AMC Pacer vs Chevy Vega.

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

  1. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    I'm not too sure that we were talking about "classic" cars in this thread at all. We were talking about the crap U.S. cars built after the classic cars. My dad's '62 Chevy Bel Air went 260,000 with nothing but a water pump and then he sold it to a buddy of mine that kept it for years and is probably still running today somewhere (bubble rear window). I think the point of the thread was about some really bad cars built during the 70s that were worse throwaway cars than today's throw away cars. They were the beginning of the modern era of throwaways.
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  2. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Hmmm, yeah, good point. I grew up in California where the only rusted cars a saw were ones that lived right along the coast and even then, nothing like the rust in the upper Midwest. Even up here in Montana, 1950s cars show little rust too.
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  3. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Holic

    Jan 26, 2012
    Troy, MO
    I have relatives outside of Butte, MT that are into Studebakers--I almost typed "old Studebakers," but that would be redundant--and it amazes me what good condition the bodies on those things are in. My cousin drove a 60something Lark back and forth to high school and college (in the 80s), not babying it or avoiding winter roads as far as I know. There was a Stude flatbed farm truck that never got washed and had been run hard and it had no visible rust either.

    Similarly, my dad lives in the Denver area and you see a LOT of cars without rust there that have disappeared from my area of the midwest by now.
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  4. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

    Jan 12, 2011
    Snellman MN
    260,000 on a 62 Chevy with only a replacement water pump ?
    That's amazing.
    Obsessed likes this.
  5. DonM

    DonM Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Apr 21, 2016
    You're right. The wagon has a better look and doesn't really capture the true ugliness of the Pacer sedan.

    image.jpeg image.jpeg
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  6. Kirchensfan

    Kirchensfan Telefied Ad Free Member

    Jan 1, 2013
    New Jersey
    aavega.jpg I had a '72 Vega GT Hatchback, Aztec Gold, no stripe. Really loved that little bugger for banging around back roads. Traded in the early '80's for a 650 Kawasaki. Similar to this
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  7. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Holic

    Jan 26, 2012
    Troy, MO
    That is pretty amazing. I wonder if that '62 was a 283 and Powerglide combination. We had a '66 with that combination that ran about forever, although I doubt it made it to 260K (speedo and odo were broken for the last several years of its life).

    The 283 version of the small-block Chevy was in a low state of tune and therefore pretty understressed, and when driving a Powerglide trans in a heavy car with stock gears you'd have to really try to get it to reach 4,000 rpm. Maybe that helped. The one we had sure seemed to run for a long time while needing less maintenance than other cars from that era we had...even the slant 6/three-on-the-tree Chrysler products.

    One funny problem I recall with that car was that once on a road trip it kept missing on one cylinder, and when dad would investigate he'd find the spark plug wire disconnected. He traced it to a defective spark plug, where the porcelain insulator had a flaw in it and combustion pressure was leaking past it and blowing the spark plug wire off! You couldn't see it until the spark plug was removed, because the plugs on SB Chevys are kind of under the exhaust manifold. That was one of those problems that happened on a Christmastime road trip in the midwest. Cold, in a hurry, everybody piled in the car, and here it is the most underpowered land barge in the universe and now it's got a dead miss again...what the hell?

    Before this thread I don't think I was aware that there was a Pacer wagon. Never saw one. Cool.

    I always thought Pacer styling was odd, but I liked that about it. I really like the red/white one in the photo above!

    A bunch of comments in this thread have made the point that the drivetrain they ended up with was a solid one. My AMC Jeep years bear that Jeep was a rust bomb but the 232 inline six (and the couple of 258s that friends had in Jeeps, AMC Eagles and one Concord) was a fine motor. At least in the Jeep engine compartment it was easy to work on, and it just ran and ran.

    The 4.0 six that grew out of the 232/258 in the compact Cherokee years was an even finer motor courtesy of better manufacturing, better breathing and EFI. A 4.0 and some handling upgrades could probably make for a pretty interesting 70s AMC hotrod.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  8. bblumentritt

    bblumentritt Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

    Dec 3, 2012
    Austin, Texas
    I had three friends that owned Vegas. All three of experienced blown engines.
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  9. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

    Feb 19, 2015
    Looking at the turd-drop that was the Pacer again, I'm reminded of how dangerously glass-less so many modern designs are. Yes, wind-tunnel testing, etc. But the blind spots of the designs of the last 15 years or so are many and problematic. Good thing that cars are so much safer now, with crumple-zones & etc. It's often guesswork to know where the cars around and behind you are....
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  10. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

    Apr 17, 2008
    Port Moody, BC
    Oh yes. Nothing at all went wrong on your Cavalier. :lol:
  11. uriah1

    uriah1 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Feb 12, 2011
    Wasn' t the Vega the Chevy version of the Ford Pinto?
  12. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

    Feb 19, 2015
    That, and also the best advertisement for Honda, Datsun, and Toyota that Detroit ever came up with.

    I've had a few decent American cars since my Vega + Gremlin + Pinto days. But those were such traumatically bad cars, so cynically bad cars, that I was always surprised when my American cars even started.

    How the mighty fell--onto many crushed lives. All those manufacturing jobs, gone.

  13. imwjl

    imwjl Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 21, 2007
    My mom's basement.
    This is all a reminder of just how craptacular 1970s and 1980s domestic cars were (are?).

    My kids and I discovered a web site and compared what my parents drove and what their parents drive at comparable ages. Reliability, performance, space, handling. You name it.

    I also get reminded when I drive my wife's ride. She has the Sienna SE (lowered, sport handling, premium tires, premium interior), and those things have a near 300 HP V6 these days. In the fall we saw a 1972 Buick wagon like my parents had within eyesight of another Sienna. One of my twins said "wow cars were stupid then", and the other who wants a lathe in our basement started spouting off stuff about manufacturing history and design.

    There was a time when I thought Vegas, Pintos (and Pacer wagons only) were cool. Then I started to see the future. My cousin's Celica didn't have the reliability issues my AMC Jeep had. My 1980 Citation was enough to believe the concept of hell and maybe some people should burn there.
  14. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Yup, my dad's '62 Chevy was a 283, 2 bbl carb and a 2 speed powerglide. It was a dog, but my dad drove like an old man probably from the day he first drove a car. He actually drove the family through the desert in August of 1971 (no A/C). Mom insisted on a new car after that ... yup '71 Impala, but dad kept driving the '62 for years after that.

    As for the AMC 258, that is what I have in my '82 CJ-7. A great engine, but my wife's Jeep Cherokee "4 L" was a lemon and the engine blew up at 180,000. Jeep kept trying to reduce the weight of the engine by eliminating metal in the block castings. They did this twice and both times had major piston slap issues. Hence, the modern throwaway. BTW, her Cherokee had a Toyota automatic tranny. Who woulda thunk?
  15. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Oh man, have I got a funny story. My first job out of college in an engineering firm, I was working with an Industrial Designer the bought a late 70s Chrysler LaBaron (sorry, I don't know my Chrysler models/years) ... purely as a statement of design. It was the model made up of combining fenders, doors, hood, chassis from different previous models. He called it the "LaBoring".:lol:
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  16. maggieo

    maggieo Tele-Holic

    Apr 7, 2004
  17. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    I think the "bad era" cars of the 1974-1984 have more in common with the cars preceding them, than they have things in common with cars engineered after 1994.

    It could well be the "sweet spot" is not 1962-1972 (as it is in music) but more like 1996-2006. Diagnostics begin to work well, modern ignition and fuel distribution, airbags and crash protection, basic resistance to road salt (not perfect), better fuel mileage than a lot of the newer vehicles sold, decent handling that can be improved with readily available parts, a good supply of spares. And so forth.

    The various eras of the past are fairly well admitted, IMO. What we do not choose to talk about is, improvements in cars have gone off on a sort of tangent, given USA relative independence for foreign energy sources since 2009. Collision avoidance, Blue Tooth compatibility, and designs that are now just too complex and too rationalized - and are no longer meant to be worked on really, by anyone. BMW mechanics quietly complaining about plastic thingies breaking off the motor when they try to service it - ya'll know what I'm talking about. I don't expect to be able to sit on the under the hood wheel surround to change the plugs on the old Dodge or Studebaker pickup, but in the last 15 years, it really is so that they don't want you to fix it. Recycle the materials, and replace it with a new one. Don't even bother to save nice spare parts.
  18. soulgeezer

    soulgeezer Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 5, 2006
    Sinatra's World
    SO wrong! I had one of these...


    ...that I put 400,000 miles on, before I sold it (for $50!). Two years later, I saw it on the road in a nearby town, still going!

    That thing was the greatest car ever built, anywhere, ever. I really wish I had it back again!
  19. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Well, an interesting POV. In someways I agree, but the notion of all of that energy going into the modern car and then junked, seems backwards to me. If we want to make an energy efficient vehicle of today, it should be economically repairable or 100% recyclable. Neither of which is in current manufacturing. In fact, more precious metals and unrecyclable plastics are employed today, whereas those 50s and 60s car were basically all metal and easy to disassemble. What I learned just lately from the service manager of a car dealer, is that the computer/wiring of the last 15 years have created a troubleshooting/repair cost nightmare that will render 15 year old cars junked long before their main driveline components have problems.
  20. cattzap

    cattzap Tele-Meister

    Jan 18, 2018
    Carlos, Tx
    My buddy had a Gremlin in high school. It was ugly as sin but that car took us everywhere. Had a strait 6 and three on the floor. He rolled it trying to put the move on a gal while still driving. We tipped it back up. Only the front drivers fender got crumpled and we did a not half bad blacksmith job with a regular hammer on it. There was a really hot performance version of it built.
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