Wide Wagon: 1978 AMC Pacer V8 Wagon

042416 Barn Finds - 1978 AMC Pacer Wagon - 1

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

We all know and love the AMC Pacer. Or, we all know the AMC Pacer, not all of us love the design. I’m in the love-it camp, of course. Thanks to Jim S. for finding this 1978 AMC Pacer Wagon. This car has a couple of features that may help those of you who weren’t enamored with the Pacer to jump over fence into the love-it category: it’s a wagon and it has a V8! This beautiful example is found on eBay with a current bid of only $1,025, but there are still six days left on the auction. Come on over to the other side!

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This one is a beauty, it checks most of the boxes for those of us who like unusual vehicles; other than not having a manual transmission. It’s a two-door wagon, it’s a highly-unusual, polarizing car, and it has a V8. One of the complaints about the Pacer was a relative lack of power; not on this example. Another nit to pick was the fishbowl rear-end; again, not on this example. This is a D/L which was an upgrade from the base model. In 1978, the Pacer got a new grille and hood design

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This beautiful car is in equally-beautiful Clinton, South Carolina, which may be one of the reasons that it has been so well-preserved. The seller says that there are 105,000 miles on this car but you would never know that by looking at the interior, the exterior, or the underside, for that matter. There is no mention of the seats having been redone and they look absolutely like brand new, front and rear. In fact, everything on the interior of this car looks fantastic from the headliner to the door panels to the rear compartment.

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This is AMC’s third-generation, or Gen-3, V8 and AMC called it the “tall-deck” because, well, it grew in deck height, and it also received a new head design. Comprende? This 304 cubic-inch V8 was formerly AMC’s 290 cubic-inch V8 before the deck height change. The 343 became the 360 and wouldn’t that be a nice upgrade for this car?! By 1978 the 304 had only 150 hp and there was also a 3.8L or the 4.2L inline-six available. I’m a fan of AMC and of the Pacer. The only things that would make this car better for me would be if it had a manual transmission and woodgrain, albeit fake, woodgrain on the exterior. If you’re going to go funky, why would you want to cut corners? Have you ever owned a Pacer?

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Comments

  1. American_Badaz

    As much as I like the Pacers, the late model front ends just killed it. If I were to own this one, it would be getting a front clip swap. (And a 4 speed for sure)

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    • Jeff DeWitt

      I don’t think the front clip would work. If I remember right one of the reasons AMC resigned the front end was so they could fit a V8 in.

      I like the original front end better myself, I think they designed it to remind us of the mid 60’s Americans.

      This car would be better with woodgrain and a stick, but I really do like this car in spite of the front end.

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  2. Frankie

    I could only buy it if I were a fish

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  3. geezerglide85

    I had a ’78 wagon, bought it almost new 4000 miles on it. In the spring of ’78 I asked the local AMC dealer if he could get me a wagon with stick. No way, too late to order one and after checking with every dealer on the east coast none were available. When I stopped in to talk with him I said it was too bad I was too late for the one parked out front. He looked a little puzzled, said that one was the AMC service reps. car. Dark blue, 232 six w/a 4speed stick And a D/L. but had to wait til he put 400 miles on before AMC would sell it. I loved that car, great on gas 30 mpg on the hiway and a ton of room for camping gear. BUT no air. We went to Florida in August. About the same time my father liked mine so much he bought one to. A ’77 that was a 2 year leftover red, 258 six auto. woodgrain paneling on the side but not the D/L (lot painer int.) great cars.

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  4. Tim

    I adore Pacers and this one almost gave me a heart attack. My current driver is a ’79 D/L Limited woody wagon with real wood framing, leather and corduroy seats,and power windows with four vents. It is not true that the late hood and raised grille was to fit the V8. The eight fits in the earlier cars and there are some examples of that having been done. Those mods were just to give it a different face after three model years of the low hood.

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    • Jeff DeWitt

      I stand corrected, but IMHO that “different face” is not an improvement, the low hood looks much sleeker.

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      • Tim

        Ever notice how Toyota copied the grille profile on some of their trucks a while back?

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  5. Craig MacDonald

    I’m surprised at the condition of the interior given the 105,000 miles on the odometer. His description is too brief. No mention of what works (or doesn’t), owner history, accidents… Too many unknowns.

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  6. Jeffrey Duddles

    I spotted this one at a truck stop last year. He said all the stuff in the trailer, hatch and on the roof were a new Pacer parts score. https://goo.gl/photos/G6HTEQFpV9fRYRct8

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  7. Rotag999

    His ebay ID is Carolina Boats……2 Funny !

    But i do like this Wagon….!

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  8. david

    I prefer the 78 on front end to my 77. Tho any V8 is desired. 258 is ok once it is rolling

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    • Tim

      I bought a yellow ’76Pacer X with a 258, column shift automatic, put Hooker headers and duals on it, and a shift kit. Boy, did that thing launch and pull. The exhaust harmonics were wonderful. It wasn’t a muscle car, obviously, just a neat, happy cool car.

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  9. Ken Nelson

    Isn’t the Pacer the only car with two different length front doors? I seem to remember that they did that as a feature to make it easier to enter & leave the rear seat. Right? Wrong? I also liked the fact that they raised the top of the doorpanels higher than the door sills so that the panel became the “handle” and at the same time a comfortable elbow rest when you wanted to ride with the window down and your elbow sticking out.

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    • Tim

      You’re right. The right door is about 3 1/2″ longer. Where that concept didn’t work was with those Pacers that were exported over to England for right hand drive conversion, so now the curbside (kerb) door is the shorter door, plus, they had to chain drive the steering and make a flat dashboard instead of the OEM proper dash/instrument panel. BTW, under Dick Teague, the man who was most responsible for the details of the Pacer body was Jacques(Jack) Pinsonneault, and the Pacer project was Project Amigo. I like that because I’ve felt that my three Pacers were friendly cars. A lot of younger people don’t realize the Pacer was never meant for a piston engine.

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      • Jeff DeWitt

        I expect a lot of older people also don’t realize the Pacer was never meant for a piston engine… or rear wheel drive.

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  10. Howard A Member

    I like it too. Not something I’d have a heart attack over ( that’s reserved for my 1st ride in a Top Fuel dragster), but it would be a nice car to drive. The thing that makes me nervous is that engine compartment. Typical late 70’s nightmare. I think I see a valve cover in there somewhere, and what an odd place for the coil. I had several friends with Pacer’s, and they loved them, as well. Trouble was, they rusted so quickly, it was hard to find decent replacements. While the non-wagon ( not sure what to call it) is a bit odd looking, this, at least, has somewhat normal looking proportions, and much more useful. Great find. Can’t go wrong here.

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  11. Eddie Stakes

    There were 3300 AMC Pacer wagons made in 78-79 with a 304V8. Neat cars if you have ever owned or better yet, driven one. Many cars on road today copied the design. http://www.planethoustonamx.com/stuff/amc-pacer-nissan-lexus-toyota.htm I have owned about dozen of them of 391 AMCs so far. Here is a 78 turned into a panel wagon, easy to do http://www.planethoustonamx.com/photo-gallery-stakes-amcs-1/78-amc-pacer-panel-wagon.jpg this was my custom woodie wagon on national television commercial https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqPE2IeiYhs funny tax return commercial in English/Spanish. If any of you ever want to take something to cruise nights and car shows, take your Pacer, park near Hemis, Shelbys and Yenkos, people will forget those and come swarm around your Pacer. Happy Motoring, Eddie Stakes’ Planet Houston AMX

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