Video: Motivating This LS1-Powered AMC Spirit Into the Nines

Built by American Motors from 1979 to 1983, the AMC Spirit was a replacement for the Gremlin subcompact car. The Spirit retained the Gremlin’s platform, including the 96-inch wheelbase. Designer Richard A. Teague increased the length of the Spirit and focused on a premium image for the car. He managed to do all this while still shedding over a hundred pounds of curb weight.

Particularly with the introduction of the Spirit AMX models in 1979 and 1980, the car began to develop something of a performance following. B.F. Goodrich-sponsored AMXs ran in the 24 hour race at Nurburgring for FIA Group One touring cars.

They also went racing in the MISA series and a special turbocharged version was used as a pace car in the 1981 PPG Indy Car World Series.

On the straight and narrow, factory sponsored Spirits ran 10.62 @ 126.27 mpg in Factory Street class, while just about any weekend warrior could dig into the high twelves with 110 mph traps, and still be less than $10K out of pocket. Like the Gremlin before it, the Spirit became known as cheap and strong for competition use.

That reputation is what may have prompted the owner of the AMC Spirit in this video to drop an LS1 engine under the hood. While the production AMC Spirit topped out with a 304cui V8 engine choice, and some are known to have had the 318cui V8 as a replacement, there is little doubt that the this car’s LS1 will take care of business.

Check out the video for proof, which shows this car on a run that ends with a 9.66 @ 137.5 timeslip.

About the author

Don Roy

Don's background includes 14 years in the OEM and Tier2 domestic auto industry, as well as three years as Technical Editor of a muscle car enthusiast print magazine. He is a mechanical engineer by trade and completed his first project car when he was 16 years old - after rebuilding the engine in his bedroom. His hobbies include photography, film making and building the odd robot from time to time.
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