Cydesho (cydesho) wrote,

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America fights back!

Let's start by assuming that the last car featured here, the Citroen 2CV, is a perfect example of how good engineering and design can overcome tragic styling and result in a vehicle that will be relevant for decades.
At the opposite end of the spectrum then, we have a car like AMC's Pacer. Over-engineered, and unlovably misshapen, the Pacer survived a paltry 5 years on the market.

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The year was 1971 and America was increasingly being flooded by foreign automakers, who were peddling small, reliable and fuel-efficient cars at rock bottom prices. In response, Ford and GM rolled out their own subcompacts, the Pinto and Vega, which merged japanese size with American unreliabilty. Chrysler was busy trying to sell Mitsubishis as it's own. American Motors, the smallest of the big american automakers was in bad shape, and desperately needed a product to stay competitive.

With the looming threat of new safety regulations, AMC embarked on creating a futuristic little car with an imressive list of safety features. The car would also be powered by the new, and radically different Wankel engine. There's a reason only one car company continues to use the Wankel.

The deal that would supply the Wankel to AMC eventually fell through, and federal safety regulations were significantly watered down, leaving the Pacer with no power plant, and and safety features that weren't required.

AMC managed to cram their straight six, and later V8 into the car. In the process, they gave the car less than ideal fuel economy (16 city/26 hwy). They also deleted a few safety items. The roll-bar was gone, but the odd roof-line that went with it stayed. The remaining safety features, and enough glass-area to rival the Crystal Cathedral, gave the little car a whopping 3000 lbs of curb weight. For comparison, the similarly sized vw beetle weighed 1800 lbs. Despite the larger engine, the pacer was sloooow.

Whereas the styling of the 2CV was mainly due to a function-over-form mentality, the Pacer's god awful looks were deliberately planned. At least to me, the car looks something I might've seen on Space Mountain at Disneyland. Don't get me wrong though, I love it. loving the Pacer is like enjoying a heaping plate of Brussel sprouts. I know they taste like crap, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying them. Personally, though, I prefer the slightly more mainstream looks of the Pacer wagon to the coupe.

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Who says you can't eat your brussel sprouts with some A-1 steak sauce?
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