The 1970s gas crisis forced many automakers to rethink their lineup. By the middle of the decade consumers were less interested in style and power and more focused on value and fuel efficiency. AMC answered with the Pacer. When it debuted in February 1975, AMC believed it had an instant hit. More than 145,000 Pacers sold in their first year of production alone. Like the 70s, the sales soon ran out of gas. By the time Pacer production ended on this day in 1979, some 280,000 had left the assembly line in total. Between 1976 and the end of 1979, the car averaged sales of about 35,000 per year.
Advertised as “the first wide small car,” the Pacer featured a surface area that was nearly 37 percent glass, which led it to be dubbed the Flying Fishbowl. A general lack of power, minimal storage and less than stellar fuel economy that couldn’t compete with most imports all contributed to the demise of the Pacer.
Interestingly, its poor fuel economy and stout stature made the Pacer ideal for electric conversions. The Electric Vehicle Associates of Cleveland offered the Change of Pace model. The built to order car converted the fuel fed Pacer into a plug in electric. In 1978 a converted electric AMC Pacer from the EVA would set you back $12,360. The company produced about 100 examples. In the future, will we be converting our electric cars to solar? Perhaps we’ll just use our legs again.