Worth $5,000? 1977 AMC Pacer

What vehicle would you buy for $5,000? There are many choices from cars to trucks and motorcycles and anything in-between. You can get a nice vintage snowmobile for five-grand or even a boat, or you could get this 1977 AMC Pacer. The seller has this one listed here on craigslist in Mentor, Ohio, just northeast of beautiful Cleveland. No really, I love Cleveland. Thanks to Gransedan for sending in this tip!

We have seen many AMC Pacers here on barn finds over the years, some better than others but they’re always interesting and fun to see. They only made two body styles, this two-door sedan, and a two-door wagon. This example looks good overall but there is a bit of rust on it which is surprising with the seller saying that it’s been completed refurbished. They’re short on photos but they show one of the top of the door opening showing the gasket.

Here’s the famous fishbowl rear 3/4 photo! It’s weird that I have yet to own a Pacer seeing that I’m a big fan of unusual cars. They were made from 1975 to the 1980 model year with slight updates but no big changes. This car looks great in some of the photos but you can see some areas around the wheel wells with rust and the rear bumper but I guess that’s normal for a car that may have been in a northern climate for years.

The seller is more than a bit skimpy on photos, this is the only interior photo and there are no engine photos at all. What we can see of the interior, though, looks almost like new other than some dirty carpet. There is a three-speed automatic transmission which I’m assuming works ok.

Overall, this car looks really nice but we always like to see an engine photo, especially when they talk about it having been “gone over”. At least they say that this one, whatever it is – they don’t list a VIN or an engine size – runs great. The Pacer would have had a 232 or a 258 cubic-inch inline-six and I’m assuming the latter. What would you buy for $5,000? Would it be this Pacer or something else?


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  1. Mitchell Gildea Member

    Know what this car needs? A big-block Chrysler motor under the hood

    Like 5
    • yes300ed

      A modern hemi might fit better.

      Like 2
      • Dave

        How about some goodies from Clifford Engineering to spice that six popper up?

        Like 4
      • That AMC Guy

        A Jeep 4.0 would probably be a good fit and makes nearly double the power of the stock Pacer engine.

        Like 3
      • stu

        This car needs is a swift kick in the rear end to give it a better curb appeal! The bigger motor won’t help…LOL

    • mike

      Even the Pentastar V6 would be an improvement lol

      Like 1
      • John Klintz

        NO V-6 engines EVER! Why put in something that is inherently unbalanced? I like the idea of some mods to the original AMC six.

        Like 1
    • JP

      Rally. No engine photo needed – I just ate.

      Like 1
      • stu

        Really, I just ate and did a number 2!

  2. Troy s

    There was(still is I guess) a ….gentleman’s club here San Diego called Pacer’s,, everytime I see that word it reminds of the night club. Okay, I’m done.

    Like 4
  3. William

    Why does this car need extra power at all? Maybe some nicer wheels, polish it up, make sure the air works (a must in those green houses) and enjoy.

    Like 9
    • mike

      If you have ever driven a Malaise Era car you would know why this car and every other car of it’s ilk needs more power.

      Like 8
      • William

        I am old enough to know how to drive a Model T. Yes, I owned these cars. They were not speed demons, but they got the job done. All you need is a car that idles well, and can pass and merge onto the freeway, nothing more. What people of today do not understand, everyone had a car that performed like these, and it worked fine. Not every driving experience has to be a race. After watching the carnage on the roads of the more high performance cars of the sixties, many thought less power was okay anyway. Plus, remember why the cars went down in power, it was to save the air. Those of us around then remember air quality so bad, it looked like an ugly brown cloud over some cities. People with bad lungs couldn’t leave their homes. It was a good trade off.

        Like 15
    • Blyndgesser

      90 hp, 3600 lbs. 0-60 in about 18 seconds. That’s why.

      Like 4
  4. Dana F Welch

    needs this vanity license plate: LMAO

    Like 3
  5. AndyinMA

    Those wheels – is this the police package? Or maybe the fire chief.

    Like 2
    • stu

      Your wrong, those wheels are off a wheel barrow…Open the trunk, pour in the cement, drive around the block, wait for 24hrs and enjoy! Perfect!!!!

  6. Rob Pasquinucci

    Grew up in Cleveland and my family had three AMCs… Wonder if this one was purchased at the dealership we went to – Joe Erdelac. Side tangent about the dealer in this NYT article: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/20/automobiles/the-note-in-the-trunk-of-the-last-studebaker-avanti.html

    Like 2
    • Mr.BZ

      Cool story, Rob!

    • ADM

      I was born in Cleveland, and lived in Lyndhurst for a few years. When I purchase a firearm, I’m proud to write that in, no matter what anyone says.

  7. Bob19006

    I’ve owned AMC Ramblers, Hornets, Concords, a Gremlin, a Spirit and my dad had a Rebel. Never had a Pacer. Every one had an AMC straight 6, my dad’s 62 Classic wagon had the 196 OHV aluminum block, my 63 Classic and 64 American convertible had the 196 OHV cast iron block with the oil filter up top on a bracket. All the others had the newer 232/ 258 engine. The Pacer was designed with a contract with GM for their new rotary engine. Although short, the Pacer was as wide as a full sized car and had huge windows and heavy doors. A 4 cylinder would have been underpowered so when GM cancelled their rotary engine project just months before the Pacer was to go into production, AMC had to extend the engine area back under the dashboard to allow their 232/ 258 straight 6 to fit in the car. A V-6 would have been a better option but I guess they couldn’t source one in a short timeframe. It was an undesirable solution that compromised the whole Pacer concept. That was AMC’s last all new car as they just didn’t have the money. All newer AMC cars after 1975 were just modified versions of their 1970 Hornet (Concord, Eagle, Spirit), 1967 Rebel (Matador, Ambassador) and the 1974 Matador coupe combined near the end with cars designed by Renault until Chrysler bought out AMC in 1988. That straight 6 AMC engine lived into the 1990’s as the Jeep straight 6 engine.

    Like 5
    • ADM

      Hate to admit it, but my first car was a ’64 American convertible, bought in ’74, with 38K, flash-o-matic, and the ohv 196. Hey, I was poor, and for $200, that car got me around for a few years, with no problems.

      Like 1
  8. Little_Cars

    My Gremlin and Rebel station wagon both had those hubcaps. No police edition, just a cheap wheel cover on the most base model.

    Like 2
  9. Richard Kirschenbaum

    Without a doubt, this was the most inspired car of the decade one of just many inspired designs from the AMC’s late, great,
    Dick Teague. If I owned one, I know what my license plate would read: JETSON. AMC deserved so much more credit than it got and so much more success.

    Like 1
  10. chrlsful

    wagon only plez (I’ll take 2 if U don’t mind

  11. MitchRoss Member

    Without rust and with working A/C. Assuming the engine is 100% and looks good, this would be a $7000 Pacer. Subtract what it would cost to get there and your have what it is worth as is.

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