Design Notes: 1975 AMC Pacer
One of the two proposed engines for the Pacer was to be AMC’s own inline six, the other a GM-sourced Wankel rotary. Almost all of the tape drawings, including the one shown on the previous page, are designed to accommodate the Wankel rotary. The last few drawings on this page had the inline-six in mind.
The reason both engines had been considered is because GM was still developing their rotary engine, so AMC was making sure their bases were covered in the event the deal with GM didn’t materialize. It didn’t.
These following tapes are likewise dated September 1, 1971.
Notice the different door types on the various drawings. They include both framed and frame-less side glass as well as the door type that would make it to the production Pacer, the single-stamped design. (The single-stamped design is, as its name implies, a door and window frame stamped from a single piece of metal which typically wraps from the side to the roof while precluding traditional rain gutters.)
Another interesting Pacer fact that seems appropriate to mention here is that the production car’s passenger door is longer than the driver’s door–by a whopping four inches. One reference stated that it was done to encourage loading passengers on the curb-side of the car. Whether that is true or not, it no doubt did help backseat ingress and egress. It also probably contributed to many a divoted lawns and scraped curbs.
The design above right and the following three share their underbody, windshield and doors with the AMC Gremlin. (Wow, there’s another one that will have to be looked into someday.)
Notice the design of the trunk on the drawing below right. Rather attractive, if you ask me.
This next one is sort of cool. It’s actually a pickup version of the drawing above left. I guess the closest thing it would have been compared to was a Chevy El Camino or Ford Ranchero.
If you look closely at the photo, it appears that the creation of this pickup drawing involved using a cutout section placed over the upper portion of a hatch-version’s drawing, along with the addition of some edge detailing.
Designing in three dimensions
This next section shows a series of full-size models created of clay and fiberglass. These first two images below are dated October 11, 1971 and are of the same model made of clay. Here you can see the aforementioned differing door sizes (left versus right). The doors were unique enough that the opening latches are positioned differently; the driver’s latch is behind the door, at the base of the B-pillar, while the passenger’s is located on the door.
Subsequent styling models abandon this approach in favor of familiar AMC pull latches that are positioned just below the side windows toward the rear of the doors. That change was likely driven by cost-saving benefits reaped from sharing corporate parts, not to mention eliminating the number of unique parts needed for a single car’s left and right sides.
You will notice that many of these models are designed with retractable headlights.
This next version is a clay rendition of a fiberglass model that would be built for and shown at a car clinic in Atlanta, Georgia in February of 1972 to gauge reactions. The passenger side’s door is even longer than before. It appears that many of the production car’s traits are already starting to coalesce.
Continue to page 4, below.