Price Reduction? 1981 AMC Spirit

It could just be a clever ploy by the seller to make us think he’s willing to wheel and deal,  but I don’t know anyone who would list a car with a higher price on the windshield as their feature photo. This 1981 AMC Spirit is described as a “big brother Gremlin” by the seller, which actually seems like a fairly accurate description. Find it here on craigslist in Central Texas for $4,900. 

Not much is said in the listing about this Spirit, but does appear to be in super clean condition. Any guesses on whether that interior is reupholstered or original? The mileage isn’t listed, but I’m inclined to believe this is more likely a grandma-driven survivor than a quick fluff-and-buff, as the paint looks good but not great and the door panels still show some wrinkles here and there. I also haven’t found too many aftermarket carpet kits that are as thick as the originals.

The Spirit could be had in liftback or kammback form, and this one is obviously the latter. It really does look like a Gremlin from behind, as it retained the familiar rear end styling. What always impresses me about cars like these is that they featured a good amount of interior cargo space with the folding rear seats, and managed to pull down impressive fuel economy approaching 25 MPG’s with a 21 gallon tank. It’s a shame these cars weren’t celebrated more for combining utility and efficiency.

While the details are limited on this brown Spirit, the sub-$5,000 price tag is a good reason to call for more details if you’re hunting for one. And heck, maybe there’s still more room to negotiate. Although I’d prefer my ideal Spirit recipe to include the GT package in liftback form, this kammback could still be a fun Sunday cruiser that would cost peanuts to operate over the long-term. What do you think – is this survivor Spirit worth a trip to Texas?


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  1. bob S

    1981 was a particularly fine year for domestic cars. Heck of a deal.

  2. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Perception is a funny thing. I thing it’s overpriced by 2x

    Automatic, probably a 4cyl but even as a 258 it’s not that special, blah color inside and out. To me it’s ‘nothing to see here, move along’ And that’s coming from an ex-AMC guy

    But like that old saying…there’s a seat for every arse!

  3. Gunner

    Since I am a Gremlin guy from way back, this is very appealing. Yes, it does look like a big brother. I like the colors also on this one. Someone has taken very good care of it and appears in excellent condition. I would say that 5K is reasonable. Where are you going to find another one in this condition for this price?

  4. RJ

    The want is strong.

  5. ags290

    This is at least the second posting on CL for this one. The first was on 2/16. It looks super clean for what it is, and my bet is cash would be king on this car. I’m guessing $3500 would buy it without too much squabbling.

  6. Jeffro

    Ugh. It’s brown!

  7. edh

    Price reduced on a ugly, turd brown car that no one has ever desired?


  8. Rich Truesdell

    I agree with @wuzjeepnowsaab, probably overpriced by a factor of two. Since there’s no underdash parcel tray, it’s a non-A/C car which limits its ability to be a daily driver classic in hot weather climates.

    Interesting $3,000 car but nothing more IMHO.

  9. Billy

    It would be the only one at the car show, no doubt about that.

  10. sir mike

    Rather have a 304 Gremlin X…..may the spirit be with you..

    • Billy

      A 258 would suffice. But, the 304 was a sweet little mill. A four speed makes all things better all around. I like these cars with e rounder shape in a hatch back, esp in blue. Like I said, a six with a four speed, I’ll take mine like that.

  11. Glen

    If it was AWD, it would be a good buy.

  12. Fred W.

    Appears to be original upholstery, if that makes any difference.


    These cars are demanding higher prices and getting hard to find in this condition. This is a steal at that price.

  14. Woodie Man

    One word. Crazy. No offense AMCSteve……….


      Why is that crazy when MOPAR station wagons are going for 10 grand, Camaros in junk condition going for 20 and any cuda rotted out selling for much more.

      It’s all relative and this ain’t 1985 anymore

    • Tim Rusling

      When somebody says “no offense”, it means yes offense.

      • Ikey Heyman

        If AMCSTEVE says this is a steal, I believe it !

      • Mike H. Mike H

        I second that.

  15. Coventrycat

    9295 on the windshield – now that’s funny.

    • Jay

      $2995 seems more likely

  16. JW

    Looks to be a super clean car for it’s age, It would make for a nice daily driver.

  17. JW454

    Not too many of these left in this condition. I wouldn’t mind having it.

  18. Larry

    Domestic 80’s automotive engineering in it’s finest hour. And brown to boot. If it were closer, I’d be all over it. I’m a fly.

  19. djkenny

    $2,500-3,000 if it is a very low mileage model, under 35k.

    Nothing special. Base model, about the least desirable color. At least it is a 4 speed manual and clean.

    $9295? Maybe if it was a X or AWD and had 10k original miles kept in a heated garage since 1983. Maybe. For this brown base model? NO.

    Earlier ones are far more charming and cool. A Levi’s interior would be more enticing and Americana Cool.

    25 MPG? I am actually surprised even with the 258 it would exceed 20 mpg?

  20. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    It’s a simple equation:
    Rarity + Want = Price
    If you want one of these, where else are you going to find one?
    The seller will probably sit on it for a long while, but someone will come along.
    Hey, it was interesting enough to post to BF, twice.

  21. Larry

    Economics 101. Supply and demand. We are presented with supply in the form of one brown 1981 AMC Spirit. Now onto demand…not so much at the sellers asking price. With a drop in the asking price, demand should increase, however, no guaranties. It’s still a brown 81 AMC Spirit. This is why you can now get incredible deals on polyester leisure suits.

  22. Bret

    I own this car now. It’s a 151 auto and I just rolled it over to 39k miles. Window price was for laughs, I drove it home for $3300. Had a new carb and some NOS stuff with it. I had to put tires and breaks on it and now its a daily.

  23. DJ Kenny

    That makes sense. Sensible price. Enjoy!

  24. Gay Car Nut

    Lovely looking car. I’ve always loved the grille of the 1981-82 AMC Spirit. It’s a shame that it wasn’t also used on the Eagle. I find it more attractive than what ended up on the Eagle.

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