Ran When Parked: 1979 AMC Pacer Station Wagon

The AMC Pacer Station Wagon was introduced 2-years after its Hatchback sibling, and while it maintained the wide-body stance, the rear styling was somewhat more conservative than the Hatchback. It also brought with it improved practicality, as the rear lip was lower on the wagon than the Hatchback, making it easier to load and unload heavy items. This 1979 Pacer Station Wagon is a very original vehicle, and it is now looking for a new home. It is located in Lucerne Valley, California, and is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set the sale price for the Pacer at $1,995.

When you look at the baked state of the Pacer’s wood-grain, it isn’t hard to believe that it has spent the vast majority of its life in Arizona. These photos also graphically demonstrate just how hardy paint can be when compared to vinyl because while the vinyl has taken a hammering from UV rays, the Saxon Yellow paint actually doesn’t look bad. Having said that, I do suspect that the car may have been treated to a repaint at some point, as there is some evidence of possible overspray in a couple of spots. There is some minor rust visible on the lower quarter panel on the passenger side, but the rest of the car is about as clean as you would expect from an Arizona vehicle. I have to say that I’m also curious about the overspray that can be seen on the tires, and would like to know what the story is with that.

Considering where the car has spent its life, the interior of the Pacer is surprisingly good. The seats, door trims, and the headliner all look quite good. The headliner is sagging in one spot, but this should be able to be rectified quite easily. From here, things do deteriorate markedly. The dash pad has some pretty significant cracks, as does the wheel rim. The carpet in the load area is looking pretty tired, and there are a few plastic trim pieces around the interior that have decided to raise the white flag and surrender to the UV rays. It can all be made to look tidy once again, but there are some items that will not be able to be restored, and replacements will need to be found. On a brighter note, the Pacer does feature air conditioning, along with an AM/FM radio.

I wish that the news got better as we opened the hood, but unfortunately, it doesn’t. The car features the base spec of the 258ci six-cylinder engine, producing 100hp. This power is sent to the rear wheels via a 3-speed automatic transmission. That’s it for good news, as the Pacer doesn’t currently run. It hasn’t run since it was parked 7-years-ago. That means that it will almost certainly need some work to get it running and reliable before it is ready to hit the road again. It is worth considering that this lack of activity will potentially mean that a lot of rubber seals and gaskets have now had plenty of time to dry out and crack, so there will probably be a few that will require replacement.

Once the wagon version of the Pacer emerged in 1977, people tended to stay away from the hatchback in droves. This was amply demonstrated in 1979. By that point, the Pacer was on its last legs, and while 7,352 chose to park a Pacer Wagon in their driveway, only 2,863 made the same decision with the Hatchback. However, if you look at examples of the Pacer that are being offered for sale today, the market is dominated by the Hatchback. It would seem that people have decided that they want to own a Pacer, then it has to be a “Flying Fishbowl.” What do you think?


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  1. Moparman Member

    Magnums look GREAT on any car, and they improve the looks of this one (IMO). GLWTS!! :-)

    Like 5
  2. steve

    Yea…too bad originals only came in 14″.

    Like 1
    • Spud

      Interesting trick there. Neither VIN seems like a real VIN. I wonder which one is the real car for sale.

  3. Ghost of Chapman

    I just passed on one without the fake wood trim, in like condition for $995. I tried to envision me driving it, but try as I might, I just couldn’t get past those square headlights. It sold the next day.

  4. John Member

    My son had one, a great car, economical, the only problem he had with it were
    the door hinges which he replaced twice, the heavy door wore them out.

    Like 2
  5. ccrvtt

    I once dated a girl whose brother worked for AMC in Detroit. She allowed as how she wanted one of these, just like this one. I’m guessing she got what she wanted, married an osteopath, had 2.4 children, big house in Farmington Hills.

    Dodged a bullet there.

    Like 3
    • Michael Leyshon Member

      One of the Romneys ?

      Like 2
  6. davew833

    As a former Pacer hatchback owner, I think the styling of the wagon along with the raised grille on the later models destroyed a lot of the uniqueness of the Pacer’s styling. Of course the idea was to make it look more traditional, and therefore more appealing to mainstream buyers, but I would never own a wagon if I could have a hatchback.

    Like 3
  7. Blyndgesser

    A Jeep 4.0 engine would wake this thing up. I’m interested is @spud’s comment about the VIN—can you tell us more?

  8. chrlsful

    I’m beginning to hate the on-line mrkt place.

    This would B the model 4 me (waggy, a six).
    1K$ trucking move to my house is prohibitive…

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