By on January 13, 2012

While it’s cool and all to find genuine, everyone-agrees-it’s-a-classic cars in the junkyard, what I really like to find is the cars that serve as evolutionary dead-ends or corporate-merger footnotes. The Eagle Premier is a fine example of the latter type.
This ’91 ended up in a Denver self-service yard because it bashed into something, hard. That means we can assume it was running properly up until the moment of impact.
Always wear your seat belt! This Premier’s driver didn’t, hence the bent steering wheel.
The AMC 2.5 four-cylinder was standard in the Premier LX, but this car has the optional PRV V6. Not exactly a reliable engine, but sophisticated.
I’ve never ridden in a Premier, but I’ve heard that it was the nicest-riding product Chrysler offered in the early 1990s. Its Renault 21/25/Medallion AMC/Renault genes have lived on in Chrysler’s products until the present day, with some of the Premier’s suspension design showing up in the current Challenger and Charger. It’s always fun to trace the AMC family tree!

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30 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1991 Eagle Premier LX...”


  • avatar
    plee

    I drove a new 89 Premier ES as a demo when I was in auto sales back then. It was a roomy, comfortable car. The V6 was smooth and had a nice purr but the transmission was balky and had weird shift habits. There was not much interest from customers in it but those who drove it usually thought it was a decent car. We did much better spending our time with Jeep Cherokee prospects.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    Yep, a footnote alright. Chrysler was obligated to accept a certain number of Premiers from Renault in order to get the lucrative Jeep brand. When Chrysler had a hard time selling the Premier, they started putting Dodge Monaco names on the cars. That didn’t help much either. There’s a stationary Premier in a side yard not too far from me. I’ve never seen it moved.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Oh brother. That engine also went into the Volvo 760. I have brick enthusiast friends who spit at the mere thought of buying one of those models thanks to that Godless V6 engine.

    On the Premier/Monaco you pretty much had the worst of all worlds. A late-80′s plasticized pseudo-luxury interior from Chrysler coupled with Renault/AMC engineering and quality standards.

    On the other hand, once the late 90′s came around I was able to keep a Peugeot 405S, another quality basket case, on the road thanks to three free ‘donated’ cars at a nearby junkyard. Perhaps the Monaco/Premier was found money for those seeking a cheap beater built in the same decade.

    What a disgusting, heinous, terrible engine that was…

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Steven, this car was fully baked when Chrysler bought AMC – Chrysler had nothing to do with the interior design. Much of the basic chassis design/layout and many of the “hard points” found their way into the 1st and 2nd generation LH cars which featured the same longitudinal engine placement and were built in the same assembly plant (Brampton) that was constructed to build the Premier.

      Let’s not forget that with the AMC purchase, Chrysler also got Francois Castaing, who was a proponent of the longitudinal engine layout for these large FWD cars.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      No, this engine did not go into the Volvo 760.

      While the three versions of the PRV (for Peugeot, Renault, Volvo) had common roots as a jointly develped engine in the ’70s, the three automakers took very different routes with the actual detail execution. It’s like the difference between a Saab 9000, Lancia Thema, Fiat Chroma and Alfa 164 – common base, but completely different execution. All three versions had COMPLETELY different cylinder heads as a major example. Also different engine management systems. The Peugeot version (2.8l) even had balance shafts. And it was the heads that were a major point of failure on the Volvo version. They were highly susceptible to sludging, and once the oil passages gunked up, the cams wore out in short order.

      The Peugeot and Renault versions of the PRV where quite reliable. The balance shafts made the Peugeot version much smoother running though. Volvo finally got it right pretty much in the last 2.8L versions, but then dumped the V6 for the new 24V 2.9l inline six in the 960.

      IIRC the biggest failing of the Premier/Monaco was a transmission in the true tradition of Chrysler, despite IIRC it being a version of the ZF4hp. And that Chrysler mechanics had no idea what to do with what was effectively a Renault 25 sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        acuraandy

        @krhodes1…

        Dateline-1988.

        Chrysler technician: ‘RenauWHAT? Issat European or somethin’?

        Balance SHAFT? What’s that?

        And what’s this newfangled ‘Electronic Fuel Injection’?! NO LEAN BURN? WTF? Where’s the carburetor and distributor points?

        Where’s that ’78 Volare with Slant-Six that I was workin’ on? I CAN fix that…lmfao

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    Looking at that bent steering wheel…OW! That must have hurt.

  • avatar
    rustyra24

    I have owned an Eagle Vision and an Eagle Talon. I need to find one of these cars to finish the Trifecta.

    The Vision might be the one of the worst cars that I have ever purchased. It was a split second decision. I needed a car for College and I only paid 200 bucks for it. The guy I purchased it from said he was going to build a skate ramp in front and back. He planned on using it for a video doing tricks and stuff.

    The list of problems was enormous. I had to wire the trunk shut. The front bushings were toast so it drove like a boat. It had other problems I tend to forget. I also somehow got the car registered without having an actual title. I am pretty sure the DMV screwed up. I drove the car for a year before some weird electrical issue completely killed the car. It had decent power and did its job.

    The Eagle Talon had 189,000 miles on it and I sold it before it developed crank walk. I liked that car.

  • avatar
    turbobrick

    The even-fire B280F in a 760 was not THAT bad (uhh, as in less bad than the B28?), and apparently it perks up nicely if you drop in the cylinder heads from a Premier.

  • avatar
    Joe McKinney

    The first time I ever looked under the hood of a Chrysler LH sedan I wondered why the engine was mounted in a longitudinal configuration ahead of the front axle. All of Chrysler’s other fwd cars had transverse engines.

    I later learned that the LH sedan was heavily influenced by the Premier which had a longitudinal engine. It turns out Renualt had been building longitudinal engine, fwd cars ever since the R4 debuted in the early 1960′s. In terms of engine placement, the LH was more Renault than Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      Actually the reason for the engine alignment was that Chrysler was planning on using AWD and RWD versions of these cars if the market called for it. The longitudinal configuration was more appropriate if the decision to sell those versions was made.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I always thought it was a shame that Chrysler did not build 1st and 2nd gen LH’s with optional AWD since they were designed with a longitudinal configuration. They might of even pulled away some prospective Audi or Subaru customers as well as Jeep buyers who really did not need a Jeep but needed AWD. Apparently AMC had a 2dr coupe version on the drawing board.

      • 0 avatar
        JPMotorsport

        But that’s not to say that’s the ONLY way to economically build AWD/FWD variants of the same car. If you bought a company that did it X way, why differ? However it was still the brainchild of the previous owners.

  • avatar
    stars9texashockey

    My mother was one of the 7 people that bought the Dodge Monaco version of this. A disaster followed by an LH Concorde which was less of a disaster, but still… Know what she drives now? An Accord.

  • avatar

    I can’t believe this car was actually running good enough to actually get into an accident.

  • avatar

    A single Premier has raced in the 24 Hours of LeMons, at Nelson Ledges in ’09. It ran all weekend. If we ignore the small sample size, that makes the Premier more reliable than most Toyotas.

  • avatar
    millmech

    That thing made it from Toledo, Ohio?!?!

  • avatar
    George B

    I remember driving my then girlfriend’s mom’s Eagle Premier across town with Man in the Box by Alice in Chains cranked up really loud on the radio. The contrast between the conservatively styled car and the over-the-top song seemed funny at the time.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    How is there not a large brown stain on the seat with a steering wheel bent like that?

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    Guest Columnist: Charlie Sheen

    How I Crashed My 1991 Eagle Premier

    Boom, crush. Night, losers. Winning, duh.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    My mom got one in ’89 or so when the ’80 Volvo 240 had gotten too long in the tooth for her. I got the Volvo. I got a better deal.

    But… she liked it so much that it inspired my sister to pick up the Dodge Monaco version. Nobody at the Dodge dealers knew what to do with these cars, so they gave them away pretty cheap. I think she paid ten grand, brand new, out the door.

    Both cars ran until the electronics failed, maybe 5-7 years.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    One of the greatest thrills is snatching victory from the jaws of defeat and Richard Teaque working for AMC and Packard probably got a lot of those thrills during his career. This car was one of his last, but sadly, couldn’t save the day.

    AMC was out of chips but still held some cards that a guy like Teague knew how to play. AMC knew how to turn trash into auto lifelines and by euthanizing their full size auto line up, pooled enough cash into demonstrating that it could make a profit with only a Hornet and Dick Teague. Oh, and this gold mine called JEEP.

    Renault decided to see what could be done with AMC and Kenosha wanted to do more than keep messing with it’s old compact car. The Hornet was chopped into a Gremlin, painted up into an AMX, jacked up on JEEP parts to become an Eagle, faux luxuried up to become a Concours, then given a subcompact hatch roofline as a Spirit. There wasn’t much more magic left in that old chassis other than cooking it up into Hornet Who Hash and selling it to Whoville.

    Mr. Teague’s other designes of note during the 1970s did not result in market successes. The Pacer did not sell after it’s first initial 12 months on the market, and the Matador Coupe missed the market bull’s eye by a mile.

    First came Alliance, winning Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award in 1983, and establishing new sales and interest in the brand. Then came a new JEEP masterpiece – the Cherokee the following year.

    AMC wanted a full size car, so the Premier was to become the new AMC full sizer. Based on the Renault Medallion, Teague was allowed to work his design magic from it’s parts. Given more time to do that than given the Alliance, Teague, AMC and Renault created a very good car.

    You see, Ford with it’s Taurus and Sable, wasn’t the only design direction within the Industry. The Premier had an evolutionary exterior design more aerodynamic than the round Taurus. But the Premier wasn’t round. The Premier had a very creative IP panel complete with all the latest design trends, fingertip controls, electronic turn signals, plenty of pivoting controls and small gray buttons clustering around a steering wheel complete with cruise control buttons. The Premier was a very good design.

    The Premier interior demonstrated the spaciousness of the Renault/Teague design over the Ford design. The ride of the Premier was based on the excellent engineering offered through Renault.

    In 1987, by launch date – the AMC/Renault Premier looked to be a successful counter to the Ford Taurus which was sweeping the Market at that time.

    But instead of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat – the jaws closed on the Premier when Chrysler, coming back from the edge of bankruptsy thanks to the Federal Government and the K-Car and minivan, bought AMC.

    Chrysler didn’t have a clue as to what to do with the Premier and completely dropped the ball. Instead of selling an estimated 200,000 a year, under Chrysler, the Premier barely sold 80,000 during it’s entire run. The Premier was a gem Chrysler did not want competing with it’s more profitable full size vehicles. Relabled as an Eagle and parked on the floor of hundred of JEEP dealerships, the Premier was parked and forgotten.

    There are a lot of variables that come to play in the life cycle of a model. Why in the good lord’s name would buyers pass up this vehicle for a Fifth Avenue or a Dodge Diplomat? Sometimes life just isn’t fair. Sometimes very good cars don’t sell for no reasons of their own.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    @Vanilla,

    I had a Plymouth Gran Fury. The same guy I bought it from, a lifelong AMC and Mopar fan, his family had an 88 Premier.

    Probably the best riding car i’ve ever ridden in, and that’s saying something…

  • avatar
    SuperACG

    In the original “Final Fight” by Capcom, you could smash up one of these in the first bonus round! I never understood why the license plate read “Japan” though…


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