A dealership in Pompano Beach, Florida, is advertising a piece of American racing history on ClassicCars.com, though it’s description of the vehicle is a single paragraph, a series of photos and the Vehicle Details listing in which we learn this car is a 1981 AMC Spirit, silver outside, black inside, with an automatic transmission and only 5,286 miles on its odometer.
Fortunately, the photos show and that single paragraph points out that this is a one-off vehicle, the only AMC PPG IndyCar World Series pace car.
Back in the late 1970s, a group of team owners, unhappy with the way the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and U.S. Auto Club racing season were being managed, broke away and launched their own sanctioning body, Championship Auto Racing Teams. They gained support from several companies, including PPG, an automotive paint and glass supplier.
As part of its sponsorship support, PPG created a fleet of one-off pace cars, among them the 1981 AMC Turbo, based on the AMC Spirit liftback coupe designed by Dick Teague. PPG contracted Autodynamics of Troy, Michigan, to convert the Spirit Turbo into the Indy-racing pace car.
The Spirit, introduced by AMC in 1979 as successor to the chop-tailed Gremlin, was available with an 82 horsepower, 151cid 4-cylinder or a 110 horsepower, 258cid inline 6-cylinder engine. Drag racers took to the car and AMC also experimented with various engines under the Spirit’s hood, including a possible automotive application of the Stirling hot-air (steam) engine from the early 19th Century.
For the pace car application, the output of the 6-banger was boosted by Turbo-Systems Inc. to provide a 450-horsepower track-ready pace car riding on low profile Goodyear Eagle GT tires on Gotti aluminum wheels. The car debuted as the pace car for the Milwaukee 150 in June 1981.