Crème de la Crème: 1976 AMC Pacer D/L

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This is the crème de la crème of AMC Pacers. It’s a 1976 AMC Pacer D/L and it’s “like new”, according to the seller. It also “belongs in a museum” and it is “like a time capsule”, not to mention that it “still retains its 100% figure.” Ok, I had you until that last part, I’m not sure what that means, either. This future museum car is listed on eBay with heavy and high bidding with a current bid price of $6,000! And, guess what? The reserve isn’t even met at that price! As they say at the carnival when you try to ring the bell, “How high will it go?!” This great car is in Great Falls, Montana with a clear Arizona title, and.. Alberta, Canada license plates?

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This is basically the one decent photo that the seller has provided in the eBay listing for this one of a kind museum car. I’m still surprised that the vast majority of sellers don’t take more time – literally the five minutes or less that it would take – to really show off their mind-blowing vehicles with better photography. Almost every person on the globe between the age 5 and 95 has a smart phone that probably has a better built-in camera than the one that Ansel Adams used, it just doesn’t make sense to me. It seems to me that the better the photos in an online ad, where 99% of potential customers aren’t going to see the vehicle in person, the higher the selling price could/would be. Apparently not, at least with this one; this Pacer is already up to six-grand and there are still four days to go on this auction!

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Hagerty is very, very bullish on the AMC Pacer. Investors and car-flippers take note: they list a 1976 AMC Pacer in #3 “good” condition as being worth $4,800; a #2 “excellent” condition Pacer being worth $8,500; and a #1 “concours” condition car as being worth $14,000! Yowsa! And that’s a Pacer with the 232 inline-six, this car has a 258 inline-six, surely that’s more valuable still! This Pacer D/L is a beautiful copper metallic color, it’s a crying shame that there aren’t better photos of it to show off that gorgeous color. The seller tries to explain how the car survived in such perfect condition, “Car was used as a demo in Washington for a year and was never used by the owners wife. It came to me and I have never used the car just for a week in Arizona and works flawlessly..” I’ll just leave that one there.

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And, here’s that 258 cubic-inch, inline-six which would have had 95 hp and 180 ft-lb of torque when new. This car has a mere 57,536 miles on it and it doesn’t burn or leak a drop of anything, unlike fully half of the vehicles that I own. Most folks know that the area where this six-cylinder now sits was originally designed to house a Wankel rotary engine but GM pulled development of that engine at the last minute. AMC, after sighing heavily and most likely saying a few other things under its collective breath, lamented that loss, probably made a mental note to never believe anything that GM said ever again, and ended up putting one of their own inline-six engines under that unique, wide hood; after modifying the drivetrain and the firewall to make it fit.

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This perfect Pacer has the very cool “Navajo Design” interior which was originally included in these earlier, upscale D/L models. Thankfully, these seats look like they’re in excellent condition. The driver’s seat bottom looks almost like a seat cover to me, but it must be that somehow the original fabric has tightened instead of loosened over the decades, unlike almost every other interior fabric on earth. At least it isn’t ripped, it would be verging on impossible to find matching fabric to replace that. It would be like trying to find a replacement for your burnt-orange leisure suit with fleur-de-lis stitching on the collars. Ha.. I mean.. if a person had such a thing.. (cough) The back seats look equally great as do the tiny, tiny door panels. Bonus: the dash isn’t cracked! Apparently, this was an Arizona car and for a black, padded, 40-year old dash to not be cracked is always great news. This really does look like the crème de la crème of AMC Pacers, at least as far as ones being for sale at the moment. How high would you go on this one? $7,500? $10,000? More?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    For a car nobody liked, these sure seem to be popping up lately. Museum? Maybe the “Wolf’s Museum of Mystery” in St.Augustine, Fla. ( is that still open?) While I’d agree, if you are looking for a Pacer, a nice one, here it is. As far as oddball’s go, there’s far more crazy vehicles Scotty has shown us that could be in a museum, but this was just a good car, and should be used, and deal with the attention as it happens. Aside from it’s odd proportions, this really is a nice looking car, and a motor that went on to be one of the longest running (OHV) engines in history.

  2. RayT Member

    I like it, but if these are now up in the $10K-and-up range, I guess I’ll have to cross ’em off my wish list. Plus, this one is really too nice to to do any of the Dreaded Hop-ups to — either a big upgrade to the 258, an AMC V-8 or a SBC — with appropriate chassis and brake mods. I’d keep the wheels, though; they’re very cool.

    The Brave New World of car collecting is sometimes hard to take for one who remembers trying to choose between spending $750 for a 23-window VW Bus or a BN2 Healey (P.S. I spent $1295 for a Honda AN600 instead).

  3. Stang1968

    The only box it checks for me is that it is brown.

  4. Birdman1973

    That’s an Alberta Dealer Tag (I live in Alberta). My guess is this…. Alberta Dealer Dude goes to AZ, picks up a mint Pacer, drives to Great Falls (about 8 hours from Calgary, Alberta), throws it on Ebay in an attempt to sell it and make some money before he has to cross the border with it, dealing with all the paperwork,duty, possible taxes and then also having to get an out of province insurance inspection done on it….

    Just my thoughts…I could be very, very wrong too…

    • thatguy

      I actually know the guy who owns this car, and you’re pretty much right. He’s based in Alberta but buys and sells classic cars all over Canada and the US, and if I remember correctly, he either bought this at Barrett-Jackson or Russo and Steele… regardless, one of the big auctions down there. I’m not sure if he’s trying to sell it in Montana to avoid border fees though, because I went with him to pick up a Corvette in Montana once and we towed it back across the border, so he might just be trying to sell it along the way. Regardless, he only buys the good quality stuff, so I think he’s probably right that theres nothing else out there quite as good as this one….

  5. JohnD

    Cream is not the only thing that rises to the top.

  6. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Nice photo of the cigar lighter. I see they have put a couple of thousand miles on her since he wrote the ad. They also have a one owner Hornet AMX for sale. Don’t bother to look, the photos are worse. My Buddy’s Dad owned an AMC dealership back then. I remember cruising around in his fully loaded Spacer, same Southwest style interior. A great view from the inside. Fun car, I won’t get into the details.

  7. charlie

    Crème de la crème of AMC Pacers is comparable to the crème de la crème of cat turds!

  8. Jeffro

    Dome light works! Value just went up. Seriously though, I like this car. Love the color. Would look better if seller took pictures in the SUNSHINE. Taking pictures of car in the shady is…well it seems if your acting shady. Is that a dent below back glass to the left of the lock?

    • Ronald Wheeler

      Looks like dent to me ! Also I would like to state what a dealer told me when I went to see the new car.
      Told me that they were going to put in a V-6 from GMC, but GMC went back on it’s word and used the engine. I was going to buy the V-6.

  9. Bob

    I notice the dent just below the rear glass that no one mentions. Also, it appears that the foam on the driver’s seat seems to have collapsed. Nice, perhaps but cream puff, hardly.

  10. Paul B

    It’s hard to believe on the one hand that these are popping in value, and hard on the other to believe they didn’t earlier. People have done nothing but badmouth them, and I guess now they’re so weird they’re becoming desirable. So goes the market. A bizarre concept, advertised as the “first wide small car”, from a truly strange moment in automotive and U.S. history. A friend bought one new and I drove it a lot. The wide factor did nothing useful for interior room as there were only four seats. It just made the car clumsy and odd to drive and it was hard to reach the armrests! It was a very heavy car and as a result was anything but athletic or agile, wallowing in turns like a fat overloaded tugboat. The 258 six and automatic combo in my friend’s car was wheezy and slow, truly depressing, and yielded terrible fuel mileage, especially disappointing in a product from a company that had once tried to make its reputation on economy. My friend’s Pacer deteriorated rapidly too, the suspension seeming to wear out and go even more slack. Rattles appeared everywhere. I still like the looks of these early Pacers. They sported a futuristic, coordinated and clean design. They just should have been narrower, smaller, much lighter, with taut suspensions, plucky 4-cylinder engines and 5-speed manual gearboxes. The new car that most reminds me of them today is … the overly wide, large, squished VW Beetle. Yuk.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Paul, I remember a Pacer ad ( can’t seem to find it) where they drive a Vega ( well, I think they altered the grill, but you could tell) into the back of a cut in half Pacer, and it fits.

  11. Mike Williams

    People get these because they were free or almost free and they think they can make a fast buck on a old car. Nobody really wants one.

  12. 68firebird

    Gotta be one of the ugliest cars ever made….

  13. Luxo Barge

    Nada is significantly more bearish on the value of the Pacer.

  14. Reg Bruce

    Back in the early ’80s I had a 1978 DL — same color and everything except for the wheels. This might be hard to believe but it was far and away the best car I ever owned for dealing with the winter snow on the hilly parts around my North East Ohio home area. All that (glass) weight over the rear wheels I suspect.
    I put a set of really good snow tires on old “Cecil” and, when I put the manual trans in 2nd gear and just tickled the accelerator for that big ole 258 CID, I could piddle past any number of Toronados and Audis etc. whilst taking the kids to school.
    Unfortunately, the kids were not at all impressed with riding in a “fishbowl” but it sure beat the alternative of riding the school bus and being manhandled by all those oafball-player jocks.
    A bit far away for me to bid otherwise I definitely would.
    R. B.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Reg, living in Milwaukee years ago, I knew several people that loved their Pacers. The only reason they quit driving them, was they were serious rusters, and they couldn’t find another one.

  15. Ross

    OMG, my mom had one just like this in the ’70’s.
    I recall being dropped-off at high shool once, only once in it! Never again….the humiliation.
    The driver’s door is nearly too heavy to open if you’re on any up-slope, as it is longer than the passenger door for ease of ingress to back seat, I guess.
    Mom loved it though. Guess we should have saved it ;)

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Ross, I think it’s t’other way ’round. The passenger door was longer than the driver’s door. Oh, the humiliation. I wonder if psychiatrists made any money off the Pacer?

  16. Gary Chittenden

    Always loved the design of these, cuties.. Took one for a test drive, when they were new, with the intention of getting it for my wife. It was just great, except that it was far too under powered, for me anyway.

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