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Journey to the Midwest and Back


Andy van Dalsem made a unique journey from California to Illinois and back in his Pacer. He recorded his journey in pictures.

I grew up in California but moved to Chicago in April 2000 because I got a job in animation. I left a '78 Pacer behind but eventually in October of 2001 flew back to California so I could drive the Pacer back to Illinois and drive it for as long as I was there. Well, from that point that turned out to be 3 weeks because almost as soon as I got back, the studio where I worked closed down. The trip was a total waste. So no sooner did the Pacer complete its non-stop 2000 mile trip that it had turn around and do it all over again.

Click on a thumbnail to view the full-sized image.
Blown out tire on Andy van Dalsem's tire The trip from California to Illinois went off with only one hitch: the one thing we didn't change before leaving, the tires, fell apart on us at stateline Nevada. The tread came off effectively destroying the passenger side rear wheel well and ripping out the gas-filler hose. It was 107 degrees outside but we managed to unload the back of the Pacer enough to get to the spare out and limp in to town. We bought new tires at CostCo and made it the rest of the way without a single problem.

This is the responsible tire.
Closeup of destroyed tire damage Here's a close-up of the damage. Its still hard for me to look at this . :)
Suitcase tire The guilty tire went home like this, as luggage on an airplane. We sent it home because we thought we might have a claim with Winston Tire. We didn't.
Pacer at McDonald's This was my first stop from Illinois back to California. It was the first state I came to after leaving Illinois. If I weren't so lazy I'd go and check a map to see just what state that was but I figure I'll never go back there so what difference does it make? All I know is that the sun hadn't been up for very long at the time this picture was taken and caffeine was necessary. Note the Back to the Future-esque crap strapped to roof.
Pacer with stuff crammed in it This was also taken at the same McDonald's to show that I had literally crammed every single item I owned in to the car. If you look in the box that says "MAIL" on it you can make out the box of the 1978 Pacer X model kit I bought on e-bay for 10 bucks! Car still had personalized California plates at that point. They read "ODD CAR".
Pacer with stuff crammed in it Still at McDonald's. This is how the inside was loaded. Comfy! And yes, that's a Power Puff Girl hanging from the visor. I'm not ashamed. :)
Pacer in Colorado This last one is the Pacer in a more artistic arrangement. I filled up at this gas station in Colorado, the only state I've ever been in where Nature's achievements are more impressive than Man's. It'd be hard to live in surroundings like that and still deny the existence of God. It's that pretty. Like I said, the rest of the trip was uneventful which is why there aren't more pictures. I didn't pass anything else along the way that I felt was worth taking a picture of. Especially in Nebraska. Driving through that state was like walking on a freaking treadmill. You can walk 'til your legs fall off but the scenery isn't gonna change. Anyway, by the time I got home the Pacer had been running at about 70 m.p.h. for almost 48 hours straight. It's kind of a testament to AMC. It's too bad they didn't last as long as their cars do.


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