Tales From a Former AMC Salesman
Below are stories from a former AMC dealership salesman, Sheldon Rody. The dates refer to when he wrote the stories for The Pacer Page.
17 August 1999
From 1975 to 1977 I sold Pacers at Fort Wayne AMC/Jeep. There were many Pacers that I drove for demos... One of my favorites was a wagon just like yours. I drove it 7000 miles. During the first week of the pacer introduction we had people standing in line to drive the the two cars we had, really! We had 10 salespeople and couldn't help all who came in.
14 September 1999
15 September 1999
Miss Pacer was a model hired by AMC to go to the auto shows throughout the country. She attended the Ft. Wayne Auto Show in 1975 and gave a short talk about the car's features. She was from Detroit and had worked for other car manufacturers as a car show model. As I remember she wore a straw hat with a Pacer headband, a blue blazer, a white skirt and a white sash [that read] "Miss Pacer". The dealership paid her motel and furnished her with a Pacer for her use. She was very careful and would not say to me how well she liked the Pacer. She did admit she owned a GM car.
I have several Pacer stories and will send them to you as I can. Formerly I have written articles published in Old Cars Weekly and the Hudson Club magazine.
Before the Pacer came out I was at the Kenosha Factory and took a tour of the plant seeing the AMC cars being built. At the end the guide led us to a room and said, "Here is the Pacer; we just built four of them today." I was then selling AMC cars and knew we would have a new car but had not seen any[thing] about it yet. My first impression was these were very different and so rounded and large inside. I also felt they were strange and was not confident the car would sell well.
In about two months the cars arrived in the showrooms and the public response was beyond our expections. The first two weeks we had the showroom full of customers and as many as 40 people at a time. On Saturday people would stand outside in the rain in line to drive the two demos, 10 and 20 at a time waiting. Each demo would have more than a tank of gas each day. The sales force was overun with customers and people would wait a long time to see us, and many didn't and come back during the week. The sales of the car were excellent and we went along like this for about a month or more. Mostly I remember ordering a lot of cars, as the ones on the lot were quickly sold.
The reactions varied from customers who bought Pacers without even a test drive to comments like "it's cute" to "it is sooo ugly." As I sold these cars my opinion grew to liking the car just fine as the commission checks rolled in. Altogether in my 22 year career selling cars there was never a time like the Pacer frenzy.
23 September 1999
My boss decided to run a Pacer ad at low payment, so he ordered a really ugly color combination so no one would want to buy the car as Pacers were selling well and were in short supply. The idea was to not sell this car but to switch to another car at a different price and payment. Sales methods were different back then.
The car was ordered in a seafoam green paint with a blue vinyl roof, and a red interior.
AMC called several times to verify the colors. As we had the car most people that looked at it laughed. We sold it several times and couldn't get financing, but finally it was sold. Then about a year later it reappeared as a repo, and the used car guys sold it. Again it was back as a repo; this time the manager had the top dyed black and sold the car, to never be seen again.
Finally last week I saw a Pacer on a used car lot. In Indiana that is very rare. It was locked but the rear hatch opened so I crawled through and unlocked the door and sat in a Pacer for the first time since 1977. Wow, I still like them and have room to sit well. I am 6 ft. 4 in. tall. I'm sure I looked graceful crawling thru the hatch!!
And then today in a parking lot I saw a 73 Hornet sedan that I remembered as a new car and it still has the dealer emblem on the back from the dealership I worked at.
8 October 1999
Today I thought of two Pacer people stories.
[First story:] I sold a blue Pacer to a young man who had his parents co-sign the car loan. After the paperwork was done and before they left the showroom there was an argument among them and the son [ended up] taking the car and leaving it up to the parents to make the payments.
About three years later the parents came into the Dodge dealership where I was selling cars and wanted to trade the Pacer and told me the long sad story not recognizing me, and not knowing that I already knew all about all that.
[Second story:] When so many people were looking over the new Pacer coupe I saw a customer get down on his knees and halfway lean under the car, and well, this guy's shirt was majorly untucked and his pants... you know what I mean.
So [at] about the time the Pacer Wagon came out there he was again. I recognized him when he walked in the door. He walked around the car in the showroom which was again full of people and then did the bend under the car act again in the same disgusting way!
Now let's move the calendar many years ahead, and in 1985 I was selling Pontiac, and it was the first day for the Fiero. This was the only other day in the car business in my 22 years where the customers overran the showroom to see a new car. Along about midday while showing the car to customers we walk around the car and here on the floor is this guy looking under the car, yes shirt untucked, and yes it was the same guy again!!
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