Our 1977 AMC Pacer (“Zippy”) Concours Story
Our first American Motors Owners (AMO) National Concours with Zippy was in 1997 in Concord, North Carolina. We were so green then that we failed to even win a Junior Bronze in AMC Stock class, so we decided to compete in Non-Stock class after that. In the following nine years, we competed with Zippy six times in AMC Non-Stock Junior class. In 1998, we drove “home” to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where we won a Bronze award. In 1999, we drove to St. Louis, Missouri, where we won another Bronze award. In 2000, we drove to Berlin, Connecticut with our orange tabby kitten “Pegasus”. Pegasus played in the lobby of the host inn with the innkeeper’s St. Bernard puppy, entertaining everyone. Meanwhile, we won another Bronze award. In 2002, we drove “home”, again, to Kenosha, Wisconsin where we won our first Silver award. In 2003, I retired from Norfolk Southern Railroad, but we missed the National in Lansing, Michigan while moving from Atlanta, Georgia to Duluth, Minnesota. In 2004, we drove to Scottsdale, Arizona where we won another Silver award. In 2005, we drove back to our old stomping grounds in Atlanta, Georgia where we won yet another Silver award. We were unable to attend in 2001.
Seemingly stuck at Silver level, we decided to forego the 2006 convention in Dayton, Ohio, and instead spend the time, energy and money giving Zippy a fresh look. We decided to give Zippy a major, full-body restoration. This was body only, but complete disassembly, soda-blasting down to bare metal (over, under, around and through), patching rust spots, etc. When Zippy was stripped bare, we loaded his unit-body carcass onto our utility trailer and had Bobbie’s 1975 Pacer X haul him to the body shop along with all the assorted doors, hood, fenders, hatch, etc. still detached. The painting was done locally by a professional body shop, in Bobbie’s beautiful color choice of a misty green two-tone. The complete underside, inside floor wells, door insides, and roof underside was painted to match using a tint-able bed liner for sound and rust-proofing. While the body was disassembled and curing over the winter, I couldn’t resist cleaning and painting every little item, preparing for re-assembly in the spring.
Successfully re-assembled, we proudly drove Zippy to Denver, Colorado in 2007, where we won Junior Gold in AMC Non-Stock and advanced to Senior class with a near-perfect score, deducted only for the cracked windshield which I broke during installation and did not have time to replace. In 2008, we drove Zippy into Canada, to Kingston, Ontario, where we won Senior Gold and the Roy D. Chapin award, advancing to American Cup class.
In the following eight years, Zippy has been driven to the AMO National Convention to compete six times in the American Cup class: 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri; 2010 in Detroit, Michigan; 2011 in Sedona, Arizona; 2013 in Auburn, Indiana; 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio; and finally, 2016 in Rockford, Illinois. We were unable to attend in 2012 and 2014.
Zippy won the AMO American Cup award in 2016 in Rockford, Illinois showing nearly 330,000 miles as he turns 39 years old, having never been towed to a show. It was the first and only time that Bobbie had not been with me at an AMO National. Bobbie stayed home to care for Pegasus who died within a week of my return. Although we haven’t brought Pegasus with us for several years, people still ask about him. He was such a good traveler and will be missed.