The End of the Car of the Future

On 3 December, 1979, the last Pacer rolls off the assembly line at the American Motors Corporation (AMC) factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin. As AMC attempted to compete with the ‘Big Three’ of Detroit (Ford, Chrysler and GM) they adopted what they termed a “Philosophy of Difference”, producing such ‘compact’ cars as the Pacer and Gremlin.

The Pacer was introduced in 1975. It was billed as an ‘economy car’ and the first ‘wide-compact’. Despite its small size the vehicle was badly underpowered due to its extreme weight, which stemmed from reinforcements in the design that were meant to meet anticipated safety standards believed to be on the books by 1980. In addition, it had an usual amount of glass, owing to its large back windows, which some automotive critics felt made the car appear as a “fishbowl on wheels”.

After sales plummeted, it would quickly disappear from the American scene, only to re-emerge occasionally as a pop culture reference, such as in the Eminem music video, ‘The Real Slim Shady’.