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Pretty Awesome Pacer: 1979 AMC Pacer Wagon

The seller refers to this 1979 AMC Pacer D/L wagon as a “pretty awesome Pacer” and I think they’re right. What’s not to like about a Pacer, and then it’s a wagon with woodgrain, it has power windows and locks and – drumroll, please – it’s sporting a V8! This eye-catcher can be found here on craigslist in Fredonia, Wisconsin. The seller is asking $4,000 and they’re open to trades. Thanks to Gransedan for sending in this tip!

The opening photo shows this Pacer wagon parked under a lift and part of the car is obscured. Here is a photo from the same angle showing it outside so you can see the whole thing. It looks pretty nice! But, there appears to be some rust around the left front fender well, unfortunately. There is also rust on the bottoms of the quarters on both sides.

They say that it had been sitting for around 30 years after the original owner passed away and the gas tank needs to be cleaned out and the floorboards were repaired due to rust, so it’s far from perfect. It looks pretty nice from the photos, though. The opening photo shows the brand new tires mounted on the turbine wheels but the color-matched wheel covers also come with the car. I’d want to hit that rear panel with matching woodgrain and try to match the little panel below the gas filler door since it’s a bit faded from gas spilling on it over the decades – or I’m guessing that’s why it looks like that.

The D/L is a step below the Limited model but this car is decked out as a Limited would be, at least for the most part. The seller says that those are leather seats but they look like vinyl to me. Does anyone know? For sure it has power windows, power door locks. The full gauge package is great and unfortunately, they don’t show us the back seat or the cargo area at all. That’s really a bummer, but if they look anything like the front seating area does, $4,000 seems like a deal for this Pacer.

Here’s maybe the biggest selling point of this car, the AMC 304 cubic-inch V8 engine. It’s showing some surface rust in the engine compartment but a couple of weekends and most car hobbyists should be able to make it look like new again. It’s the other rust that worries me, as always, as well as the fuel system. Although, the carb is freshly rebuilt, it has a brand new rack and pinion, and new brakes. Pacers and especially Pacer wagons are fairly hot right now so this is a great project. Have any of you owned a Pacer wagon?


  1. Ken Jennings

    I can never see one of these without thinking of John Denver and George Burns in “Oh God!”.

    Like 10
    • Eric Butler

      I was George Burns’ personal assistant, and I thought that they could have come up with a different ride for God’s mouthpiece. Not a bad car, but so odd.

      Like 4
      • Ken Jennings

        That’s really cool. Was he as nice in real life as he appeared to be in public?

        Like 2
  2. C.Jay

    A friend of my had this same wagon. With V8 it would fly! One day she literally did. Off an embankment rolled it once landing on it’s wheels. Knocked the passenger mirror and fake wood trim off. That was it I don’t know how long she drove it after that.

    Like 3
  3. Nevada1/2rack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Now HERE’s a car we probably won’t engage a lot of the “should we leave it stock or go Restomod with it!?” controversy….

    Like 3
  4. Genemak1

    The dealership I worked at had one of these as loaner car. One day it was brought in on a tow truck. The drivers door was in the trunk! LOL!

    Like 1
    • That AMC guy

      AMC used nylon hinge bushings in all of their 1970s and 1980s small cars. These wore out quickly and caused drooping doors. The Pacer had much heavier doors than the Hornet-based cars and worn bushings would lead to total hinge failure.

      Like 2
  5. fran

    Hmmm wide…Great for “social distancing”

    Like 1
  6. Major Thom

    So many sellers assume that if the upholstery is not cloth, then it must be leather.

    Like 3
  7. John

    So cool to see power windows and locks. It seems quite rare to see those options on an AMC.

    Like 2
    • sluggo

      the windows on the pacer were taller then the bottom of the doors, so they wouldn’t roll down all the way. Genius

      Like 3
      • Al_Bundy Al_Bundy Member

        Did AMC provide arm rests to put on the top edge of the glass ? I always laughed about the sales staff in the Dodge dealer I worked at the early’ 90s. Can’t Imagine trying to sell one of these back in the day…

        Like 0
  8. Chucko

    Finally, sensibly priced something cool.

    As long as no major mech needs, it’s a lot of fun for 4K

    If I was close enough to inspect, I’d write a check

    Like 4
  9. Robert V V

    I grew up with my parents having wagons and coupes. I currently have one I bought that was from Arizona. Body is solid but all the interior was baked, including the wiring. I have it “drivable” but it would be awesome to have a complete one too.

    Like 2
  10. That AMC guy

    The upright grill on the later Pacers is truly hideous.

    Like 5
  11. CJM

    Already gone. Was a deal. Absolutely vinyl seats. D/L’s had vinyl (or fabric), Limiteds had only leather in a much plusher sew style.

    Like 1
  12. nlpnt

    It’s interesting how high the woodgrain take rate seems to have been on the Pacer.

    Like 1
  13. Randall Fitz

    I pre-delivery detailed these new. Seats were nice.
    A few years ago at the “Lemons” show at Pebble Beach for The Concours, there was a sleeper with an LS1 engine swap!

    Like 2
  14. schmuck281 Member

    I ordered one of these new through a rep at the PX in Germany. When I went to pick it up there were numerous things wrong with it, most obvious the rear door was crooked. The dealer I picked it up from was not interested in helping me out. The thing has a bumper to bumper warranty, but I guess that was only in effect when the service manager felt like it. I was going to Georgia from Oregon and had not opted for A/C. We drove it in July 79. It was the middle of winter before used the deicer on the back window. It exploded.I thought for a minute that someone was shooting at me. With this car, it was one thing after another. I was so relieved a couple of years later when I got orders to go back to Germany. I left it with my sister and told her not to sell it to anyone she knew.

    Like 0
  15. david

    I have a ’77 wagon. Like the opening rear quarter windows later years didn’t have. I prefer the later grill and hood. The 258/6 is good at road rpm but a dog in town in that heavy car. I’ve had no trouble, but the steering rack needs to be replaced. And typical quarter panel rust. Good enough a/c even with all the glass. The price on this one was a steal

    Like 0
  16. Ronald M. Harris

    Reading Material? In 1978 at Frigham-Gill AMC in Natick Mass., when minimum wage was $2/hr. or so, I found a new black paint on black vinyl ’78 AMC Concord D/L w/auto trans & a 258 6 cyl & w/rear defrost w/a sticker price of $4999.99 & I bought it for $4675. Great motor although the commenter before me disagrees. I wish I still had that car. It was perfect with 165000 miles on it when I traded it away in 1982..

    Like 1

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