Two Years Gone: 1978 AMC Pacer Wagon – STILL $7,500

by | Apr 2024 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Wagon Wednesday

April 10, 2024 Update – After sitting out the Rochester, NY winter months, the seller of this ’78 AMC Pacer wagon we’ve been tracking the sale of since June 2021 posted a new Craigslist ad.  They continue to ask $7,500.

November 22, 2023 Update – While this “ClassiFIND” expired recently, given the seller’s history, we suspect it may not actually be sold yet.  For now, we’re labeling this ride “Sold?” However, we will keep an eye out for an updated listing.

October 16, 2023 Update – Twenty-five months after their last listing expired, the seller of this 1978 AMC Pace Wagon we first started tracking in June 2021 posted a fresh Craigslist ad. Despite no sale two years ago at $6,000, the seller comes out of the gate asking $7,500.

September 15, 2021 Update – While this “Classifind” expired recently, given the seller’s history, we suspect it may not be sold yet.  For now, we’re labeling this ride “Sold?” However, we will keep an eye out for an updated listing.

August 3, 2021 Update – After a nearly one-month hiatus, the private seller of this 1978 AMC Pacer just posted a fresh listing. In addition to using the same pictures and description, the seller appears to remain firm on their asking price of $6,000.

July 6, 2021 Update – We just confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found, we’re assuming this ride is “Sold?” unless we come across a replacement listing.

I have a confession to make. As much as I don’t like the fishbowl shape of AMC’s Pacer hatchback, the more upright rear hatch of the wagon version has better proportions. Produced only from 1977 through 1979, Pacer wagons do not come up for sale that often, so we were excited to find this White 1978 AMC Pacer Wagon for sale, originally listed in June 2021 in Fairport, New York (Rochester), offered at $6,000 currently. Comparing that price against the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms the private seller has their Pacer priced between this guide’s #3 “Good” estimate of $4,800 and its #2 “Excellent” appraisal of $9,600.  Similarly, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool confirms the seller’s ask falls just below this guide’s #3 “Good” estimate of $6,125.

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 to produce 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 232 cu in straight-six that initially was too long to fit in the Pacer’s design. This combined with a heavy-for-its-size chassis, provides a small car with only modest fuel economy. Consequently, sales quickly started declining after the novel design wore off consumers. In 1977, AMC responded by offering the Pacer Wagon, which offered less glass and more cargo space than the hatchback. Consumers remained unimpressed and by 1979, AMC was forced to cancel the entire brand due to poor sales.

The 1978 AMC Pacer wagon stands as an emblem of automotive innovation and quirky design from its era. Born out of the American Motors Corporation’s (AMC) ambition to challenge the automotive status quo, the Pacer wagon embodies a unique blend of distinctive styling, spacious interior, and forward-thinking engineering.

At first glance, the Pacer wagon’s most striking feature is its unconventional appearance. Designed by Richard Teague, the Pacer’s bulbous body and expansive glass areas set it apart from its contemporaries. The curved windshield and rear window, reminiscent of a fishbowl, offered an unparalleled panoramic view for both driver and passengers. This distinctive styling was polarizing, garnering both admiration and criticism, but it undeniably made the Pacer instantly recognizable on the road.

Beneath its unconventional exterior, the Pacer wagon boasted a range of engineering innovations. One of its most notable features was its wide track design, giving it a stable stance on the road. This wider track allowed for improved handling and stability, enhancing the driving experience compared to traditional compact cars of the time.

Powering the 1978 Pacer wagon were a range of engine options, catering to different performance preferences and fuel efficiency needs. The base engine was a 3.8-liter inline-six, providing adequate power for everyday driving. For those seeking more spirited performance, AMC offered a larger 4.2-liter inline-six engine option. Both engines were mated to either a three-speed automatic or a four-speed manual transmission, giving drivers the flexibility to choose their preferred driving experience.

The interior of the Pacer wagon was equally unconventional and ahead of its time. Despite its compact exterior dimensions, the Pacer offered a surprisingly spacious cabin, thanks to its innovative packaging. The interior layout maximized space efficiency, providing ample legroom and headroom for both front and rear passengers. The rear bench seat could comfortably accommodate three passengers, making the Pacer a practical choice for families.

AMC also prioritized safety in the design of the Pacer wagon, incorporating features that were advanced for its time. The car featured front disc brakes and rear drum brakes, providing reliable stopping power. Additionally, it came equipped with a sturdy steel safety cage surrounding the passenger compartment, offering enhanced protection in the event of a collision. These safety features helped the Pacer wagon earn respectable safety ratings during its era.

Despite its unique design and innovative features, the Pacer wagon faced challenges in the market. Its unconventional styling divided opinions, and its fuel economy, while competitive for its class, struggled to meet the rising demands for efficiency during the fuel crisis of the 1970s. Additionally, AMC’s limited financial resources and marketing reach hindered the Pacer’s potential sales success.

However, despite its commercial shortcomings, the 1978 AMC Pacer wagon remains a beloved cult classic among automotive enthusiasts. Its quirky design, innovative engineering, and distinctive character have earned it a place in automotive history as a symbol of American automotive ingenuity and creativity. Today, well-preserved examples of the Pacer wagon are sought after by collectors and enthusiasts alike, serving as a reminder of a bygone era of automotive innovation and experimentation.

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

Based on the limited pictures provided, this Pacer appears to be a survivor-quality example in a nice color combination. While we don’t mind faux wood paneling on bigger station wagons, it never looked right on Pacers, so we’re glad this example doesn’t feature it.

The is the seller’s 2024 description:

“232 six, automatic, air conditioning,
shows 89000 miles, actual 69000
runs and drives great. off road since 2021
rack and pinion steering
nice factory amc wheels and uniroyal tiger paws
couple area of rust coming
newer grill style and hood
power brakes”

This is the seller’s 2023 description:

“232 six, automatic, air conditioning,
shows 89000 miles, actual 69000
runs and drives great. off road since 2021
rack and pinion steering
nice factory amc wheels and uniroyal tiger paws
A couple areas of rust coming
winter storage available”

Here’s the seller’s 2021 description:

“Nice driving car. 232 six w/ automatic has AMC Rallye wheels showing 89,500 miles I have 2 AMC pacer wagons and thinning down. new interior headliner, currently on the road it was in a movie called “We the Animals

Do you have an AMC Pacer Wagon story to share?  If so, comment below and let us know!

3 Comments
  1. White 1978 AMC Pacer Wagon

    Loved the Converse sneaker commercial when Dr. J walked over a Pacer..

    Reply
  2. White 1978 AMC Pacer Wagon

    where is the owner located?

    Reply
    • White 1978 AMC Pacer Wagon

      Randall, the format of all of our “Classifind” posts indicates where each ride is located, whether the car has been sold, and how to contact the seller directly. In the other 1976 Pacer you also inquired about, that feature dates back to January 2019 and has long since sold.

      Reply

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