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"Pacer-dise" Found, Lost, and Found Again


Troy C. tells his story of finding his dream car, losing it, then gaining it back, promising to never again let it slip through his fingers. (30 March 2000)

My father is a musician, and as far back as I can recall, I've been around music. By the time I was ten, my dad had me listening to all this old music from the seventies. I thought the music from that time was so cool that I started watching old movies, and it turns out that everything about that decade fascinated me! Anyway, I started going to old record stores, and collecting albums, and collectibles, etc., until I basically lived in the seventies.

The Pacer being a major automotive icon from the seventies also fascinated me! By now I've pretty much grown out of all the other stuff (but I'll always be a retro nut). The Pacer remains my favorite car of all time! When I was about 13, I started looking for a Pacer. I looked in the Charlotte paper everyday. I also checked Car Trader for the following two years, and the only thing I ever found were the old Jeeps, and the AMC Eagle wagons.

Finally on March 13, 1998 I FOUND ONE!!! It was the exact same day I had given up! I checked the Charlotte paper, and all the new Car Traders that day, and there were no AMC cars at all. Later on that day, I got the funniest feeling to check the paper in a city, not too far from Charlotte, I opened it up, and the first thing I saw was "1977 AMC PACER, runs and drives, 400 obo". I was so excited! I told my mom about it, and she shared in my excitement (she was tired of hearing about Pacers by now). I called the guy about it, and it was everything I wanted in a Pacer. If I could buy one new, that's the way I would have ordered it: It was "midnight blue" with light blue interior, it had bucket seats, and an 8-track player in it! My mom and dad rounded up what money they could (it was the beginning of the week and money was pretty tight), and we headed to Winston-Salem.

Anyway, I'll never forget how we turned that corner and the first thing I saw was MY Pacer, parked on the curb, with a gorgeous front view. The man was so nice he let me pay him that hundred to hold it for me, and my grandmother sent me some money, so two days later, we went back picked her up, and headed home. Its a 1977 AMC Pacer Wagon! I already had a nice little collection of 8-track tapes to play in it, so my father and I drove her home while my mother followed in the family car. I'll never forget the way that car rode home: kinda rough, but she had been parked for three years! She had some minor rust, and a fuel pump problem (long story in itself), but my father and I drove home listening to The Eagle's "Hotel California" 8-track, which brought back alot of memories for my dad. Neither of my parents liked the Pacer, when introduced in '75, but they like Pacers now, after they had had the chance to ride in one!

For the next year, my Pacer sat in our driveway, even though I had my permit at the time, and she was licensed, and insured. I couldn't drive it too often because of a fuel pump problem. I'm not sure if you know this, but the Pacer has two fuel pumps, one under the hood, and one down near the gas tank. We didn't know this. The car would run like a dream for about 5 miles, and then spit and sputter like we were out of gas, eventually cutting off. We replaced the carburetor, had it tuned up, put a whole new exhaust system in, and still had the same problem!

Finally, about a month before I got my license, we found out about the fuel pump. We had it fixed, and directly after, my father put the battery back in wrong, and burnt up the wiring harness. I WAS HEART BROKEN! They no longer make wiring harnesses for Pacers. To make up for his mistake, my father offered to buy me a car! (This is where our stories get very similar.) He bought me a 1983 HONDA PRELUDE! So that summer I graduated early from high school, shortly after got my license, and my Honda, then my parents decided to move to a neighboring town. My father, not wanting to pay towing costs, sold my Pacer to the landlord for one hundred dollars.

There is a happy ending! I recently got the chance to buy it back, because the guy that bought it didn't have time for it, and needed the money. I bought it back! My best friend currently has no car, so I made a deal with him. I gave my Honda to him, and his father (a very good mechanic) is repairing my Pacer as you read! He said it could be something simple wrong with it, like maybe a fuseable link is burnt up or something. But if not, he can either rebuild, or find a wiring harness.

Right now I'm living in the coastal Carolinas, just minutes away from the Beach, going to school down here.

Classic cars are pretty popular. A friend of mine drives a Pinto, and she had several offers for it! Needless to say, when my Pacer is finished, (mechanically, bodywork, and paint), I'm gonna get bombarded with offers! I let her slip through my fingers once, never again!!!


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