Still Life: Forged in Kenosha, Replaced by a Renault

amc spirit amx kenosha american motor corporation

Sometimes it’s hard to believe the AMC Spirit was canned in favor of the Renault Alliance. So what if it was a freshened-up Gremlin with an optional 5.0L V8? I mean, just LOOK at it – the Spirit in its natural habitat, surrounded by that endangered species known as American heavy industry. They will always live on, in our memories …

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  1. P161911 Avatar

    From the photo it looks like someone's taking "Kill it with fire!" too literally.

  2. lilwillie Avatar

    Poor AMC. You could drive by the plant and watch the cars rusting before they even were loaded onto the Semi's.

    1. Mike_the_Dog Avatar

      Be nice. They were actually pretty good quality cars. Besides, everything rusted like mad back then, AMC was one of the first to make inroads into using galvanized panels on their cars to thwart the tinworm (with limited success, but they tried!).

  3. Maymar Avatar

    Looking at that, it's hard not to imagine an alternate reality where AMC survived and is dominating WRC. Or something like that. Whether or not it was any good, that Spirit is badass.

  4. Cog_Friction Avatar

    When you said the Spirit in its natural habitat, I thought the next line was going to say "on fire"

  5. citroen67 Avatar

    Yeah, what a crock! The Alliance was by far the biggest little upset as far as 80's cars go (well, besides the Cimarron). I actually liked the looks of the Spirit. I remember back in the days of my later elementary school career, a friend of mine used to get picked up from school every day by his mother, and she had a Spirit that was identical to the one in this post…only hers was black with rear window louvers and fender flares that blended into a lower front bumper spoiler, which in my opinion, only increased its value on the badass scale. I remember thinking it was cool because every time she picked him up she would run through the gears somewhat aggressively once she hit the main street in front of the school. To a ten-year-old kid that loved cars…hearing a V-8 snarl in a small car like that was epic.

    1. Tripl3fast Avatar

      Was his Mom Michèle Mouton?

  6. soo΄pәr-bādd75 Avatar

    I prefer the Spirit's lifted 4WD brother, the AMC Eagle. That thing had badass rally monster written all over it. An Eagle hatchback would be an AWESOME beach machine.

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      Agreed. This is already painfully beautiful… but would be even more so as an SX/4.
      <img src=""&gt;
      No surprise, then, that one of my favourite Hot Wheels is the Sting Rod:
      <img src=""&gt;

      1. Mike_the_Dog Avatar

        You do know that's a Fiero, right?

    2. CptSevere Avatar

      Yeah, the Eagles were pretty cool. I think you can do everything to them, suspension-wise that you can do to a Jeep CJ. Let your imagination run with that.

      1. Impalamino Avatar

        Jeep-o-philes will correct me, but I'm pretty sure the Eagle was a closer relative of the XJ than the CJ.

        1. Mike_the_Dog Avatar

          You are correct, but the Eagle (and the Spirit/Concord) are even more closely related to the '64 Rambler American than they are to either the XJ or CJ. The basic mechanical bits were pretty much the same between the CJ, XJ and Eagle, though. The Eagle's IFS was an adapted version of the old Hornet setup used on the Spirit/Concord, and the rest of the parts were right out of the same bins as the Jeep line.

    3. Mad_Hungarian Avatar

      agreed. The missed oppportunity with the 4WD Eagles was to develop AMC into a kind of American Subaru. Unfortunately Renault took the easy quick buck approach of selling as many Crappliances as they could before people caught on, instead of investing money into developing new American product.

      1. soo΄pәr-bādd75 Avatar

        "American Subaru" just brings about some awesome pictures in my mind. And your statement in general makes me wonder where AMC might have been today had they been rescued by a company that actually had plans to keep them around. AMC is an interesting study because we kind of see Chrysler in the same boat today, with a European company taking over their operations in order to, more or less, introduce their own (Euro) products into the American market. If Fiat fails (AGAIN!) in America, and Chrysler's got a lineup of Fiats with a couple of Jeeps and the Ram, does someone else pick up the pieces, or does Chrysler go the way of AMC with maybe Jeep as the only survivor (again)? Ineteresting….

  7. engineerd Avatar

    My favorite feature of AMCs is the door handles. They are unique, especially in age when most door handles stuck out about 3 feet and were about 5 feet long.
    Oh, and the fog lights. Today they would be molded into the bumper or lower valance. Not AMCs. Stick some Pep Boys specials on the bumper at the factory and charge an extra $25.

    1. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

      Agree 100%. Have always loved those door handles, and even as I was lookin at the pic before reading the comments, again, I thought, damn, those are cool. Glad I'm not alone.

    2. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Never noticed those handles, but on closer inspection, they look a lot like the handles that were on my YJ's half-doors.
      No big shocker, there. I just get a kick out of parts sharing. Example B being the Maverick's truck tail lights.

      1. Impalamino Avatar

        AMC used them for years on a whole bunch of vehicles. Always reminded me of the "Universal Seat Belt" buckle.
        A clever and functional design.

  8. BrianTheHoon Avatar

    As an aside I see not-so-gently-loved Alliance convertible during my commute on a somewhat regular basis. When the last time you saw one of those driving around? As often as I see the thing, it still completely shocks me anew.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      On my commute to work, there's some form of Alliance under a tarp, but I've never seen it move. There's also a 240 and 740 in the driveway, so I suspect the owner is one of us, to some degree.
      But I was also introduced to a local transmission shop that has 3 Fuegos, 2 18i Sportwagons, and 2 Alliances (one garden variety, one husk of a GTA) – if there's a deity, one of those will start running under their own power again.

  9. Joe Dunlap Avatar
    Joe Dunlap

    Afraid I have to disagree on the door handles. I worked in an AMC dealership for 2 years in the early 70's and hated those things. Why, you ask? They had a nasty habit of grabbing your fingers if you werent careful about getting at least 3 fingers under them. One or two and it was easy to have them slip off the end of the lever and along the top where they were promptly pinched near the hinge. Pray you werent holding something in the other hand, as you would need it to "escape the Eagles talon". oww!