V8 Power: 1979 AMC Spirit AMX

I’ve always quietly liked these unique looking American beasts. There is just something about them that looks heavy, comfortable and powerful. This “true barn find” can be found here on craigslist located in Beacon Falls, CT with an asking price of $4,500. It boasts the larger V8 engine with a 5 speed manual but doesn’t sport the over the top wheel flares and spoilers that many other AMX models did.  

The listing states this is a completely rust free vehicle that’s been parked for the last 20 years. There are no pictures of the engine and no mention of it’s condition in the listing, only that it would be easy to make it into a daily driver. These cars were quick in a straight line and even raced in the FIA Group One 24-hour race in Germany in their day. They had enough power for the race, but they struggled in other areas like suspension, brakes and reliability. Of course that’s during an extremely demanding race, by all accounts in the real world these cars performed well and were appreciated by their owners.

With no rust and a clean interior like this, it may be a reasonably easy to bring this back to life. Personally, I think this would make an excellent resto-mod project. Rebuild that 5.0L V8, take it down an inch, tidy the body and give it a deep shine paint job. It would be comfortable, fast and nobody would have anything like it. With a reasonable asking price this is a tempting project. I’d definitely like to know more about the engine and the availability of parts. Is the Spirit something that you’d try and revive?

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Comments

  1. John Newell

    Well it might be a find but is it for sale? No one would be interested without quite a bit more information. Essentially there is nothing here.

    Like 1
    • AMXSTEVE

      huh?

    • GearHead Engineering

      John,

      It is clearly for sale. Follow the link above to see the craigslist ad.

      – John

      • Steve65

        There’s “for sale”, and there’s being interested in selling.

        I once sent email to an ad poster with 4 very specific questions.

        I got back a reply with one answer, some rambling based on a mistaken assumption about what I really meant with another question, and no response whatsoever to the remaining two.

        I sent him back an email suggesting he get back to me if ever decided to get serious about selling it. Never heard another peep.

  2. Scot Douglas

    This car should have a 4-speed in it.

    • Poppapork

      Looking at the shift knob- its a 4 speed.

      Also “no rust” my ass….

  3. Mike

    No 5-speed…it would be a 4-speed or an automatic.

    Like 1
  4. XMA0891

    I didn’t think ’79 (or ’80) was available with a 5-speed either… Still, the body does appear to be in great shape… Firecracker Red over a black(?) interior, Turbocast II’s. The buy-in does not seem too bad. Weren’t too many made – Great Find!

  5. Fred

    Looks like it could be brought back but if you don’t look at the underside of an AMC…..I have a V8 AMX, a straight 6 GT, and a 4cyl Spirit and love them all but my little amx beast is my favorite. Someone save this AMX – my wife won’t let me have any more!

  6. Hide Behind

    While as one reader mentioned , there. Was no mention of underside, which even in a 20 YR BARN find, 20 years of dirt or wood floor, hot humid cold can still attack.
    WHILE 304 V8 NOT LARGE AND FULL OF SMOG CONTROLS OF LOW REVING BUT TORQUEY V8 WAS ADEQUATE BUT NOT FAST.
    T-10 4 SPEED BULLETPROFF AND 5 SPEEDS FROM Ford with just front input to flywheel work.
    AMC trannys need checking to insure top bolt holes to bell housing not broken
    If not problem of too large a bolt hole-too small a diameter of bolt diam fixed by brass rifle casing to shim it works

    Also check clutch assembly as b’s beating on pivot would wear through pivot and it’s cupped base.
    RUST OUT BTW WINDSHID AND REAR WINDOW COMMON.
    AS TOO ENGINES; PRE 70 V8 USED DIFFERENT HEAD AND MANIFOLD BOLTS INTAKE DIFFERENT OLDER
    HEADS FLOWED Well 343 steel crank; 290, cast, 304-360 cast ( some later 360 steel); 390 steel crk; 401 steel crank balanced assembly flywheel forward.
    Identify cubes by cubes inch cast into block and any V8 of listed will interchange as saME basic block and engine mountsMost 304-460 9,2 till late 8.9 compression ratio with 202.5 valves
    TORQEY MOTORS ALL BUT 70-73 WITH NEWER INTAKE HOLLEY WAS AVAILABLE DEALER AND MORE EFGICIENT INTAKE AND EXHAUST VALVES AND PORT MATCHING BRINGS WITH EVEN HYDRSULICS AS HIGH AS FORD OR CHEV REVS WITH HIGHER TORQUE READINGLots of inexpensive engines out there,, secret Internationals even had 401) and all parts available. FORD SMALL BLOCK SCREW IN VALVE TRAIN PEDESTAL and solid rocker arms w/cam make this car a thrasher of Street Camaros and Mustangs.
    Somebody scarf this baby, pour another into it2k in motor at noist and have a good running driving sleeper.
    And of yes if standard large or small brakes take any disc brake large diameter bolt ptrn , 3 BOLTS drop spindles replace with larger and brake line moderator.
    Go for it !

    Like 1
  7. olddavid

    I had a light blue GT with those wheels for a driver for six months. I enjoyed it thoroughly. My short-lived AMC employment.

  8. Hide Behind

    BRAKES FROM MATADORS DISC EASY SWAP.
    CAREFULL ON CORNRRING AS SHORT WHEELBASE CAUSES OPPOSITE TURN TIRE TO LIFT IN HARD DRIFTS OR POWER SLIDES. REAR END CHEAP DANA BUT DODGE PLYMOUTH DANA 60or 8 3/4 plunk right in. LATER AFTER69 Auto trannys were Chysler 707 on large engines, 904 on small v-8 and six
    He’ll 230 ‘6 was great engineering Clifford parts for these and keeps up to 4 liters.PLUNK RIGHT IN AIR SHOCKS FRNT-REAR SWAY BSRS MAKE CANYON CARVER.

  9. Grumpy

    No rust?? That rear plate frame looks rusty to me. Could be an indication of more underneath. Some more pics would help.

  10. scottymac

    On my want list, even bought a clutch pedal in case I ever find one with an auto box.

  11. Tricky

    They look so much like our LX hatchback Torana’s from General Motors Holden (GMH). Cool cars and went like stink…

    Like 1
  12. David Miraglia

    used to call these Spirits the Super Gremlins ala Super beetle. Always liked the geeky quirkiness of AMC

  13. AMCFAN

    The 4 speed trans was sourced from Ford. You can take a T5 5 speed trans from a Fox body Mustang and will bolt right in with only a small mod to the floor tunnel to this V8 Spirit.

    1979 was the last year for the V8 option. Had AMC hung in there for a few more years with this combination would have been on par with the market buying V8 performance cars.

    The Spirit AMX and the Hornet of 1977 and the Concorde AMX from 1978 was very attractive when new and still is today.

    Would make someone a fun and unique car for not a lot of money. Keep in mind this is a very low production car as optioned. Should have an H in the vin to denote the 304 option. M for manual.Good luck to the seller.

    • michael

      The ford t5 isn’t a direct Bolt in. The input bearing retainer has to be modified.

  14. mike

    neat car.. he’s dropped the price to $ 3,900 already.. wish I could grab it but I have an all original #’s matching 81 t-top z-28 a t-top regal and a squarebody chevy along with 2 speed boats to finish first but hope someone grabs it

  15. Dom

    As others have said, it isn’t a five speed car, it’s a 4 speed. Borg Warner SR4 transmission.

    Someone on another site said it has the original fender flares in the rear hatch, but the seller is strange. He showed up to see the car and asked to see under the hood, but the seller refused to show him. Not my words, someone else on another forum.

    But, being a true AMX and 304/4 speed car makes it desirable. Only 3600 of them made in 1979. I’ve got a Black/Tan one.

    • Hide Behind

      Yup. Strange owner!
      e.That Borg tranny was a cheapo, not made for serious power believe fourth was more overdrive ratio in some 6cyl.
      Guy inCarolinas raced one of these in SCCA WITH 6 BANGER MODIFIED TO HILT.
      IN HIS CLASS HE TOOK MANY A 1-5

      Not long races 150-300 miles.Many found way to short circle tracks in junior

  16. ronny conklin

    I had the car bought.. the seller had planned on delivering it to my house. Come down to getting ready for him to leave and I wanted to make sure right paper work. He only had a bill of sale for it. No title or regi. Told me that is all he got and could give me a lost title forum(not doing me any good). In NY need bill of sale and a old regi(would have owner name, vin etc to prove it was owned by that person. A state issued document) So car had no paperwork.. I own 3 of these cars all v8 stick shift and planned on the 4th onehave . He told me to a good day. Won’t even try to work with me on paperwork. I had cash money sitting here for him

  17. Hide Behind

    Went through that BS couple times.
    I lived smallest county in state tate so I had all vin # etc, and county police did background search no cost. Here you best check for if auto had been totalled,as they need separate paper work in order to get on roads again. Unless one is vintage and for me worthy of at least profit on flip or keep I pass.
    Wa. Or can buy wrecking yard total and all you get is Bill of Sale, and pain in Butt begins if you try restore.
    Wrecking yards legally have to return auto reg back to state, so there may be trail but State offices suck and can take months.
    I would say Good Bye to a Not So Good Buy.
    One auto I checked prior was a really rough no titled 57 vette, come to find out had been stolen in Cali almost 10 years before and in Wa State original insurance firm orowner could lay claim and you are out auto and cash.
    Now not saying the seller dude is dishonest but he sure as heck seems not honorable.
    There are others out here.
    This site needs better check out of sellers, and no title should of been on intro.

    • TC

      The site is not entitled to dig in deeper if it’s already scoping out Ads on Craigslist and eBay at no charge. There are other websites or agencies that will do that for a service fee $$$.

  18. Hide Behind

    KINDa FIGURED THAT.

  19. GearHead Engineering

    CT doesn’t require or issue titles for cars this old.

    State law does allow for one to be issued by owner request (and payment of fee, of course). But I’ve never seen anyone bother.

    – John

    • ronny conklin

      CT has no title 30 years or older. I know this. I am in NY and no title on 72 and down cars. NY would issue me a title on a regi only CT vintage car. I needed a Bills of sale and an old regi(this would prove original owners name, car vin, year make etc). The seller is selling it for a friend and has never mentioned his real name.Only selling with a bill of sale and he got an attitude when I asked for more paperwork, told me he could give me a lost title forum. Once I would of bought this car and he has my money I would be out of luck. There would be no way to prove who car it was or where it come from In New York state eyes. Anyone could write a bill of sale out for anycar and just sell it. I will not buy a car with title(if its a state that issues them) or an old registration as proof.

  20. Mitch Ross Member

    This is a real nice car if it is not too rotted underneath. Any AMC V* from ’73 to the last Grand Wagoneer engine will bolt right in. Even without the AMX specific parts, it is like a GT which is a great car itself and worth building. I am looking for a Spirit or late Greamlin with a 6/manual for my next project as I just like inline 6s more than v8s

  21. Randy

    This car had an option 4 or 5 speed cars. I have seen more 4 speed than 5 but a true statement.

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