V8 Velocity: 1979 AMC Pacer DL Wagon – SOLD!

by | Dec 2021 | Classifinds, Wagon Wednesday

December 21, 2021 Update – We confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

Originally envisioned as a rotary-engine-powered economy car, by the time the innovative AMC Pacer made it to production, American Motors engineers had to figure out how to shoe-horn in the company’s 258 cubic inch inline-six.  Why? AMC planned to buy General Motors’ planned Wankel engine until GM pulled the plug on the concept due to poor fuel economy and emissions.  When consumers realized the inline-six-powered Pacer was anything but an economy car, not only was offering AMC’s 304 cubic inch V8 an easier sell, engineers found it easier to fit the motor in the car’s compact engine bay.  This somewhat rusty but well-equipped 1979 AMC Pacer DL Wagon originally listed in November 2021 on Craigslist in Portsmith, Virginia now only features a factory V8 but is also equipped with factory A/C in addition to a bevy of other options.

A project car currently offered for $2,900 or best offer, comparing that price against the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms the private seller has their Pacer priced one hundred dollars more than this guide’s #4 “Fair” (Daily Driver) estimate of $2,800.  Similarly, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls just below this guide’s #4 “Fair” estimate of only $3,050.

American Motors launched its revolutionary at the time Pacer in 1975 and produced its “first wide small car” through the model year 1979. AMC’s chief stylist Richard A. Teague began work on the Pacer concept in 1971 with the idea of producing a roomy small car powered by a Wankel Rotary engine. Teague developed what became the first mass-produced “cab-forward design in a mass-produced American-built car. The Pacer’s width equaled full-sized domestic vehicles at that time and its large expanses of glass quickly earned it the nickname “The Flying Fishbowl.”

In addition to its innovative styling, Pacers featured many unique features that included a four-inch longer passenger door, isolated front, and rear suspensions, and rare-at-the-time rack and pinion steering. Unfortunately, when GM pulled the plug on rotary engine development (AMC planned to buy rotary engines from GM for the Pacer), AMC was stuck using its venerable 258 cubic inch straight-six that initially was too long to fit in the Pacer’s design. This combined with a heavy-for-its-size chassis to provide a small car with only modest fuel economy. Consequently, sales quickly started declining after the novel design wore off consumers. For 1977, AMC responded by offering the Pacer Wagon, which offered less glass and more cargo space than the hatchback. Additionally, engineers figured out how to add the company’s 304 cubic inch V8 as a way to entice sales. Consumers remained unimpressed and by 1979 AMC was forced to cancel the entire brand due to poor sales.

Here’s a commercial currently posted on the Bionic Disco YouTube channel featuring the 1978 AMC Pacer Wagon:

Based on the pictures provided, this Pacer appears to be a well-equipped example in a nice color combination, although we’re not fans of the faux wood paneling found on most Pacer wagons.  While the seller honestly shows the rusty rocker panels and rear quarters, the damage appears to be isolated to the outer panels that can be repaired by a competent body repair technician.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1979 AMC Pacer Wagon DL, 304V8 AT AC PW PS PB PDL Tilt Wheel Rear Wiper Washer Remote Side Mirrors Floor Shift Lighted Visor Mirrors, Alpine stereo, this wide body thing is loaded. Remember Wayne’s World? Came with new water pump, may be why it was parked for years, also rear brake reservoir was empty, needs a headliner too. Engine runs, I drove it off my trailer, it kept dying but started right back up, maybe needs a tune-up. The power steering isn’t working, don’t know about AC, front power windows work. Some of the headliner plastic edge trim is broken, go figure. There’s a burnt spot in front of driver’s seat on the carpet, looks like a flat, speaker-type wire caught fire and burned about a 1 inch by 6-inch hole, bet that was exciting. Oh, it has a rare center console and Magnum wheels also. I found another car and out of room, so FOR SALE, $2,900 OBO Portsmouth VA.

Restore or drive As-Is: what would you do with this 1979 AMC Pacer DL Wagon?  Comment below and let us know!

1 Comment
  1. Ernest Valtri

    A roof rack, tonsa glass and fake wood panels… I love it.

    Reply

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