsel – 1979 AMC Pacer D/L Wagon”

  1. CJM Says:

    seats are original black cloth. they have faded some in relation to the hard plastics and look slightly blue in the photos but they are correct. black paint on black cloth is rare in a pacer. never seen one. car appears to be fairly priced for a straight original. And this is the wagon model which is less common. though no Pacer is common these days!

    • Chris Keen Says:

      Interesting – my quick research didn’t turn up that material, and it looked too modern to me, so I assumed it had to have been redone. Impressive that it’s survived so long, and cool it’s original.

  2. steve in podunk Says:

    these sold fairly well when they first came out but I think the look aged pretty quickly, the early ones are better looking (less homely?) I had one for a short while when I was a kid, it was likely the cleanest, best condition car I owned at the time. I got it cheap from the Datsun dealer because it was running rough (I plugged a few loose vacuum lines a Viola! great running weird looking purple car. I sold it about a month later because the temptation to make an easy $500 profit was impossible to resist; I’m sure I bought something better looking but miserably compromised condition wise because I was 18.

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