Fighting Spirit: 1982 AMC Spirit

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AMC was a company that always seemed to be able to produce cars on a shoe-string budget and always dared to dream of challenging the “big three” car makers. Lack of funds combined with the emergence of strong competition from Japanese manufacturers thwarted these ambitions, but they continued fighting right to the end. The Spirit was a car that embodied that fighting philosophy, and while under the skin it was essentially a heavily restyled Gremlin, the resulting car was an attractive vehicle that was once again produced on a meager budget. Barn Finder Pat L referred this Spirit to us, so thank you for that Pat. The Spirit is located in Factoryville, Pennsylvania, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist.

The presentation of the Spirit is quite good. One of the eye-catching features of this car is the chrome reverse wheels, which seem to suit the car really well. If you want to see the impact that a set of wheels can have on a car, scroll down to the last photo in this article. It is the same car wearing different wheels, and the change in appearance is quite striking. The Oriental Red paint looks to be solid and consistent, while the stripes and graphics on the car, if original, have held up well over the years.

The 258ci 6-cylinder engine in the Spirit is backed by a TorqueFlite transmission. The car has recently been treated to new tires, a new carburetor, and a new exhaust. The owner says that the car runs and drives well. The engine bay also looks quite clean and tidy and presents better than you would expect from the average car of this age. The owner does say that the car has only covered a genuine 32,000 miles, but does not indicate whether he holds any evidence to verify this.

While the interior presents really well on the Spirit, there are a few items, and this is purely personal taste, that would have to go. The knob on the shifter is a bit much, as is the one on the wheel. I could live with the gauges under the dash, but that tachometer would need to find a better location. I have nothing actually against it, but I suspect that the light reflecting off the chrome housing when driving at night would be quite distracting. Otherwise, the interior does appear to be in really nice order and would be quite pleasant to live with.

The AMC Spirit was a car that was developed by a company that was in fairly deep financial trouble, and the lack of innovations or new technology was a by-product of this lack of money. The car that rolled out of the factory was still an attractive car with much to commend it. This particular car is a nice example that has a few additional items that may or may not appeal to the tastes of the average buyer. These additional items could be removed with little work, and the car could be returned to original condition. The owner has set a price of $7,000 for the Spirit, and I’m wondering whether you think that this price sounds right for this car.

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  1. Big_FunMember

    Regional miles, that’s actually a new one for me. Those chrome reverse wheels look great! They make the car. Price is relative, sometimes we spend time (a lot of time, in my case ) looking for an example that’s less money and the same condition. Sometimes we find it – sometimes not. But the thrill of the hunt is always part of it for me. If you are an AMC expert, please let us know your thoughts on the price/value ratio here.

    Like 4
  2. John

    I had an almost identical one (that had truck lagoon level frame rust). Freaking loved that car. 7k is high but finding an example this nice is really really hard. If it had the 5 speed I could probably justify the price and would be so very tempted.

    Like 3
  3. That AMC Guy

    Price does seem a bit high, but if it looks as good underneath as it does up top you couldn’t make a cheap beater this nice for that kind of money. Amazingly the emission controls seem intact on this car – look at those miles of vacuum hoses and emission gadgets! On most of these cars that stuff would get stripped off a piece at a time as it failed, with hoses and vacuum ports then plugged up. Plastic valve cover is a pain on these engines, they all tend to warp and leak though this one looks really clean.

    Really the only disappointment I see here is no air conditioning.

    Like 3
    • Jett

      If you look under the dash, it has the flow-through ventilation. We have the same system in our ‘78 family Concord, and it does quite a good job on hot summer days. *added bonus…fewer parts to service!

      Like 0
    • Gay Car Nut

      The only disappointment I see is the aftermarket gauges underneath the dash. It’s the decision of the owner what he/she uses of course. But I’ve always preferred stock gauges that came with the car. The only aftermarket gauge I like is the tach mounted on the steering column.

      Like 0
  4. Gay Car Nut

    Awesome looking AMC Spirit. I’ve always loved the grille used on the 1981 and later Spirit. I hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwaanza, etc.) season. :)

    Like 0
  5. Jason

    Just so everyone knows the spirit has a new home and is being pampered and taken to shows. We are removing most of the items that make it look gaudy and will be replacing the rims and tires to the Amx style. And yes the bottom of the car is in the same shape as the top.

    Like 1
    • Jesse Jesse MortensenStaff

      Thanks for the update, Jason! We wish you luck with your new project.

      Like 0
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      That’s good news.

      Like 0
  6. Car Nut Tacoma

    Given its condition, I think $7,000 was a good price for the car.

    Like 0
    • Jason wetzel

      I got it for under 7 k

      Like 0

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