The cover of AMC's 1975 catalog, featuring the first Pacer.
In 1975, AMC wowed the automotive world with its earth shattering, groundbreaking, Pacer. Billed as the first small, wide car, the Pacer measured a full 77 inches wide, 6 inches wider than the company's Hornet and Gremlin, and the equal of their full-sized Ambassador sedan. Another unique feature of the Pacer was the use of asymmetrical doors; the passenger's door was 4 inches wider than the driver's door for easier access to the back seat. Its wheelbase was 100 inches, the equal of its spiritual predecessor of sorts, the spunky 1950 Nash Rambler convertible, the car Lois Lane drove in the original Superman TV show (and who didn't love the young Jimmy Olsen in that series, played by Jack Larson, lol!).
Pacer's relatively short hood was a result of the planned use of GM's brand new rotary Wankel engine, a compact powerplant that was cancelled at the last minute by GM after the first gas "crisis" of 1973. Wankel rotary engines are powerful for their size, but thirsty, and after several years of development under license from Germany's NSU, their lack of economical gas usage and a failure to properly seal the rotors, GM called it quits. Mazda is the only manufacturer of Wankel rotary engines today, in their RX-8 sports coupe, and they're still considered thirsty for their size although the sealing problem has been overcome. AMC was stuck without a powerplant that fit under the short hood, and their inline-6 engines ended up with their last 2 cylinders practically sitting in the passenger compartment. For a longer write-up of the Pacer's development, I found this cool website.
Pages 3 and 4 of the brochure show the front and back of the wild new car, with interior shots as well. Both pages open up to a full four-page spread, below. On the left, in H8 Autumn Red, is the D/L model, and its optional "Basketry Print" fabric individually reclining bucket sets. Talk about distinctive! AMC really showcased unique interiors in their products, a tradition that went all the way back to the 1930s when Nash introduced their infamous "seats that fold into a bed." The H9 Silver Dawn base model Pacer on the right, shows the optional vinyl roof, separated by a body color "hoop" which was reminiscent of Nash's 1956 "Fashion Arch" styling, which allowed for a C pillar two-tone paint treatment also known as a "basket handle" to some. The Pacer's original bodystyle was eventually joined by a wagon version, which was just as wide and fishbowl-like as the hatchback, but which could be optioned with woodgrain sides—a plus in my book!
The four-page fold out showing the Pacer X model, and giving specifications and options. One quaint touch on such a futuristic new car was the option of good old-fashioned vent windows in the front doors. Oddly, under "power options" only power steering and power front disc brakes are listed. I would have thought power windows, door locks, and seat would have been available, and I think they were in later years.
Motor Max's 1978 Pacer from their "Fresh Cherries" series. This scale model features the facelifted model with its rather ugly raised front hood and grille, necessary for the 304 V8 that was made optional later in the production run, but it's nearly invisible under the plastic case, lol. The rest of the scale model is pure, bubblacious and curvaceous, Pacer. The notes on the back of the package states that slightly over 280,000 Pacers were sold in the six years of production, a large volume for AMC.