It’s that time again; brace yourselves for another pair of crappy cars! Today’s contestants both come from southern California, and both have straight sixes that run, though you’d never guess it from the photos. Before we dive into them, let’s see the final tally of our green machines from yesterday:
It looks like fewer miles beats fewer doors, as the 626 takes a comfortable win.
Now, very quickly, before we move on: Some eagle-eyed readers commented that I made a typo in yesterday’s poll. It’s the very last thing I type up each night, usually around 10 pm, right about the time our two six-month-old kittens get the “evening zoomies,” so the typo may very well have been because I was shooing them off my laptop, or rescuing some fragile piece of home decor from their furry little clutches. Reader Duke of Kent said all would be forgiven if I posted a photo of the kittens, so here they are, peeking out of a laundry basket: our two little troublemakers Spooky (left) and Creepy.
All right, back to the cars. Today’s contestants both have stories to tell, and neither one has a happy ending. But somehow, through it all, both still run, and that’s a good first step to any project. Let’s take a look.
Engine/drivetrain: 232 or 258 cubic inch overhead valve inline 6, three-speed manual, RWD
Location: El Cajon, CA
Odometer reading: 101,000 miles
Runs/drives? Runs, but not exactly roadworthy
The AMC Pacer, as one of the better-known flops of the 1970s, needs no introduction. A grandiose design done in by budget cuts, the Pacer wasn’t what AMC intended, but the small company had too much money tied up in the project to back out. The result was a funny-looking car that didn’t deliver on any of its design promises, but sold all right anyway: AMC moved 280,000 of these things over five years, nothing compared to Big Three numbers, but not too shabby for the scrappy company from Kenosha.
This Pacer is the sporty X model, equipped with a three-speed floor-shifted manual. The seller says it was their weekend cruiser, stored in a warehouse, until disaster struck: the warehouse caught fire. The Pacer was damaged, but survived; it has some smoke and soot damage, mostly contained to the outside, but the driver’s seat and headliner got it a little bit (if I had to guess, the driver’s side window was down). The paint is scorched, some of the exterior plastics are melted, and the windshield is broken from the thermal shock of the fire hoses. But all in all, it looks like a remarkably lucky escape for this car.
The Pacer’s forward-opening hood was supposed to conceal a Wankel rotary engine, supplied by General Motors, before GM canceled the program and left AMC high and dry. Instead, the Pacer was powered by AMC’s inline six, in either 232 of 258 cubic inch displacements. The seller doesn’t specify which one this is, but they do say it runs fine. Of course, it isn’t driveable, with the windshield and lights like this.
I think I’d be tempted to clean up the soot where necessary, get the smoke smell out, and drive it how it is. It would be a conversation-starter, for sure.
Engine/drivetrain: 170 or 200 cubic inch overhead valve inline 6, three-speed automatic, RWD
Location: Lakeside, CA
Odometer reading: 103,000 miles
Runs/drives? Runs, exact level of roadworthiness unknown
When Ford introduced the compact Falcon in 1960, the lineup included a car-based truck, or “ute,” called the Ranchero. The Ranchero wasn’t new; it had previously been part of Ford’s larger Fairlane line. In 1966 it would return to that size, but for the early 1960s it was this cute little thing.
This Falcon Ranchero, like most of them, features Ford’s good old inline six. This one has been recently replaced, but its condition, and displacement, aren’t specified. All we’re told is that it runs, and the automatic transmission works.
This Ranchero was the property and project of the seller’s father, who has passed away, leaving it unfinished. The seller is hoping someone wants to pick up where their dad left off, and finish it up. There is some work to be done: the interior is a mess, and what paint there is is either sun-baked or primer (or both). But the good news is that it’s complete, straight, and not rusted out. It is kinda sad seeing the old man’s cane and handicapped parking permit still in the car; you might ask if the seller wants to keep them.
Rusty utes are something of an institution around here, as most of you know. This little Ford is almost too nice for us, actually. Too easy. It would make a good project for someone, though, and depending on the condition of the brakes and whatnot, you might even be able to drive it home.
Either one of these would take some work to put back into service, but both look like worthy projects, and totally manageable. So what’ll it be: the extra-crispy fishbowl, or the orphaned ute?
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)