The 24 Hours of Lemons has many races that bring great fields of true hoopties. However, the Smells Like AMC Spirit event at The Ridge Motorsports Park on October 5-6 just might be the perfect race. Before last year’s race of the same name, Lemons had seen zero AMC Spirits. Four turned up for the inaugural version of the race. That include three running ones taking the green flag together. Magnificent, isn’t it?
This Saturday, August 10, marks the entry deadline for the 2019 Smells Like AMC Spirit. Two of the Spirits from last year have already registered and we hope to find even more AMC Spirits at The Ridge. Hell, we’d take a Gremlin, too, since the Spirit was basically a (very slightly) rehashed Gremlin. In fact, bring any AMC. They’re all crap in the best way.
In fact, the Spirit unironically embodied the, well, spirit of floundering American Motors. The Spirit debuted for the model year of 1979, the same year that Renault agreed to keep AMC afloat. Renault mostly sought to use AMC’s dealer network to sell their heaps in the United States. To get to the era of Renault-designed cars built in Kenosha, however, AMC kept building basically the same model lineup with the Spirit and Concord (and Concord-based Eagle) into the mid-1980s.
During its run, the Spirit served as the basis for the snazzy final AMX models. It also could be ordered with a base four-cylinder engine built by Audi-Volkswagen (1979) or with a Pontiac “Iron Duke” (1980-1983). Most surviving ones seem to have AMC’s ubiquitous inline-six engine, however.
Mostly, we just wanted to post a bunch of AMC Spirit press photos from the era. So you can check those out below. After that, hustle over to the Smells Like AMC Spirit page to sign up for the race, then see if you can dig out your own Spirit from CraigsList or Facebook Marketplace.