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Classic? Collectible? Special Interest? Just Old?



  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    ...and Pacers were brand-new, we knew enough to make fun of them, and anybody who's parents drove one! I have to admit though, in a dorky sort of way they're kinda cool.

    I've never driven one, but I sat in a few. I think they're actually pretty comfortable, at least up front. The wagon model isn't bad in the back seat. One day I was at a junkyard that had just gotten one in. It must've been a nicer model, because it had thickly padded cloth seats, overly-stuffed vinyl door panels, and shag carpeting. I sat behind the wheel, just to get a feel for it.

    I think the earlier models are kinda neat looking, but they ruined it when they tried to give it more of a stand-up formal grille.

    I had a chance to get a free AMC Hornet wagon a few years ago, that some friends of mine just wanted to be rid of. I wonder what would've been worse...that thing or a Pacer? That Hornet was another car that was kinda cool in a nerdy sort of way. It was a real bright robin's egg blue, and really stood out.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Hey I owned a Hornet.

    Next you're going to tell me 1960 Corvair sedans aren't cool.
  • 20992099 Posts: 59
    Way back when I was in the used car business with my dad, we took in a 74 Hornet Wagon. This thing had a V-8 (305")(?) and every possible option...even some phony looking "wood" trim (like the old Ford Country Squires) on the outside. We did some repairs and sold the thing (good deal for us all the way around) to a local person who drove it for 10 years plus until it rusted apart. I remember it had a lot of pick-up and did run well, but it was ugly and that V-8 in that engine compartment was a bear to work on. Thanks for the memory jog.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    My friends' '77 Hornet had an inline-6. I think it was a 258, but I'm not sure. It was actually in pretty good shape...very little rust to speak of, but one of the rear windows would come off its track and fall down in the door.

    I would've loved to have had the thing, but I was only 23 when they were trying to get rid of it. Back then, it would've cost me another $500-600 a year to insure. I remember though that they couldn't find anybody to take it off their hands, even for free. They even called around to a few junkyards, and so did I, to help them out. Every place said they didn't have need for a car like that.

    Finally, we drove it down to a junkyard south of Culpeper, VA, about 90 miles away, and ended up getting $90.00 for it!

    If nothing else, I guess it would've been a nice little car for hauling stuff, but then again, it didn't have a full liftgate...only the rear window opened up. Kind of a hatchback wagon, I guess?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I got a good deal on my Hornet too, but that's probably how Hornets sold--the typical off-brand discount. At the time I really wanted a Road Runner but I was still listening to my Dad in those days and Dad likes a "deal".

    Actually a good little car. I think it was a '70, had three on the tree and the 199 six, manual steering and brakes, basically an improved version of the '61 Falcon I inherited from Dad (now you know his taste in cars). Kind of fun in a penalty box kind of way. A passenger told me I drove it "like a sports car" which I think is passenger code for "too fast".

    To sell it I had it repainted medium metallic blue, hosed it out and Armor-Alled the rubber floor mats. It looked pretty sharp. Should have done that when I bought the car and not waited.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Isn't that 6 still in the new Jeeps? (Just kidding--I think).


  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    ...with the demise of the Cherokee, unless the Grand Cherokee is still using it. I think they went over to the 3.7 V-6 though.

    I know the 6 was a 4.0 liter, which I think comes out to a 244. I remember when it first came out, it was a big deal because it had 190 hp. Wasn't that around 1988 or so? Was the 4.0 the same basic design as those other 6es like the 199, 232, and 258?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    It looks like an engine right out of 1955 except for the fuel injection (only started in 1990 or 91 I think) electronic ignition and lots of those easily breakable plastic vacuum lines and expensive little black boxes placed here and there. Otherwise, I think a mechanic from 1955 would be very comfortable working on it. Hell, a mechanic from 1915 would do okay with a little coaching.


  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    You're right: Chrysler is still using the 4.0 six in the Grand Cherokee, and I believe 2003 will be its final year.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    ...It just hit me that the Jeep Wrangler is still using the 4.0 inline, as well. Guess it's not over with yet! Where are they getting the little 4-cyl that goes in the base Wranglers? It that left over from the old AMC days, too? (and probably a 6 minus two cylinders, at that?)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    It's probably from a Skoda or a Daihatsu. You know Chrysler.


  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    ...I'm wondering if the four now in the Wrangler is the same one they had in 1991; my brother briefly had a '91 Wrangler which I drove around a bit one winter. It felt more powerful than you'd think; I mean, it wasn't exactly quick, but it got the thing moving just fine, and still used quite a bit of gas. I kinda miss that ride. I wouldn't be surprised if the four they're using now is the same powerplant, as Chrysler (fortunately) hasn't rushed to replace aging Jeep motors.

    Back to Pacers for a minute. A friend's mother had one when I met her (in eighth grade, 1982). It was a 'wagon' with a six and a three speed on the floor, pretty basic model. It was brown and ugly, but I do remember it being particularly roomy, mostly because it was so wide.

    An aunt had a Hornet sedan, I think a '75 or '76, baby blue with matching plaid interior, six and automatic. Not a bad car. She previously owned several Ramblers, so she was particularly loyal to the brand. Next car after that was an '82 Cavalier, two door with power windows. Not nearly as reliable as the Hornet.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    remember those? The ads went, "What's a Matador" Well, I'll tell you [at least from my point of view] if the Pacer didn't use all the ugly the stylists had, the Matador finished it off. Weird, anyway. Actually, you have to give them credit for being gutsy, coming out with designs that were so different from the norm of the time. But unfortunately, they didn't sell, and that led to the demise of AMC.
    Interesting footnote about the Pacer-it was designed to take the little V6 that AMC had bought from GM, but then sold back to GM just before the Pacer came out. Dumb move. That big inline six didn't fit as well in the Pacer. I don't think it would have made a whole lot of difference, though-V6 or not.
    History says GM was smart to buy it back though, eh? Heck, what would they be putting in all their cars now?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    ...that the Pacer was originally designed to use some type of rotary engine that GM was working on, but then got scrubbed, so they had this all-new body, but with no new engine to put in it, so they had to make do with the inline 6 and 304 V-8.

    I kinda like the Matador too, in a strange sort of way. The old hardtop that they had up through '73 (or was it '74?) was pretty sharp looking, but that weird frog-eyed thing that finished off the nameplate was something else! So hideous you just had to love it! Plus, it still had roll-down rear windows, which were really becoming scarce in 2-door cars by then.

    Those "coffin-nosed" Matador sedans looked like a big Dart up front, just with more of a "nose". One thing I'll say for 'em though, it seemed like the Matador had a nicer interior back then than competing Ford, Chevy, or Mopar cars. I remember looking in a few at an AMC show that Grbeck and I went to back in June, and it looked pretty upscale for the time.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Rotaries in Ramblers? That's priceless. Heck, hadn't they just switched to overhead valves? :-)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    No, I think it was the Monza that was supposed to get the rotary.

    The story I heard from an old witch in a cave was that when they were designing the Pacer that some guy knocked the real clay model off the table and before they could pick it up and straighten it out an AMC exec came into the room, pointed to the floor and said "That's It! Build It!"


  • merckxmerckx Posts: 565
    I rember hearing that story,too. Of course,it doesn't make me like Pacers any better...
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    ...but I just found this on the web:

    "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:

  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Interesting theory but I remember reading at the time that the width was because the Pacer was based on an existing platform, probably the Hornet. AMC didn't have the money to come up with a new platform or to narrow one.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848 they could utilize existing Nash/Hudson underpinnings!

    I wonder if the Pacer was based on an extremely shortened Matador platform? From the ones I've sat in, the Pacer feels almost midsized inside, at least up front, although the rear is extremely compromised due to the reduced length.

    I'm thinking kind of along the lines of the Gremlin, which was a shortened Hornet. As a result, the Gremlin seemed bigger up front than a Vega or Pinto, which I guess it should, considering the Hornet was a compact, but then the back seat of the Gremlin rated right up there with the worst of them!

    I do remember Pacers had H-U-G-E transmission humps, no doubt because of the shoehorning they had to do to get the engines in there.
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