The first thing I had to tackle was the custom ground effects kit. I tried finding fiberglass kits from other vehicles that looked close to my design but nothing worked. Realizing I was going to have to build my own from scratch was a real leap of faith. I had no idea what I was doing! I decided just to jump in with both feet and figure it out along the way.

   I started by using plastic fender flares from a 79-80 AMX as a base and cutting them to fit the body then filling and shaping where required. I needed to order new wheels with a correct backset and then install them so I would know where to set the flares up and make sure the front wheels would clear any obstacles. This was a huge challenge! I wanted 18″- 20″ wheels but most all custom wheels are made for later model cars with much to deep of a backset and the classic car rims were either not large enough in diameter or had too little or too much of a backset. Eventually I found Boze Wheels which offer custom backsets to your specifications, custom fit to your vehicle, 15″-24″ wheels and perhaps the best choice of wheels styles I had come across. I order 20″x 10″ for the rear and 20″x 8 1/2″ for the front. Once they came I was on my way.

It was now time to start on the front end. I started by building a wood and foam board frame and then covered it with fix-all. When I was done I didn’t like it at all. It just didn’t do what I wanted it to do. The thought of starting over was not pleasant but I knew I couldn’t move forward the way it was, so, take a breath and dig in again.

I nearly bagged the truck idea and drew another sketch as just a custom Wagon. Pretty cool but again opted to move forward with the pickup design. Had I known the work involved in building a pickup I probably would have stuck with the wagon. Fortunately I was an idiot.

I also toyed with the idea of a convertible pickup with a lower raked windshield.

Just before I started the new front end I felt inspired to make the front end look like a Shelby Cobra. I also realized that I could use foam board and a glue gun to more easily build the mock up. So I moved forward with that idea.

I loved it! Again it would take alot more work to include the hood, headlight bezels and grille as part of the project. At length I decided to stick with the Pacer front end. I wanted people to know what it was when it was done. Besides it be alot less work and at this point I was all for it.

The bumper half would stay but needed a little modification. I next pulled the hood and installed the 75-77 Pacer hood which required some restructuring of the upper radiator support. I decided to remove the front turn signals and bag the originals but move them to a different location. I wasn’t sure where but figured I’d find a place.

The new front end was turning out much nicer. My youngest daughter, Hallie,  wanted to help.

Now time to start the rear. I hadn’t even worked on a design for the rear bumper but had some ideas and moved forward with them. I wanted the exaust to come out at the bottom center, I wasn’t going to use the spare tire area so I covered it and cut a channel through it for the exaust. At this point the exaust is not installed. I hope it works.

So far so good! I didn’t want to go through all the hassle of finishing the ground effects kit unless I knew the pickup part of the project was going to be awesome so I decided I’d better tackle it next. The cutting was easy! The tailgate and bed fabrication was not quite a nightmare, but close. The spoiler was from a ’79 Mustang Cobra and fit the curve of the Pacer hatch nearly perfectly. It would get additional fabricating later. Part of solving the low body, tall glass look of the Pacer was to increase the height of the bed sides, putting a longer rake on the b-pillar, replacing the vent windows with a single door glass and removing the trim from the side windows. I also needed to add a ground effect base at the rocker panels to make the body appear taller, lower and wider at the bottom. I used, after much searching, the hatch from an 80’s Volvo stationwagon for the rear window. It fit the Pacer styling better than all the other cars in the junk yard and the window area was wide enough and not too tall.

I never liked the 90 degree fender well humps used in nearly every other Pacer Pickup conversion I had seen but knew they had to run front to back because of the gas tank filler tube on the right rear. I had hung onto a pair of 71-74 Javelin front fenders thinking they would be a nicer fit and with alot of figuring and coaxing they went in great. I also had to rework the bottom of the rear bed to get the tailgate to work the way I wanted it to.

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