Saturday, July 19, 2014

Post-apocalyptic Wayne's World

Imagine my surprise when I rounded the corner and caught a glimpse of this:
A completely dismantled 1978/1979 AMC Pacer! This thing is destroyed; not really a car at all currently. It has a roof and wheels, some BIG windows, and lots of scorn. It's always a perfectly-delivered punchline when you run across these in the wild though so I had to take a closer look.
Taking stock I see that the taillights and bumper are gone, what looks to be rust is spreading like mold across the body. ROUGH.
Pacers were advertised as the "wide small car", boasting that it was wider than a Rolls-Royce! This marketing angle sounds odd today, but in 1975 when the Pacer was introduced it was meant to reassure those folks wary of tiny rides like VW Beetles and Honda CVCCs which were perceived as unsafe. 
Not that you can tell through the tornado of calamity in this picture, but a major design feature is on display here. The passenger door was 4 inches longer than the drivers to ease entry and exit from the rear seat. Once you were sitting in that rear seat you were at the mercy of the sun and all that panoramic glass though; reports of feeling like an ant under a magnifying glass were common.
That original AMC color is known as Powder Blue (of course).
Man this mess is ridiculous! You can see from the doorjamb how pronounced the egg shape is in the middle. With all that glass there was concern that a rollover would easily kill all the occupants, so a roll bar was integrated into space between the rear edge of the door and the quarter window that ran over the roof, adding much need rigidity to the shell. From this angle it's apparent that the rust is actually just light surface corrosion where someone made the effort to sand those areas down to bare metal but neglected to primer them. Did somebody actually start to restore this car?
Those are the original seats just dumped in there, complete with the addition of shag carpet to the seat back (In case the car wasn't '70s enough)! Up on the dash it looks like the complete taillight assemblies are resting behind years worth of dust. The keys are in the ignition like a false promise.
Alright wait a minute! The piece below the grill is freshly painted in the original color! This Pacer actually seems to be getting a complete restoration right now at this shop. Every journey starts with the first step, and this is what it looks like.
All I can think about with that grill design is Butthead from Beavis & Butthead with his gummy snarl. The reason the grill looks like that is to fit an optional V8. The extra power was just about cancelled out by the extra weight in those sad late-'70s days of low horsepower.
After seeing that freshly painted lower valance I can only imagine that the doors and fenders are getting the same treatment.
I LOVE these hubcaps! I remember seeing them over the years, and their design certainly fits the quirkiness of the Pacer, but I don't know if they're original or not. I did spend an embarrassing amount of time checking though.
You can almost see the half-witted kind of smile of this little punks face, saying "I can't believe they're restoring me!" Neither can I frankly, but I'm excited to one day see this thing rolling down the street like a brand-new Easter egg.

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