Tim Rusling: Wheels Reader
Occupation: Home Deport Hardware Associate and Trainer
The Car: 1979 AMC Pacer D/L Limited wagon
I don’t just like American Motors Pacers, I love ‘em. From the first time I sat in one at an auto show, I was smitten. It was like someone designed a car to fit me and it felt great.
The following year I special-ordered a yellow 1976 Pacer X from Harvey Thompson, of Alexander Ambassador in Windsor, the salesperson who years before had asked me to buy a car from him when I became old enough to drive.
Back then he was at El Rancho Rambler, in Windsor’s Riverside neighbourhood.
I wasn’t able to keep my specially ordered car for more than a few years, and not having a Pacer ate at me for a long time.
So I put every dollar I could into a fund, which allowed me to rescue a black and silver ‘77 Pacer coupe from southeast of Edmonton. That car is a very long-term project, but at least I have had it to admire.
The need to have a Pacer I could actually drive on the street led me to buy a rather rare model from a friend in Northern Ramblers, the pre-eminent AMC club in Canada. Next weekend the club hosts its annual meet and show at Haugen’s BBQ in Manchester, Ont., near Port Perry, on Saturday, June 9. It’s a great place to see some cool American Motors cars in person.
My car is a 1979 Pacer D/L Limited woody wagon. The trim around the woodgrain panels is real wood, which I’ve sanded down and re-stained.
The Limited models were only sold in the Pacer’s last two years of production. They came with thicker carpeting, power windows, power door locks, leather-and-corduroy front seats and leather rear seats. It’s got a 258 ci (4.2 litre) inline 6-cylinder engine with a two-barrel carburetor.
Not long ago a teenage girl thought it was a new car that she’d never heard of, which made my day. More people seem to like Pacers now than a generation ago.
Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and his friends famously sang and head banged along to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody as they cruised in a Pacer in the 1992 movie Wayne’s World. That 1976 Pacer sold at auction in 2016 for $37,400 (U.S.)
My wagon is a time capsule which makes me feel good just driving it gently through local neighbourhoods.
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