Take a Renault 25, Americanize it, add some of that Italdesign magic and you get…a resounding sales failure. It’s a shame, really, because the Eagle Premier was one of the best sedans available on the market at the time of its release. Quiet, supremely comfortable and with excellent handling, it’s now but a footnote in the history of Chrysler and perhaps better remembered by being the starting point for the development of the also excellent Chrysler LH cars. But if you appreciate the Premier for just what a good car it is, might I interest you in this little gem? It may well be the nicest Premier left.
I’m afraid, dear reader, that I’m biased as usual in giving the spotlight to this car. I’ve always found the Premier to be an extremely handsome car. Unlike a K-Car, where the boxy lines seem to be there merely because any other shape would be prohibitively expensive and less practical, they work on a different level here. Leave it to Giugiaro, I guess. Best of all, that beautiful body had a fully independent suspension underneath, discs all around and tipped that scales at a petite 1,360kg (2,998 lb).
Our particular Premier is a two-tone 1991 ES model with only 47,438 miles on the clock. Power is provided by the 3.0-liter PRV6 engine and driven to the front wheels through a ZF four-speed gearbox. The seller claims that it has just been given a thorough checkup and that it needed only a wiper motor and a caliper.
The interior is mint, as expected from a car with this sort of mileage that has been garaged its entire life. Also present and correct are those choker seat belts that everybody seems to hate but which I find actually quite amusing, probably because I’ve never owned a car that had them. There’s no rust and no dents. The paint is also very shiny and all badges seem to be present and correct.
Faults? Well, there’s a large scuff on the plastic cladding on the driver’s door and some nicks on the front grille. The headlights are also yellowing slightly. But that’s nitpicking, really. And then there’s the last sentence of the listing:
Her name is Olde Betsy… treat her well.
If he wanted to appeal to the animistic gearhead on all of us, he’s succeeded. As of this article’s writing it’s sitting unloved on a $3,900.00 starting bid. Surely one of us can do better. Come on–for Betsy.
Could be a sweet car for a flight into SLC, then a drive-away leisurely trip back home. I wonder if seller would be willing to hang onto it for me until the roads east of Omaha (or so) weren’t salt-covered?
There it is folks, the last of its kind. You’re more likely to find a Bugatti Royale up for sale than another Premier in this condition.
I think you’re right, this may be the nicest Premier left in existence. It deserves a nice quite life in a garage as a future classic–it’s already something of an oddity!
I’m not sure why these cars went so wrong in sales–they’re reasonably handsome and seem compelling on paper. The early versions of the PRV engine weren’t so hot either, but by the time these came on to the market, the problems (particularly oiling) had been solved and these 2nd gen even-fire PRVs were smooth, reliable motors. but it seems that AMC (at this point Chrysler, but I imagine this one was in the works already) had a way of screwing up all of their Renault-based products. So it wasn’t design flaws, probably, but was the build quality bad? Reliability subpar? Damaged by association with the Alliance/Encore/Medallion? I really don’t know. A cousin had one as a used car around the year 2000 and it was pretty wretched, but those problems could have been unique to his. Probably not, but you never know.\
Not sure if Olde Betsy is worth quite $3900 but she does look like-new. Buy now, and be the only one you’ll ever see at a car show in the future!
I’d chalk it up to the bad reliability reputation that Renault had (my parents had an ’87 Alliance, which my dad bought despite the fact that the brand-new Encore he test drove died on the test drive) and a poor dealer network (former AMC/Jeep dealers, who tended to be small and bedraggled and mostly concerned about selling Jeeps to people who liked the outdoors, or wanted to look like they did). Add in a new brand with no real identity.
Dodge dealers did sell these for a few years as the Monaco, but I suspect most would probably rather sell a Dynasty to someone looking for a mid-to-large sedan.
The Monaco was born out of a weird quirk in the Chrysler-AMC deal, which was that Chrysler was contractually obligated to Renault to buy a certain number of those PRV drivetrains used in the Premier. So the Monaco was created at a slightly lower price point to try to move the mandated amount of metal.
As I recall, the Premier was marketed as a sort of American Audi with a French accent, which was intriguing until buyers figured out that the car somehow took on the worst aspects of all three of those.
I beg to differ. I actually bought one of these for my first car, same wheels, two tone bodywork, mine is grey. I got mine for $920 with NO faults that are major. It is really nice.
I named it Priscilla
Good choice, Dominick.
We have a Eagle Premier & Dodge Monaco club for these cars. Check it out:
We have all sorts of useful files on the Premier/Monaco. The entire parts manual, for instance, has been scanned and uploaded by one of our members.
There’s also a Facebook page:
Good luck with your car!
My folks had one. They were lured in by the fancy features and the low, low price. Problem was, all those fancy features crapped out in about 3 years.
That wasn’t enough to stop my sister from buying it’s cheaper brother, the Dodge Monaco. Fewer features, alarmingly low price.
Despite many years attending car shows,especially American shows I’ve yet to see an Eagle in the metal
I doubt it would inspire someone to import one! Have any of our North American commenters seen an Eagle at a car show?
Having said that I hope it does get preserved and shown in public, there can’t be too many that have been.
Only talons, been a number of years since I’ve seen a premier
As a U.S. resident (granted, one who was born the year after the Premier ended production), I can say that the only Eagles I’ve seen in the metal are Talons, Visions, and Summits. I’ve never seen a Premier or Medallion, unless it was when I was real young and didn’t know what it was.
I think the reason behind the Medallion is that there is only a handful known to be left in existence. I think there was an article about it on here or one of the other blogs I follow. Two teenagers found one and upon realizing how rare it was have been vainly struggling to try and keep it alive.
That was here.
One of the more intriguing aspects of these cars is how aerodynamic they were; one would not assume this to be the case based off looks alone:
1986 Ford Taurus coefficient of drag .33
1990 Chevrolet Lumina coefficient of drag .32
1988 Eagle Premier coefficient of drag .31
Since the PRV fit in Volvo 2/7/960s, I wonder if it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility to cram a boosted redblock in this thing….
I’m sure you could fab something up. However, there’s also a guy active on one of the Volvo forums who is making big power with a turbo PRV, and there are a handful of people doing the same thing in Deloreans. The Premier engine, which is the largest stock PRV at 3 liters and evidently has some other advantages, is considered probably the best base for building one with a turbo. So *that* might be an even more interesting project, if not exactly cost-effective!
When new these cars were a common sight here in North Alabama, with a Chrysler electronics assembly plant in town they seemed to be the car of choice for employees that didn’t go with the big RWD 5th Ave. As my father was an employee of said Chrysler facility we had two Premier’s in my family, he had a 88 ES and I had a 90 ES and with both at round 25K miles all things electrical started to fail at some point. With his, the car would shut down at highway speeds, mine the electrical components (displays, climate control, seat belts, stereo) failed to come to life with the rest of the car or shut down randomly. Other little things like climate control deciding on it’s own to switch to max heat while driving around town and staying there for a day or two. Bearings were another issue with both as was water pumps failing early. With so many others around it seemed most had many of the same problems. However, when all things were a go it was a great car, comfortable, quiet, spacious. Was definitely a love hate relationship. Had the quality and reliability be present these could have been huge hits for the Pentastar.
I agree it’s very rare to see one in as good a shape as the one in the post. Most became beaters and extinct within 10 years. As common as they were here in the day it’s been years since I’ve seen one around.
Was that the Huntsville plant that made car audio systems?
They may have been sharp-edged in styling but not boxy in the same way as the Aries/Reliant K. The proportions were different, longer and lower-looking. The greenhouse wasn’t so upright.
These were handsome cars.
I rented one near Philadelphia one winter and it drove pleasantly. The controls
were on the odd side which probably turned some buyers off. All in all, if some
money had been spent refining it, Chrysler could probably have done better with it.
It could have filled the Dodge Dynasty niche. I can’t help thinking that they (meaning Lee) didn’t want to.
But the LH sedans would have blown it into the water, anyway.
I wonder what Mr. Lee Iacocca and/or Bob Lutz really thought of these things.
Bob probably praised the driving dynamics while Lee stuck to his guns and tried to find a way to put velour and opera lights on it.
I had one of these in the mid 1990s. It was one of the best cars that I have ever owned, and mine did not have a problem
One of my ex GFs high school buddy had one of these….he bought it well used and drove it for like 5 years. He said a bad water pump was the only thing outside of normal maintenance it had ever needed, and he sold it for within $500 of what he paid for it. Not too shabby.
The Eagle Premier/Monaco were completely designed by AMC as their new product. Chrysler got a “free” car design when they bought out AMC in ’87.
The Allpar article makes it sound like AMC rolled a shopping cart through the Big 3’s parts departments and cobbled a Jeep together. AMC purchased transmissions, steering gear, and ignition systems from Chrysler, Saginaw (GM), and Ford. They also purchased parts from suppliers such as Dana, like most others did. Sounds like the author didn’t really want to acknowledge any competence by AMC / Renault.
By that time, AMC was very dependent on doing things like that. That said, their talent and management of engineering was so good that Chrysler adopted their system for that shortly after absorbing them.
Yes – one of the key persons who came out of there was Francois Castaing and he went on to help develop the LH platform, I think.
I remember seeing this in the Daily Express World Cars booklet back in the late ’80s. The front to the rear door are more-or-less (detailing/badging aside) the same as the Renault 25, but the translation to saloon is well done; I’d not seen the rear 3/4 view before. A friend of mine had a Renault 25 in the ’90s, so the front seating looks quite familiar. Plenty of elbow room in them, comfortable ride.
Looks warm there in Salt Lake for January?
I’m normally a pre 1980 fan but this is one of my favorite cars would love to own one!
Was there another version of this besides the Monaco? Wasn’t there a Plymouth variant?
No, although I wish there could’ve been. It would have made a nice “aero” Gran Fury. Or a new named Plymouth too. It’s a shame Chrysler (or more accurately, Lee Iacocca) didn’t realize how much better this car was than the precious K-cars. Sure, the K-car variants were improving in reliability by this point, and were thus cheaper to sell and to fix, but Premier was a far more advanced and competitive car. It’s satisfying that the Premier was utilized in developing the LH sedans, but so much more could’ve been made of the Premier itself.
I had a hankering for one of these about 20 years ago, but I did some research and gathered that they were a can of worms when it came to reliability.l
If I had the money, I would! I’ve always loved the look of the Premier and as well, the Medallion.
Almost 20 years ago now, I test drove a five year old example for a friend in the market for a used car. I remember the test drive starting out fine. The stereo sounded great, I got on the highway, gave it some gas and it went. Acceleration was strong and the car was very fast. The problem was stopping, the throttle stuck and slowing down became an issue, I had to shift it into neutral, coast to the shoulder and shut it off. After I restarted it, the throttle was no longer stuck but it began to overheat. Needless to say, my friend didn’t buy it…but it sure looked pretty.
I’m always wary of used ads that claim the car just needs one or two very minor things. If it were that simple, why not just do it? Canny used car shoppers are probably just going to try to knock down the price by the estimated cost of that repair anyway, and as a buyer, I’d rather have a used car that didn’t seem like it was going to need additional expenditures in the immediate future. Being down a wiper in the wintertime (in SLC?) also seems like a nontrivial concern from a driving safety standpoint. If it were something like a power antenna, maybe, but wipers are important. As are brakes.
It NEEDED a wiper motor and a caliper. And it got them. Doesn’t need them any more.
“It was just taken into the mechanic to repair
everything that was needing repair. They
replaced a windshield wiper motor & back rear
caliper. It also was just taken in for emissions
and inspections which passed 100%.
We can provide the paper work for both
of those if needed. We also recently replaced
STILL not going to bid on it, eh?
Ahh, I missed that.
A handsome car that deserved a better reception. As a Canadian, I was always glad those motorized seatbelts weren’t mandated north of the 49th parallel.
You haven’t ever properly cursed anything until you get in a car with these automatic belts while holding a large soda in your right hand and making the mistake of closing the door with your left hand.
I remember the first time I drove a car with those damned “automatic” seatbelts (a Ford Escort) When it activated, It scared the hell out of me!
Actually, the ad says the wiper motor and caliper were replaced, so the car is apparently healthy at this time.
In spite of having a soft spot in my heart (head?) for Renault. I never cared for the Premier. Too big. Too formal. Might be interested in a last year US spec Fuego, with the updated insturment panel and OHC 2.2, if it was local and if I had garage space.
As it is, with AMC gone and Renault ditto from the US, far too much chance of parts being unobtanium. If I wanted to toss money at a cranky old car, a Corrado might be a preferable way to do it.
Those passive belts were pretty much useless if you didn’t fasten the lap portion manually. I knew a woman who figured the message there was that the lower belt was optional and when she fell asleep and ran off the road, she was badly injured by sliding under until the shoulder belt cut into her and made it worse. Fortunately, she recovered, but what a bad idea those things were.
Perhaps the most unsafe safety device ever mass-produced. Our ’89 T-Bird had them. I was servicing the car in my garage. I think I wanted to warm the oil, and I reached through the open window to start the car, totally forgetting about the damn belt. Those things move pretty fast, and it came around and grabbed me by the back of the neck.
Not inconceivable that long hair, clothes, etc. could also get caught in them.
I don’t recall the exact circumstances, but the auto belt either failed, or was failing by the time our ownership was ending. The only seat belt repair I either paid for or contemplated paying for. Very hard to imagine a 3rd owner in our case repairing such an item, they likely would have made due without it.
I can only imagine what happened to people that had accidents where the door came off the car.
Some safety device.
That’s a good-looking car. The color, the shape and the condition of it are all very appealing. I’m tempted to bid on it, but I already have a car named Betsy, and that could get confusing…
Although this car fell short of sales expectations, it wasn’t quite the horrendous failure that its stablemate, the Medallion, turned out to be. Few, if any, Medallions survived to become used cars whereas although these weren’t . . . popular, I did see more than a handful. Renault made cars so badly AMC improved significantly on them. I think a few problems led to few sales: One, Chrysler bought AMC for Jeep (and also because they didn’t know what else to do with their money, remember, they bought Lamborghini back in the ’80’s, so the K-car maker also made . . . lambos) and they really didn’t have plans for AMC other than the executive talent. Two, Chrysler inherited the recall of the Alliance/Encore, which involved digging through junkyards for every Alliance/Encore ever produced and leaving a new heater core on the seat, so they were doubtful of promoting a product that . . . competed with (?) extant Chrysler products and promoting what would turn out to be expensive warranty woes later. They knew what Renault quality was like. Thus, there was almost no money spent on promoting the thing. Three, C/D did not like their Premier by the end of the long term test, stating no one wanted to drive it due to a variety of minor but annoying maladies. Four, the midsize sedan buyer is probably the most conservative of all your automotive buyers and unlikely to try a new product with a new brand. The Taurus succeeded because, at least, it was a Ford. A new brand may succeed with budget buyers, as Hyundai and Yugo did in the ’80’s, or a new brand like Acura/Lexus may succeed because of the need for budget buyers to move up, or a new brand may succeed due to some novelty value for the well heeled, but the midsize sedan buyer trying to make a car last past the payments is going for the tried and true over the exciting and new.
I think the Medallion was only around for 2 or 3 years. It probably didn’t help that there were Renault versions around before they were rebadged as Eagles.
As I mentioned above, my dad owned a problematic Alliance. When it came time for my mom to get a new car, he wanted to look at the Medallion wagon. My mom veto’ed that, and they ended up with a Plymouth Voyager.
I believe Chrysler’s only plan in acquiring AMC was to get their hands on Jeep.
In addition to Jeep, I’ve long understood that there were 2 other things of considerable value to Chrysler in buying AMC:
– the platform under this car, which they turned into the very successful LH cars, at a time when every other car in their stable was based on the K-car.
– the factory in Bramalea, Ontario, that had been built to make this car. At the time I think it was the most advanced factory in North America.
Plenty of good points made. One more might be that Chrysler had its own product development pipeline moving along, and the acquisition opportunity would have been a sudden factor to figure in. As noted, the AMC / Renault car products tended to duplicate Mopar offerings, so the decision to ignore or kill them off was rational.
Establishing the Eagle brand was probably one of the worst decisions to come out of the acquisition. Chrysler simply didn’t need it with the Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth and Jeep brands to deal with.
I don’t know why everybody thinks these cars look nice – I think they are ugly. Too much overhang, too square of lines, just no visual appeal for me. These were the cars that were supposed to save AMC but I think had Chrysler not bought AMC out in early 1987, these cars would have failed anyways.
I don’t find it objectionable, but I generally concur with your assessment of its styling. It actually looks kind of like a mid-80s Toyota Crown.
Agreed. I was an AMC fan, and thought these were hideous.
I had one of these in the mid 90s as a 89,000 mile used car. I believe it was an 88 or 89 model. I was impressed with the longitutinally mounted V6 in a FWD car, the independent suspension, 4 wheel disk brakes, and the handling/driving dynamics. Interesting design for a car sold in the US at the time. However mine had cooling issues: it was troublesome to bleed the system and the water pump needed replacing. Electrical gremlins were also an issue. My previous car was an 87 taurus with the 2.5 4 cylinder. It was much more dependable than the Premier but design and handlingwise the Eagle won handsdown. It is nice to see one as a CC…I never realized at the time the connection with Renault which makes this the only (Semi-)European car I have ever owned.
Count me in as a fan of the Premier (or as a Renault person would likely say, “Prem-ee-ahy”). It’s a real shame that this car appeared during the circumstances surrounding Renault, AMC, and Chrysler, as the Premier was really a great car for its time, capable of being very successful if it weren’t for all the politics. It’s styling was very sharp, while still looking modern. The anti-Taurus or budget Audi 5000, if you may.
Although there are “classic” cars I’d buy before this if I had the money, I’d definitely like to own a Premier like this, and preserve it for years to come.
I kind of liked the original R25; I thought it shared lot of the Citroen CX’s good looks. Of course, I don’t think it would have done any better than the Premier (the hatchback alone would have made most Americans turn up their noses,) and Chrysler’s purchase of AMC meant the Renaults were on borrowed time anyway. (I know about the LH, but it seemed to be about as French as “Freedom Fries” to me.) Still, I think it would have been cool to have seen one these rolling down the freeway as “l’Ambassadeur” (or even “Le Matador!”)
Nice, that’s a Renault 25 Limousine, extra long. “Le Président” !
The R25 was the last big Renault that sold really well.
Here’s a 30 year old R25 GTS, in an immaculate condition.
When I was at Chrysler, there were a still a few of these, and the Monaco, around, but by 2004 they had mostly been scrapped. The PRV engine was not a good unit and by 130,000 km it would have low oil pressure. The electrics were a nightmare, too. These were good basic designs, but sabotaged by putting the cheapest components in it as possible, and designing them to fail right after warranty. Nothing peeves a new car buyer, even by then, than his three and a half year old, not paid off, car needing big money repairs. Chrysler and GM lost a lot of customers selling bad cars in this era.
A good friend of mine brought a used Medallion Wagon in the early 90’s. I wasn’t sure if it was an AMC, Chrysler, Eagle.. or Renault. All I can say was the thing was UGLY. The interior was bizarre… the fabric on the seats and door panels looked and felt exactly like terrycloth towels. The dashboard had strange gauges, knobs, buttons, and switches.The door panels had recessed armrests like the midsize GM cars that had the fixed rear door windows. The interior was made more bizarre by the really ugly shade of tan it was. I swear, that was the ugliest interior that I’ve ever seen.
Not only was the car ugly, it was a lemon ! Every month that car had a major issue. After about a year, my friend couldn’t take it anymore so it was traded in (he seriously tried to sell it by NO ON would reply to any of his ad’s) for a very mainstream Toyota Camry. It was like night and day.
This is a great find – I had thought all of these had long since met the shredder. Besides the various reliability issues, I don’t think I ever saw one that was more than 3-4 years old that the paint hadn’t faded on.
And I certainly agree that PRV Dourvin V6 was a compromised design – I’ve yet to forgive Volvo for putting it in their cars.
We got stuck with one of these with a bad PRV V6 that was neatly packaged in with a bunch of other trade in cars and ended up selling it for parts. To locate a good running engine was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. If in the market for a good domestic sedan from this time era I would start with a Regal GS with the bulletproof 3800 or a Taurus SHO!
The big, weird gap between LeBaron GTS ’85 and LH ’93 could have been filled by this car, if they sold it in C/P/D dealers in ’88. Instead their bread-and-butter cars only got more stale. There were a lot of minivan buyers in those years that might have seen this as a decent Taurus alternative.
Unfortunately, this car is listed at about $2900 over where its price should start at.
Despite having owned more French cars than it likely makes sense to and being completely in agreement that these were probably the best cars available in their class in the US at the time, this is most definitely a case where rarity is not a function of value.
If you are patient when it comes to tracking down parts, can do your own work (including the electrics), and have something else to use as a daily driver, then by all means go for it. You’ll have an excellent occasional-use vehicle that you’re unlikely to ever park next to another one.
If you want this as a daily driver, don’t do it. The reality is that parts availability for AMC-built Renaults (and I’m stretching that definition to include the Medallion) is arguably worse than for Renaults imported by Renault, which aren’t exactly plentiful. And even though this is a car that is heavily-based on the Renault 25, it is emphatically not a Renault 25. There is some interchange between the two, but so much of the Premier is unique to that car that even if you were willing to shoulder the cost and inconvenience of ordering parts from Europe, most of what went into the R25 there wouldn’t be suitable for a Premier on this side of the water.
Really great cars, very much underappreciated, and except for being an interesting footnote to the French automotive landscape in North America, almost completely ignored. Sadly, there are some very good reasons for this.
Not one bid, with 1 hr 45 min left to go.
Maybe there’s a bid sniper out there?
If I were the owner of this Premier, I’d try to contact someone in the Walter P. Chrysler Museum regarding a potential purchase. The Franco-American leftovers and the Eagle story represent a unique moment in Chrysler’s history that deserves to be represented.
A 47 thousand mile Premier in black in this kind of shape would make a beautiful statement.
I test drove a brand new Premier in 1988 and was impressed by the roominess. Wasn’t looking to buy and was more into compacts.
The Dodge version was dumped into fleets and given away in contests.
Being close to Kenosha, a number of these sold to AMC loyalists, but were cheap BHPH ‘specials’ by mid 90’s.
My neighbor had one of these, and everyone in the carpool liked it but joked about how it would soon fall apart, being a French car…but it gave him a good 10 years of troublefree service before he replaced it. After it took his mechanic 4-5 days to find some part (might have been a water pump or alternator…it was something that is a normal replacement), he replaced it with an Accord.
These things were nice, then rapidly fell apart and everything was expensive. Yet another ZF auto that self destructed , then cost half of the cost of the car and nobody fixed them. Three hundred dollar distributor caps. I remember the local Jeep Eagle dealer blowing out Premiers for 9995 in 91. I guess the lease residuals hadn’t caught up and the story was people were leasing the things for three years at 75 a month or something similarly stupid.