(first posted 6/30/2011) No doubt the Eagle SX/4 is a joke; the only question being whether it’s a good one or a bad one, or whether the joke is on us. Did I have to ask?
In mythology, the trickster appears in many forms, a real shape-shifter. The SX/4 is the final variation of that all-time clown-mobile, the Gremlin. Designed on an air-sickness bag, the Gremlin created a whole new category of car: the problem is finding the right words to describe it. Tricky indeed. A big six cylinder up front, no room in the back; effectively a two seater; and the worst overall packaging of the modern era. Just call it the Gremlin class; of one.
But the troublesome little troll wouldn’t go away; it morphed into the Spirit, which saliently asks the question: “Why horse around?” Good question indeed.
The ill-fated Kammback version was a much less ambitious effort at horsing around, being that it was just a Gremlin with a bigger side window. As if anyone would actually sit back there to take advantage of the views.
When AMC unleashed the all-wheel drive Eagles (CC here) on the world in 1980, the body choices were sedans and the popular wagon. AMC Chairman Gerry Meyers was quoted as “what the hell is this”, when first confronted with the jacked up Concord. What he must have said a year later when the Spirit and Kammback were propsed for the same treatment has been politely left out of recorded history. “The joke’s on you, Gerry. We were just kidding; we didn’t really mean to suggest that you put these in production!”
And not only the Spirit, which became the SX/4, but also the Kammback. Sadly, the odds of finding an Eagle Kammback anymore are not good at all: only some 6k were ever built in 1981 and 1982. I was happy enough to find this SX/4, which actually was the best selling Eagle in the lineup the year it first appeared, 1981.
Like so many desperate AMC products in its dementia declining years, the SX/4 had a one-year sales pop, and then also crashed, and lasted only a year longer than the Kammback. The joke got around pretty quickly. But it was a good one: I vividly remember my aching sides when I first saw a picture of one. Holy Toledo; what will they pull off next; oh right, the Pacer. (Update: oops, that came earlier; Rernault came next). Yes, laughing was a good remedy to offset the pain of watching the last American independent go down the drain.
I’ve been a bit harsh on the poor SX/4, I know. It had its redeeming qualities, as long as you didn’t mind 14 mpg from its giant 258 CID six and the interior room of an MGB-GT. Everything has its trade-offs, and the Eagles Selec-trac full-time AWD system was a gem. The SX/4 was the forerunner of a whole raft of AWD/sports car imitators:
Did I miss someone? (Update: Oh yes…a couple of more recent ones; which at least have the interior space problem licked, sort of)
They were all equally successful, that’s for sure. It’s a niche that’s just irresistible, at least to certain makers of cars whose business, or at least certain models are/were heading for hospice care. That’s how the trickster works…”follow me!”
The SX/4 is fun to drive, the owner of this one told me. Undoubtedly. More smiles per mile; from the inside or from those watching it go by on the outside. I forgot to ask.
Ok, we’ve had our laughs with the SX/4. Obviously, Subaru ended the joke quickly, offering well-made four wheel drive wagons, sedans, hatchbacks and even coupes that had twice the interior space and got at least twice the mileage. But they’re not nearly as amusing all these years later; well, with a few exceptions.
The SX/4 has carved out a special place in the automotive mythology indeed; the only thing wrong was its name. It should have been the Eagle Coyote.
As an avid Mad Max I loved this car the first time I saw pictures of it. But I guess I will never see one in real life. I once saw an Eagle wagon for sale here in Norway, but if more than one was ever imported, there’s not much chance of accidentaly running into it/them on the streets anywhere.
I guess it’s bad luck for AMC that there wasn’t more people like me around when they made them.And that gas wasn’t cheaper, and that they didn’t have a decent engine to put in it. It sure looks like a good compromise of just about everything all at once.
And now everyone want’s car like this.
It’s a lot like the BMW X6 of today 🙂
(does that mean BMW is ‘heading for hospice care’ ? )
Thanks for the reminder; I just updated the pictures some more. Probably not BMW, but the X6, quite likely; or at least I hope so. I saw my first on ever (in Eugene) recently (or maybe the first one I could bear to actually look at); what a monstrosity.
I’ve seen two, and they’re hard to miss.The last one just two days ago, in white. It looked like the helmet of a stormtrooper from Star Wars, with four huge wheels stuck where it’s neck should have been 😛
It’s an absolutely ridicoulous car. and I love hatchback coupe’s, and I wouldn’t mind a 4×4 in the winter, but it’s just too much of everything.
(I actually ended up buying an 18 year old BMW 525Ix this winter, not very proud of it, but I’ve saved loads of money on gas, gotten a lot of excersise and broken two bones in my hand because of it allready :P)
Makes me wonder what they smoke ar BMW the X6 really is a mess,in comparo the AMC isnt too bad certainly more useful than the Joke or RAV4.
As a station wagon driver, I ask, who would want one of these over a 5-series wagon?
well.. Paul. You should do some more research. These cars are hot in the AMC circle of fans. Try the website Eagles Nest. I bought my first used on in 1991 and have owned many since then. Just soul my 1981 full time 4WD version and now purchasing the ‘select’ drive model. What a write up if you never drove one. Drives and rides like a car but has the 4 WD for the snow and in Northeast Ohio snow belt they get you around everywhere, much better control than a Jeep Grand Cherokee. And the option models had Power windows and even a CB option. AMC sold a heck of alot 1980 to 1986. America’s first 4WD drive car MADE IN AMERICA. Niedermeyer.. reminds me of a name of the character in Animal House. Oh by the way, the SCCA just inducted the Eagle SX4 Pro Rally driver into their Hall of Fame.. Mr Gene Henderson. Recommend a little more research before the tirade on a great car
Having a sense of humor deficit?
guess I did if thats what you call a sense of ‘humor’. Try the comic strip for humor
Stop, brown-nosing Bruce, Mav… what’re you, his cheerleader?
I just found a 1982 AMC eagle SX4 in storage-runs fine (6 cyl manual trans) want to discuss it?
David Tacoma WA USA
Cool find! Come visit the AMC Eagle Den Forum!
What is it about AMC that always brings out the car lust in me? The sheer “oddball-ness” of it? The “Dare To Be Different” that seems to be in my DNA?
I love these Eagles although a Concord wagon with all the options and woodgrain with Jeep Cherokee running gear would be pretty freaking cool too.
I love these for the same reason I love Studebakers of the 50s and 60s. The mechanicals were not bad and the rest of the weaknesses can be forgiven because the poor company was trying to create products out of change from the vending machines.
There was no worse time for this car to come out, by the way, than 1980-81. Fuel prices were sky high (the equivilent of $3.50/gal today) and the only stuff selling was economical and roomy. These cars were the exact opposite – thirsty and small. I guess anyone who really needed 4 wheel drive with this level of heft bought a pickup or a Bronco/Blazer/Ramcharger. They did not buy a little Eagle coupe.
International finally pulled the plug on the Scouts around this time too. This was a hard time to make a living selling cars. Think of it: Chrysler survived only with loan guarantees, Ford was on the ropes, VW with its Rabbits, Toyota and Datsun were the only ones really cleaning up. And GM was so big at that time that nothing could bring it down, or so it seemed. So props to poor little AMC – it did what it could with what it had to work with. And you did it again, Paul. For the first time in my life, I want one of these.
It kills me that AMC couldn’t hold on just a little bit longer. They could have been a major contender in today’s suv/crossover-mad market.
Looks like a Torana coupe on a landrover chassis it could have been a hit if sold where 4WD is a neccesity rather than a toy but your right Paul Subaru did it better and on lots less gas shame there wasnt a dealer in OZ out past the end of the bitumen this would have been good
My friend, are at war with punctuation?
They weren’t built as a toy…that was the domain of the Jeep lineup. The Eagles were designed for markets with significant amounts of winter driving to get you to the ski hill, around town in six inches of snow, or rural residents. They sold quite well where I live in Canada, and probably in states like Colorado, the American NE, etc. Anything else was just gravy.
I actually had an AMC Sprit (new Gremlin) pass me on the highway yesterday! Baby blue and cute as anything! Several double-takes, too – and lots of smiles – my wife and I almost bought one, but bought our K-Car instead back in 1981.
Zackman, do you wish that you had purchased the AMC Spirit instead?
Very character filled machine indeed. Looks to have some aggressive tires on there so I suspect it sees the dirt once and a while. If I was to buy a early 80s car based 4×4 I think I’d rather the Subaru Brat but this would be a worthy second place.
The advertising guys got pretty creative marketing this car, claiming it could outperform a Trans Am, Mustang (Turbo no less!) and an MGB. Well, sort of:
In deep mud this would eat a stang
Back in 1980-81 I had a Mercury Capri Turbo RS and a young lady I started dating had a brand new 1981 AMC Spirit Kammback. I was far more interested in the young lady’s charms than her car’s.
As time passed, my Mercury became more and more of a POS, I began to appreciate the charms of the Kammback. Even with the rough and ready Pontiac Iron Duke 4 banger in there, the Kammback always started and never puked up antifreeze like my freakin Capri. The hatchback body got us through a couple of moving her to new apartment events and such, and as it turns out had more space in it’s hatchback than my Capri. We parted as friends, the young lady and I. The Capri, not so much…
I only ever saw a couple of handfuls of the SX/4’s, and at the time puzzled over their mission. I guess the real mission was for AMC to be “the” four wheel drive company and to have a complete lineup. But CAFE regs made sure anything that audacious and fuel hungry would be legislated out of existence.
I can’t tell from the pix in the post, but if that was a 1979 Spirit GT, it would have a 304 V8 with 130 HP, it would have been a worthy competitor to the then new Mustang V8.
EDIT: this post was in response to GregW73
Everyone rags on about the Gremlin and all the ” Hacked off Hornets” but the AMC DNA survived along time…after Chrysler bought them out and then Mercedes Benz bought Chrysler look what shows up in your local MB showroom…A Benz C class with a hacked off trunk to make a coupe! And also over at BMW the 318 Hatchback! AMC was just ahead of their time.
Good insight, Nvanbccan! As another example, look at the curious roof-line and rear-door treatment of the Nissan Armada…the curved roof, the reverse-canted C-pillar…
Right out of the AMC style studio, 1958-62.
How did that happen? American Motors’ ties with Renault go back much further than the State-owned Renault’s bailout of AMC in 1979 and subsequent purchase. In 1962, AMC licensed the Classic to Renault to be built in France…using Perkins diesel engines, for taxicabs.
Renault’s star rises; AMC’s falls…and Renault gives up AMC for dead, and bails out Nissan! And when Nissan works out a new Americanized product line, with Renault input and money…out comes the Armada, with its long-departed Rambler-inspired roofline.
There’s so much cross-pollination in the auto biz…it’s INCESTUOUS!
Glad to see I’m not the only one that noted the Rambler roofline on a crappy japanese suv.
That one appears to have been given a slight lift along with the oversized tires, the fender flares are remove for more tire clearance . Some guys lift them even more and put on 33″ tires. Then throw in a 4.0, 5sp and 2sp transfer case from a Wrangler or Cherokee and they are actually pretty decent wheelers. I’ve got a friend that did the 5 + 2sp conversion and slightly taller than stock tires on his, but the last I heard it still had the 258 powering it. There is one sitting under a tree near one of my houses that has set there for a dozen years or more, never seems to move, put then again it isn’t covered in the typical PNW slime. Funny thing is when I drove by it today I wondered if they might be willing to sell it. The SX/4 is pretty much the only AMC/Jeep product I’d consider owning.
Having owned an ’81 Mustang for five years or so, I can definitely state that I would rather have it back, and anyone who prefers the Eagle is welcome to it. My rose-colored glasses are not deeply enough tinted for the Eagle.
I’ll try to avoid deep mud. Thanks for the tip.
It is possible to love both. The Mustangs built from 1964-93 are among my favourite cars, and, having grown up from the age of six with AMC products, I have a soft spot for the little guy. My family still has a ‘78 Concord that my Mom bought brand new, and I drive it any chance I get.
I had 2 Eagles. An 80 2 door sedan and an 87 wagon and they were great cars. Sure they were basically 1970 Hornets with AWD but they were solid.
The Eagle didn’t have Quadratrac. In 1980 it was full time 4wd “Automatic 4WD” and then a version of Selectrac “Select Drive” from 81 to 88 with the single speed T case that either had an open center diff or a viscous coupling.
I mis-wrote that; Selec-trac is what I meant to say. Tx.
Sorry for coming off as a bit zealous. AMC and I have a horrible love/hate relationship.
Why all the hate, Paul? The Eagle was a good concept that could have been a good car, had the required R&D dollars been in the kitty. What it needed was a more efficient, smaller engine…I’ll never understand why they sold the ex-Buick V6 back to GMC after taking over Kaiser. It was tenfold more efficient and economical than was the boat-anchor Rambler Six (before it was reworked into the hot Jeep powerplant) and would have saved the Pacer and made the Gremlin almost practical.
The whole saga, that of the Gremlin, the Eagles, and the lack of appropriate engines…are a moral in what comes of doing things on the cheap. Had they not sunk their last nickels into a Matador rework and the Pacer debacle (who in their right mind could have approved THAT!) they could have cut down the six into a four – ten years before they actually did, with Renault’s money. They could have made the most of that V6. And they could have gotten some cutting-edge smog technology, that would have boosted the mileage into industry-acceptable levels for that class of car.
Which was, you fellow old-timers remember, about 19 mpg. Computer engine controls are really wonderful things, even if they are frightening to diagnose and repair.
Anyway…this should have worked out better. I can forgive the Gremlin chassis – the Gremlin was a product of the zany tie-died 60’s, and the SX/4 was the best kind of update to be hoped for. And with the drivetrain it was perfect for what it was conceived as: a niche car in an untapped, if small, market.
The AMC,debacle, like most tragedies, was the result of too many bad things all coming together at once…caught with formerly “trendy” compact-class designs that didn’t age well, they ran out of resources in the regulation-heavy decade that stressed its hundred-times-larger competitors.
What hate? I’m amused. It’s a goofy car..but no hate; it’s my way of expressing appreciation at a joke well told.
I don’t think AMC had the dough needed to correct the odd fire like GM did when they bought the tooling back.
Though that dosen’t mean AMC couldn’t have restarted buying buying engines from Buick.
If you take a good long hard look at AMC you will start to find a lack of logic to almost every move they made after 1970.
The Spirit AMX is way cooler.
There’s nothing wrong with a weirdo car though, especially decades after its release.
Also, the Nissan Juke feels left out.
I swear, sometimes I am sure that the Spirit liftback and kammback inspired the Honda Civic restyle in the nineties…
I don’t see it. Been sipping the Pennzoil, again, buddy?
Forgetten is that Renault imported the 18i sedan in 1980-85[?] and tried to push it as a ‘new sport sedan’ to replace the Concordes and bombed. The Premier and Medallion were too late to the party, before Lee I. came with cash.
So, Reanult/AMC were working on new cars this time, just were poorly designed or timed.
Uh, the CONCORD is an AMC product…which you spelt, Concorde.
The CONCORDE is a 1993- 2004 Chrysler fwd LH sedan, that shared a chassis with the Dodge Intrepid and Chrysler New Yorker/LHS.
Also, I think the 18i only lasted till 1983.
Now there’s a car I haven’t seen in YEARS… I wonder if there’s a single example left in North America?
Or anywhere else, for that matter.
If you are referring to the Renault 18i, I haven’t seen one since the 80’s in the US… But, when I watched that new movie, American Sniper… they show an 18i wagon and an 18i sedan driving around.
They also show a Renault Dauphine, and sadly, they use a nice original Alliance, then blow it up.
So, it looks all the 80’s Renaults are in the Middle East, now… That’s why you can’t find any in the US. Lol
I guess I’m a “late comer” to this party, BUT ….. I KNOW where there is a low miles Kammback For Sale if any one desires to have a RREALLLY gud “laugh!”
Fun fact: as the guys over at Grassroots Motorsports confirmed, swapping the better-flowing cylinder head off a later Jeep Cherokee-sourced inline six onto the Eagle’s wheezy lump nets you — I’m not kidding — 100 instant additional horsepower. Combine that with a nearly bulletproof 4WD drivetrain and transmission and you have a recipe for fun.
As a hobby rallyist, I have been keeping my eyes open for a decent 4WD Eagle wagon with a manual trans. I always thought it would look better with the front clip from an older Hornet Sportabout bolted on…
Gee, I’ve had quite a few people tell me they really like my Kammback. I don’t see many 81 Subarus driving around these days….
Your ignorance is obvious.The AMC Eagle is better made, cheaper to own, and tougher than any car made since.
Your article states 14 mpg. The goverment rating was 32 mpg for the four cylinder Eagle SX4 and 30 mpg for the stickshift six cylinder. The 1999 Subaru has a rating of 27 mpg.
I consistantly get 29 miles per gallon from my stickshift 6 cylinder 1983 Eagle SX4. I consistantly get a pathetic 25 miles per gallon from my stickshift 1999 Subaru Forrester. Every 1999 Subaru head gasket blows around 120K miles. I have over 300K miles on an AMC Eagle original engine.
This should’ve been called the UGLY car article… because every single car in the segment is goofy looking. lol
Also, Dave… “AMC is better than ANY car ever made since.” Really?
Now, YOU sound like a bitter fanboy, calling someone ignorant on a now DEFUNCT auto manufacturer who sold inferior products.
I owned a 73 AMC Hornet, although the car was ugly, the inline 6 ran like a top… and was very reliable. I also got into a frontal collision in 1988 with a NEW, at the time, 3rd gen Accord. The Hornet got a pinhole in the radiator, no grille damage or even a scratch… but the Accord nose folded into a V, with the radiator spouting like a geyser. lol
We know you love your AMC… but, dude, they are NOT coming back, any time soon. So stop being Linus, waiting for the Great Pumpkin. It’s okay, AMCs were reliable cars(only us owners would know that)… but,
Calling them the best cars EVER built, seems a lil too farfetched. lol
You call them inferior products, and then describe them as reliable cars. I think you’re a little confused…
How did you manage to beat the original EPA rating by 9mpg (or 11mpg in the revised ratings) with your SX/4? Flux Capacitor? Cold Fusion?
Call me crazy, we’re renting a trailer and going to take a look at an 83 SX4 Sport tomorrow. Live in American Siberia, central Oregon, and drive 30 miles each way to work every day. Four wheel drive, independent front suspension, bulletproof inline 6, and a 5 speed manual transmission make a compelling case.
Well the author of this has to get his head out of his subaru or toyota and drive a real american car…. The Eagles get great mpg ( i get 20) in my 258 automatic wagon and well the gremlins also sold like 650,000 cars soooo maybe it wasnt such a bad idea o and subaru can ow its whole company on the Eagle because they just copied every aspect of the car rounded a few corners droped a different motor in it and sold it to people like the author of this page
Subaru started building 4wd wagons in 1972 and selling them in the US in 1974 as ’75 models. Copying the Eagle seems like a bizarre under-utilization of time-travel technology.
But the ’70s 4WD Subarus had truck-style part-time 4WD systems that could only be used in bad weather and had to be unlocked the rest of the time IIRC. The Eagle had what nowadays would be called AWD or full-time 4WD.
While the Subarus didn’t have it, Full-time 4WD was quite popular in the ’70s until fuel economy became a driving concern. Ramchargers and Wagoneers are two examples of vehicles that had it. Suggesting that it was later adopted in other cars because of the leadership of the Eagle is a bit of a reach. The Quattro, which had been in development for quite a while, was probably more influential.
The raised ride height of the Eagle made its return with the Subaru Outback in the mid ’90s, but that was a response to the success of SUVs taking over as America’s family cars.
The Eagle didn’t come out till 1979… Subaru’s 4wd wagon was out in the EARLY 70’s, so who copied who? Do your research before you rant, Skippy.
Also, if you consider 20mpg GOOD gas mileage… I have a 78 Lincoln Town Car, you might be interested in…that you can deliver pizza in. LMAO
The “stop horsing around” ad is a prime example of AMC marketing desperation fail in the 70s. If you mention your competition, you’ve already lost. I don’t recall any contemporary Mustang ads referencing comparable data points to the Spirit. They just sold the hell out of them, even as gussied up Pintos in Mustang II guise. And when the Fox platform was released for ’78, it was a revelation at the time.
I do admire AMC for inventing and owning the niche AWD passenger market, if only for a brief time. They made AWD not only acceptable to car buyers, but essential. It was a hail-mary that at least extended the life of the company for a few more years.
Owned a 78 Concord when new. Would probably be willing to exceed socially acceptable boundaries in order to own a new Concord wagon. The 258 was great and the chrysler automatic did just fine. A four speed overdrive would put it into this century with regard to mileage. I pulled about 20 on the highway. As scoutdude has said things off the 4.0 bolt on so expect you could have FI and engine management systems if you chose.
I thought and still think that these are very nice looking cars. Since thats where I put my money at the time I obviously thought the Concord was better than what the big three had to offer. One of these 4wd wagons would work ever bit as well as the 4runner I now have.
Time goes on and so did they. I was sorry to see them pass and always was a rambler and AMC fan.
Lee, I owned 3 Concords and my Dad had one, all of them at least 10 yrs old at the time. We both loved them, despite their flaws. Later iterations of these cars were much better, with the ’80-’83s being the best of the lot IMO. Never had an Eagle but really liked these too.
For a while AMC had a hot product in the Eagle, esp. the wagons. I remember reading a Car & Driver article about “Boss wagon 4×4” in which they made suspension and interior improvements to a red wagon, which made a huge difference, and I thought “This is what AMC should be building right now!” But alas, poor AMC didn’t go far enough to develop this car, the usual sad story. So many missed opportunities with this platform.
I liked the way they opened up the rear window on the Spirit sedan, gave it a much more finished, smoother look.
My Mom also bought a ‘78 Concord brand new (having traded her ‘76 Pacer in for it, and Dad bought a new ‘77 Hornet), and the Concord is still sitting in their garage—it’s our summer fun car. AMC is in my DNA.
Actually the MGB had so much •front• legroom, it was the only car I needed to pull the seat forward to drive. But I know, it’s more about the space behind the driver, which was basically that platform above the 2 6V batteries.
Yes, the MGB had plenty of front legroom so long as you didn’t mind the bottoms of your thighs touching the floor!
A fast car you can take off roading, sign me up! A modern Cherokee High Output 4.0 should bolt right in. One of my favorite engines; great torque down low, good hp up top with that pushrod straight six symphony. The people will laugh, until you show them a four wheel burnout.
Also, I must agree with the now Principal Dan- the oddness is fantastically appealling.
I’ve always liked the Eagle. I’d even consider having one for Post Office runs for our business if I found one in decent shape.
I know that it’s just a jacked up sedan, hatch, or wagon, but there’s something about it that just intrigues me.
For having a budget of about $43, AMC did very well. Of course, the Cherokee sold much better, but still…
I wonder how this would have sold if the Eagle wagon was a Jeep….
I always loved the SX/4 styling and would really like to own one. Too bad they are nowhere to be found on my continent.
AMC was decades ahead of every one.
look. the last picture. the coyote peed in the road. what a trickster! nobody saw him do it, but you know it was him.
I was assigned to help liquidate the AMC dealership that had been at the Powells Bookstore site in Portland since 1916. I picked a 79 Spirit GT with a 304 and a 4speed to drive while there. Good car for the time, Damn sad duty as we had been going there on dealer trades since I was about 6. You either get the American Motors thing, or you don’t. Hindsight is always 20-20.
I have to say I like these! Even in brown without the spoiler!
Both the Hornet/Concord and Gremlin/Spirit are the work of the immensely talented Dick Teague, who all of us car lovers know did absolutely superb with hardly any money. I much prefer the 2 WD versions of both cars as they just look much better when not raised. The Spirit, in Kammback or Sportback, is a very nice looking coupe.
The 2.5 Iron Duke Pontiac four offered better economy than the 6 cylinder, but call me old school, I prefer any AMC product with the venerable 4.2 (unless its a Javelin/AMX, then I’ll take the 390…..).
Dick Teague was, quite simply, a genius. I don’t think anyone in the automotive design business ever did more with less.
One of the best cars I ever owned. I lived in Northern Arkansas at the end of a 3 mile dirt road. Our Eagle may not have delighted the sensitive aesthetics of some, but it was rock-solid reliable, could crawl through anything but a lake of lava, and gave us nothing but the expected problems in its 12 years of service. I’d buy another in a heartbeat if I needed 4wd. people are quite spoiled these days….
There were two SX/4s + one Spirit GT in my neighborhood when I was a kid and I was absolutely fascinated by them. They were the most confusing cars I’d ever seen, but I loved them and still do.
I have said it before, but it irks me how some states/governors fell over themselves giving the Japanese incentives to build non-union factories, while AMC was left to die an agonizing death at the hands of French-government-owned Renault…So much for AMERICAN Motors. I have had 5 AMC’s, 7 if you count my square-headlamp Wrangler and my Metropolitan. All, except the Met were bullet-proof. Two had the Buyer Protection Plan. All but the Jeep had Deep-Dip Rustproofing. I mourned AMC’s demise for years and still cherish my 1966 Marlin. Now Plymouth, Olds, Pontiac (WTF!) and Mercury are gone too…Can Lincoln be far behind? Yesterday, I was at a red light surrounded by Hondas. 🙁
LMAO… Could be worse…
At least, ya weren’t driving one of those Hondas. lol
I owned a Spirit Kammback in the late ’90’s. GM “Iron Duke” buzz-box 4-cylinder motor was the worst feature. Had no back seat – I drove it as a 2-door, and never missed the back seat. Kinda’ high liftover through the back window when “loadin’ the groceries”. Otherwise decent – good handling with no power options and automatic transmission. Sold it when I “upgraded” to an ’85 Chevette. Other than adding a coolant overflow tank from a junked Concord, I didn’t spend a dime on maintenance in 3 years, except for a set of tires and regular oil changes. Always started and ran. Body didn’t rust off. I really wanted the hatchback – if I’d found one of those, I’d probably still have it…
I knew a guy in Montana, at the north gate of Yellowstone, who bought an SX/4 in absolute mint condition for $1500. A local used it for short winter trips, and sometimes went weeks without using it. Since new! I was floored. It was brown, with tan interior, and it rode like a Jeep with a car body on it, which is pretty much what it was. I loved that car, and especially the price he got it for. I sure hope he never parted with it.
I owned a ’85 Eagle wagon with the 258-6 and a 5 speed for about 170K miles. I got about 24-26 in the winter, 25-27 in the summer and occasionally cracked 30 on the highway with a best of 32. We have also owned 4 subaru’s, 2 Volvo V70XC, and a Honda Pilot.
15 Outback (30-35)
85 Eagle 5sp (25-30), 99 Volvo XC (25-30)
91 Legacy 5sp (23-28), 02 Outback (22-27)
07 Outback (21-25), 95 Impreza (21-25)
06 Honda Pilot (17-21)
Subaru really improved the mpg by 2015, probably due to CVT. Honda mpg is atrocious, Eagle would still be good today. It did have a computer to control fuel mixture in the carburetor.
SNOW Performance (w/snow tires)
Volvo XC w/snow tires
15 Outback w/snow tires
AMC Eagle w/ all season tires
02 Outback w/snow tires
06 Pilot w/snow tires
91 Legacy w/ all season tires
95 Impreza w/ all season tires
I never had good snow tires on the Eagle but I did have good all season (Michelin). With good snows I am confident it would out-perform the Volvo in snow just from ground clearance which is maybe 1.5″ greater? I did also have the Volvo in snow with all season tires and it was on par with Eagle that way. The Volvo had a brain for the AWD with traction control etc. The Eagle and Subaru are more alike in that respect with simpler full time systems. And the Eagle was full-time meaning you could leave in in 4WD all the time. Brakes were better in 4WD too.
For build quality the Volvo is the best by a lot I think. Eagle was OK, and very resistant to rust. But it had insidious problems like door hinge bushings wearing out, door handles breaking, carb sensitive to dirt, … But the drive train and suspension were outstanding. Never needed a front end alignment in the Eagle. Still had the original clutch at 170K. My 06 Honda Pilot is better built than the 15 Subaru I think. It’s useful trick is being able to carry 8 people. I think the 15 Subaru holds almost as much cargo. I also think my 91 Legacy was better than the 02 Outback though that was sort of beat when I got it though it had less miles. Terrible rust on the under side of the 02. The 95 Impreza was fun but cramped and a bit low and with too wide tires for the snow.
The Eagle had the best combination of tire foot print and weight for snow performance. It was an outstandingly versatile car for it’s day. Not really fair to compare it to the Volvo or modern Subaru’s though. But I have had all of them so maybe I can make some meaningful comparisons based on real experience.
Hi my name is Philip I am looking for some bumper corners for a 1982 amc eagle
If anyone nows where I can get them please let me know thanks
Harshly written article without reflection of the times that the Gremlin/Spirit/Eagle were built. AMC was the first American car company to build a small car, a year before the Pinto and the Vega came out, and they were not much better then the Gremlin. At least with the Gremlin you didn’t have to worry about the gas tank exploding upon a rear end collision or the engine self destructing or watching the body rust away just as your drove it home. If only AMC had the resources that GM and Ford had.