Automotive Showplace

The Automotive Showplace is a changing exhibit space at the Detroit Historical Museum that features rare and unique vehicles from the Detroit Historical Society’s collection, presented by Warner Norcross + Judd.


NOW OPEN in the Automotive Showplace at the entrance of America’s Motor City

1975 AMC Pacer D/L

This AMC Pacer was the first built in 1975 and was Dick Teague’s personal car As the head of American MotorCorporation (AMC) styling, Teague embodied the company’s mantra of doing more with less. He was praised as the architect of a series of budget-wise model facelifts, like using the front half of AMC’s once popular Hornet compact for its new Gremlin subcompact. AMC changed direction in 1971, when the Pacer project began with a clean drawing board and ended with the “Hottest Car of 1975.  

While compacts of the day were notoriously cramped and uncomfortable, the Pacers distinctive shape was born from its roominess. Nearly as wide as contemporary Cadillac Eldorado, the Pacer’s headroom and legroom - in both front and back seatsequaled or exceeded most larger cars. The Pacer’s unique windows also provided passengers with near panoramic views from any seat in the car and helped fight small-car claustrophobiaIn fact, 37% of the cars surface area was glass, a feature that led to it being called a “fishbowl on wheels.” 

While initially successful, sales dwindled each year until the Pacer was discontinued in 1980. With room for just four passengers, the Pacer was too small for a family car and not fuel-efficient enough for a commuter car; styling and comfort could only take a two-door hatchback so far.  

Donated to the Detroit Historical Society collection by Robert H. Jones 


  • Year: 1975
  • Make: AMC
  • Model: Pacer D/L
  • Engine: 258 Cubic Inch Inline Six Cylinder
  • Horsepower: 158
  • Units produced: 175,000
  • Purchase price when new: $3,638.00 ($20,890 adjusted for inflation)
  • Years produced: 1975-1980



Supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts and MotorCities National Heritage Area.