In 1981 the CART/PPG Indy Car series was in its third year. Formed in 1979 by racing teams who had split from the previous sanctioning body, USAC, over how races were promoted, the way that television contracts were handled and what they believed to be the small size of the winners’ purses, the ‘81 PPG Indy Car World Series had 11 races on the schedule and featured drivers like Rick Mears, Johnny Rutherford and Mario Andretti. In time the series would go on to become the sole sanctioning body for all of Indy Car racing, but in 1981 the series was still in its infancy and, despite having Indy Car as a part of it name, did not even include the Indianapolis 500 among its officially sanctioned events.
To help promote the series, CART/PPG approached several major American auto manufacturers and asked them each to construct pace cars for the different events. Five manufacturers responded, including American Motors, who produced a custom bodied AMX. Based on the production “Spirit,” the AMX featured a fuel injected, turbo charged 258CID in-line 6 cylinder engine capable of a reported 450 horsepower. The car made its debut at the Milwaukee 150 on June 7 and at the end of the season went to AMC’s Vice President of Design, Richard Teague.
Today that car very car is being offered on eBay by the West Palm Beach specialty car dealership Marino Motors. Based on the many photos offered, it looks like a very clean, well thought out car. It has a full roll cage, period safety gear and a surprisingly complete turbo themed interior that makes it appear more like a production car than something that was constructed exclusively for the race track. Currently, the bids are in excess of $33,000 and the reserve has yet to be met. To an ordinary guy like me $33K is a lot of money, but to a high end collector looking for something truly unique, this car might just be an interesting opportunity. Pop over to either of the above links to see dozens more detailed photos. Love it or hate it, at the very least, it’s one of a kind.