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AMC Pacer vs Chevy Vega.

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by BobbyZ, Feb 11, 2018.

  1. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Those were the years of US auto manufacturers knee jerk reactions responding to the Japanese car invasion. They never really came back from those 70s disasters. Let us remember the follow up Monza line or the blowing up Pintos or the Opels and Capris, the Hornets and the Gremlins. I was a true blooded muscle car nut that went German for the next 25 years. I am back to American cars and motorcycles, but now I can work on them constantly to keep them running. I can tell you from experience that the 80s US vehicles were no better. No wonder my two millennial step daughters and husbands all have new Japanese vehicles. A travesty that I can't really explain.
     
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  2. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Telefied Ad Free Member

    Age:
    61
    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx
    I had a green Pinto hatchback, too.
    It was not the worst car I ever had.
    It was dependable.
    I can’t say much more.
    For some reason, the heater/AC in it were lousy, but it ran like it was scared.
    Thanks for listening.
     
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  3. Geo

    Geo Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    69
    Mar 17, 2003
    Hendersonville, TN
    All I remember about his was the classic GM short straight shifter handle with the finger levers under
    the shift knob for engaging reverse. Think his was a 1975.
     
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  4. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Holic

    662
    Jan 26, 2012
    Troy, MO
    My grandma had a white Vega wagon, one of the later years with the slanted nose and venetian blind/louver-looking grille...not the cool '70 Camaro-looking one. I rode in it a few times as a kid. I don't think she ever had trouble with hers, but she drove very little and it mostly sat in a dry garage.

    Its replacement was a 1985 Escort wagon! That one got driven more often, and didn't succumb to Escort head-warp. Odd.

    Around that time I started dating a girl who had a '78 Monza, with the smaller Buick V6 in it...think it was a 198. One of the first things I did with her family was hunt down a used 231 out of a Cutlass or something and help her and her dad install it.

    GM made a LOT of different exhaust manifolds for 231s in those years, as well as subtle casting variations on the cylinder heads. Ask me how I know that. We ended up using the Cutlass manifolds and having to get pretty custom with the exhaust.

    ANYWAY, 231s were pretty solid motors as long as they had oil pressure...but the Monza started out a little grubby-looking but basically decent to drive, and then seemed to deteriorate quickly. Always wondered how those were to drive with the weight of a SB Chevy up there.
     
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  5. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Jun 21, 2011
    Bakersfield
    Hello, my name is TD, and... Well, it's hard to talk about even today, but yes one of our family members had a Vega back many years ago. The embarrassment still lingers on even today for the rest of the family. We don't talk about it much out loud, just in whispers behind their backs. While there is no proof to the contrary I think it foolish to blame the aborted calves on the in-laws having owned the Vega, just file that under "could have been."
     
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  6. still_fiddlin

    still_fiddlin Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    May 6, 2009
    Texas
    I actually had a Vega briefly back in 1979-80, somewhere in there. I was without wheels save a bicycle and, living in Oregon, though I bicycled everywhere those days and even had a job working outdoors (in short, getting wet was not a concern), there was the problem of getting to the odd gig with a guitar. Anyway, the banjo player in the band had one that had, I swear, not a straight piece of sheet metal on the body because whenever it wouldn't start, the banjo player would kick, punch or otherwise take out some of his frustration on the wretched thing. I bought it for about $50 IIRC, put a battery in it so it would start and drove it for a couple of months until I got tired of being pulled over for emitting too much smoke out of the tailpipe. (Oil consumption GPM was pretty high.) Took the battery out and had it towed away to a junk yard as soon as the credit union approved me for an auto loan.

    While the Pacer is a seriously fugly car, AMC didn't make scrap like that Vega. The car I had to drive in HS was my granny's Rambler American - it took far more abuse than anything deserved, and still ran and got my grandpa back and forth to work for many years after I rounded the corners off on it. Only ever needed a clutch in about 100k.
     
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  7. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    These Chevettes and T-1000s were less problematic, and some folks still have theirs, but I have to strain pretty hard to think of a small car that's less fun to drive. Normally, cars of this size have a nimbleness to them - none of these I drove ever had that. The steering was just wooden, and say all the bad things you like about Dodge Colts and Vegas and Bobcats and even Datsun B-210s, but they did have some of that handling gene. Even the Pacer, with that GM based power steering system, rewarded you at least some. Did Pacers ever have manual steering? I don't recall driving one like that.
     

  8. ZeroGravity

    ZeroGravity TDPRI Member

    Age:
    50
    75
    Dec 18, 2016
    Canada
    My brother put a Buick V6 in a Vega in the late 70's, early 80's. What a piece of crap
     

  9. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

    Apr 17, 2008
    Port Moody, BC
    I had a blue 1980 Pinto hatchback. I really enjoyed that car. Four on the floor, 2.3 liter four cylinder. It was fun to drive and topped out at just over 100 mph, more than enough for me to lose my license - twice. Unfortunately, I was quite broke for most of the time that I owned it, and never took proper care of it. I shortened it's life span by quite a bit.
     
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  10. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

    Apr 17, 2008
    Port Moody, BC
    I remember all the hype around the Chevy Citation, and how it was a return to "performance" for Chevy cars. Road and Track actually said that the Citation X-11 might be "the best car ever to come out of Detroit." It had a mere 115 hp.

    http://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog...es-technical-analysis-and-one-personal-photo/

    Those were sad days indeed. And then came the Cavalier - the McDonalds cheeseburger of the automotive world. Terrible car, but sold in the millions.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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  11. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Jun 21, 2011
    Bakersfield
    My sister in law drove one of those back in the 80s. She ran around everywhere in town with it, and drove it fast and hard. We were all concerned after the fact when the big deal came out about them blowing up when rear ended. Seems like the fix was just a few dollars but Ford went with the blow up deluxe which cost them millions in the long run.
     

  12. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

    Apr 17, 2008
    Port Moody, BC
    They did a big recall in 1979, and the 1980 model was made with the fix in place. Ironically, though, my car pretty much died when the fuel line broke in the engine compartment and caught fire. It needed a whole new wiring harness and hoses and belts, but the fire was put out before more damage could be done. I sold it for $400.
     
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  13. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

    Apr 17, 2008
    Port Moody, BC
    It just occurred to me that in the time period that I owned my Pinto (1980 - 87), my girlfriend (now my wife) owned a 1973 Datsun 510 and then a 1972 BMW 2002. They probably weren't any more reliable than my Ford, but they sure were fun to drive, and they looked good too. The big difference for her was that she had experienced, knowledgeable car guys helping her pick out those cars. Whereas I was on my own. None of my friends knew much about cars, and my dad knew even less than they did.

    There must have been better cars in that price range back then, but I just didn't know enough to find them.

    And for all you early Vega owners, what else was there back then in that price range?
     

  14. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    I recall a short lived Cadillac model based on the Citation. What a joke. I had an '82 American Motors Eagle 4WD wagon for driving back and forth to Missoula with a Citation 4 banger engine in it. I got it for practically free with a blown head gasket. Some crude designs in that Eagle, but a nice riding 4WD.
     

  15. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    A Chevy II/Nova was available, and there were Dodge Demons and Plymouth Valiants and small AMC sedans. The wise money was on late 60s used American cars. There was a sort of premium on the very smallest offering each make offered, on the theory it would be gas thrifty, but the savvy people bought recently made "almost as small" cars with small V-8s and sixes that were not encumbered by ill designed "pollution" equipment. I know of so many examples of people who may have been producing more particulates and the makings of smog per gallon of fuel, but because the motor ran really well, emissions per mile were probably less.

    People would say the most vicious, cruel things about a clean, low mileage Corvair and then go buy a new Vega. This is ignorance, pure and simple.

    +

    When the Mustang came out, you could get a new Falcon for almost nothing. Likewise when the Maverick came out, a better equipped slightly larger Ford could be bought new for less money. And when the Pinto came out, then the Maverick got discounted. People like to chase the latest "in vogue car" and they pay extra. Normally this is a mistake.
     

  16. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    I don't even remember what 4 cylinder motor was used, since I was a big fan of that AMC 258 cubic inch six, but in truth the Eagle probably balanced better and made for a better extreme snow car with the lighter, less powerful motor. I think it is amusing when people moaned about how bad the Gremlin was for traction - all you had to do was buy the Eagle and get that Steyr-Puch licensed all wheel drive package. You bet these AMCs were undercooked - they always seemed to be trying new ways to make pieces that didn't match look like they belonged together.
     
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  17. Bob M

    Bob M Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    May 11, 2011
    North of Boston
    The Vega and the Pacer were not in the same class. As Obsessed noted the Vega was specifically a reaction to the influx of Toyotas, Datsuns and VWs imported to the US around the gas crisis of the '70s. The Pacer evolved from the AMC line. AMC may have struggled with styling, but their cars had great drive trains. Exploding gas tanks aside, the Pinto had a drive train that was lifted out of an English Ford (Cortina?) that was actually quite reliable. Not many decent US made cars from '73 to '83. I had a '76 Dodge Aspen with the rotting front fenders. That nearly did Chrysler in. I also had a '73 Chrysler Newport. While Chrysler drive trains were legendary, the US antipollution controls did those cars dirt.
     
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  18. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Jun 21, 2011
    Bakersfield
    I actually don't remember what year my sis in law's Pinto was, and back then no one really paid a whole lot of attention to the news (at least in our bunch) because we were all raising a family. I know when we did realize she might have been driving a bomb, we were all concerned. She tools around now in a late model RAV4, she still doesn't waste any time getting where she's going.
     

  19. tjnies

    tjnies Tele-Holic

    514
    Dec 14, 2009
    Latrobe PA
    A couple of comments:
    • I take exception to the OP comments about the Audi Fox. I owned a 74 model. It was fun to drive, had a (manual crank) sunroof, and went through Erie PA snows like it had AWD. I had minimal repairs during ownership, and sold it for more than I bought it for. Maybe I was lucky, but I remember enjoying that car.
    • I owned both a Gen 1 Camaro (a 68 convertible, 327 4 bbl) and Gen 2 (75 RS, 350 4 bbl). Each was a good, fun car. The 68 was absolutely a chick magnet, I think the top was down more than up. I can see why anyone could be more enamored with one vs the other, but either was nicer than the newer models.
    • There is a place off a side road I travel, that had numerous Pacers in various states of disarray. I just passed by yesterday, and always have to check out "Pacerville"!
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018

  20. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

    Apr 17, 2008
    Port Moody, BC
    My 1974 Gremlin always had something wrong with it. It wouldn't stay in 3rd gear. Apparently had some issue with linkage. The starter motor was replaced twice. The accelerator would stick. The exhaust gasket blew out twice. The doors got loose on their hinges, and you had to lift the doors when closing them. The reclining mechanism on the passenger seat got jammed. The car was only 6 years old when I sold it, and I got $800 for it.
     
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