Richard Teague is probably my favorite car designer. No disrespect intended towards the many other talented people who design cars and trucks but Teague was the original silk purse from a sow’s ear guy. He’s best remembered for heading the styling department at American Motors from 1961 to 1986, where limited development budgets forced his team to be creative.
The Pacer is the poster child of how questionable ideas and good intentions go awry. In 1971, scrappy little AMC was faced with a dilemma: how to capture buyers looking to downsize, when they were incapable of actually building a truly downsized car. Yup; there was no way AMC could tool up to build a genuine compact car, like the Vega and Pinto. So the solution was to stop pretending, like the execrable Gremlin that preceded the Pacer. The answer was to build the world’s first wide-body compact, a segment nobody had ever identified before, much less pined for. To add to its zestiness, break all the styling molds with acres of glass and asymmetrical doors. And then just for good measure, stick a rotary engine in it. As we’ve seen repeatedly, desperation is the mother of (bizarre) inventions.