Sleeping Beauty’s Coffin: 1976 AMC Pacer D/L

There were a few Pacer’s exported to Europe and they occasionally appear at car shows. The Germans have an affectionate name for them, it’s “Sard der Schlafenden  Shönheit” or “Sleeping Beauty’s Coffin”. My favorite nickname was “The Flying Fishbowl”. The idea was to create a roomy compact car by wrapping a small car around a full-sized interior resulting in a short and very wide car. They added lots of glass and doors of different widths and, well, there must be at least a few people who like the look. This fishbowl is listed on eBay in Roseburg, Oregon. It looks like there are three or four active bidders who have bid it up to over one thousand dollars. It runs and drives but needs brake work.

You’re in luck if you like brown and shades of tan. The interior looks to be in pretty nice condition.

Here’s the 232 CID 6 banger. Could that be a 2 barrel carb? There is an “X” package of the Pacer with a 2 barrel carb and other performance upgrades, but the decal on this Pacer says “XP” and I don’t think there is an XP package. Also, this Pacer has an automatic. I thought the regular air cleaner was round and this one looks like the one on the 2 barrel carburetor.  It’s a lot of confusion for a fishbowl.

Just look at all that glass. AMC thought this design was the future of automotive styling. I think most folks are very grateful they were wrong. This Pacer doesn’t have AC so it must be a little warm inside on sunny days. It looks like you might be able to buy this for the price of a very cheap used car and with a little work it could be a nice driver. This might be the car for you if you think it is more unique than embarrassing. I don’t anyone will have a problem with the price unless you think the seller should pay you to take it away.

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  1. Max

    Beautiful Classic Pacer! I recently bought 81 AMC Concord DL coupe. I was Never an AMC fan but being classic collector I liked have piece of AMC history. Its blue exterior with light blue interior, 2.5 4cylinder, Auto, PS, PB, Factory AC, Factory AM/FM radio, rear defrost. has 50K original miles. I paid 7K for it.

    • nrg8

      Alan, Alan, Alan….. Just ugh

  2. Beatnik Bedouin

    A fascinating piece of American automotive history.

    I always thought that it was sad that AMC didn’t have the funds to make the Pacer far more revolutionary, mechanically and engineering-wise, than it was.

    As I mentioned awhile back, it’s a car that offered four-cylinder performance with V8 fuel economy.

    Looks like this example might be had for reasonable money.

  3. Dovi65

    [SHEEPISHLY RAISING HAND] .. I love the oddballs of the automotive world. Rambler, Nash, Corvair, Vega, Pinto/. Pacer.
    I can’t imagine how hot it would be inside this little gem during the Florida summer

    • phil

      I ain’t sheepish about it (raising hand LOUD and PROUD) AND don’t forget the Gremlin !!!!

  4. Dan

    258 inch six banger….the ad says….was a good engine…..

    • Sanity Factor

      Ran great for me till leaf spring mounts rusted out…78 concord fastback 258…

      • Jett

        My Mom bought one brand new in November ‘78, and I took it for a summer cruise about three weeks ago. You’ll never see another one like it.

  5. Jack M.

    Nice collection Max. It’s not based out of Beirut, Lebanon 🇱🇧 is it?

  6. Jimmy

    I wouldn’t mind having it just for the odd looks the youngsters would give me as I drove by.

  7. That AMC Guy

    Looks nice but can’t imagine driving around in one of these in the summer with no AC unless you’re way up north! Is that a drum brake master cylinder? (Looks like both chambers are the same size. Disc master has larger section to feed the discs.) There’s a power steering pump peeking up from the inline six buried in that short engine compartment, so you’ll be enjoying the first power rack-and-pinion system from a U.S. manufacturer. (The rack was actually manufactured by GM/Saginaw.)

    Performance and gas mileage? About the same as the six-cylinder Matador featured here recently. Maybe a little worse since 1976 emission standards really strangled these engines.

    Something to bear in mind with AMCs of this vintage, the company used a Prestolite electronic ignition that has a couple of weak points. The distributor uses a plastic vacuum advance that has a tendency to blow out. Also the trigger sensor puts out a very weak signal on these. It was common for mid-1970s AMC cars to just suddenly stop dead. You’d have to reseat the connector between the distributor and ignition module to be on your way. The factory “fix” for this problem was to cut out the connector altogether and solder the wires together. (A better fix is to install a GM/Delco High Energy electronic distributor.)

  8. PatrickM

    A former neighbor had a small used car lot when I was in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Some of his regular customers called them upside down bathtubs. Lol. Personally, I never cared for them. Liked the Classics and Ambassadors.

  9. SubGothius

    Here’s a surprisingly badass-looking example, all souped-up:

    • David Frank

      Bring a Trailer? “badass-looking” No pictures? Expired listing?

    • Jett

      That’s a good looking build, but black is getting to be so boring and cliched. And no chrome on a ‘70s car??

  10. Miguel

    I can’t imagine driving this wide car around the streets of Europe.

    My blood pressure is high enough.

  11. Miguel

    Here is a car in Mexico. The guy thought he could improve the looks of it.

    • Beatnik Bedouin

      ^^^^ I don’t know what to say, Miguel, that wouldn’t get me banned, here, so I might just make it a simple, “Ijole…”

      I had a bit of a chuckle about driving a Pacer in Europe. I rented a Ford Galaxy S-Max in Germany, last year (the rental company did me a deal that on reflection I should have passed on) to tour around Europe, which made for a lot of character-building experiences in old Central European cities, and thankfully, arrived back at Berlin no scratches or dings in the bodywork of either car or passengers.

    • chad

      not sure bout the improvement,
      like wagon best tho.

  12. angliagt angliagt Member

    And it’s in Roseburg,Oregon!
    I used to get off of I5,& drive through Roseburg,
    just to see all the old cars still being driven there,
    plus there were always cool older cars on a lot of
    the smaller car lots.
    A few years ago,I drove through there,& the
    old stuff is getting a lot thinner on the ground – sad.

  13. Will

    I am pretty used to seeing negative comments in the comments section here but in the article? C’mon, you can to better.

  14. Tom Justice

    Well, one thing you can say about AMC; they made different cars from the big three. I supposed when you are failing you will try a lot of different things. I remember these well and the Gremlin which was sort of a cult car where I grew up. Nice to see the AMX and Javelin getting some respect. I hope the new owner will make it as nice as possible and drive it with some pride.

  15. John S

    Used to call them driving fish bowls…

  16. RetroRick

    Read all the comments and not single Wayne’s World mention. So here it is.

  17. Jubjub

    Great color scheme. Reminds me of a Corgi die cast.

    You can thank GM for the Pacer not being what it was supposed to have been. All the development resources that AMC exhausted and then GM goes and bad mouthes the rotary engine and axes their development. So poor AMC who was supposed to be building a FWD Rotary engine (from GM) car, has to spend what little other resources they have to cobble up a shortened Matador platform under the Pacer. Just another one of GM’s loathsome acts.

  18. Tiberius1701

    We used to call them ‘Peopleariums’.

  19. chrlsful

    “I am pretty used to seeing negative comments in the comments section here but in the article? C’mon, you can to better.”

    I assume they’ll gush 4 the 3CV below.

  20. grant

    I would hope you could buy this for the price of a cheap used car. Thats what it is.

  21. davew833

    Thanks for not making any Wayne’s World jokes.

    -Sincerely, a former Pacer owner.

  22. MikeH

    Thanks David, for an almost completely derogatory article about the Pacer. You insulted everyone that has in interest in Pacers. There are lots of cars that I don’t care for that others love. But I don’t go around bashing them with statements like: “unless you think the seller should pay you to take it away”. If you hate a car, give the article to someone else.

    BTW, I don’t, and never have had, a Pacer.

  23. John Jefferson

    Here is another AMC that is the same colour combo and actually has a manual transmission. If you don’t like the fishbowl look then this Gremlin could be a better choice. Seems like a rare beast with the X and Levi’s package and super low mileage for a 40 year old car.


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