The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Fireball Tim Asks: "Why Hasn't Anyone Pimped Out a Pacer, Yet?"

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
Pimped Out Pacer - Design Concept #1 by Fireball Tim

Are these cars really too hard to find? Not really... In fact, you can find them on Ebay for about $3K.

By Fireball Tim Lawrence

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
Pimped Out Pacer - Design Concept #2 by Fireball Tim

HOLLYWOOD USA - November 19, 2012: So, why haven't we seen a Pacer having been tuned at a car show or SEMA? Don't you think it's about time?

I'm not talking about putting a HEMI in or creating a 600hp Muscle Pacer. I'm talkin' Japanese tuned, slammed and drifted. Now is the age of doing something unique. Anyone can add a body kit to a 240 or Skyline and make it look cool, but there were about 2000 Mustangs at SEMA and 3000 Camaros the year before. C'mon. Think out of the box, peeps.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
Pimped Out Pacer - Design Concept #3 by Fireball Tim

Get your creativity groove on and pimp something different. In this case, the more rare, the cheaper. Find a car that nobody wanted and then make it cool. You never know... We may want to drive it on my show.

The Pacer was a two-door compact automobile produced in the United States by the American Motors Corporation between 1975 and 1980. Design work began in 1971. The rounded shape and large glass area were unusual compared with the three-box designs of the era, and this "jellybean" styling has made it an icon of the 1970s. Car and Driver dubbed it "The Flying Fishbowl", and it was also described as "the seventies answer to George Jetson's mode of transportation" at a time when "Detroit was still rolling out boat-sized gas guzzlers."

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
Plain old 1975 Pacer

Car and Driver magazine noted that "AMC said it was the first car designed from the inside out. Four passengers were positioned with reasonable clearances and then the rest of the car was built around them as compactly as possible." The shape was highly rounded with a huge glass area, and was very unusual for its time. Road & Track magazine described it as "fresh, bold and functional-looking".

Development was under Product Group Vice President Gerald C. Meyers, whose goal was to develop a car that was truly unique: "...everything that we do must distinguish itself as being importantly different than what can be expected from the competition..."

A number of futuristic ideas were explored by AMC. However, the automaker lacked adequate resources to build components from scratch and needed to use outside suppliers or adapt its existing parts and use its production facilities. Unique for a comparatively small car, the Pacer was as wide as a full-size American car of the era. Contrary to myth, it was not widened six inches (152.4 mm) to make room for the rear-wheel drive configuration. The editor of Road & Track asserted that front-wheel drive, as well as a transverse mid-engined configuration, were among "various mechanical layouts...tossed around by the idea people at AMC", adding that "it's unlikely they ever had much hope of being able to produce anything other than their traditional front engine and rear drive, using components already in production."

The introductory 1975 AMC advertising and literature proclaimed it as "the first wide small car". The width was dictated partly by marketing strategy—U.S. drivers were accustomed to large vehicles, and the Pacer's occupants had the impression of being in a larger car—and partly by the fact that AMC's assembly lines were already set up for full-size cars.

Also unique at the time, the passenger door was four inches (101 mm) longer than the driver's. This made passenger loading easier, particularly from the rear seats; and they would also tend to use the safer curb side in countries that drive on the right. Ford used this design element in the 1990s Ford Windstar minivan.

For more Fireball Tim fun and information visit