Jay Delancey, "Pacer Saver"
Jay Delancey of Acme, PA shares the story of the Pacer he loved growing up, and the Pacers he purchased to fulfill his dream of finally owning one as an adult. He wrote the first part of his story in March 2002.
There are two parts to this story. The first part starts when I was about 10 years old. It was the summer of 1986, and my parents decided to trade in their third AMC Eagle on a brand-new Jeep. At this point, I already loved cars because of my grandfather. Instead of buying their new Jeep outright, my parents decided to lease. It was beautiful. The Jeep was maroon with matching interior, and had that new car smell.
Anyway, about six months later, I arrived home from school to find no car in the driveway. This was strange, because as long as I can remember, both of my parents were home when I got home. Worried, I ran down our drive, and found that both of my parents were home! They had a bad accident in the new Jeep! They were unhurt, but the car was not.
The Jeep was totalled, but it was still fixed because it was a lease. While waiting for the Jeep to be repaired, my parents went to the dealer they had got the car and bought a slightly used 1976 Pinto. We liked the car, but it spent more time in the garage than on the road. So, of course they resold the Pinto and went back to the same dealer to buy another car.
I will never forget that day. I arrived home from school to see a very different car sitting in the driveway. It was a sunshine yellow 1978 Pacer D/L station wagon with wood grain on the bottom. I fell in love that day. It was the most unique car I had ever seen. At the time they bought it the Pacer, better known as Betsy, had only 36,000 miles on the clock, even though it was already 9 years old.
The Pacer became a fixture in our lives, especially mine. But then a dark cloud fell on my world when the car started having some major problems, and my parents did not like the car enough to get it fixed. So one day my parents said they were going to look for a new car. They did not tell me their plans until the day we went to look for the "more reliable car". Of course the new car ended up being a 1989 Honda Civic. It was nice, but nothing could compare with the Pacer!
I cried as we drove off in the new car. I waved out the back window as we left the dealership. I felt as if my world had come to an end! My parents had promised me that car when I turned 16. I still think that I have not forgiven them for that. I saw "our" Pacer several times after that. Sitting in the "junk" line on the lot. But it just sat there, until one day it was gone. I cried again for the Pacer, wondering what had happened to it.
From that day on I told everyone that I would own a Pacer. My Dad fought with me about it, saying "those cars are junk" . That did not change my mind.
I am now 25 years old, own my own home, and two days ago bought my "new" Pacer. I have never been happier in my life.
The second part of my story begins with a drive to a friend's sister-in-law's house. I now own a slightly used 1989 Olds Cutlass two-door, which I love. But on my way, I was passing a junk yard when I saw what my heart desires. It was a 1979 Pacer D/L station wagon, faded autumn red with wood grain. I could not believe my eyes. Like any other Pacer lover I locked up the brakes and came to a dead stop. I took down the phone number and left, vowing that I would own that car regardless of price, or even whether it ran or not.
The very next day I called the guy and made arrangements to see the car. Being that it was in a junk yard it was not hard. So on a rainy Saturday, I went to see "my" car. When I arrived, the guy was busy. So I waited for an hour until he was through with his current customer. At this point I was worried because many junk yards in my area will not sell whole cars! When I asked him, he said, "It depends on what car you want". (He must have forgotten the conversation two days before.) "The Pacer of course," I replied (as if I would be interested in any other car). At this point the owner started to laugh saying, "that ugly thing?" To that I made a rude comment, and to my surprise he handed me the keys and said, "go fire it up".
After what I had said to the guy, I was surprised he gave me the keys. I was even more surprised that he told me to go start it. (Very happy, but still surprised. I mean, after all, this is a junk yard.) I got in and turned the key and nothing happened. I new it was to good to be true! But, still hoping, I pulled the Olds around and got out the jumper cables. Hooked to the heart of my Olds it at least had a buzzer that worked when you opened the door. After fifteen minutes of waiting for the battery to charge, I crossed my fingers and prayed. Hitting the gas one time, the old girl started right up!
My new Pacer now sits in my drive, 84,127 original miles I might add, awaiting the much needed TLC that she will recieve from her new owner. She will forever have a place in my heart and now has the name of "Betsy II". A dream come true after many years!
Since I bought the 1979 wagon, I have also bought two more. I saved them from a demo. One is a 1975 model with 44,000 original old lady miles on it, a blue coupe (incidentally, this one now has fish swimming in the quarter windows). I also bought a white 1976 coupe with 114,000 miles on it with a four-speed with rare overdrive. Both run and drive and I stole them for $600!
9 November 2002 Update
Just wanted to let you know that I am about done with the cosmetic restoration and slight mechanical of my 1975 Pacer. I like the car so much, as you well know, that I own four of them. I recently purchased Pacer #5, thanks to meeting a great couple of people on the Yahoo group. They live only 10 miles from me and love Pacers as much as I do.
They bought a 1978 wagon D/L that they did not know was in bad need of floor board repair. So they purchased another 1978 Pacer Wagon D/L. This one a much nicer car, but it needed the main rear oil seal replaced. The car runs well but they want to take the engine out of the first car they purchased. That is where I come in. They decided to sell me the green 1978 Wagon (the first purchased) and give me the engine that needed the oil seal for $350. The girl's husband started taking out the motors and got frustrated. He called me and said I could have the green car for nothing if I would switch the motors. Of course I jumped at the chance and am now the owner of my ultimate Pacer dream machine.
The car is a D/L wagon like I said, but it seems a little unusual. You see, the car is a four-speed manual and has the optional rally interior package with tan leather interior. I feel it is a great find.
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