Tag Archive: AMC Pacer Pickup

’78 Concord 2-seater

   As I mentioned in one of my previous blogs, I had a freind in high school who shortened a Corvair by 36″. That first inspired me to build a project I had started in the early 90’s. A 92″ wheelbase 2-seater AMC Concord. I had first considered doing it with a Hornet but the years past and a 2-door Concord became available.  It was perfect! Factory V-8, rally pak, twin grip, HD suspension. and a fender bender diamond in the rough. It took a while to consider how I would actually “cut and paste” it. What the heck! I got it cheap. If it didn’t work out the parts on it were worth what I paid for it. So I dug in and got cutting. I wanted to keep the opera windows so I cut them out with the frame and would weld them back in but further forward.

I also cut the inner rocker panel frame but did not cut it out. I bent it in slightly so it would fit over the existing frame on the forward end. It would help with the structural integrity of the unibody. Along with that I decided that rather than cutting a clean line across the floor panel I would stager the cut at the hump also helping to improve structural strength.

I had installed supports underneath to keep the car from falling into two pieces and now it was time to fit it together. It was my lucky day! I grabbed the rear bumper and literally just pushed the two sections together. The frame on Hornets, Concords, Gremlins and Spirits tapers slightly from front to back so the extended inner rocker frame slid perfectly over the forward frame. I put some screws in the side frame and started welding. The roofline was a little more challenging but worked out fine with a little massaging. I built it about 20 years ago and was on a tight budget. After shoring up the frame and welding the opera windows back into place I started the body work.

 I used 79-80 AMX flares and front spoiler to give it a racier look and added Eagle plastic rocker mouldings along the bottom. I also decided to use a 77-78 AMX targa band and vinyl top the rear section of the roof (it worked for the time period).

It turned out pretty good. I added a 401, 4-speed and was on my way. About 5 years later finances were looking a little better and I decided to redo it. I wasn’t crazy about my first paint job and it was starting to look dated. I also had some different ideas. One was to use Eagle bumpers and integrate the bumpers into the body and flares and remove the targa band. The other was to remove the factory AMX front spoiler because I wanted a lower profile and knew the front spoiler would never last. I also wanted custom wheels and 50 series tires.

I never really liked the 78-79 Concord taillights so I replaced the rear panel and added the 1980-up taillight setup. I liked it better but am not sure the time was worth the switch. The interior was redone and I added Mustang GT seats in place of the AMC buckets and had them reupholstered to match the door panels. A much better seat! The last thing was to replace the t-10 4-speed with a t-5 from a ’89 Mustang GT. This was a great car to drive and handled fantastic. I don’t own it anymore but it’s still around.

I have done a few other T-5 conversions in a Gremlin & Concord but never in a Pacer. It created some new challenges. First , of course, you need a bellhousing from an AMC SR-4 or later AMC T-5 transmission set up. Luckily the input shaft on the T-5 has the same shank as the T-10 so An AMC clutch kit for an earlier 401 fits perfect. The shaft on the SR-4 is the same length as the T-5 so that did not need any modification but the input shaft bearing cover on the T-5 is a little longer and will need to be shortened to match the SR-4. The diameter of the outer edge of the bearing retainer will also need to be reduced so it fits into the SR-4 bell housing opening . The crankshaft bushing will need to be replaced with a T-5 Bearing which needs to be altered. Get both a T-10 bushing and a T-5 bearing and take them to your local machine shop. Have them reduce the out side diameter of the T-5 Bearing to match the outside diameter of the T-10 bushing then press the bearing into the back of the crankshaft. It’s also a good idea to have them do the work on the bearing retainer to get a nice finish product but you could do it yourself. You will need to remove the old crankshaft busing wether or not you have a standard trans or automatic. Next is the rear engine (or transmission) mount. This will have to be custom made. The first picture shows my first attempt and it worked just fine except the tranny set up a little too high so I built another that drops it 1″ lower. You’ll use the stock Mustang T-5 tranny mount. Except for alterations to the driveshaft and fitting the T-5 yoke to it you’re about done. So I thought! A couple of nights ago I went to install the freshly restored clutch linkage. Converting over from an automatic the pedal assembly needed swaping and went in great, especially with the dash out. Next the clutch linkage. Should be a 30-45 minute job right? Well it didn’t work out that way. When I went to install the Z-bar the frame mount and the bell housing mount were way off, about 4″-5″ difference front to back. I checked my parts book and they all showed the same part numbers for mounts and clutch parts so I took a second, third and fourth look. No way was it going to work. I checked out another Pacer and found that the 6-cyl. Pacer engine sits about 4″-5″ further back in the engine compartment than does the V-8. What was the deal? It didn’t show different part numbers for any of the parts in the parts book. Then, Duh! They didn’t make a V-8 standard trans Pacer. I didn’t run into that problem in my Gremlin or Concord. The bell housing mounting location was set in stone so the modification would have to come from the frame mount. Luckily I had a bell housing mount bracket from a Gremlin/Hornet, which was about 1 1/2″ shorter in length, which helped pull the engine mount Z-bar location back a bit. My next challenge was the frame side. As I moved forward the frame moved upward and there was no were to mount the Z-bar frame bracket. So I made a template for a custom mount that would screw into the mount holes of the old bracket mount location. I would need to have it machined as I don’t have any tools to cut a hole appx. 1″ or so in diameter. As I was looking through some parts for something else I found a coumn shift lever with the correct hole size that has now become my bracket and the linkage is now complete. That’s about it. not too difficult and in the end it will be alot more fun than an automatic. I won’t be towing anything anyway. By the way you will need to cut the floor mount for the shifter but I figured that was a given. I did replace the stock Ford shifter with a Hurst short shifter. They work so much better.