For years, AMC Pacers have suffered the brickbats and ignominy that only come with being a little too different, the marketplace having long ago decided which side of the intersection of daring and dopey the Pacer parked on. The airy greenhouse, the long doors, the last-minute change from GM’s aborted rotary engine to an inline-six out of the Rambler parts bin… it wasn’t an easy birth for the Pacer, and it wasn’t an easy life, either.
Time heals all wounds, it seems. Yesterday’s wackadoo freakshow is today’s individualistic outlier. The ’70s weirdo is the ’20s’ brave choice. For the second time in just two years, Hemmings Auctions has set a world-record sale price for a non-Wayne’s-World Pacer: a stunning $37,275 inclusive of buyer’s fees (a modest 5 percent, it’s worth noting). Showing less than 27,000 miles on its odometer, this first-year Pacer X spent its first dozen years as a showroom attraction in Pennsylvania and has a complete history from new. The result was only $125 shy of the movie car’s 2016 sale price, but well shy of the Mirthmobile’s most recent result of $71,500 at the 2022 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction.
Even though Cadillac’s lineup was all new for 1971, it remained distinctively Cadillac. The generous proportions, the toothy grille, the clean flanks, the subtle fins —you could never mistake it for anything else. The Calais (available as a two-door or four-door hardtop) was the entry-level ’71 Cadillac; from there you stepped up to the de Ville (Coupe or hardtop Sedan, depending on the number of doors you choose). The two-door Calais had a unique roofline but both Calais and De Ville rode a 130-inch wheelbase. The Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham, at 133 inches between the wheel centers, was a pillared-sedan-only proposition. The Fleetwood 75, with its 151.5-inch wheelbase, was a full-on limousine, with strictly limited production. The lineup held until 1975, when the Fleetwood Sixty Special was renamed the Fleetwood Brougham, and the Fleetwood 75 limousine became, simply, Fleetwood.
Despite power and torque numbers dropping, and a fuel crisis that made single-digit thirst resolutely unfashionable, Cadillac had some record-breaking sales years in the first half of the ’70s. For 1971, sales were down 21 percent overall from ’70, and Cadillac sat in 11th place in Detroit’s annual tally of who sold what. Non-Eldorado Cadillacs accounted for 159,155 copies. But a year later, customers returned in droves: Cadillac shot up 42 percent and straight into 9th place with 225,291 rear-drivers sold that year, with hardly a change made to the cars themselves. Sales jumped again for ’73, with Cadillac topping 300,000 units, 251,103 of which were rear-drivers. Alas, it was a strong year for Detroit overall, so despite its favorable sales performance, Cadillac slipped into 10th place.
You might imagine the fuel crisis, arriving in late ’73 as it did, would pummel Cadillac for 1974, but the division still sold 199,543 Calais, De Ville, and Fleetwood models, and remained in 10th place. Cadillac sold 218,651 full-size rear-drivers in ’75 and remained 10th during a strong bounce-back year for the industry. Finally, Cadillac stormed into 9th place for 1976, with 274,801 Calais, Deville, and Fleetwood models sold (and a healthy 3.74 percent of the overall market).What all this means is that there are plenty of these big C bodies available. Consider: More than 611,000 Coupe de Villes were sold from ’71 to ’76. But how can you tell if you’re getting a good one? We spoke to Mike Steiner of Palm Springs, California; we feel that the two-dozen-plus ’71-’76 rear-drive Caddys he’s owned and restored over time, including the dozen currently with his name on the title, qualify him as an expert worth talking to.
Lower fenders, front and rear, as well as rockers, and what lies beneath the vinyl top are all places to look for rot. Front fenders can be swapped out, and quarters can be patched, but it’s what’s lurking beneath the elk-grain roof cover that’s the scariest. “Rainwater and dirt seep in under the chrome molding at the edge of the vinyl covering,” Mike says. “The dirt that gets in there stays —and stays wet. By the time you see a hint of it beneath the roof on the rear quarters, it’s a huge issue.
“”If the car spent any time in snow country, check beneath the doors, where the outer skin folds over the inner stamping; if there’s any rust, you can’t fix that. The metal is thin and if you try to take the doors apart you won’t get them back together.” Speaking of doors: “Door strikers had a plastic sleeve starting in 1973; if these break, the door won’t close properly, and you have to slam it.” The sleeves are not reproduced, but Mike has a solution: “The sleeve is the same size as a half-inch copper pipe coupling. Cut some to the appropriate length, remove the bolt from the door, wrap electrical tape four times around the bolt, then slide the copper sleeve over and you’re done.
“But the toughest part of making the body look right? “The ’74-’76 back bumper fillers are the worst! GM used a rubber that disintegrated in the atmosphere. Something about the formulation just saw them dissolve over about a dozen years. Olds and Buick had the same issue. Several aftermarket companies make replacements but none of them fit well. With originals, you could make them fit; the aftermarket ones are fiberglass or hard plastic and will shatter on impact.”
Cadillac’s 472-cubic-inch V-8 lasted through 1974. It was rated at 345 gross horsepower in 1971 and 220 net horsepower in 1972, with 8.5:1 compression both years. By 1974, the 472 was rated at 205 horsepower. Starting in 1975, Cadillac pivoted to its 8.2-liter (500-cu.in.) V-8, essentially a stroked 472, for all of its C-body models. Power dropped to 190 horsepower, while torque stayed the same as the previous few seasons, 360 lb-ft at just 2,000 rpm. Electronic fuel injection became optional in 1975, while new open-chamber heads were standard.”That Cadillac V-8 is indestructible if you don’t run it out of oil or water,” Mike reports. “I’ve pulled desert parts cars out of the yard, thrown a battery and gas in, and had them start up and drive.” Occasionally, “the diaphragm in the fuel pump can go bad.” Carburetors are GM Quadrajets and are infinitely rebuildable. Ignitions ran breaker points until GM’s popular and durable HEI ignition, with its integral coil, arrived on some models for 1974; all Cadillacs had HEI for 1975. “I’ve seen coils burn up on HEI ignitions,” Mike reports, “but it’s not a normal occurrence.”
Like a kid in a candy store, we’re zipping our way around a vast, virtual car market that is the Hemmings Classifieds. In our latest edition of This or That, we’re circling around to a specific asking price point between $10,000 and $20,000, this time rounding up four-door hardtops and sedans from the 1970s that are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds. We’ve mentioned this plenty of times before, but for those new to this game, the good news about a $20k cap is that it offers options in good condition (even in our inflated market). So, given the money and space, which one would you take home?
1973 OLDSMOBILE NINETY-EIGHT LUXURY SEDAN
With exception of the Toronado, Oldsmobile’s Ninety-Eight (or, 98) continued its reign as the division’s top-of-the-line series for 1973, now offered in five body styles, including this four-door Ninety-Eight Luxury Sedan. Bested in fine accoutrements by only the Ninety-Eight Regency, the hardtop’s lengthy listed of standard features included – but were not limited to – a 275-hp 455-cu.in. engine, Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission, power steering, power front disc brakes, power windows, bench seats finished in “luxurious Bravo cloth with Morocceen trim” upholstery, windshield antenna, and more, all strapped to a 127-inch wheelbase chassis that cost $5,234 (or $34,335 in today’s currency). Olds built 21,896 four-door Luxury Sedans that year, making it the second most popular car within the Ninety-Eight series. From the seller’s description:
Talk about Old School Cool, once you see it, you won’t be able to walk away. Often turned into low-riders, or used for cruising or hopping, this car has the potential for it all. However, it’s perfect as is… a car that your Father drove and swore it was the best car ever. Finished in Honey Beige with Black 60/40 cloth upholstery, the looks are sure to get the town talking. Drive this one home now, it’s ready to go, in close to perfect condition. Solid body, chassis and drive train. Everything works and was a central part of an estate collection. Do you want to win car show trophies or just take the family out for an ice cream? Pile em’ and go. This car is an amazing drive that you don’t want to miss out on.
Price$18,500LocationCampbellsville, KYAvailability Available
1974 CHRYSLER NEW YORKER BROUGHAM SEDAN
Like the Olds Ninety-Eight, Chrysler’s New Yorker Brougham was bested only by the Imperial in terms of divisional luxury hierarchy by the time our featured 1974 four-door Brougham sedan was sold to its first owner. The Brougham’s mechanical DNA was identical to that of its base New Yorker sibling, meaning it was fitted with a 230-hp 440-cu.in. engine, TorqueFlite automatic transmission, torsion bar front suspension, power disc brakes, power steering, and 15-inch wheels, yet the Brougham also benefitted from the installation of power windows, plusher 50/50 front bench seat with additional arm rests, upscale trim, and a few other bits, all for a standard base price of $6,479 (or $39,099 in today’s currency). While pillared four-door sedans sold exceptionally well in the entry-level Newport and Newport Custom series, the pillared four-door New Yorker Brougham flopped: just 4,533 examples were built. From the seller’s description:
This highly desirable top of the line 1974 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham has only 50,500 miles! Highly optioned with the iconic big-block 440 four-barrel V-8, three-speed 727 TorqueFlite automatic, power steering, power disc brakes, working air conditioning, power windows, locks, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, vinyl top, factory AM/FM stereo, 50/50 power bench seat with dual armrests, etc. The body’s finished in Lucerne Blue Iridium, and is super straight rust free both top and bottom. All lights are in working order, the trunk trunk and engine compartment look like new. This car drives as good as it looks, and is guaranteed to draw attention. The 1974 models were the last full-size models Chrysler designed from the ground up, and one of the last to receive the big dog 440 V-8. Here’s your chance to own one at a very affordable price!
Price$12,950LocationMaple Lake, MNAvailability Available
In our latest edition of This or That, we’re continuing our recent theme of cars with an asking price between $5,000 and $10,000, this time rounding up examples from the 1970s that are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds. As has been the case with previous installments having a $10k cap, moving up in price comes with a commensurate increase in condition, meaning these dream-garage opportunities need far less attention than our past $5,000 surveys. Will one of these varied gems tug at your heart strings?
1974 CHRYSLER NEWPORT SEDAN
As the Seventies marched on, the Newport continued its long tradition of capturing the majority of Chrysler’s divisional sales. In 1974, for example, Chrysler built a combined total of 8,194 Town & Country wagons, 25,678 New Yorker Broughams, and 6,138 base-series New Yorkers. Newport’s combined output numbered 49,696 units, which was complemented by another 27,667 upscale Newport Customs. The best-selling car of the entire panoply: our featured base Newport four-door sedan, at 26,944 examples. When new, they cost $5,225 each (or $29,458 in today’s currency) and were furnished with a 400-cu.in. V-8 and automatic transmission standard, along with power front disc brakes, electronic ignition, and more. The Newport had also been subtly redesigned in that it sat one inch lower and was five inches shorter than the ’73 version. From the seller’s description:
This beautiful 1974 Chrysler Newport is painted in Chrysler burnished red iridescent with a complementing full vinyl roof. Under the hood is a powerful 400 cubic inch V-8 attached to a three-speed automatic transmission. Odometer shows 63K; that?s less than 1200 miles a year ! The Light Gold geometric patterned cloth interior looks like new, and is the highlight of this Newport. The trunk is overly large and fully carpeted. Comfort features include power steering, power brakes, working air conditioning, cruise, and the original radio. This is a factory original zero rust car. All lights are in working order. At 226.6 inches long, this 1974 Chrysler Newport will certainly turn heads wherever it goes!
1977 AMC PACER STATION WAGON
The Seventies encompassed a staggering number of market shifts from what was once the norm for Detroit. Some were expected, others were not, and a few – like AMC’s subcompact Pacer – were, well, simply surprising. The rolling fish bowl snagged many a buyer in its first year and a half of production, fulfilling the expectations of the AMC board but perhaps surprising a few automotive executives in Detroit. Shockingly roomy, certainly economical to operate, and stylistically unlike anything else on the road, AMC followed up on the Pacer’s early success by adding a station wagon version for 1977, such as this one we found for sale. With just a skosh more cargo room, the wagon outsold the hatch sedan 37,999 to 20,265 during the year, despite its modestly loftier $3,799 price tag (or $17,002 in today’s currency). From the seller’s description:
Rare find, well kept original car, nice freshened up interior, factory roof rack and original wheels covers, 6-cylinder engine, automatic transmission, power steering, cool car, runs and drives
In This ArticleCategory: Hemmings Classic CarDuring the 2018 AACA Fall Meet, I had the unexpected pleasure of spending some time with retired Ford stylist Gale Halderman, who has since sadly passed away. If you’re not familiar with the name, Gale began his employment at Ford Motor Company in 1954, but within a decade the otherwise unassuming employee was thrust into a path of what would prove to be automotive greatness, at least in the eyes of today’s classic car enthusiasts. It started when Gale submitted his early sports car concept sketch — one of what turned out to be a field of 24 such renderings — to project planners for review. Gale’s drawing struck a chord, and he was subsequently selected by Lee Iacocca, special projects manager Hal Sperlich, and Ford studio chief Joe Oros to oversee the design of a new car that was eventually named Mustang.
Gale’s time with the Mustang didn’t stop with the smashing success of its first year on the market. He was destined to serve as the car’s design chief for another eight years, and his advances led to the development of the 1965 2+2 fastback and 1967 SportsRoof. In 1968, Gale was promoted to director of the Lincoln-Mercury design studio, a stint in the luxury divisions that lasted less than a decade. Why? Who better to oversee the development of the Fox-platform Mustang — introduced in 1979 — than the designer responsible for “the original” pony car?
Despite creating a legacy of automotive design that should register with old car enthusiasts as easily as Darrin, Earl, and a host of others, Gale, it seemed to me, hovered below the radar and remained a humble Ford employee who was simply proud of being in the right place at the right time, throughout his career. You could hear it in his voice that fall afternoon, as he thoughtfully reflected on his time at Ford
In the ’70s, the Big Three increasingly encouraged going off-road. Jeep, not yet part of Chrysler and ever ahead of the curve, figured this out about two seconds after it converted its lightweight military sherpa to civilian duty, and it took the rest of the industry decades to catch up.
When it did, the results appeared to catch the ad copywriters flat-footed. This potted group of mid-’70s full-size SUV ads take a strangely pedestrian approach. It’s almost as if the copywriters didn’t know how to pitch this new breed of vehicle that combined the attributes of a station wagon and a pickup without using the name of a competitive product or encouraging buyers to void the warranty against a boulder. And if the writers couldn’t wrap their heads around it, how could buyers be expected to? Even the SUV name is basic—possibly a little too basic.
Believe it or not, the ancestral lineage of the modern four-wheel-drive system dates to 1893. Bramah Joseph Diplock, an English engineer, patented a four-wheel-drive system that year, designed for a steam-powered traction engine. The concept was then adopted by would-be dignitaries in the self-propelled industry, including Ferdinand Porsche (in 1899), Daimler-Benz (1907), Marmon-Herrington (1931), and a host of others, including American Bantam, which designed the prototype general purpose vehicle that famously became the jeep built by Willys and Ford during World War II. Three decades later, the 4×4 drive system – offered by multiple corporations – had attained a long-established reputation for uncompromising off-road durability. In our latest edition of This or That, we’re celebrating 4×4 vehicles from the early Seventies. Let’s take a closer look at four examples for you to ponder, all of which are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds.
Arguably, Jeep made the 4×4 vehicle both fun and affordable for the masses with a contemporary system that was truly battle-tested. Its proliferation beyond what became the CJ was hard to miss, offered in larger platforms such as this Commando-based Super Commando II from 1972. This was one of but a couple years in which the Commando line did not include the Jeepster name, and convertibles, like our featured vehicle, came standard with a removable hardtop, V-8 engine and, of course, the four-wheel-drive system. According to portions of the seller’s listing
The Commando had its own new front end and unique sheetmetal that made it one of the most distinctive Jeeps in decades. What makes this one even more distinct is it’s done in range-topping Super Commando II trim. While we don’t have the paperwork to confirm an SC2, the appearance absolutely shows the premium feeling correctly…The darker blue streak highlights the power bulge in the hood, and the full-length stripe is a reminder that these had flush-fitting front fenders…The sea of blue continues inside, and it shows off quite a comfy interior. You have high-back bucket seats with a velour pattern, and the door panels were even done to match…the dash has a great classic look with a clean pad, factory speedometer, heat/defrost controls, and even the locking hub instructions are still affixed. You’ll also notice well-integrated upgrades for more confident driving, including the auxiliary gauges…This optional 304 cubic-inch unit looks authentic and authoritative under the hood…A three-speed automatic transmission, power steering, and Goodyear tires make for a good all-around cruiser…Plus, don’t forget as a true jeep you have a proper two-speed 4×4 transfer case.
Dreams seem to have their own mass, derived from the devotion of the dreamer. Cherish one long enough and hard enough and its gravity will draw you in. Sometimes it’s a lot of work and a long time before that trajectory becomes apparent.
Take the Lawman Mustang on these pages. You saw it last month and learned its story. How Ford used it as a morale booster for troops serving in Southeast Asia, improved road safety among returning vets, and sold a few new cars in the bargain. The way it wound up restored is a testament to how dreams can work out in unlikely ways.
Marcus Anghel, owner of Anghel Restorations in Scottsdale, Arizona, has long been a fan of the Lawman.“I followed this car for years.
I never thought I’d have the opportunity to restore it.”
Nor is Marcus the natural choice for such a restoration. He’s a Mustang guru, yes: A Mustang Club of America National Gold Card Judge and National Head Judge for the Shelby American Automobile Club. He’s renowned for his knowledge of 1969-’71 Boss Mustangs. Thanks to that, he has his choice of projects to take on. Typically, he restores these Mustangs back to stock—which is how his clients generally like them. People, as Marcus says, who “want them Day One, the way they were in the showroom.
”Admittedly, 21st-century circumstances being what they are, he’s had to embrace certain departures from showroom-stock for cars meant to be driven extensively. These are always hidden things, though, like a five-speed where a four-speed once resided, or a vintage radio rehabilitated with a Bluetooth receiver concealed inside.
A heavily worn drag car was a pony of a different color, as it were.
Sometimes, we just want to lay our eyes and rest our tormented souls on a simple car walk-around video. Just fire it up, lift the hood, let ‘er idle and walk the camera around it and let us enjoy. We’ll turn off the ringer, put the email dinger on mute and turn up the volume, just to keep ourselves centered and force us to remember what’s important in life.
If the car up for review is a drag car, that’s awesome. If that drag car is an unexpected jewel, even better. And if that jewel is a rare model of a car that’s oft-times forgotten or maligned, well, now you’re pulling at our blackest, thinnest, hardest-to-find heart strings.