You’ll see polished Mustangs and Thunderbirds, Bel Airs and de Villes, Packards and Corvettes on display in downtown Coeur d’Alene this weekend.
But for a real change of pace at Car d’Lane’s raucous Friday night cruise, wait for Little Boy Blue to turn the corner.
That’s the nickname Dick and Dody Dodd of Spokane gave their 1975 AMC Pacer – a popular entry in the cruise and other area parades the past few years.
“The crowd loves it, just loves it,” Dick Dodd said. “Especially when we go by the Iron Horse out there, where everybody has a few drinks under their belt, they really go nuts.”
He painted the two-door compact dark and light blue, replaced the upholstery and added blue neon lights underneath for some night magic. “That adds a little extra class to it,” Dodd said.
His wife talked him into adding chrome side pipes. “They’re not even hooked up, but they sure do look good,” Dodd said.
“That’s as far as I’m going with it. I like to keep my stuff as stock as a rock if I can, but it needed something,” he said.
Car d’Lane, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, covers the model years 1975 and earlier, which lets the Pacer just squeeze in. The American Motors Corp. churned out 280,000 of them between 1975 and 1980.
The Pacer’s appeal is pure kitsch. One winces at the Disco-era auto aesthetic while delighting in the retro-hip, so-bad-it’s-awesome tackiness of what was marketed as “America’s first wide small car.”
“It’s an ugly little car,” Dodd admitted, but added, “It is highly collectible now. Ten years ago you couldn’t give one away. Now you can’t even find them anymore.”
No doubt Wayne and Garth had something to do with that. The “Saturday Night Live” characters played by Mike Myers and Dana Carvey cruised around in a baby-blue Pacer, the Mirth-mobile, in their 1992 comedy film. And the Dodds are constantly reminded of it.
“I’d be driving in a parade and everybody would holler, ‘Wayne’s World, Wayne’s World!’ So we finally went and rented it,” he said. “As a movie I didn’t think it was that great, except for the fact they had a Pacer in it.”
It’s not the first car the Dodds entered in the Car d’Lane cruise, but they found it’s a better choice.
“We got a big, old 1964 Merc, but it likes to overheat when it’s hot out there, going that slow for that long,” Dick Dodd said. “But we find out this little Pacer, it just chugs right along, no problem.”
Serendipity brought Little Boy Blue into their lives. Years ago Dick would go down to the dealer lots in winter and test drive cars just for the fun of it.
“One day I took a Pacer off the lot, and it was fairly new in those days,” Dodd explained. “And I took it up in the hills around Indian Canyon. I said, ‘Oh, I love this thing, it’s like a go-cart. I want one.’ But I could never find one.”
Not until about seven years ago, when he picked up a real junker for $300 from a used car lot on East Sprague. Next thing he knew, he was leading a classic car tour in it, from Krispy Kreme in the Valley up to Green Bluff.
“And as we were pulling out, and I had like 50 cars behind me, these kids pulled up and said their aunt’s got one of those and wants to sell it,” Dodd recalled.
Right after the cruise, he tracked down the owner in Mead. “She wanted a fortune for it, and I didn’t want to pay her that much. So we negotiated for about three months, and she finally came down to $800, and I said I’ll take it.”
The couple takes it out most weeks for the Friday night cruise-in at Wendi’s Hot Road Café on East Trent Avenue.
“It’s a wonderful parade car,” Dick Dodd said. “We put it in the Valley parade and the Hillyard parade and whatever kind of parades we can have, because nobody seems to know what it is. They’ll holler, ‘Oh a Gremlin! Oh a Pinto!’ And you holler back at them, ‘No it ain’t, it’s a Pacer!’ ”
And it’s party time. Excellent!
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