Former Racer: 1979 AMC Spirit AMX

The Spirit was the successor to the Gremlin as was the Concord the follow-up to the Hornet. Spirit production ran from 1979 to 1983 and included the (partial) resurrection of the AMX, which was a Spirit with a handling package and special graphics. This ’79 edition came with a small-block V8 and 4-speed and spent some time out at the track. Located in Snoqualmie, Washington, it needs both mechanical and cosmetic attention and is available here on craigslist for $6,000. Kudos to “Yargbull” for this hot tip!

Though the Spirit shared the subcompact Gremlin’s platform, it didn’t inherit its quirky styling that folks liked to make fun of in the ‘70s. Performance versions of the AMC Spirit competed in road racing, including the 24 Hours of Nürburgring where AMX versions finished first and second in their class. The AMX was offered in 1979 and 1980, with the former including AMC’s venerable 304 cubic-inch V8 in its final year. It featured a flush blackout grille, fiberglass wheel flares, rear spoiler, wide wheels and tires, blackout trim, a “GT rally-tuned” suspension, floor-shifted transmission, an optional hood decal, and some other sporty features.

As we understand it, this car has both its V8 and a 4-speed manual transmission and – at one time – was set up for road racing at the 24 Hours of Lemons (not Lemans). A full roll cage was added along with a fire suppression system, and a race seat, while still being street-legal. It appears that the engine was pulled and rebuilt with some mild upgrades, like ported heads with LS rockers, a Stage 1 camshaft, and headers.  But it needs head gaskets and – thus – does not run.

Photos provided by the seller show the car before and after its race setup conversion. The yellow paint may be original and wears a #27 below the windows, likely applied with duct tape. There is evidence of some rust, at least around the rear wheel well openings. When the buyer takes this project home, it will come with extra wheels, transmissions, and the parts needed to build an AMC 360 V8 (from the 304?). If it’s your bag, the buyer can pay with cryptocurrency and the seller can help with delivery.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. CadmanlsMember

    So a worthless car is for sale and will sell for Bitcoin or whatever. 24 hours of Lemons use crap cars for people to have fun. There used to be a budget to build a car that included vehicle price. If this was a decent specimen it is no longer, hopefully they had fun!

    Like 5
    • AMCFAN

      Not sure what your rambling is all about cadman. Discounting any previous race history. The Spirit AMX is quite the sleeper with a V8. Hopefully all the interior plastics were not trashed. The 79 Spirit AMX with V8 is a one year option. The AMX was around in 1980 but only came with a 258 6.

      The car looks solid enough that it could be saved as possibly a race looking street vehicle. Nothing says cool than look at the cage in here. A T5 5 spd can be bolted in place of the 4 spd and with a 360 is no joke.

      Sorry Russ Dixon An AMC V8 is NOT a small block. Never was unless you go back to the 1950’s and are counting the 287/327 Rambler.

      Like 8
      • CadmanlsMember

        You apparently don’t know about the event. These are cars that you buy cheap, make minor modifications and run them into the ground. Think you want to restore this car best of luck. What it was and what it is are two different things.

        Like 3
      • JLHudson

        A 327 Rambler motor is not really a small block either. it is much larger than a 289 and probably a SBC or 318. I do not know whether it is dimensionally smaller than a 304, but it is a lot heavier. Small block versus big block comparisons should be left to companies that actually had engines of different design. For instance, Ford, Chevy, Chrysler, Buick, Olds and even Ferrari. Yes, Ferrari: Lampredi motors were the “big block” and the Colombo motors were the “small block”.

        Like 0
  2. Miguel - Mexican Spec

    This is what it could look like.

    Like 20
  3. Terrry

    Head gaskets are the least of this car’s concerns. I don’t think there’s a panel there that isn’t rusted.

    Like 2
    • AMCFAN

      cadman, Very well versed in the event. Very few if any adhear to the rules buying a cheap beater. The organizers specify a price range which works if your grandparents gift you their old ride. A quick look in the paddock people must have connections. Seems it’s more a skill of how to wow at the most unusual cars.

      The AMX Spirit above is still a nice example because (1) find another. The H in the vin is specific and denotes a V8. So what was still is. Has the optional sun roof. The car does not have the typical rust through and is a fairly solid example. So it’s went around a track at WOT. It isn’t banged up still straight.

      The motor is out already to deal with and build the way you want. Having all the original parts including the grill screen interior plastics flairs and wheels and caps would be a home run. Wouldn’t be the first race car rescued.

      Like 7
  4. Big C

    I’ll bet this thing smells like Teen Spirit.

    Like 4
    • SteveG

      Actually, for that period it would be Paco Robanne!😬

      Like 0
  5. Ron

    24 hours of lemons has a $500 maximum cost on the car, but you can deduct cost for items you sell off the car after you buy it, and any ‘safety’ equipment cost doesn’t get included in the $500 cost. And yes they are somewhat liberal in interpreting the cost, I believe they also have a claiming process where a team can buy another’s car for $500.

    Like 0
  6. Steve

    By the looks of the first picture, it appears the owner threw up his hands and said “I give up!”

    Like 0
  7. jwaltb

    Nice looking car imo. Thanks for the information, AMCFAN. It would require a PPI to see how bad the rust is, and thankfully it’s way too far away for me to worry about it!

    Like 0
  8. SteveG

    This car is begging for a Buick aluminum 215 V-8 pumping out about 350 hp.
    With the right suspension and that 380 lb lightweight of an engine, this car would be a killer.

    Like 2
    • Donnie L Sears

      What about a 410 pumping out more hp? If you have the money for that Buick motor why put it in this car?

      Like 2
    • AMCFAN

      Steve G very dumb idea on many accounts. The AMC V8 is very light. Lighter than a small block Chevy. In 1968 the 290/304 V8 made 400 HP in Trans AM competition. Today there are more exotic parts available such as aluminum AMC blocks and heads. The available bolt ons are many. The AMC V8 what this car came with just bolts in. A 304/360/401 all better and easier to work with than a Buick engine. A well connected AMC enthusiast can build this car. Very hard for a GM guy start from not knowing anything about AMC always thinking a GM engine swap is the way to go.

      Like 1
  9. scottymac

    Can the fender flairs from an Eagle SX/4 be adapted in case the AMX is missing the originals? I want one!

    Like 0
  10. Steve

    Lemons is the worst thing to happen to old cars since the advent of demo derbys. Grown men act like jackasses by finding old survivors and doing this kind of crap to them. Even Wayne Carini took a sweet old 60’s Toyota Corona Sport Coupe and debased it at one of these lemon events. True old car lovers would never do this to a car. Junior High was a long time ago.

    Like 3
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse MortensenStaff

      It’s all in good fun Steve!

      Like 1
      • Michael Berkemeier

        In good fun, but not conducive to preserving and/or restoring something as rare as a factory V8/4-speed Spirit.

        Like 3
    • bone

      Demo derbies used to be people running whatever unwanted junker they could find, stripping it out and wrecking it. It wasn’t uncommon to see someone with a beat up little Nova or a Dart going out in a sea of larger cars without a hope of winning, it was just for fun to wreck a car that was going to be junked anyway , or had already been junked. Now, they are paying big money for certain cars,usually mid 70s GM or Chryslers, welding and pre bending them like tanks ; making them into battering rams . Some are now taking crown Vic chassis and putting a 1950s car body on them, just to wreck them. There’s a big difference from what was a derby to what it has become

      Like 1
  11. George

    LeMons cars must not have a net price of over $500. The existing engine has blown heads. It comes with a variety of spares on unknown quality, yet he wants $6000.

    Like 0

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