Celebrating Pacer Style
In 1976 America celebrated its 200th anniversary. Examples of patriotism could be found all across the country, even the four-wheeled kind.
Agent Dick Soens, Kenosha, Wis., proposed a unique way to mark this momentous occasion to a group of fellow Wisconsin agents.
“We contacted American Motors Corporation (AMC) that operated out of Kenosha at the time,” says Agent Joe Werwie, Kenosha. “We asked if we could spark enough interest to purchase a special order vehicle, could they create an exterior design for the car that would represent both the Bicentennial, and State Farm®.”
Eleven agents and the group’s district manager, John Reindl, placed their orders for the car of choice, a 1976 AMC Pacer. The red, white and blue car would sport a Bicentennial emblem motif on the hood, and each agent’s name and State Farm logo on the side.
“We received them a few weeks before the Fourth of July which was perfect timing for our local parade,” says Joe. “Three of us were from Kenosha, including my father, Agent Joe Werwie Sr. The other agents were from neighboring cities, but all of the agents participated in the parade.”
Joe drove the plucky Pacer up until 2005. “It was fun when all of us would drive our cars to district meetings,” he adds. “We would draw a lot of attention.”
After deciding it was time for he and his Pacer to part ways, Joe had to decide whether to give it to one of his three children or sell it.
“I was speaking with a man I knew who had worked for AMC and built Pacers,” says Joe. “I mentioned I was getting rid of the car, and he ended up buying it from me. He loved that it was in the original condition and had been so well taken care of.”
The car’s new owner found out the Kenosha History Center was going to create an exhibit featuring red, white and blue cars. He promptly contacted the Center to get the Pacer its rightful place in the exhibit.
The custom Pacer is the only branded car Joe has owned. And the Chevrolet Suburban he drives today is a lot more car than the petite Pacer.
“It was an unusual style of car but it was fun to own,” says Joe. “I received a lot of calls from AMC workers who saw my car and appreciated the fact I supported their employer.”