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Classic? Collectible? Special Interest? Just Old?



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    It's probably from a Skoda or a Daihatsu. You know Chrysler.

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  • 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: 23,040
    ...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 Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    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!"

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  • merckxmerckx Posts: 565
    I rember hearing that story,too. Of course,it doesn't make me like Pacers any better...
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    ...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: 23,040 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.
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    There was a lot of buzz generated in advance of its release. It was going to be the future... AMC was leaping past the competition and there was going to be a small car with big car space, etc, etc. Advanced technology with FWD (which was pretty much an unknown rather than a positive or a negative in those days). The future arrives!

    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.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    It seems an unlikely story, because for one thing why would an ailing company promise to buy an engine that obviously no one had ever gotten to even run properly?

    Perhaps it was one of those golf course deals, you know "Hey, if you ever get that rotary to stop puking oil and eating gas at the rate of a Panzer tank, give us a call!"

    The only part of the story that sounds true is that of GM asking for government relief or suing somebody. At this same time, the Japanese just shut up and passed all emissions tests and made the rotary work.

    To me, that is the real story behind many of GM's debacles of the late 70s and 80s. They had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the Modern Car Age.

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I suppose it makes sense if you're a niche player looking for a niche, but AMC's engines were as good as most, particularly the six.
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    I don't think there was much demand for the wankel by that time, and it was probably very cheap or almost free. Remember that Mazda was able to afford it and they weren't much of a company in those days.... even less cash rich than AMC I suspect. What they did have was engineers who would spend thousands and thousands of hours working on those rotor seals until they figured out how to make them work (well, more or less).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    I bet Mazda was very unpleasantly surprised when they first brought that Wankel home and tested it. Probably $100 would have been too much.

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    There was an article about that recently in one of the car magazines. IIRC Mazda knew pretty quickly it had been sold a bill of goods.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    I wonder if the RX-3 coupes will ever be worth anything? They were really fun to drive.

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    There was a great image car if nothing else, at least for the enthusiasts (maybe only for the enthusiasts, given Mazda's failure to penetrate the mainstream market).

    I can't think of another interesting Japanese sedan from that period. Well, the 510. Name another.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    Hmmm...interesting Japanese cars from the 70s? Not much to choose from. Let's see:

    Datsun 510
    Maxda RX2/RX3
    Datsun 240Z
    Nissan Patrol 4X4
    Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser

    Some might say the Datsun 1600 Fairlady and 2000 Roadster as well but I'm not sure either one was very interesting to drive or look at. A coin toss on those two.

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  • with a Mazda RX3 with a modern wankel transplant from a 2000 RX7, straight from Japan. Looked very interesting.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,604
    How those early rotaries would backfire!

    All you had to do was let off the gas under the right circumstances.

    Sometimes they would emit a HUGE LOUD backfire after being parked for a few minutes. I remember something about raw gas slowling dripping into what looked like a small blast furnace they had.

    After a few minutes...KABOOM! This was really bad if you had come home from work, parked the car in your garage and were sipping a cold one.

    I was once in a shop when an RX3 that was up in the air having it's oil changed suddenly backfired! We ran for cover...thought a bomb had gone off!
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    My parents had one (a '71 two-door 4-speed, orange with black vinyl interior). Apparently a fun car to drive, but pretty rust-prone and not all that durable (it was dead within seven years, but then I have to remember that my parents were 22 when they bought it, drove fairly aggressively, then gave it to my sixteen year-old uncle).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    Neither the RX-3 or many Datsun 510s have survived. Both are a rare sight in decent condition. I agree, the 510 was a better car, and the coupe was very popular, and IS still very popular, in SCCA racing.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    I know what you mean.

    Anyway, this is why I put the alternative of "Just Old" in the title of this discussion. I think some old cars are just "old cars" and we should refer to them that way rather than say "collectible" just because Ralph has 20 of them in his backyard. True, he's "collected" them, but they collect tin cans and cardboard for recycling, too. So if we call a 62 Rambler an "old car", then that allows the word "collectible" and "classic" to have meaning for more interesting cars.

    Also, that doesn't mean that restoring "an old car" is a smart thing to do either. Gee, if a person had the money and talent, I could think of better cars to apply it to myself.

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  • kosarinkosarin Posts: 14
    got my son a '71 dart swinger last year...was running but i've already sunk over $1,000 in repairs to date and the sucker won't start again...worth fixing? selling "as is"?...donate to charity?...also, if anyone knows of a good, cheap mechanic in the d.c. area who works on these types of cars, drop me a line....thanks!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    We're already talking about this in another topic, so we'll see you in the "Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant" department.

    Try not to duplicate your posts next time and THANKS!

    Shifty the Host

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  • ............ other than me?
  • jpfjpf Posts: 496
    I also have an 86 Lebaron convertible, 2.2 liter (non-turbo). I believe these cars are not considered collectibles at this time but there is some interest in this car. See the attached link for further info.
    Good luck.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    I had a friend who had not one, but TWO '86 LeBaron convertibles. He was a glutton for punishment I guess! :P Actually, they weren't THAT bad from what I recall. The first one he bought, a burgundy 2.2, had been wrecked before he bought it. He bought a creme 2.5 model, and had them both for awhile, and ultimately got rid of the 2.2. The creme one was pretty nice, and just about fully-loaded. I forget what happened to it, but I do know he took a job that required a lot of traveling. He used to be one of those "I'd rather push a domestic than drive an import" types, but ultimately he bought a new Corolla in the mid-90's. And that gave way to a Maxima. Funny how times change.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,864
    didn't jeep still use the I-6 until recently?
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
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