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The Carchive: AMC in 1982

Chris Haining March 19, 2013 All Things Hoon, Cars You Should Know 20 Comments


AMC are probably the most Hooniverse-esque out of all the mainstream brands in motoring history. Firstly, they’re American. Secondly, they had some crazy ideas. Thirdly, they always seem, to me, anyway, to have been perennial underdogs. And there was the Scrambler. And the Matador, which, if you lived on an Island and had a tiny henchman called Nick Nack, could sprout wings and an artificial horizon and take to the sky.

Towards the end of the ’70s the AMC portfolio had been simplified, and by 1982 their range of cars came in three distinctive shapes; Spirit liftback and Concord Sedan and Wagon. But the wonderful novelty was, of course, that any of these could be taken in body-lifted Eagle 4×4 configuration.

As a first for R.A-S.H, we have documentary evidence that this particular brochure has been owned at some point by somebody who actually bought an 82 AMC. But which one would he choose?


“Economical cars that are built to last are an American Motors tradition. We take pride in being a pioneer in the manufacture of quality small cars.”

This is, let’s not forget, the same AMC who brought us the truncated Gremlin and the toad-like Pacer, in fact the Spirit and Concord were based on essentially the same platform as the ages-old Hornet and its sawn-off Gremlin offspawn . But there can be no question as to what point the company were trying to put across in their texts, with their boasts of factory Ziebart rust protection, and an “innovative” 5-year No Rust-Thru warranty. AMC had unfurled the “quality” flag. Or, at least, that’s what they were telling us.


“Spirit for 1982 is stylish evidence that durability can be built into a sporty subcompact economy car”

With the Spirit AMX having died two years before, and V8s in AMCs being a thing of the past, sportiness was now inferred through the application of dress up bits, including spoked-style wheels, a black remote sport mirror, G.T medallions and “special blackout accents” because black was obviously sportier than chrome. Engine choices were the 258ci six, spluttering out 130 lazy horses, or GMs Iron Duke four, from which less than a hundred ponies would bolt. Still, they maintained Spirit G.T. Liftback had “… the looks and manners of a true sports car”

Or, if the G.T was a touch too exciting for you, maybe the DL would be more to Sir’s taste? This, in ’82, represented the top-line; the Limited models had been axed on the Spirit and this was now as opulent as things got. But, hey, there was still that copper-bottomed warranty and rustproofing to yell about. The DL was: “…a sporty touch of class in a Tough American


If the Spirit didn’t take your fancy, there was always the mechanically similar Concord  sedan “one Tough American Economy car“, or wagon “a distinctive alternative“. With their stand-up bonnet emblems these were distinctive machines, albeit wearing their recycled Gremlin front fenders with pride. Naturally, Concord still offered a Limited trim-level, where you could recline on “supple, genuine leather” and wiggle your toes in “lush 18-oz carpeting“. Though, it could be said, if you were feeling malicious, that the two-door sedan with the landau roof looked a bit, well, silly.

But here in the ’82 brochure was the bit where things started to get interesting.


“Eagle’s Revolutionary Switch…..Select Drive”

As a brief anecdote here, when I was little and had even less of a knowledge of Fine American Automobiles than I do today, I had no idea that Eagle existed as a brand or subdivision. I just thought it was a cool name. So, until I was about 11 all the cars I drew were Eagles, and all the boats I drew were Seagles. Geddit? I was possibly even cooler back then than I am now.

Of course, being a fully paid-up inductee of the Hooniverse fold, I well know that:  “The select drive 4-wheel-drive system is standard equipment on all 1982 Eagle 2-Door & 4-Door sedans and wagons, as well as the sport subcompact SX/4 models”.


I have long thought these things to be hellacool. The SX/4 speaks for itself as a terrain-defying field-storming sportesque coupe, and the Eagle Wagon makes a whole lot of sense as a civilised lifted-chassis station wagon for fun times on the beach or hauling your Glastron out of the lake. Brilliant things, and antecedent to the Volvo “Cross Country” models and Audi Allroads by a good couple of decades. Ahead of their time? AMC? You betcha.


But my favourite would be the Eagle Sedan. Because who wouldn’t want an off-road capable four-door sedan in their life? I mean, the market today is plentiful for four-wheel drive versions of regular cars, particular German quattros and “X’s”, but they all have to do with the same highway-friendly ride height as their front or rear-drive brethren. In the Eagle Sedan you sat damn near eye level with Ford F150s and Dodge Rams. Oh yeah. For me, an Eagle Sedan Limited 4-door, with a smattering of luxe options, Vintage Red in hue and with the 4.2 (or perhaps a cheeky V8 swappification), that could well be all the car I could ever need.


So, what car did our hero I mentioned early, stump up the cash for in 1982? Well, the great man (or woman, either way their name has been lost in the swirling mists of time) eschewed the entire exciting Eagle range. Nor was he tempted by Concord. His choice was a Spirit liftback, but not a G.T. or indeed a DL. No, our hero bought base.

The dealership was Bassett AMC/Jeep/Renault of Michigan City (IN 46360, phenomenally Googlenet tells us that that ZIP code is now home to an AMC theatre!), the car was a Spirit with the 151, (base price $5576), the options chosen were a scuff molding ($47), tinted glass (big-pimpin’ at $32), power steering (one for the ladies at $199) and a set of 185/75R14 tyres as a $66 upgrade.

But he or she is still a hero, as they went for the 5-speed manual overdrive at a further $199. So, I’ll open this one up to the internet:

VIN: 1A18143060K123752, where are you now? Tell me your story, and see if we can work out how the hell this brochure came to be on a bookcase in rural England. And if your car has been condemned to history, well, at least I have the brochure.


(Disclaimer:- All images have been photographed by me from original manufacture publicity material, AMC retain all copyright to this material. I will personally extend a pint of beer to the value of £3.20 to whoever produces actual proof that they were the purchasee of the aforesaid Spirit 2.5. No alternative prize given; flights not included)

  • Devin

    An orange Concord of this vintage was my grandfather's last new car. I think he even stepped up to the DL model, which was out of character. On his for some reason there were seatbelts between the front buckets, so the youngest of the family would be shoved there in a crunch (that would be me). I think I've mentioned the car before, it was kind of a foundation for my bizarre taste.

    See, while my grandmother lived next door after my grandfather died, she didn't have her own license. That didn't mean she was going to sell her car, so we had this Concord sitting in the garage that was driven only very rarely. My parents preferred their Olds 98, or their F-150, while I had become fascinated with this orange car we never drove, so I always wanted to go places in that one, even though we really never did (and, in hindsight, it was somewhat prone to breaking). That, naturally, lead to me kind of becoming mostly interested in cars that weren't very common and that I didn't get to see every day.

    • Alcology

      Every AMC concord and concord based model has that extra seatbelt to seat 6. Quite handy!

      • Devin

        Given that I still remember how incredibly uncomfortable that was decades later, handy may not be the correct word.

  • [youtube xmLOeSpX4D8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmLOeSpX4D8 youtube]

    • Sjalabais

      So tough, it's scary.

  • Sjalabais

    Outrageously interesting. Maybe a "Seagle 2000" was what lacked their portfolio in order to survive the malaise age.

  • Karo

    Interesting: "Sea Blue Metallic" with "Gold Paint Stripes." An odd standard feature when this car didn't even have a radio!

  • Vavon

    I was just thinking that the 2 door coupe 4×4 was the smallest niche ever and then I discover the Eagle Sundancer…

    <img src="http://i102.photobucket.com/albums/m102/sundancer82/BEACH.jpg&quot; width="670/">

    • Alcology

      One showed up on BAT last year or the year before and sold for around 10k! It was purdy though.

    • Lotte

      It's a pretty small niche, but there's Wrangler, a number of Audi 'verts (I'd imagine), Bentley Continental convertible…hey, has this ever been a Encyclopedia Hoonatica?

      • Vavon

        But those aren't jacked-up 4X4 convertibles!

  • My grandmother had a Hornet sedan from around 1977 and a college friend had a Eagle SX/4. I always thought her beige 6 syl automatic no options sedan was pretty meh, but the SX/4 was a hoot. It was the iron duke but was a 4 speed stick. We hooned that around Cincinnati in the snow, it was a blast. Crappy car, but fun.

  • Jay_Ramey

    This is easily the most awesomely 80s thing I've seen all month, all year perhaps. Love all those colors on those cars.

    If AMC was still around today they would totally be milking the retro kitsch graphics for all they're worth on their current cars, and I'm not going to pretend that I wouldn't be tempted by that sort of thing. Instead, we get a Cherokee that looks like a rejected AZLK concept car from 1998


  • stigshift

    Don't forget Car&Driver's Eagle Boss Wagon- I hope the link works…. http://www.sheldonaubut.com/eagle/literature/alte

  • M44Power

    Great, now I am going to watch The Man with the Golden Gun tonight. Thanks a lot…

    • dr zero

      Growing up, the thing that remembered most about TMWTGG was Britt Ekland. Watching it now, I look forward to the barrel roll and flying AMCs. Not to mention AMCs in Thailand!

  • Rrrredrvr

    I had an '82 Eagle wagon AWD. It was a great ski shuttle from the Bay Area to Tahoe. It would only rev to about 4,000 rpm where it ran out of everything. It wasn't quick, and handled lie a tank. But, it never let me down, and never got stuck. It was two tone blue with an awful blue tweed cloth interior. It was awful and fabulous all in one?,

  • patrick

    It's 1982, but I want to buy a brand new car that looks and drives like its 1973. What shall I do??????

  • seguin

    I own and am selling a '79 Concord 2 door (mexican market version…VAM baybee!) They're, um, a little crude, although maybe my car's condition has more to do with it than its design. It runs as smooth as velvet with that big 258 though, and it actually cruises and stops really damn well.