1981 AMC Spirit: A Real IMSA Race Car for Two Grand

A piece of SCCA and IMSA racing history is ready for new ownership. Casual AMC fans know about the Javelins that Penske Racing raced in IMSA with that iconic red, white and blue livery, but 10 years later, AMC supported teams with AMC Spirits to compete in the series. This one can be yours, but be warned: Though it has an SCCA logbook, it probably needs a fair amount of updating and work.

Item 1 on the needs list is an empty engine bay. These cars originally raced with the company’s venerable 4.2-liter six cylinder engine, but likely with a fair amount of modification. You’d do well to mate the later 4.0-liter head to improve horsepower. You’ll also need a transmission to drive the rear wheels—the Spirit was the 2WD version of the Eagle.
It’s race-car spartan inside, with a tachometer straight ahead and some auxiliary gauges to the side. The lack of a powertrain combined with the cheap Grant GT steering wheel and aluminum Kirkey (or similar) racing seat suggest that the good stuff may have already been picked over; the seller claims he owns one more of these that he’s keeping, so you’re unlikely to see a spares package accompany this purchase.
It does have a fuel cell that was at least good enough to race with in 2000, which is when the SCCA logbook entries end. The seller claims it was originally built to be driven by Chris Cord, grandson of the founder of Cord Automobile. The car was later raced in the SCCA’s GT3 class.
The car and the logbook have both seen better days, but the latter does include a couple vintage Polaroids of the car. Though this model of car does have some success in IMSA—in June of ’79, a Spirit won a 6-hour IMSA endurance race at Daytona International Speedway—the seller doesn’t note any notable racing successes of this exact car.
It is likely eligible for any vintage racing you’d like to do. You could also prepare it for a return to the SCCA. If you’re still interested, you can find it on the Cleveland Craigslist with an asking price of $1950.

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  1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

    I’ve always preferred the paint scheme of the ’79 Spirit AMXs that raced at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring.

    1. skitter Avatar

      Courtesy embed:


  2. skitter Avatar

    Even with the recent issues, this lack of comments will not stand.
    Proving themselves once again ahead of the (Porsche) curves, this AMC is for sale as a less (than complete) car for more (than Lemons) money.
    I’ll show myself out.

  3. Myron Vernis Avatar

    Hey; this is, I mean was, my car! Just sold this week to a couple of nice guys who will be building it for Chump Car. Yeah, a long way from IMSA but it will live to race another day. And, yes, they did get all the spares that came with it plus a few more.

  4. alexis l Avatar
    alexis l

    Myron, don’t you also have a lady driven former Spirit race car in much nicer condition? I seem to recall that from BaT. IF so, props to you and I hope to see footage of it getting some exercise one day.

  5. Myron Vernis Avatar

    @alexis I: Yes, we have the ex-Team Highball IMSA RS Spirit which was originally driven by Patty Moise. My wife is the driver in the family, so I wanted to have a car that was originally driven by a woman. It is fully prepped and we hope to have it on the track this year.

  6. Jeff Clapper Avatar
    Jeff Clapper

    I am the one who bought the car. It will be back on track in WRL and Chumpcar in 2016. We will most likely power it with a 3.4 V6 from a Grand Am that will mount longitudinally and couple to a T5. Should be good for 225-250 HP at the wheels and with a target race weight of 2200 pounds it will be a fun, and hopefully fast, car.

  7. Steven Anderson Avatar

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