3/13/09

AMC Pacer : ... and what ?

I know, i know its a car but I was 13 years old at that time and i always loved this car.
I know its a kind of very unusual car, the design is weird, the perf are terrible but 35 years later i still love it.

The AMC Pacer is a two-door compact automobile produced in the United States by the American Motors Corporation between 1975 and 1980. Its initial design idea was started in 1971. The car's unusual rounded shape with massive glass area greatly contrasted with the mostly boxy, slab-sided models of the era. The Pacer's "jellybean" body style is a readily recognized icon of the 1970s.




AMC's chief stylist Richard A. Teague began work on the Pacer in 1971, anticipating an increase in demand for smaller vehicles through the decade.

Car and Driver magazine noted that "AMC said it was the first car designed from the inside out. Four passengers were positioned with reasonable clearances and then the rest of the car was built around them as compactly as possible."

Designed to appear futuristic, the shape was highly rounded with a huge glass area, and was very unusual for its time. Road & Track magazine described it as "fresh, bold and functional-looking".




Development was under Product Group Vice President Gerald C. Meyers, whose goal was to develop a car that was truly unique: "...everything that we do must distinguish itself as being importantly different than what can be expected from the competition..."




Unique for a comparatively small car, the Pacer was as wide as a full-size American car of the era. Contrary to myth, it was not widened six inches (152.4 mm) to make room for the rear-wheel drive configuration. According to an AMC market study from the early 1970s, front-wheel drive was never considered,[citation needed] although the editor of Road & Track asserted that front-wheel drive, as well as a transverse mid-engined configuration, were among "various mechanical layouts...tossed around by the idea people at AMC", adding that "it's unlikely they ever had much hope of being able to produce anything other than their traditional front engine and rear drive, using components already in production." A rear-engined layout was also explored. 1975 AMC advertising literature proclaimed it as "the first wide small car".

The width was dictated partly by marketing strategy—U.S. drivers were accustomed to large vehicles, and the Pacer's occupants had the impression of being in a larger car—and partly by the fact that AMC's assembly lines were already set up for full-size cars.

Also unique at the time, the passenger door was four inches (101 mm) longer than the driver's. This made passenger loading easier, particularly from the rear seats; and they would also tend to use the safer curb side in countries that drive on the right. Ford used this design element in the 1990s Ford Windstar minivan.

Teague's low-drag design, which predated the fuel crisis and the flood of small foreign imports into the American market, was highly innovative. Its drag coefficient of 0.32 was outstandingly low for a car of its size. Teague even eliminated rain gutters, smoothly blending the tops of the doors into the roof—an aerodynamic detail which, although criticized at the time for allowing rain onto the front seat, has become the norm in today's designs.



The Pacer was also among the first production cars in the U.S. to feature rack-and-pinion steering.

In the mid-1970s the U.S. government mandated major safety improvements for the 1980 model year, to include 50-mile-per-hour (80 km/h) front-end crash testing, 25-mile-per-hour (40 km/h) side crash testing and 30-mile-per-hour (48 km/h) rollover testing, as well as installation of bumpers to resist 5-mile-per-hour (8 km/h) impact at the front and 10-mile-per-hour (16 km/h) at the rear. The Pacer was designed to these specifications, and also had laminated safety glass in the windshield.

General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler persuaded the government that it was not financially viable to modify existing production cars to comply with the new regulations, and that instead each company would be put to the enormous expense of producing new, safety-compliant vehicles. Accordingly the government requirements were reduced, which led to the deletion of several safety features from the production Pacer—for example the roll bar over the passenger compartment, and the bump in the roof that accommodated it. The Pacer's remaining safety features were not strongly advertised, and seldom influenced a potential customer's purchasing decision. The car's extra weight—due in part to the safety equipment and the abundance of heavy glass—hurt fuel economy: production models tested by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave 16 miles per US gallon (15 L/100 km; 19 mpg-imp) in the city, but 26 miles per US gallon (9.0 L/100 km; 31 mpg-imp) or better on the highway (depending on driving habits and transmission), thanks to aerodynamic efficiency.

Originally the car was designed for a Wankel rotary engine. In 1973, AMC signed a licensing agreement with Curtiss-Wright to build Wankels for cars and Jeep-type vehicles. (The agreement also permitted Curtiss-Wright to sell rotaries elsewhere.) Later, AMC decided instead to purchase the engines from General Motors (GM), who were developing them for use in their own cars. However, GM canceled development in 1974 for reasons that included durability issues, the fuel crisis, tooling costs (for the engines and also for a new product line designed around the rotary's ultra-compact dimensions) and the upcoming (late 1970s) U.S. emissions legislation. It was also thought that the high-revving Wankel would not suit Americans accustomed to low revs and high torque.



GM's change of plans left the Pacer without an engine. AMC had invested too much money and effort in the car's design to scrap it, so they hastily reconfigured it to accept their existing straight-six engine. This involved a complete redesign of drivetrain and firewall to keep the longer straight-6 within the body dimensions designed for the Wankel, but allowed the Pacer to share many mechanical components with other AMC models.

4 comments:

streetracker said...

I loved this car. I have seen only a few number of AMC Pacer in Italy in the '70.
Lancia Hpe was an italian version (more coupè than AMC Pacer).

VonSontag said...

C'est marrant : j'ai passé une bonne partie du week-end à collecter des photos de Pacer en vue d'un post... (les grands esprits)

southsiders M.C. said...

c'est vrai qu'elle était sympa, celle ci , il y a un autre canard boiteux que j'aime beaucoup
c'est la corvair, je ferai bientot un post sur le sujet...
v

vintagent said...

There are a few Pacers in San Francisco today; plus some Gremlins and Pintos, all immaculate in candy/pastel 70s colors. Hilarious.