Wagon Wednesday: 1985 AMC Eagle Edition

It happened again. Grad school has sucked me into a vortex of projects, deadlines, and tests. What are you gonna do? Anywho, I’m taking a break tonight to showcase what, for me, is one of the great forgotten cars of the recent past.
It’s slow. It’s brown. It’s inefficient. It’s hopeless outdated. It’s awesome.
Today’s Wagon Wednesday submission is brought to you by the 1980’s. And by the 1980’s, I mean the 1970’s. Like an Elton John song that just didn’t know when to stop, the Eagle was based on Concord, which itself was based on the old Hornet platform. AMC certainly knew how to ssstretch a dollar, and they got almost 20 years out of it. Most pickup chassis don’t even last that long.
Like a lot of products that were ahead of their time, the Eagle Wagon was the best at what it did and was innovative beyond what any other manufacturer could conceive. While GM was churning out A-bodies and G-bodies by the dozens, and Ford was busy thinking of different ways to make a station wagon, AMC quietly offered buyers an alternative, something no other manufacturer had ever done, nor would do until the first crossovers hit the market years later.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t even see much rust on this beautiful brown machine. That makes it a cut above every 30-year old pickup on the road today, at least around here. The Eagle Wagon was a poor man’s crossover before there was such a thing. It was affordable and practical even when new, and today, it’s still a poor man’s crossover, if you’re lucky enough to own one. Eagle Wagons are still pretty cheap, and aren’t appreciating much right now, so it’s a good time to buy. This one can be yours for a pretty good price.
What do you think of the Eagle Wagon? Let us know in the comments.
[Source: Springfield Craigslist]
For even more Eagle goodness, check out this great overview of the AMC Eagle Wagon.


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  1. CruisinTime Avatar

    How much was it? The listing is gone.

  2. Sjalabais Avatar

    one of the great forgotten cars of the recent past
    It is very popular on the websites I frequent…yet I always wonder if the Hooniverse of 1986 would have decried this one as a hipster mobile of its time? The Eagle Countryman! Today, its honest simplicity and very pleasant design have aged incredibly well.

    1. Alff Avatar

      I have to believe this would have fit the Hooniverse ’86 ethic. Even if not, I doubt it would have received derision – there was so much other junk to point to at that time

  3. karonetwentyc Avatar

    As the past owner of a 1982 Eagle Wagon (258cid six, 4-speed), I loved it. It was also the worst vehicle I ever owned up until I bought a 1999 Subaru Forester S, but that’s another story.
    Option one: just drive it stock, do whatever it needs as it comes up and enjoy it. Best of luck with the feedback carburettor and its associated plumbing; I recall them being a true PITA.
    Option two: replace the transfer case (likely an NP129) with an NP242, and use the 258cid six as the basis for a 4.0 stroker build. At this point it’ll be pretty much bulletproof – but when you can find decent XJs with 4.0s and NP242 transfer cases without too much trouble for not very much money, you’d need to be really dedicated to make this happen.
    Of course, if it were a Kammback, only Option Two would be the sensible one.

    1. Alff Avatar

      I’ve had a Subaru for a few years. I understand why Subaru owners can be very passionate about the brand … and why there are many more former Subaru owners than current Subaru owners.

      1. karonetwentyc Avatar

        I’ve held a theory for some time that once Subaru discovered timing belts, their engineering was never quite as bulletproof again – and more so once 4WD was abandoned in favour of AWD. That’s a pretty specious argument, I’ll admit, but I think that there’s a grain of truth to it.
        Of the four Subarus I’ve had, three were Brats and they were all utterly dependable. Sure, some needed more attention than others, but ultimately these were things to be expected of any car in the 10- to 25-year-old bracket: the basic design, engineering, and build quality were extremely solid overall.
        As the example that flies in the face of my timing belt / AWD theory, the 100,000-mile-plus 2007 Outback wagon with the H6 that’s been in the family from new has been completely reliable, requiring only regular maintenance.
        The fourth Subaru that I owned was the ’99 Forester. It should have been good, but wasn’t. While it didn’t have any of the usual head gasket issues that those models were known for, it did like to burn through exhaust valves and piston rings – and the less said about the 4EAT transmission the better.

        1. Alff Avatar

          It’s dangerous to work from a sample size of one, but my impression is that in their attempt to build to a price point they cheapen up on things like wheel bearings, cv joints and brakes. That may have been fine during the U R A Bus era but my Lego GT is pretty damn quick and is constantly chewing through those items.
          Also, I don’t enjoy having to lift the engine off its mounts to do even basic maintenance.

          1. karonetwentyc Avatar

            Which is exactly in line with the experiences I’ve heard from other similar-era Subaru owners – and, keeping to tradition, totally out of line with the ones we’ve had with the modern Subarus in the family. Maybe we’re just outliers?
            Either way, I’d like to see Subaru go back to building quirky, well-engineered vehicles again. It’ll never happen, but I miss the time when they’d stick something on the market that would have me look at it, cock my head and squint an eye, and say, “hm, I kinda like that.”

  4. Jaap Avatar

    Coming back to the AMC Eagle, I think it somehow was avant garde, in concept. Its genious is hidden by silky detailing, like the chrome around the wheelarches, the whitewalls and the wheels. It should look like a Tonka toy car. I once had a bloke in the neighbourhood who drove a bright yellow one on shiny alloys with fat eagles around them and an exaust that made it sound like an oceansteamer. Ubercool. Think about Audi A6 Allroad and Volvo X70 and others.

  5. Zentropy Avatar

    I’ve driven thousands of miles in an Eagle Wagon– my mom owned one when I was a teen. They were rugged, heavy, and crude. The glue holding the fabric of the headliner always gave out on those cars, and the emissions system was a nightmare, though you can strip away the vacuum plumbing and build a great six with a new cam and carb. Despite their flaws, I always liked AMCs, and even bought a $400 AMC Spirit GT as my first car (though I transplanted in a ’73 360 V8 for fun).