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"Do you know WHY the Wankel and front wheel drive were dropped? They were to be purchased from GM. GM was having trouble getting their version of the Wankel to pass emission standards and asked Congress to give them a few years relief. Congress said no, so GM said it would just write the whole billion dollar (or was it two?) deal off on taxes! So they abruptly dropped the thing, leaving AMC with a new car but no new engine. What did they do? They made the 258 six fit. To do this, Dick Teague had to widen the body by six inches. This six inches is the drive shaft tunnel (vacant on front wheel drive cars, naturally). So no, the Pacer wasn't intended to be 'the first wide small car'... that came along by necessity and was capitalized on!!"
The whole text is at this URL: http://www.amcpacer.com/about/statsfacts.html
When the car actually hit the market it had some buzz left for about 30 minutes. The the buzz turned into a polite chorus of "Oh dear".
My uncle bought one, and I was surprised by how small the interior space seemed compared to the outside of the car. It may have been short but it sure was wide.
Here's a website that 'confirms' the GM wankel story and then says that AMC even licensed the wankel direct from NSU after GM fell through... but in the end as you know it was the big-6 for the Pacer, all the way until deep-6 time for AMC.
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