CC For Sale: 1989 Eagle Premier ES Limited – An Eagle Premier To Tow Your Eagle Premier?

Search for an Eagle Premier on Craigslist and you’ll find dozens of listings for the Jayco Eagle Premier trailer. The defunct AMC-developed, Renault-based, Giugario-designed, Canadian-built, Chrysler-marketed product? Not so much. Once in a while, however, one appears on Craigslist. This one looks pretty good.

What a shame the ad doesn’t. Mileage? Who knows. You’ll have to call to find out. That’d be fine if people knew what an Eagle Premier was. Do many people remember the Premier, let alone the entire Eagle brand? “Hurry runs great” seems an overly optimistic way to end one’s Craigslist ad for an Eagle Premier. Especially one listed for $2,588.

The interior photo is of typical Craigslist style – low-resolution and half out of frame. But my, those leather seats still look nice after all these years. In fact, the whole car looks in decent shape except for some scuffs and the inevitable yellowing of the composite headlights.

I love an underdog and the Eagle Premier certainly qualifies. As this is the flagship ES Limited, that means the longitudinally-mounted 3.0 Douvrin V6 is under the hood instead of the rarely-ordered AMC 2.5 four. Mated to a four-speed ZF automatic, the 3.0 produced 150 hp at 5000 rpm and 171 ft-lbs at 3600 rpm. Reviews typically praised the Premier for its smooth powertrain and comfortable ride quality though Motor Trend said the car’s French roots definitely shone through.

“[It] rolls severely in hard cornering, but this is misleading. The car really hangs in there and sticks well in tighter high-speed turns, you just think you’re about to fall off the road.”

ES interior pictured

Early models like this ’89 had a column-mounted shifter, later moved to the console.

Unfortunately, all Premiers had the same strange column-mounted pods with headlight and climate controls. It was puzzling placement and the Premier was soundly criticized for this and other ergonomic missteps.

The ES Limited was introduced in the Premier’s sophomore season to head the Premier range. Costing around $2500 more than the mid-range ES, the monochromatic ES Limited added leather upholstery, cruise control, premium audio system, power locks and windows, remote keyless entry, power front seats and illuminated entry. Much of these features remained available to LX and ES Premiers in option packages. With an MSRP of $20,272, the ES Limited cost around $4k more than an admittedly less well-equipped Mercury Sable LS. Sure, it undercut European and Japanese rivals it ostensibly targeted but it was priced up against some fully-loaded domestic competitors. For example, the ’91 ES Limited cost the same as the new-for-1991 Pontiac Grand Prix STE with its much more powerful turbocharged 3.1 V6.

Anybody who was willing to take a chance on an unfamiliar sedan from an unfamiliar brand would’ve been disappointed to discover the Premier’s reliability and quality weren’t quite up to snuff. Though some were reliable, there have been plenty of stories about transmission failures and electrical gremlins. Sales were initially adequate but tumbled – people were much more willing to buy a Ford Taurus. The Premier’s overall production number of approximately 140,000 units between 1988 and 1992 was just over half what American Motors had projected during the Premier’s development.

The Premier was a risky purchase new and time has only made it more so, considering parts availability. Still, for all its flaws, it’s an underdog that truly appeals to me. I’m an ocean away from Wisteria, CA so it’s not for me. Perhaps it’s for you?

Related Reading:

Junkyard Classic: 1989 Eagle Premier ES Limited

The Most Obscure Special Editions and Forgotten Limited-Run Models: Dodge City (featuring the 1990-92 Dodge Monaco)

Top 10 Obscure Special Editions And Forgotten Limited-Run Models: Jeep-Eagle Edition, Part I (featuring the Premier 2.5)