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1979 AMC Spirit GT - The Spirit Of Kenosha

George Doughtie's Road Racing AMC

Photography by Henry De Los Santos, Terry McGean

CC: How did you make the transition to road racing?
GD: My friend, Jeff Puras and I bought a '68 AMX road-race car in 1987 at a show. We decided to get it back in shape and then started racing it. We've been road racing ever since, and we actually do some instructing at various events.

CC: Was the plan for the Spirit to be a track car?
GD: No, I always intended it to be a street machine with track capabilities-it's basically just the way I envisioned back then, only better since there's better equipment available today.

CC: So you won't make the Spirit hairier?
GD: Probably not-we've still got the '68 AMX race car for more serious competition-it's an old SCCA B-Production car. We'll be running some vintage events with that car soon.

The Details

Car: '79 AMC Spirit GT

Owner: George Doughtie

Engine: AMC 401ci V-8 (bored to 410 ci), TRW forged pistons (10:1), factory forged AMC connecting rods, factory forged AMC crankshaft, internal oil feed line (for priority main-bearing oiling), Milodon road-race oil pan and "swing-out" pickup; machine work by Don Dixon, Norcross, GA

Heads: '77 AMC 401 iron castings, ported, bowls blended, combustion chambers enlarged (62cc) to un-shroud 2.08/1.74-inch TRW stainless valves (from a 440 Chrysler), and fitted with Crane valvesprings, retainers, and 1.6:1 roller rockers

Camshaft: Crane Powermax hydraulic flat-tappet (PN 864561), 0.538/0.563-inch lift and 232/242 degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift with Cloyes timing set

Induction: Edelbrock Performer RPM Air Gap with Holley 750-cfm double-pumper fed by TRW/Carter mechanical pump

Exhaust: Hedman Hedders with 151/48-inch primary tubes and 3-inch collectors, 211/42-inch custom exhaust system using DynoMax Super Turbo mufflers

Power: 380 hp at 5,750 rpm and 480 lb-ft at 3,600 rpm

Transmission: Richmond five-speed manual (1:1 Fifth gear), Hurst shifter, McLeod flywheel, Hayes 10.85-inch clutch and pressure plate, Lakewood bellhousing

Rearend: AMC model 20 with 2.87:1 gears and Torsen limited-slip differential, stock AMC driveshaft

Front suspension: Stock AMC control arms with WSC Motorsports urethane bushings, WSC Motorsports coilover conversion using Carrera shocks and 600 lb-in springs, AMC 111/416-inch sway bar, GM/Saginaw fast-ratio power steering box (stock for Spirit GT)

Rear suspension: Stock AMC leaf springs with WSC Motorsports Carrera shocks and AMC 31/44-inch sway bar

Brakes: Stock AMC 10.5-inch disc, front; WSC Motorsports rear disc conversion

Wheels and tires: American Racing Torq Thrust D 15x7-inch front, 15x8.5-inch rear; BFGoodrich Comp T/A R1 P235/60R15 front, P255/60R15 rear

Paint: Original

Body modifications: Louvered hood, '79 AMX grille, front bumper removed

Best quarter-mile e.t.: 12.8 at 110 mph

Top speed: 148 mph observed

Cost to build: Approx. $10,000

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