1979 AMC Spirit 232 CDI 6 from North America


A great car to have once, and only once, owned


Where to begin? In the 10 years I owned this car, virtually everything that could break, broke.

Year 1: battery cables wore through, nearly causing fire.

Year 2: water pump & thermostat needed replacing; thermostat housing cracked and needed to be replaced; wiper motor went.

Year 3: clutch linkage broke.

Year 4: radiator, heater core blew; needed new shocks.

Year 5: another water pump; distributor.

Years 7-10: water pump, again; shift linkage broke twice, locking car in 2nd; rear springs broke; new shocks again; replaced clutch; rebuilt transmission; gas gauge broke; rear view mirror fell off windshield; driver's seat broke off its mounting. All this above the normal wear and tear maintenance required. And yet...

General Comments:

In spite of all this, my wife and I loved this car. We factory-ordered it and waited four months to get it. Despite the fact that it seemed things were constantly either breaking or falling off, nothing ever went wrong with the engine. It just kept going. It cost $5300, including taxes and shipping and when we traded it in for a brand new 1989 Cavalier, the dealer gave us $3500 as a trade-in. And driving away from it, even knowing it was probably only one more breakage away from the junk yard, we shed a tear.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 7th March, 2006

1980 AMC Spirit 327 from North America




Engine, blown head gasket at around 55K miles.

Replaced the engine and transmission with a Chevy 327 and TH 350 transmission. The stock rear end can't handle the power, second rear end is on it's way out.

The dash came loose, otherwise the body has had no issues.

Headlight mounts break easily.

General Comments:

Very nice looking car, it's still attractive 22 years later. No rust. Needs a spring upgrade with a V8 engine.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th August, 2002

1979 AMC Spirit GT 360 V8 from North America


A really fun unique car, as long as you change everything


I blew the original 232 in line six at about 150,000 miles. That was seven years ago, and I have completely restored the car since then. The quarter panels had rust, so I cut good sections out of another car and welded them in. I also changed the interior to one from a 1980 Spirit DL and added a floor console and floor shifter at that time. I just blew out the rear end - not the original, it was from a 1974 Gremlin X - and plan to put a Ford 9-inch in it soon.

General Comments:

In stock condition this is a horrible car to drive. It weighs around 3,000lbs,and has only 90 HP! The interior is roomy for front seat passengers, but useless for backseat passengers. It is nose heavy and brakes and handles poorly because of it.

Mine has been extensively modified in the 13 years I have owned it. It now has a 1973 AMC 360 V8 making approximately 350 - 400 HP. The battery has been relocated to the trunk, the air conditioning has been removed, the cast iron intake manifold has been replaced with one of aluminium, and the cast iron exhaust manifolds have been replaced with steel-tube headers. This was all done to remove weight from the front of the car, and along with a switch to wider tires on 15 inch rims has vastly improved handling.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th April, 2002

4th Nov 2002, 02:37

Good report, I would go with the 12 bolt-posi rear end, not the Ford.

24th Jul 2004, 10:19

WOW: He complains about the car being nose heavy with the 6-cylinder engine in it; then he installs a much heavier V8 engine. Yeah, relocating the battery will help (about a 1% change), and yeah, tripling the horsepower certainly will help the performance, but then he is surprised that the rear end died? Remember the theme from the 1979 sales brochures? "The Economy Experts"!

Fantasy Land!

The original six cylinder died with 150,000 miles on it. I can't decide if he is complaining, or not.