Curbside Classics: AMC Pacer and Diesel Maxima – At NAS Alameda, Home For Wayward Cars

You have all seen this spot before. Some cars leave, like the ’72 Colt, and new orphans arrive. I leave the base every Saturday through this entrance/exit and I never know what I might find on any given week. Well, here we have two new orphans to view.

The fellow who finds these cars is named Randall and he is a certified car nut. He doesn’t care what it is or how bad a shape it is in. How he finds these cars I’m not sure since they aren’t on Craigslist, that I know. When I turned the corner I saw these two, he was crouching in front of the Pacer changing the license plates. He was taking off the Cadillac plates and putting back on the Pacer plates. The Pacer had just arrived moments before me on a AAA flatbed, and he changed the plates in order to use his AAA membership services. Shush, now.

I stopped and yelled out my window: WTH did you find this? He looked up, saw me, and jumped up and started to immediately tell me about the cars. I also noticed a woman watching him, so I don’t know if that is his wife or girlfriend, as Randall is 43 or 44. I did ask quietly off to the side and out of sight, whereupon he shrugged his shoulders about knowing her. I said fine, as I just wanted to know if she was his wife and what she thinks of all this. I did tell him that if he was dating her, she now probably thinks he’s a little nuts, although she seemed to get into it while we bantered. On to the two cars.

First up: A 1982 Datsun Maxima diesel wagon with 140,000 miles on it. Randall was all excited, telling me it was the first talking car, all about the electronics inside, and the original Datsun wheel covers in the back. He wants to get it running no doubt to eventually sell. He picks these cars up super cheap, does some work, and then sells for a small profit. He drives the brown Dodge van from previous pictures. Oh, the Maxima has a current registration as smog wasn’t needed, thanks to being a diesel.

It had those typical velour seats and as Randall described it a suede headliner.

Now onto the Pacer. I noticed the plates and asked if this was a ’76 Pacer based on the plates. Randall looked over at his companion and told her that I know my plates, and tells me I am right. He found the car up in Sebastopol in Sonoma County. Close to the Pacific but somewhat protected.

Now I haven’t seen a Pacer since the ’70s, and then rarely even then in the Bay Area. Randall was a little bummed as the PO used a drill to remove a perfect door cover to try to fix the lock. Nonetheless, he was still thrilled at his find, as he said he takes chances on cars everybody else ignores for one reason or another. The reason is that they are mainly mechanical nightmares for many. As you can see, he already cleaned up the tires once he got it down and before changing the plates back.

I don’t know about you but I think sitting in the back seat, with those windows, would feel a little strange, like being in a goldfish bowl.

Oh, this next year should be interesting as Randall’s used car lot cycles through whatever he finds. He did recently put the green Dodge truck on Craigslist but lamented to me that everyone who called was young and all wanted to “bro” with him, so to speak. Say “Bro” to me and you’ll get this crosseyed look from me. So I told him: You are an adult man but you get as excited as a teenager about the cars.


CC 1982 Datsun/Nissan Maxima Diesel Wagon – Bitching Betty   PN

CC 1975 AMC Pacer X – The Spacer    PN