The 1992 movie Wayne’s World gave a new lease of life to two things: Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody; and the AMC Pacer. This past week in Las Vegas, the latter was given another lease of life when it set a new record at auction.
The Pacer, a 1976 model that was actually used in the filming of Wayne’s World and still carries features added for the movie, was part of Barrett-Jackson’s 9th annual Las Vegas auction, held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on 13-15 October. Prior to crossing the blocks at Las Vegas, the Wayne’s World Pacer, aka the “mirthmobile,” had a convoluted history.
In preparing the Pacer for the movie, its original yellow exterior was resprayed light blue, with the same treatment applied to the upholstery, while other features included mismatched wheels, mismatched speakers for the car’s sound system, dashboard modifications to take a cup dispenser and a roof-mounted licorice dispenser.
Less obvious inclusions were camera-support brackets fixed under the sills and tow hooks fitted to the front subframe. The mechanicals were unaltered, though, meaning a 232ci straight six engine, producing around 90hp (67kW), and automatic transmission.
When filming ended, the Pacer was given away by MTV, later finding its way into a museum in Oregon. From there, the car went to a private collector in Florida, who sold it to Rick Harrison, from TV’s “Pawn Stars” program for the meagre sum of US$9,500 in 2015.
By this stage, the car was looking decidedly shabby, so Harrison commissioned a full restoration. All the exterior panels were stripped back to bare metal and resprayed in the same light blue as previous, but inner panels were left untouched, to show the car’s yellow origins.
The bumpers and rear mag wheels were rechromed, while NOS hubcaps were sourced for the front wheels. Other NOS parts used include tail light lenses and front parking light lenses, while the bodyside mouldings, bumper rubbers, grille and other brightwork was refurbished or replaced.
The seats and headliner were recovered, with the dash and other interior panels refinished.
Mechanically, years of inactivity meant there was lots to be done, including a rebuilt front suspension and steering rack, new exhaust, new water and power steering pumps, new alternator and a new battery, plus all new belts and hoses.
The movie-specific features, like the camera-mount brackets and licorice dispenser came to Harrison with the car and were retained for the restoration, while the bodyside ‘flame’ graphics were reproduced.
According to the Barrett-Jackson auction listing, the only element of the resto not authentic to the C1992 movie is the sound system. The speakers and stereo were upgraded (the 10" restoration speakers are not functional as there never was an amp in the car), ready for the next owner to do their own rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody.''
At the Barrett-Jackson auction, Harrison presented documentation proving the Pacer’s movie provenance, which was no doubt a factor in its final price, as was the quality of the restoration.
The previous auction record for an AMC Pacer was US$18,945, but the Wayne’s World Pacer almost doubled that to sell for US$37,400 (AU$49,181 approx.). In addition to setting a new auction record for the model, what also made the result impressive was the fact the car was being offered with no reserve.
The top seller from Barrett-Jackson’s Las Vegas auction was a 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429, which sold for US$357,500 (AU$470,112 approx.), while the runner up as another hot Mustang in the form of a 1967 Shelby GT500E Super Snake, which went for US$275,500 (AU$362,282 approx.).
A 2008 Dodge Viper SRT/10 Hurst 50th Anniversary model and one of only two produced in ‘Hurst Gold’ sold for US$220,000 (AU$289,300 approx.), with a prototype 2009 Mosler MT900 selling for the same amount.
Pawn Stars’ Harrison also had a past connection to the fifth-best-selling vehicle at Las Vegas; a 2012 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost sedan which sold for $181,500 (AU$238,672 approx.).
Other lots of interest include a 1947 Cadillac ex-ambulance modified into a station wagon. Offered with no reserve from the Tammy Allen collection, the one-off Cadillac, which featured body sectioning, a roof chop and ‘woodie’ side panelling, sold for US$99,000 (AU$130,185 approx.). A station wagon of a very different sort, in the form of a tiny 1951 Crosley, sold for US$8,250 (AU$10,848 approx.).
Images: courtesy of Barrett-Jackson.