At a meeting in June 1971 to review new car designs, Meyers didn’t care for any of the proposals from designers. Teague then proposed a wide, small car with lots of glass. He sketched what he later called a “grubby doodle” — a four-wheeled football covered in glass with a roll bar in the middle. It became the Pacer and was introduced in 1975, to initial success, with first-year sales that topped 100,000.
“We saw the Megalopolis — these urban sprawls that extend from Los Angeles to San Diego with no break,” Meyers recalled later. “And congestion, pollution, noise, energy shortages. From this we began to piece together the key ingredients for the Pacer. It wasn’t going to be just another car but a whole new method of transportation for the next decade.”
Beyond battles with the federal government over safety and emissions mandates that drove up the cost and price of cars, Meyers, as CEO, explored mergers with European automakers eager to expand abroad but with little distribution in the U.S.
In entertaining offers from foreign automakers, he called AMC’s U.S. dealer network the “last great hope to get instant distribution in volume for cars produced someplace else.”
He found British Leyland, which owned Jaguar, MG and Land Rover at the time, a particularly interesting company. But after a courtship with Peugeot didn’t materialize, French automaker Renault began investing in American Motors in 1979 and eventually took control of the crippled company in 1980 before selling it to Chrysler in 1987.