Spirited Project: 1982 AMC Spirit Limited

The AMC Spirit is a slightly underrated classic with a sporty design and an economic drivetrain. Despite the bad reputation that often follows AMC, the Spirits, Concords, and Eagles were a great mix of reliability, comfort, and economy. This little hatchback is being offered for sale here on Craigslist in California with an asking price of $1,550. Given the largely original condition, lack of rust, and the high possibility of the 79,000 mile odometer reading being correct, this would appear to be a fair price. Many thanks to Rocco B. for sending this one in!

This car is a somewhere in between a survivor and a project. The interior is a little rough, especially on the driver’s side, but otherwise the car is in great condition for being a low-value vehicle of the 1980s. It certainly hasn’t been restored, but it certainly doesn’t seem to need a restoration either. With recovered front seats and an exterior detailing, this Spirit could look almost new! The interior is all original, including the carpet. Furthermore, this is the Limited trim level, which means this Spirit came equipped with some of the nicer factory options and would’ve felt less like an econobox compared to lower models.

Under the hood is a GM 2.5 liter ‘Iron Duke’ 4-cylinder. Some love them, and some hate them, so feel however you like about that!Though it will need a battery, the seller states that it runs well. These were also available with the AMC 4.2 liter (258 cubic inch) straight six-cylinder engine. Those little 258s can take a serious beating and keep on moving. Parts are cheap, and relatively easy to locate for these cars (with the exception of a few Spirit specific items).

The seller of this car either has a heck of a collection, or owns a junk yard of some kind. Truthfully, the seller has done this little car a disservice by not trimming back the grass around it! It would appear that the ad is correct in stating “The complete body including all the door, trunk jambs are all rust free. All the outside trim is straight and complete.” The only visible damage is a dent just behind the passenger door, which the seller does mention. Is this car the light project you’ve been waiting for? Or is this Spirit just not your style?


  1. Booya

    Gremlin: The Next Generation

    • Joe

      Better to wait for one with an AMC six in it. I had one with the rough-running-no -matter-what-you did Iron Duke like this one.

  2. Boatman Member

    Gone. Hell, I might have flown coast to coast for this one.

    Like 1
  3. Poptheclutch

    That was quick. I myself would like to
    Own an amc automobile before I pass
    On.bucket list!

  4. P Wentzell

    These were comfortable little rides.

  5. John m leyshon Member

    The Eagle/Spirit may have had the most loyal following of any AMC. In eastern OH, western PA/ WV it ruled the roads of the OH river valley. Some of the steepest hills you’ll ever find. Very tricky roads, especially in snow…Never liked the looks of these much, but hard to discount function & practicality.

    Like 1
  6. That AMC Guy

    Actually that looks to me to be a 4-cylinder model due to the length of the fan shroud. Pretty sure it’s a Pontiac 2.5 liter “Iron Duke” motor. As I recall the AMC 2.5 came out in ’83. That’s also a GM air conditioning compressor. The six-cylinder models would have either a York or the more modern Sanden. (Not sure what year AMC switched to the latter.)

    Given their extremely limited resources, AMC did a masterful job with the Spirit as it really is a Gremlin under the skin.

    Like 2
    • Jett

      They did more with less than any other American manufacturer. The Gremlin/Spirit lasted from ‘70 until what…’83? And the Hornet lasted (in Eagle form, at any rate) for almost 20 years. Dick Teague was a genius.

  7. Jack M.
  8. Junior

    My wife had a car similar to this when we got married & we shipped it to Germany while I was in the army. Baby blue with blue interior. Took the train from Furth to Bremerhaven overnight & drove it back the next day. Never missed a lick…but stayed in the right lane! (As opposed to any lane left of that) …alas we left it over there…

  9. CJM

    Neat car. Very rare in that it has the Limited package AND 2 tone paint. By the way its a 1980, not an 82, and as pointed out here has a 4 cyl engine not a 6, unfortunately. Obviously the seller knows very little about it. It always cracks me up when people list cars that have been sitting the junkyards for years. They should have listed them right away when they came in!

  10. Ron

    All who know me have heard my story of my first new car of several was an AMC and there is no fallacy here. These sixes were not Hot Rods but I truly believe no one built nor maybe still build a more dependable automobile than that 258. And then their v/8’s, a whole other story and certainly no sloutch. Wish AMC was still around America could be Great again in many areas of Automobilia

    • Jett

      Yup, the 258 was a masterpiece, and is criminally underrated. My family has had a ‘78 Concord with the 258 since new (Nov ‘78), and it’s touching 100,000 km with no major engine work ever done. It’s no hot rod, as you say, but for pure dependability, it’s a classic.

  11. dweezilaz

    Has Ziebart as well, something that was featured in the ads from AMC.

  12. David Miraglia

    Used to call them the Super Gremlin.

  13. Comet

    Nice car. Look closely at the CL pics. In the background is what looks to be a blue GTO convertible and a blue hardtop Dart or possibly a Chevelle. I’d like to see this place. I just hope that the GTO is spared from the elements before the top fails and the earth reclaims it.

  14. Andrew Tanner Member

    That is indeed a 4 cylinder…carburetor is on the wrong side for a 258! D’oh! Must’ve written this one late at night…I’ll fix that error.

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