American Motors Corporation was founded back in 1954. It was the product of a merger between two longtime players in the industry: Nash and Hudson. The company ultimately went out of business in 1988, but there were some memorable models churned out by AMC over the years.
The leaders of the company could see the handwriting on the wall as the decade of the 1970s began. Gasoline prices were expected to increase over the coming years, and American Motors wanted to create a car that was economical to operate. However, they wanted to appeal to people who were used to driving larger cars.
The effort to create a car for the times began in 1971, and it was dubbed Project Amigo. It came to fruition in 1975 when AMC introduced the Pacer.
These days when you think about Pacers you think about the basketball team from Indiana, but the Pacer had a different place in the American consciousness during the second half of the 1970s.
The company designed the car from the inside out, so to speak. They wanted the interior to be completely comfortable for people who typically drove bigger cars, so they created a roomy interior and subsequently built a compact-sized body around the interior.
Without question, the AMC Pacer was an odd-looking bird from the start. It was rounded almost like a fishbowl, and it had an excessive amount of glass. The car was advertised as the world’s first wide small car. Indeed, the width was in line with the typical full-size domestic cars of that era at 77.3 inches.
The car was offered as a two-door hatchback coupe or a two-door station wagon. The coupe was just under 172 inches in length, and the wagon was five inches longer. The standard engine in the AMC Pacer was a 232 cubic inch six-cylinder. A 258 cubic inch I6 was also offered, and the most powerful engine option during the production run was a 304 cubic inch V8.
A lot of effort was put into the creation of the car, but, unfortunately for AMC, the Pacer could not withstand the test of time. Sales were reasonably brisk during the initial model year of 1975 with a total of 145,528 specimens were produced. Things went downhill shortly thereafter, and 1980 was the last year of production for the Pacer.
Oddly enough, these cars are becoming increasingly collectible, and you will certainly turn heads one way or another if you take a classic Pacer for a cruise.