If the Weather Guessers were correct when I wrote this, the Midwest USA is currently under a “cold snap” and the forecast high temperature for today is -11°F (-24°C). We’ve had blast after blast of snow, and I did a double-take the other day when I looked up at a stop light in town and observed an AMC Eagle in its natural habitat.
I’m at a loss to pin down the model year of the car, beyond it being between 1981 (first year for egg-crate grille) and 1984 (last year for non-bulge hood). 197,449 Eagles would be sold between its 1980 debut and its 1988 extinction after Chrysler’s acquisition of AMC. The Eagle was the proto-crossover SUV, and it was a pleasure to see the car being used as intended.
January, 2019, Peoria, Illinois
I usually feel rather conflicted when I see a nice, older car being operated in snow & salt. But for some reason, these pictures just make me feel good. Made my day, in fact.
I believe Ziebart came standard with AMC products during the Eighties, which may explain why it hasn’t turned to dust like its American-made competitors.
Hmm, more ground clearance than the Escape behind it, real 4WD, real bumpers, and shorter overall in height.
My grandfather was a sales manager for a feed company here in Atlantic Canada back in the 70’s and 80’s. Because of the weather around here, all of the salesman were given Eagles as company cars. From what he used to tell me, they loved them. He was a die-hard Ford Man too, so that says something.
Well, there were a few Ford parts in 1980’s AMC products, so that might have helped.
It was -24C overnight here, brrr! I could use an Eagle this week…
I’ve been told that AMC stands for “All Makes of Cars” don’tcha know. 😉
A friend of mine claimed that the largest engineering department at AMC was Brackets and Adapters.
” …more ground clearance than the Escape behind it…and shorter overall in height.”
Just goes to show how CUVs are as much or more about floor-to-ceiling height as ground clearance or driver’s eye-level height.
Nlpnt, you’re not wrong. The low floor’s ease of entry and exit and the increased headroom/lack of having to lean down to get in was the major factor in us buying a CUV versus a wagon or hatchback.
And about half the gas mileage.
New cars aren’t all bad…
I hope the underseal is fresh!
I hope the 258 six has a good thermostat! An Eagle this old putting out good heat would be, well, heartwarming.
The slant six in my 71 Scamp was always challenged in really cold weather. After the first couple of years I lived in the winter with a big piece of cardboard that blocked off the top 2/3 of the radiator. She put out good heat after that!
I dunno. Just never cared much for any of AMC’s Eagle variants. They were dog ugly. Not to mention: A. M. C. K. E. Y. Mouse.
Strangely we’ve had zero snow this week and it’s currently 52 degrees here in Northern Colorado but that Eagle does look good in that weather!
Ahh a CUV before bread roll styling, I love it! No wood paneling like most Eagle wagons had either, what a gem.
Great catch. It was around the time the Eagle was new that genuine blizzards, with heavy winds, snow, and frigid temps, stopped being such a regular occurrence where I grew up. Recent memories of the blizzard of January ’78 that affected the US Northeast and Eastern Canada must have helped sell the Eagle.
Here’s another Eagle in the snow…
That looks like fun! I wonder, did they make these Eagles in this 2-door sedan bodystyle without the landau top?
Matt, all the 2-door sedans had the half vinyl roof. The two door Eagle Kammback, which I really liked then and now, had a metal roof.
The Sundancer convertible was also offered.
That’s nice looking! Thanks for sharing this Daniel.
Fresh snow+open area+teenager with car=Donut spinning fun.
We used to love doing this in Wisconsin. Frozen lakes were great because you could build speed before you threw the car into a spin. We used to have competitions to see who could do the most 360s from a single spinout.
Pesky 4wds like the Eagle would dig the front wheels in and try to straighten you out. A lot of people liked them in winter for that exact reason. While we appreciated their ability to plow through snow, at certain times you don’t want a nanny car that tries to keep you safe.
I certainly don’t condone drunk driving, but confess to great memories in a car full of drunk teenagers spinning donuts to our hearts content on an empty frozen lake.
PS: Teenage parties at closed-for-season lake cabins. Cars parked on lake. No road driving. We were only 1/2 idiots. It took two of us to make a whole idiot.
Imagine if AMC had made a “Matador Eagle” from their mid size sedan and wagon? No, not the over the top, “NASCAR want to be”, coupe.
Why would AMC do that when they already had the Wagoneer?
I grew up in Kenosha, WI in the early 90s and these were crawling everywhere. Since AMC used to build in the area, I have never seen them so dense on the road in Kenosha/Chicago area than anywhere else. You are right with these looking right at home in the snow and everytime I see one, I can picture the blizzard of late 1992 in Kenosha. I never seen a snow event like it. There were black clouds with thunder snow coming off Lake Michigan dumping 2 ft of snow and the 4WD AMCs and trucks were one of the few vehicles able to get around. This was before SUVs became prevelent and most people I knew drove a GM A-Body or a Chrysler minivan.
What kind of diesel did they put in these ? Was it the Renault 2.1 ?
AMC Eagles never got any diesel option.
The diesel was a VM 3.6, offered in 1980. Only seven were sold. There’s one at the Rambler Ranch in Colorado.
This article has more description about the ill-fated turbodiesel engine in Eagle:
The $9,000 ($29,000 adjusted) conversion kit added 450 pounds, which negated the benefit, and almost doubled the retail price to $19,500 ($62,000 adjusted), which required more mileage to recoup the cost.
Make mine a 4 door all broughamed out!!!
I owned a couple of AMC Eagles while living in Maryland and Pennsylvania. The best foul weather vehicles I have ever had. Excellent seats too. Out of the more than two dozen classic cars I have had the pleasure of owning, the Eagles are the only ones my wife liked, for some odd reason.
The Eagle Limited wagon was the the top of the heap. It was extremely well equipped. A dealer here in Minnesota had a Limited and a Jeep Grand Wagoneer on the same showroom floor back in the day. They were equipped very much alike. The were even a very similar dark blue with the woodgrain paneling. They were being marketed as an alternative to each other. You could go up or down market.
Exactly how many diesel Eagles there were isn’t clear. Some sources say seven, others five.
But not six, because that would have been silly.
One thing I do not understand is AMC Eagle has more superior all wheel drive system than today’s all wheel system in SUVs like Ford Edge, Subaru Forster, Toyota RAV4? I doubt this is case. As for snow vehicle,all wheel drive helps you get out the snow and provides traction to get you moving in the icy roads. But stopping and turning are same for all types of vehicles. In my view, if you want a snow vehicle, you just buy a set of hood snow tires and drive slowly.
I’ve been getting around just fine in my rear-wheel-drive sedan shod with Michelin X-ices. Better than some of the front-wheel-drive SUVs I saw sliding around in town today as fresh snow was falling.
We always joke that 4WD just means you need a longer tow rope.
I’m really diggin the look of those steelies on the SS. Nice!
I have an 01 BMW 330xi after a 97 Suburban and 01 Outback……best vehicle i’ve ever owned. I live in NYC and i’ve never gotten stuck or stranded by this car. i’ve had it about 4 years now. It really is good in the snow. picture is from web, mine is exactly like this wheels color and all.