AMC Eagle? Good car?

I’m looking at buying an AMC Eagle (1984) wagon edition with 91,000 miles on it. I’ve wanted one for awhile now but wondered if I’m being a little crazy as this would be my only vehicle. It looks in decent shape, but it’s old you know.

For an AMC built car this is one of their better ones. The AWD system was pretty sophisticated and reliable in its day. However, that day was many days ago. There is a good following of owners of these cars, but most are now using them lightly as collectables.

For you to make this your only car really depends on how you are going to use it. If you are retired and can live without a car for a few days now and again it may work. Some parts are going to be easy to get, others unique to the car could be very difficult to obtain. If you have a trusted mechanic have him examine the car and give you an opinion. Can he work on it? Can he gets parts for it? Are addtional questions to what kind of shape is the car in?

If this will be your only vehicle, I would strongly advise you to stay away from it. Years ago, my secretary had one of those (bought new); her husband, a geologists loved 4 wheel drive vehicles. This was probably the world’s first cross-over vehicle, and looked a lot like a Legacy Outback.

She said it was great in snow, but soon developed problems and incurred many expensive repairs. Since AMC no longer exists, and Renault or Chrysler (who actually made the AWD system)would not dream of supplying any part, you will just be on your own.

For what it’s worth, Consumer Reports rated this vehicle as having a MUCH WORSE THAN AVERAGE repair and reliability record, the weak areas were: Paint, body integrity, brakes, clutch, driveline, engine mechanical, fuel system, manual and automatic transmission. The only good area was cooling system. The Canadian Automobile Association rated it poorly as well in all areas except cooling system and steering. Only 18% said they would buy the car again, a figure only exceeded by buyers of the infamous Renault Le Car, of which only 14% would buy that vehicle again.

Average reported maintenance and repairs in 1988 for this vehicle was $1448 compared to $518 for a 1984 Chevy Cavelier, $392 for a 1984 Mazda GLC, $359 for a 1984 Nissan Sentra, $700 for a 1984 Ford Escort, and $483 for a 1984 Toyota Corolla. The only cars reporting higher costs were a 1984 BMW 318i at $1930 and a 1984 Volvo 760 at $1619. Mercedes and Jaguar did not report in this survey.

This will give you an idea of upkeep costs you are facing IF YOU CAN GET THE PARTS!

I agree it was an interesting vehicle, last produced in 1986, I believe, combining car and Jeep capabilites. If you really want one, keep it as a second vehicle.

I wouldn’t rely on a 25 year old vehicle that had marginal reliability when new as my primary means of transportation.

You can count me as another voice for caution.

To take a car that was not very reliable in its day, and think that, after 25 years, it would be reliable enough to be your sole vehicle is…naive, IMHO. The design was unique and was definitely forward-thinking, but relatively few were sold. Then, add in the uniqueness of its parts and the demise of its original maker, and you have a veritable nightmare waiting for you when it inevitably needs repairs.

As was said, if you are a car collector, this could make a unique addition to your collection. But, as a “daily driver”, this would be a very poor choice.

Up here in mountain country, you still see a fair number of these used as daily drivers. If you never have situations where you would be SOL if your car doesn’t work, I see no reason why a reasonably well preserved example wouldn’t make an okay only car. It’d definitely be to a certain extent a bit of a hobby to keep it running, but not as bad as an old Fiat or anything like that.

One thing I was surprised by, though, was that they really don’t get very good mileage at all. All the little 4x4’s of the same vintage like the Cherokee, S10 Blazer, Bronco II, 4runner, etc get about the same or even better gas mileage and the 4wd Subarus, Tercells and Wagovans got close to twice the mileage.

The gas mileage was no great shakes I recall; my secretary wondered why such a cramped car was so thirsty. We have a relatively heavy body, inefficient 6 cylinder engine, and an inefficient and heavy drive train.

The aim was not economy but versatility and filling a niche market. That it did very well.

AMC Eagle were very much the gas hog of the era. Heavy car, heavy load on an engine just barely big enough for the car. Even though it was a 6 you still had to have a heavy foot on the gas to get it moving.

someone said the 4 wheel mechanism was sophisicated, I thot it was very simple and reliable. Another says it was a gas hog, I don’t think they were. Another says they were “cramped”, they were as big as a Cutlass or Buick century. Another says the engine was barely big enough for the car, it was 258 CID which was a lot bigger than any other six in any other car of the day. 10 years ago I bought 2 nad made one out of them, but I sold it before I could really prove it. By the way, the last ones made were '88s.