The AMC Pacer has, over the decades, been lambasted as a terrible car. Whether this is fair or not, I leave as an exercise for the reader (I’ve never actually driven one of these things), but there was a whole gang of Lemons in Cars 2 composed entirely of Pacers.
In 1975, however, the Pacer was a groundbreaking and exciting concept. A true small car from one of the 4 largest American car manufacturers, and one with an innovative and fresh design. When you remember that the Gremlin was essentially a Hornet with the tail cut off, this AMC product is quite exciting.
Besides, Road & Track had been pushing for American cars to get smaller, lighter and more space efficient for decades; it would have been churlish for them to deny the Pacer the cover, especially in the 1970s, where unbridled enthusiasm for sports cars in both society and magazines was giving way to a kind of consumer reports mentality.
Still, I find the Pacer interesting, even if time proved it to be less than perfect.
A fun feature on the road car side was a Classic Road Test of a Sting Ray Corvette (kind of strange, considering that when the mag was published, the oldest Sting Rays were 12 years old. That would be like calling a 2010 Corvette a classic today. Maybe time was slower back then). This was a cool article indeed, and sharply defined the difference between the good cars of the 1960s before the government stepped in and the ones from the 70s.
On the competition side, this was an offseason special. SO instead of GP coverage, you get the Runoffs and Iroc and Driver Ratings. All fun, but not as much fun as a good race report by Rob Walker or the annual Le Mans Article.
Still, considering the era, this one was less grey than most.
Gustavo Bondoni is a novelist and short story writer whose latest novel is a dark historical fantasy entitled The Swords of Rasna, in which desperate Etruscans fight against the might of Rome. You can check it out here.