1-of-865 Garage Find: 1980 AMC Spirit AMX

When the two-seat AMX was dropped after 1970, the name would continue to pop up again throughout the coming decade. Javelin AMX. Hornet AMX. Concord AMX. And the Spirit AMX. The latter was no longer a fire-breathing GT, but the Spirit AMX perhaps came closer to the original than the others. This 1980 copy looks to have been on ice for a while and is not currently running. A restoration would be in order, if the buyer can make the math work. This car is located in Havelock, North Carolina and available here on eBay where the bidding hasn’t started yet at $2,900. There is no reserve.

The AMC Spirit was the successor to the Gremlin and arguably better executed. Besides being AMC’s new sub-compact car for 1979, you could also get a Spirit AMX which was reminiscent of the original model. The AMX was largely a trim upgrade with some tuning to the chassis for better performance. This list of goodies included items like body color-matched fender flares and front air dam, “Rally-Tuned” suspension with rear sway bars, high-effort power steering gears, adjustable “Strider” Gabriel shocks, heavy-duty front disk brakes, aluminum road wheels, rear spoiler, special striping package, hood and door decals, and a console-shifted automatic (like the seller’s car) with a “Rallye Gauge” package. While the car wasn’t the fastest kid on the block, it certainly looked like it was. Thanks, Wikipedia, for some AMX history.

From the second and last year of Spirit AMX production comes the seller’s 1980 edition. He apparently has a thing for AMC products as he has another auction running for a “regular” Spirit from 1981. While you could get a 304 cubic inch V-8 with the Spirit in ’79, your only choice for ’80 was the 258 inline-six that put out 110 hp with the automatic tranny instead of a manual. And that may have hurt sales. The seller has had the car for about a year and the motor was seized when he acquired it. He’s pulled the heads to correct that problem, so it’s free again now, but not reassembled.

This was a limited production car that only saw 865 copies made in 1980 and 4,522 in total before AMC pulled the plug again on the AMX. The seller’s vehicle looks to have a decent body and no visible rust issues, but the driver’s door has some ripples in it indicating a slight altercation occurred. The black paint is pretty faded and most of the striping is barely legible now. We’re only provided one interior photo, but its dark and not well-focused, so we really don’t know what investment the buyer will have to make in that department. Start with cleaning and go from there.

Hagerty has tracked the resale value of these latter-day AMX’s and $15,000 is about top dollar for one in superb condition. At a minimum, you’re looking at a mechanical rebuild and a new paint job. But this is a restoration that could get pricey quickly if all sorts of gremlins (ha!) surface later. The Spirit AMX was a neat concept and well done given the small budgets AMC always had to work with. But like so many other products that came before or after it, it wasn’t able to save the company in the end, either.


  1. Moparman Member

    Missing rear spoiler, bumps, bruises, fuzzy dark photos, questionable engine, all combine to quench my “Spirit” on this one!

    Like 6
  2. ssssssss

    one sold for 25k last year. just wait till my L33 powered 80amx hits the streets in the next few months

    Like 3
  3. jerry z

    He was advertising on FBM. Originally it was $4K, then it went down to $3600, now trying on Ebay for even less. This car is rough. GLWS, gonna need it.

    Like 3

    1980 isn’t the pinnacle year for the AMX. It is rare when you consider less than half of those 800 units might somehow survive. Maybe less. That being said rare does not always equate to value.

    The usual missing pieces that will cost you an arm and leg are present. The grille and screen front spoiler and flares and the 14″ turbo cast wheels with center caps. That is the plus.

    It all looks good until that wild Honda Civic pulls behind you flashing his headlights then you realize it is a 1980 and not a 1979 with the optional 304. Don’t worry. Doesn’t matter you would get past up with the 304 too.

    That being said the AMX for 1980 is only a trim package. It is the same as any other Spirit that year without all the flash. A Spirit GT would be a better choice only because it is the same car not a poser.

    Wait….Wait…. Hold it… Someone is going to say it…..401!

    Finding the correct parts and time to install a V8 wouldn’t be worth it because you could buy a 1977 V8 Hornet AMX. A 1978 V8 Concord AMX or a 79 Spirit AMX all running for less than the asking price here.

    Like 2
    • Johnny

      Their is a place in Goldsboro ,North Carolina. That used tio be a AMC dealer. When AMC went out of business. The car dealer kept the cars and they say–you can buy complet cars or parts from him. Check out Goldborro,North Carolin–wikk and they tell all about it and have pictures too.Good article.Good luck

  5. Oldog4tz Oldog4tz Member

    And there it is there.


    And good luck finding any parts for all those cars you mentioned. No one is repopping any body parts and interior parts are dust.

  7. Phlathead Phil 🚗🇺🇸

    Can’t say I’ve ever seen a car offered for sale on ramps with two phlat “May-pops.”

    And, it is somewhat true that tires only go phlat on the bottom.

    There is pollen all over the car, and WD-40 is not a true lubricant. It’s a water displacement agent. So maybe there is water in the distributor? Dunno. WD-40 stands for: “Water Displacement 40th experiment.” It was developed for use in the U.S. Navy, then went commercial.

    This poor little car needs a “Project Manager.”

    Can’t you see it in your heart to take it on?

    Of course you’ll prolly need a new computer FIRST to get her started, if in phact, it has one.

    The computer is the heart of problems in later ‘80’s vehicles here in Cali.

    Been there, done that…twice!

    Like 2
  8. scottymac

    I want a Spirit, I don’t know why. Maybe I always despised the looks of Gremlins, and admired AMC morphing them into Spirits. Why didn’t they do that back in 1970?

    As close as I’ve gotten is a clutch pedal and the rally gauges, in case the one I eventually buy doesn’t have those parts. Also pick up dealer brochures and magazine stories about Spirits. In the September 2019 issue of ENGLISH (yes, U.K.) magazine PRACTICAL CLASSICS, a contributor wrote a story about dragging the twin to this car from a Hollywood, South Carolina side yard after the owner GAVE it to him. I imagine the seller had a vision of taking the AMX parts off this car and installing them on the other Spirit he’s selling. You really need both to make a decent car.

  9. Kevin

    Sad that a rare car sat and rotted. Twenty years ago, it could have been saved, as a driver. Now it’s junk even to the most dedicated AMX FAN

    Like 2
    • Phlathead Phil

      So true, spoken like a prophet.

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