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Our AMC Pacer was manufactured in 1975 in the Wisconsin, USA factory. Exported new by the American Motor Corporation to the UK and converted to right hand drive by the importer. Only a small number of Pacers were imported, estimated to be only about 43. The import was soon stopped when the British motoring press gave the car adverse reviews. (read the reviews below)
Imported Pacers came with a number of extras as standard and ours has power steering, power brakes and air conditioning.
Not much is currently known of its early history and plans are to delve a bit deeper. We purchased it from a local classic car collector who spotted it at an auction in 2009. He had gone to bid on a Studebaker and came back with an extra car. The Pacer was in very good condition but did need some work. The brakes needed overhauling together with couple of other service items. The car was not really used much and has laid dormant in the garage since the end of 2009.
After a clean and check over the Pacer flew through the MoT test and is now ready to do the show circuit in 2014. Hopefully to rave reviews which it didn’t get when launched back in 1975. Just need to give it the extra touches to bring it up the scratch.
We have had the car home and on the road for a couple of weeks now and have attended a few car shows – The first was a spur of the moment 60 mile trip down the motorway. As this car has been stood for years and something of an unknown quantity, it was a leap of faith. Myrtle (Myrth Mobile) has proved to draw a lot of interest at shows and we hope to do many more with her this year.
A friend suggested we get an eight-track copy of Bohemian Rhapsody (a-la Wayne’s World) to play at car shows and we have managed to source on and as I type it is currently winging its way over from the States.
Another friend suggest we display a copy of the single that was at number one in the charts on the day the car was registered. Later I looked up what was number one when Myrtle was registered only to find it was – Bohemian Rhapsody!
I have spent a bit of time cleaning the Pacer up and discovering what needs doing and what parts we need to source. Again the Internet was utilised to find the required parts and they are currently being shipped over from America. Hopefully this winter we will have the cosmetic repairs done and with a little luck the paint will get sorted out.
A little research has lead us to believe that Myrtle is a Pacer X (not a D/L as indicated by the spare badges in the glovebox). Also the horrendous rear side indicator repeaters, as can be seen in the photo above, were original – as part of the right hand drive conversion!
We recently received the long awaited DVLA history pack for KMW 217P. After much delving and digesting, I got to know a little bit more about our AMC Pacer.
The first thing we needed to ascertain was why it had 16 previous owners showing on the current V5. Well, as it turns out, changes of any sort to the vehicle’s records were classed as ownership changes.
The earliest records show the car was first registered on 2nd December 1975 by AMC in Swindon, then after a few months as a press car, was moved to Plains Garage in Nottingham. Within a few weeks it was with its first real owner, a Mr Wilson of South Normanton. The car then went to live in Bristol in 1979, where it stayed for the next 9 years in the hands of three owners. The car then moved across country to Twickenham in 1986 and then made the move into London in 1990…
The Pacer was registered to Bryan Hands of Paragon Productions and then transferred into his own name two years later – yet another ‘ownership’ change. The only previous owner we could track down was Bryan Hands, the actor, and we have had a few chats on Facebook about it. It seems that he bought it while running a small touring theatre company and used it to help promote shows as it certainly drew attention – even in its then state. It was bought from a car lot on the South Circular Road in London for £700. For about four weeks it was on the Isle of Man promoting a farce called Seaside Romp, starring Molly Sugden and Jack Douglas. They tried to maintain it as best they could within their limited budget but eventually had to sell it after it caught fire on the M1. Bryan also mentioned that the Pacer, when he owned it, was two-tone white with a darker blue… another colour option to add to the list of changes.
In 1993 the Pacer got its first female registered keeper, in Hampshire, and shortly afterwards a change in registration number to 568 DWP, which was transferred from a Ford Thunderbird.
By early 1999 the car had a new owner in Dorset when the registration number reverted back to KMW 217P. The car then moved to back up to London where it had a further 3 owners until 2006. After a 3 year stay in Oxfordshire, KMW 217P, was purchased at auction in 2009 by Mr Eccles of Bolton, who had an extensive collection of Americana, mainly Studebakers. We then purchased the car from him in early 2014 after he retired.
So the real ownership count at this point should read about 11 – a much more acceptable number!! It is worth stating at this point that photocopies of old paper records can be very difficult to follow so they may be some/many discrepancies.
Without doubt is a further fact discovered on our journey through history… KMW 217P was originally White… then later had a blue base added, and in the early 1990s was painted two-tone Red/Cream. Luckily around 2005 a further colour change turned the car Silver …a much better choice as the two-tone paint colours were not factory options until about 1977.
Back in October 2015 we got a strange message through Our Classic Cars website asking if we would be interested in letting our Pacer be used for fundraising for Children in Need and to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Bohemian Rhapsody (which in fact was Number 1 in the UK charts the day the car was registered!). Initially a little perplexed and ready to say ‘No’, we asked for some more information.
We were informed that Virgin EMI and an events company urgently needed a Pacer to use in a reproduction of the headbanging scene from Wayne’s World the movie while Queen Bohemian Rhapsody plays…
It seems that they had recently purchased a black AMC Pacer via the internet but found it to be in pieces and completely unusable. After further searches our Pacer had cropped up and the email sent.
We were informed that they wanted to use our car in a static display at the Westfield Shopping Mall in London, where they invited members of the public to headbang along to Bohemian Rhapsody just as Wayne, Garth and buddies did in the film. Raising money for Children in Need and promoting 40 years since the release of the song.
But what did they really need? …well initially the car …but they needed to wrap it in baby blue vinyl with the flames up the sides. No problem! Then they needed to remove the windscreen so they could film the occupants in their gyrations… Whoa! was the initial thought as no new glass is available. Then they said that Auto Windscreens would be doing the removal and that they would take full responsibility if it broke.
Over the weekend nearly 90 videos were taken of ‘volunteers’ …many (most) were atrocious …some were even professionals!! Watch them for yourself on Queen Official YouTube channel…
Well I presume you want to know what condition our Pacer arrived back in… We were a little concerned that there may be wear and tear issues to the interior and suspension of a 40 year old car. All looked OK though …except that the chrome lever that released the seat back was missing from the driver seat…
As you can see from the pictures the wrap came out really well so we asked them to leave it place. Our Pacer has already been in the Heywood Christmas Parade at the end of November and everyone loved it. Let us hope that during the 2016 show season people still like the new look. If not we can always wait for a sunny day and get peeling…