Junkyard Treasure: 1976 AMC Pacer Hatchback

Hardly any rust, interior in decent condition… and discarded.

That seat cover looks like something bought at K-Mart in 1977. The vinyl underneath looks good.

Bob Bundy was a well-known AMC drag racer, as well as the owner of an AMC dealership in Denver.

This car might have just 41,155 miles on the clock, though 141,155 is more likely.

As I explore the auto graveyards of this fair land, I keep my eyes open for American Motors Corporation products. I find plenty of them, but the Wisconsin company’s weird-looking economy cars of the 1970s— the Gremlin and the Pacer— can be very elusive compared to the more plentiful Kenosha-era DJ-5s and Eagles. Today’s Junkyard Treasure may be the nicest discarded Pacer I’ve seen in a couple of decades.

This build tag shows that the car left the Kenosha assembly line with Brilliant Blue paint and a white vinyl roof.

While this car wasn’t ordered with air conditioning when purchased from Bundy Motors, it did get the optional AM radio and white vinyl top. The paint is Brilliant Blue, which you might recognize as the color of the Mirthmobile from the 1992 film, “Wayne’s World.” That film came out when I was 26 and didn’t have quite the world-shattering effect on me that it did on those who were eight years old at the time, though I was glad that the recently-deceased Freddie Mercury got some respect for the then-nearly-forgotten Bohemian Rhapsody.

I was in second grade when the first Pacers hit American streets, and my eight-year-old peers and I all agreed that this was one hideously weird-looking car. In fact, I felt that the Pacer was powerful evidence that all the adults have gone insane. Kenosha’s marketing wizards pitched the Pacer’s width as its main selling point (originally, the car was supposed to get a Wankel engine from Curtiss-Wright, but events in the Middle East put the kibosh on an engine that would get single-digit fuel economy). Today, though, the Pacer is regarded with great affection… though not enough affection for anyone to have rescued this ’76 from its sad fate at the Aurora U-Pull-&-Pay.

Because of this seat cover, the vinyl bench remains in pretty good condition.

I couldn’t find any serious rust on the car, and the interior would look good with a thorough cleaning. I’m hoping that some Colorado AMC fancier will come rescue the nice parts before The Crusher eats this Pacer.

258 cubic inches of reliable AMC power here.

This car has the optional 258-cubic-inch straight-six, rated at 95 horsepower. The 4.0-liter version of this engine remained in production all the way through 2006, when it went into Wranglers that year.

It’s too late to save this one, but other Pacers await your rescue.

I know from experience that there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth that such a distinctive piece of American automotive history could be allowed to suffer this fate… but not many will be willing to step up and rescue the next restorable Pacer they find. However, if even the Rambler Ranch— just 50 miles away from this junkyard— wouldn’t snap up this car at auction, then who would have?

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