It is near impossible to hear Queen’s legendary ballad Bohemian Rhapsody without thinking of one of rock’s most iconic film moments. Yes, it’s the soulful, headbanging scene from 1992’s Wayne’s World, which proved so popular that the song shot up the charts 17 years after its release. The film also featured a custom 1976 AMC Pacer owned by Garth Algar, who was played by Dana Carvey. And now the little hatchback has hit the auction block and sold.
On Saturday, the car sold for a surprising $37,400 (including commission) to an onsite buyer. Schwing!
The car and its accompanying song also found fame in the video game world when it made a cameo as the “Rhapsody” in Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and the Damned, Grand Theft Auto V, and Grand Theft Auto Online. In GTA IV, a photograph of Wayne and Garth can be seen on the dashboard if the player zooms in.
This car also made an appearance, in an unrestored state, on an episode of Pawn Stars, where it sold for $9,500.
The AMC Pacer was introduced in 1975 as an alternative to the oversized and underpowered cars of the malaise era. It was designed to maximize interior space, and was touted as “The first wide small car.” The initial straight-6 motor was upgraded to one with a higher output in 1976, and a V8 came later.
The “Mirth-Mobile,” as Garth’s car is called, has the larger 4.2-liter I6 motor mated to a three-speed automatic transmission. Before you scoff at the slushbox, think about how much easier it will be to rock out without having to operate a stick and third pedal.
The hatchback was modified for the film inside and out. Baby blue paint covered the original yellow exterior, which was then graced with flame decals. Aftermarket rims replaced the factory steelies in the rear. Steel plates were added for camera support, as well as tow hooks.
A hole in the roof allowed the installation of the famous red rope licorice dispenser. Interior modifications were made to fit speaker boxes in the rear passenger area and trunk. Components were removed from the dash to make room for a cup dispenser.
The Pacer underwent extensive restoration before going up for auction. The exterior was stripped and repainted, while the bumpers and wheels were rechromed. The seats and headliners were reupholstered and interior panels were refinished.
On the mechanical side, the front end was rebuilt, while the exhaust, water pump, power steering pump, alternator, battery, belts and hoses were replaced.
Though we don’t know the exact condition of the Wayne’s World Pacer, Hagerty places the value for a stock 1976 Pacer as $8,500. Note that we’re listing the price of the car in “Excellent” condition, as is appropriate for this situation.
Did the buyer overpay? That depends on how you look at it. The car by itself may be worth much less than it went for, but adding value based on film provenance is tricky. It’s worth what someone is willing to pay. Maybe the buyer is a huge fan of the Wayne’s World franchise or perhaps it’s someone who buys up film cars in general.
Whatever the case, we hope the winning bidder does their best to keep the scene alive in the comfort of this rockin’ little car.