MYTH BUSTER

De­bunk­ing the most com­mon old wives’ tales

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Giles Chap­man

1 THE PACER WAS WIDENED BE­CAUSE ITS CON­CEPT CHANGED

It’s a fre­quently re­peated un­truth that the Pacer gained its girth from a last-minute de­sign change – that front-wheel drive was axed and rear-wheel drive sub­sti­tuted, with 6in added in the process. Not so. The car was al­ways meant to be broad. At 77in, AMC’s car was more than a foot wider than the Volk­swa­gen Golf MkI. It was in­tended to lure Amer­i­can buy­ers away from their enor­mous gas­guz­zling sedans of the mid 1970s.

2 THE PACER WAS TER­RI­BLE TO DRIVE

Road man­ners and per­for­mance were ac­tu­ally lit­tle dif­fer­ent to other, softly-sprung, rear-drive mid-‘70s Amer­i­can cars. In­deed, as it fea­tured rack and pin­ion steer­ing it felt con­sid­er­ably sharper than most ri­vals (although not the RHD ver­sions), while its gen­er­ous track meant there was lit­tle of the pitch­ing found in other ‘small’ Amer­i­can cars, such as the Ford Pinto. It feels re­fined be­cause a front sub­frame for the en­gine and sus­pen­sion iso­lates the rest of the car from vi­bra­tions and road sur­face knocks. But there was no es­cap­ing the car’s weight, partly down to all that glass.

3IT WASN’T VERY AD­VANCED

That was cer­tainly true of the driv­e­train, steer­ing apart. But the rest of the car was by no means crude. The hefty con­struc­tion kept it well within pro­jected crash safety lev­els. Yet with a drag fac­tor of 0.43, it was ac­tu­ally quite aero­dy­namic for its time. The car was well ahead of trends by hav­ing no ex­ter­nal rain gut­ters, and wind­screen wipers that parked be­low the bon­net line. The pas­sen­ger door was 4in longer than the driver’s, eas­ing ac­cess to the back seats. And, from a clas­sic car per­spec­tive to­day, it’s very easy to work on.

De­signed to ap­peal to econ­omy-econ­o­my­minded buy­ers: 18mpg in town.

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