Sunday, August 23, 2015

Flying Fishbowl: 1975 AMC Pacer

The Pacer, also known as the 'Flying Fishbowl' was a subcompact econobowl styled by Richard Teague and built by American Motors Corp from 1975 through 1980.  It was marketed as a fuel efficient compact when the big three were pumping out land yachts, and did surprisingly well due to the early 70s oil crisis - but not well enough to overcome its controversial styling, miserable handling, and abhorrent build quality.  Find this 1975 AMC Pacer offered here on eBay bidding for $2,358 with 3 days to go, located in Lakewood, WA.

The Pacer might be an easy target for scorn, but it is actually turning into a bit of a classic.  The low belt lines, short hood, and giant windows translate to eye catching styling -- sure it isn't a C2 Corvette or a Mercedes-Benz 300SL, but it sure beats the pants off most 70s malaise-mobiles from Detroit.

Powering this Pacer is a 258 cubic inch inline-6 pushing out 110 horsepower and 195 ft-lbs of torque into a 3-speed manual gearbox.  The Pacer will obliterate the 1/4 mile in about 19 seconds and reach 60 mph in 13 seconds. 

See nicer tomato shaped classic?


  1. My VW buddies used to call the Pacer "the poor man's 928".

    You can see the family resemblance.... had about the same reliability.

  2. Damn, that's nice. My recollection is that the handling wasn't any worse than the Detroit norm for the time and I've always liked the shape a lot, but yeah, friend owned one for a while in college and the *interior* sheetmetal trim was rusting.

  3. my lord that seems pretty cheap for one in such clean condition. I would have a lot of fun with this after swapping in something modern and 2x or 3x that power. such a funky box, I can dig it.

  4. Obviously you have never owned a 928 to speak poorly of it's reliability

    1. You're right, John. I did own a '24 and a '44, but not a '28.

      The man who coined the term was my VW/Porsche Mechanic, back when I owned a Scirocco and a Rabbit GTI. He did own one (actually, several). He kept buying them from his customers because they wanted to get rid of them, and he had fun driving them, but warned me not to buy one b/c of the repair problems.

      Ironically, when I moved out to CA, my 924/944 mechanic told me the same thing. Perhaps they became more reliable over time? I have no idea. Just passing on what I was told, by those whom I trusted.

      BTW, unlike some on these boards, I do love Porsches. Had an indecent amount of fun in my '44. :-)

  5. 1) Second photo shows what looks like a tomato juice can (could have had a V-8?)
    2) Not sure what the Count Fistula black rubber thing is attached to the underside of the hood is. Maybe some kind of ram (phrasing) air scoop but the end appears closed..
    3) And lastly:

    1. 1) Vacuum reservoir I'm guessing.

      2) Water drain for the HVAC air-intake ducting in the hood.

      3) It looks like a tighter fit than I expected, especially considering AMC put their V8 in the later ones.

  6. One of my engineers worked for AMC back in the day.
    He told me that the Pacer was originally designed for a rotary engine that GM was developing. (AMC bought a lot of components from the big 3 at the time)
    At the last minute GM killed the rotary engine project and the AMC team had to scramble to install their conventional engines. That long 6 cylinder engine retrofit was quite the challenge and the first cars had to be pulled from the line.
    When I have time I would like to verify his story and ask him more questions.
    He told me a lot of scary stories about how they manufactured interior components. No wonder why AMC interiors fell apart in that time period!

    About the car, first requirement is to tint the windows. I heard this fishbowl really heated up in the sun.
    A modern drivetrain swap would be a great project. I would love to take a modified Pacer to a track day!


Commenting Commandments:
I. Thou Shalt Not write anything your mother would not appreciate reading.
II. Thou Shalt Not post as anonymous unless you are posting from mobile and have technical issues. Use name/url when posting and pick something Urazmus B Jokin, Ben Dover. Sir Edmund Hillary Clint don't matter. Just pick a nom de plume and stick with it.
III. Honor thy own links by using <a href ="http://www.linkgoeshere"> description of your link </a>
IV. Remember the formatting tricks <i>italics</i> and <b> bold </b>
V. Thou Shalt Not commit spam.
VI. To embed images: use [image src="" width="400px"/]. Limit images to no wider than 400 pixels in width. No more than one image per comment please.