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Autotrader Find: 1981 AMC Spirit AMX Pace Car


Today’s Autotrader find is a 1981 AMC Spirit AMX pace car, or rather THE 1981 AMC Spirit AMX pace car.

While it isn’t around any longer, the American Motors Corporation was at one point a pillar in the American automotive industry. The company was founded in 1954 after a merger of the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company, and was formally absorbed by Chrysler in 1988.

AMC produced the Spirit as a subcompact hatchback from just 1979 through 1983.  Production took place at AMC’s main plant in Kenosha, WI, in addition to Brampton, ON, and Mexico City.  The Spirit was largely an updated take on the Gremlin.  Two body styles were offered.  There was a “two-door sedan”, which would otherwise be referred to as a hatchback by today’s standards, and a liftback, which had a more gradual rake to its rear window, giving it a fastback appearance.

This particular Spirit is a liftback AMX model, and also happens to be an Indy Car World Series Pace Car.  There’s only one picture with the listing, but as I was researching this post, I was excited to find that there’s a whole section of the Spirit’s Wikipedia page devoted to this very vehicle, and it includes a wealth of information on the vehicle along with a photo of the rear.  Under the hood is a 4.2-liter inline-six built by Turbo-Systems Inc, producing a whopping 450 horsepower.  In 1981! The transmission is likely a three-speed automatic. The car looks significantly different than other AMC Spirits due to an aggressive and aerodynamic body kit.  Built under contract from PPG, the car features joint red, white, and blue AMX and PPG branding over a silver exterior. The listing states that the car comes with just 5,286 miles on the odometer.   It’s located at a dealer in Lantana, FL with no asking price listed; common for one-off vehicles whose values can be difficult to determine. Find an AMC Spirit for sale

Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill is an author specializing in competitive analysis, consumer recommendations, and adventure-driven enthusiast content. A lifelong car enthusiast, he worked in the auto industry for a bit, helping Germans design cars for Americans, and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He runs an Instagram account, @MountainWestCarSpotter, which in his own words is "actually pretty good", and has a... Read More about Chris O'Neill

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