What If: AMC Eagle Wagon – Let’s Talk Power Options


I’ve been holding onto these Eagle Wagon pictures since last July. Paul’s article on the Eagle covered the topic thoroughly, eliminating the need to post a historical article. Still this is a nice looking Eagle, and the pictures came from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Put those two facts together, and I think we’ve justified an article.


In Paul’s article, he notes the Eagle “suffered from the smog-strangled 258 (4.2 L) six during those pre-fuel injection years.” This Eagle Wagon provides us with some nifty lines (to use the local Sioux Falls vernacular), but cries out for a power plant transfer.

Fortunately, AMC’s outsourcing habit, combined with the huge aftermarket Jeep industry provides us with multiple engine transplant options. As we look this wagon over, let’s talk about some possibilities.

Front 3 quarter

In reality, the front differential and driveshaft of the Eagle’s All Wheel Drive System makes any engine swap a difficult undertaking, but we’ll just pretend we have the fabrication skills of Jesse James, Boyd Coddington’s build team, and Chip Foose style. With these mad skills, any engine is a possibility.


If we want to keep it simple, AMC’s V-8 provides an obvious choice for increased power. The V-8 block shares the bell housing pattern with the 258 six, so on paper this is a bolt in swap. V-8 displacements included 290, 304, 343, 360, and 401, all tempting capacities. However, AMC never fuel injected their V-8, so let’s look at some engines with modern fuel delivery systems.


The fact that the Eagle came with a T-5 manual transmission really helps out. The T-5 was America’s go-to manual throughout the eighties, which means we can bolt up many engines without bulky adapter plates.

In this image, we have the Ford fuel injected 5.0. Can you picture an Eagle wagon with a couple of GT badges on the fenders?


If that seems too flashy, we could replace these Eagle heads with “5.0” badges. Tempting, no?

Chevy V8

If you’re not a Ford Guy, we could go with the Chevy small block. If you can find one of the (extremely) rare Iron Duke powered Eagles, you can even bolt the Chevy up to the Eagle’s bell housing–both engines share the same pattern. Make sure to use the TPI motor–the eight individual runners look so good when you lift the hood.


I would actually prefer to go with a different GM motor–the Buick 90 degree V-6. GM used them in the F-body for several years, so it’s already set up for rear wheel drive and the T-5 transmission. Compact V-6 power with smooth fuel injected power delivery seems perfect for the Eagle.


Looking at this interior, we see this Eagle, like most, came with an automatic. Since AMC used Chrysler automatics, we have the opportunity to use any Chrysler small block…


…including the modern Chrysler Hemi. Hmmm….


How about a Hemi powered wagon sending all four tires up in smoke?


All interesting concepts, but in his article, Paul offered up the easiest and possibly best conversion option: “Undoubtedly, numerous folks have transplanted the Cherokee’s fuel injected 4.0 six into Eagles.”

I’m sure he’s right, but I’m not sure such a simple and clean installation is in keeping with AMC’s traditions. 😉

Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section, and offer up any other power options you’d like to see dropped between this wagon’s frame rails.