By on March 4, 2012

After honoring— if that’s the right word— the junkyard-ubiquitous Ford Tempo last weekend, it seems only right to give some space to the even-more-common-in-junkyards Chrysler LH. These days, walking through the Chrysler section of a big self-service wrecking yard is a matter of searching for unusual cars in a sea of Neons, Voyagers, and Intrepids (and their badge-engineered siblings). This is about the only place where you will have no problem finding Eagle-branded vehicles. Here’s a Vision I found in Denver last month.
The Eagle brand, which flew out of the shrapnel of Chrysler’s absorption of AMC, wasn’t much of a hit. Out of all the rebadged Renaults, Mitsubishis, and Chryslers that got Eagle badges, only the Talon and Vision are seen in any numbers nowadays.
Other than some pesky transmission and front-suspension weaknesses, these weren’t bad cars. Comfortable, reasonably powerful, and plenty roomy, they were pleasant to drive… but they depreciated so fast that there’s no point in fixing one when it breaks. Next stop, The Crusher!

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34 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1996 Eagle Vision...”

  • avatar

    We just took one of these in trade at my dealership. A very very clean TSi with about 100k, it is clean enough and mechanically sound enough for us to resell. We also just sold a similar 1996 Chrysler Concorde with only 41k original miles. Both cars had great paint, near perfect interiors, not a squeak or rattle in the body, and ran great.

  • avatar

    One of my neighbors across the street owns a very clean Chrysler LH car. She’s had it as her only car for the whole 10 years we’ve been here.

  • avatar

    An interior that would look almost new with a good detailing, and a body that only needs a few hundred dollars work on the left front fender – and it’s worth as much to Americans as a used Kleenex. This car really makes the argument for Mr. Baruth’s long life vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      A couple of hundred more for the passenger side door, plus $2K installed for a used transmission.

      Assuming the transmission does work, it would be worth $1500. It’s in the scrapyard for sound reasons.

  • avatar

    These were great cars in their day. Perhaps even the best mid-sized sedans on the roads in the mid-90s. If not for the as mentioned pesky transmission troubles, and a few other gremlins that plagued the LHs, Chrysler may have regained its solid engineering status that it once had in the ’40s and ’50s.
    The LHs interior design, plastics, the rear leg room, the size of the trunks and power were at the top of its class for the day. The Intrepids were absolutely everywhere up here. I looked at these cars in ’94 when my (now) Ex and I bought a ’94 Summit for him. Compared to my ’91 Caprice wagon, the amount of space in these Eagles was astonishing. The ride and handling were pretty decent, too.
    Sadly, the LHs, along with the Neons, fell short of being the game changers that they should have been. Chrysler seems to have a penchant for that: turning the auto industry on its ear, then falling flat on its face.

    • 0 avatar

      “Perhaps even the best mid-sized sedans on the roads in the mid-90s.”

      I’m not sure I’d go that far…this was the time of the ’92-’96 Camry which few would argue is hands down a better mid-sizer for the time. Funny thing about LH cars is that once upon a time (1996 or so) it seemed every car on the road was either a Taurus or Intrepid (or sibling). Today in the upper midwest I still see plenty of rusting mid-90’s Tauruses, but almost no LH cars. They have literally vanished from the landscape, including the newer ’98+ models. Where did they all go? Oh yeah, they really were crap in a different package. $30k for a loaded one!!!??? My god!

      • 0 avatar

        I had a blue 1993 Olds Cutlass Ciera hand me down from the folks that survived my heavy right foot with well over 300K and very little rust. It was equipped with the Buick 3300 V6 and GM’s 125 transaxle. Other than the torque converter lockup solenoid failing and a simple $3.00 junk yard supplied TV cable this drive train was all original and bullet proof. So was the car. Manual crank windows and door locks, working A/C and mid 20’s average fuel mileage with 29 achievable on the open road were the norm. This car refused to die. It always started in sub zero temps, never broke down and the few wear items that did need replacing like water pump, rear shocks etc were dirt cheap at the time. This car got me through college, numerous cross country trips and was a billy goat in the Winter months. I would call it the most reliable car I have ever owned from the 90’s.

  • avatar

    That might be true – or the automatic gearbox could be completely “fuddle-duddled” which is the kiss of death for any practical car.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      Honda, I’m looking at you.

    • 0 avatar

      One of the few exceptions is rear-drive redblock Volvos – the ubiquitous AW70/71/72 is bulletproof in any stock application, soldiering on (along with the four-banger ahead of it) until the wiring rots through, the trunk floor and rockers disintegrate, the interior fills with dog hair and broken console and door pocket shards, and the owner eventually moves on to a used Outback or Prius.

      The M46/47 manual, though? Not so much.

  • avatar

    My first new car was a ’96 Vision Tsi, right out of college.

    This, after driving a 1968 Chevrolet for ten years.

    FWD! Traction control! ABS! Airbags! Leather! Air conditioning!

    Not having to rebuild carburetors in the middle of winter!

    I loved that car. Great handling, comfortable, Infinity stereo, 30+ on the highway (as opposed to 15). Put 90k on it with only the fuel rail recall issue, which luckily reared its ugly head in front of a truck stop which led to a massive plate of chili cheese fries.

    Interestingly, I purchased this car for about $26k – $4000 off – at a time when Dodge dealerships were adding $2-3k in ADM to Intrepids due to ‘demand’ and were unwilling to budge a dime.

    Sold it to a close friend, who still has it, and other than the front suspension repairs prone to the model it’s been flawless. I try to buy it back from him now and then.

    In a fit of insanity, I replaced it with a 2001.5 VW passat 1.8t 5A. Transmission hand-grenaded at 11k, electrical issues began to surface, and in 8 months the VW Kool-aid had dried to a thin crust at the bottom of a plastic cup left in the sun.

    There’s some kind of irony there concerning reliability; I don’t like to think about it.

    Now, the top car on my shopping list is a ’12 300S V6 AWD. We’ll see.

  • avatar

    This is it.
    This is the car that makes me think of a grimy transmission tech whenever I see any FWD mopar. Will all these 200’s succumb to the same fate? Maybe not, but I always imagine them with puddle of red lifeblood under them while up on a lift.

    These were $30k? And people complain that the Volt costs that much? Well, the Volt IS overpriced, but come on. THIS is what people buy for $30k?

    • 0 avatar

      Actually I would think that, based on Chrysler’s transmission history, it would be the MINIVAN that would elicit this response. :-)

      Ok, I just dug out the window sticker from my Eagle.

      My memory was a lil’ rusty.

      MSRP on the Tsi was $26,040. Looking at the dealer documentation, I paid $23,000.

      There were, however, Intrepid ES’s jacked up to $30k or more – that’s why I literally walked across the street to the Eagle dealership and paid $7,000 less (!) for essentially the same car. Idiots, as Napoleon would say.

      From the window sticker, this gem:

      “AutoStick: Automatic Transmission That Can Be Driven Like A Manual Shift, Without A Clutch”

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      According to this URL, $30k in 1996 dollars is worth about $44k in 2012..

      “$30,000.00 in 1996 had the same buying power as $44,105.28 in 2012.
      Annual inflation over this period was 2.44%.”

      Just think of that when teh Bernank talks about ‘stable’ prices at 2% inflation..

    • 0 avatar

      MSRP for the top of the line 1996 Eagle Vision TSi was $23,835. Then there were the rebates…

      • 0 avatar

        …yesss… that’s the BASE price, as it states right on my actual window sticker from the car I bought new.

        With options – and not even all of them – the total was $26,040.

        If I’d bought the one with the sunroof and the sport package, it would have been about $2k more.

        I imagine if I went back up to the folder and looked at the paperwork I could tell you what the rebate actually was at that time. It actually took work to get them down that low, too.

  • avatar

    My parents had a dark green ’95 Concord and it was a great car though it didn’t have traction control, nor the auto climate controls but had the more prosaic tape deck that was a piece of garbage.

    The amp was barely loud and to get it so, you had to turn it way up until you got amp hiss, it was worse when using a cassette adapter and one’s portable CD player, otherwise, it sounded alright.

    Mom sold it in 1999 to my youngest sister’s former professor and I guess still friend and as far as I know, he’s still driving it.

    We never had any major mechanical issues with it that I know of but we DID have an issue with the driver’s window switch during the fall of ’98 while my Dad was in the hospital dying. It only did it a time or two but eventually, the window would go back up.

  • avatar

    I always liked the looks of the Vision better than the Dodge, but the Concorde was number 2. The Eagle tried to look more European with amber rear turn signals, still somewhat of a novelty on a NA car.

    These also looked better in 2 tone than monochrome, such as red metallic over gray metallic. They were roomy cars, great on the highway. I do recall the AC being an issue as well. When I worked at Lear at the Chrysler division, all the managers had these as company cars and the AC quit on all of them right in the middle of summer. I had heard parts were on “eternal backorder”. That was back in the day when the company wanted you to drive the customer’s products.

    • 0 avatar

      Indeed, that was a common problem that would cost about a grand to fix. Meant I got a grand off mine since I passed over the repair (even as a seven year old car).

  • avatar

    Great cars and excellent design. I bought a 97 LHS with 70k from a dealer back in 05 for 4K!! I gave it to my folks and though the clearcoat is fading, it still runs perfect. Everything works. I’ve owned three of these and not one tranny was lost. I kinda wish Chrysler had a similar follow up to the LH.. They went bigger instead of same or smaller. They had a winner there.

  • avatar

    Ah, the Clinton/Office Space era of crap domestics…the LH cars epitomized this.

    Some call the ‘smog era’ the dark days of automotive history; I would contend circa 1989 to about 2001. FWD, thirsty V6s, and absolute SHIT transaxles were the name of the game. Cheaply built, marked up to the sky, JUNK.

    GM W-body, Taurus/Sable, LH, i’m looking directly at YOU.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I have bought tons of these vehicles, and their siblings, on the cheap.

    $100 – 96 Intrepid ES – Took $1000 in parts to get it right. Owned by a widow. It ran with cold air, but almost nothing had been kept up with it over 15 years.
    $425 – 96 Intrepid ES – All it needed was a battery. Only $28k miles. Sold for $3700
    $650 – 96 Eagle Vision – Gave it a $190 paint job (back in the day) and sold it for around $2000.
    $1000 – 96 Chrysler Concorde LXi – Financed it to a young couple. The car made the note
    $1000 – 96 Chrysler LHS – 182k. Used it as a rental vehicle until it hit 194k. Sold it for around $1800 and made about that much renting it out.

    I’ve had maybe about four or five other 1st gen LH’s of varying years. Can’t say I remember them though. These vehicles are ‘automotive filler’ when you have an older buy-here pay-here lot.

  • avatar

    I had a ’95 Intrepid for my first car – had a lot of the common issues (transmission, tie rods, air conditioning), but it was nice to drive when it was running right, plenty roomy, and good looking for the time. But, it’s one of those cars that just doesn’t have enough emotional resonance to survive the big ticket items that plague it. At least this Vision has the smaller 3.3L V6, so its transmission may have had a fighting chance.

  • avatar

    My family had a 94 Esi bought used in 95 (was a Demo). Great car overall, by far the best American sedan of the era (Ain’t saying much, but it was a hell of a lot better in all regards than a Lumina and much nicer looking than the melty Taurus, although the Taurus was otherwise a nice car). Nice thing about the Eagle was you got the Sport package for free (essentially the Vision was an Intrepid with the Sport suspension and 4 wheel discs stock). Really good highway cars, decent in the city, although they were a pain to parallel park due to visibility issues, in particular it was hard to judge where the front end was due to hood curvature.

    • 0 avatar

      I would take one of the Chrysler LH cars or the Lumina of the same period over any 92-95 Taurus. Those Ford electronic overdrive transmissions were horrible in those years, the 3.8’s ate head gaskets for breakfast lunch and dinner, the springs broke with but only 60K miles on the clock on rust belt cars and they squeaked and rattled like a bastard. The Chryco 3.3 and Chevy 3.1 60 degree V6’s of that time period were pretty rugged engines before the 3100/3400 intake fiasco came along in 95 on the Lumina sedan and vans that is. In all fairness Fords 3.0 Vulcan was a decent mill also even if the car around it fell apart.

  • avatar

    These LH cars had horrendous issues with the steering system. I personal witnessed one tie rod failure in real time. After that,I began to investigate via the net and found that tie rods actually come apart in these-Not just the rod end, but the bolts attaching them to the rack can sheer as well. Absolutely inexcusable in modern times. Also, the rack mounting bushings at the firewall deteriorate prematurely and cause excess slop.
    This was a common enough, and serious enough issue that these cars should have been bought back AFIC.

  • avatar

    My grandparents downsized to one car in 1994, a silver 1995 Concorde, after selling off their mid-1980s Cavalier wagon and Dodge 600 coupe. Cloth seats, 15″ steel wheels, 3.3L V6. They both loved it, and the car became Grammy’s alone when Grandpa passed away in late 1995. She kept driving it until her death in late 2010. The car always felt strange to me: Short on headroom, but with ample width for the seat and shoulders. Still, I liked it. Grammy’s only regret was buying a car with cloth seats. Around the mid-2000s, she began mentioning her desire for a newer car with leather, but it had to come from her trusted Chrysler & Jeep dealer in Winona, and no Chrysler cars of that era (300, Sebring, etc.) had enough appeal to make her give up her trusty ’95 Concorde. It was sold as-is in 2011 as part of her estate. Glossy paint, low miles, one owner. With some failing suspension components and a smoke-scented interior, it fetched around $800-900.

  • avatar

    I personally prefer the Y-body.

    Although the early LH versions of the LHS and New Yorker are intriguing.

  • avatar

    I had my father sold on one of these back in 1997; a feat considering he was a recent GM retiree and still very much in that camp. The local dealer had a ESi demo on its showroom floor at a reasonable price. I went down, looked at it, took it for a drive and was impressed. I went back the next day with my father, ready to do something and found that the dealer preferred to try and get my father into a new Intrepid instead. So, instead of him testing the top of the line Vision I drove, he drove an un-prepped base model Intrepid. Unimpressed by the dealer not even bothering to install the radio antenna, he soured on the idea and we went home.

    I can’t remember what his next car was. It might have been the cobbled together Golf 2 I built for him, or it might have been the Z-28 convertible I bought but never drove. I can tell you he never bought a Dodge. His final car was a Buick LeSabre, which my mother still drives today.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    I bought a 3.3L 1993 Intrepid new back in 1992. Loved that car, but had to sell it in 1997 due to a divorce. Only issues were two recalls, one for the fuel rail and something with the wiper which happened the first year, and one time in 1997 when the transmission went into limp mode due to a bad sensor, that problem was fixed under warranty (had the 7 year/70,000 mile warranty). Even when I sold it, it still had the original battery in it, at 5 years and 60,000 miles. Paint, upholstery held up excellent, only cosmetic problem issue being these decorative black plastic panels located behind the “C” pillar that faded and had to be replaced.

  • avatar

    I seem to recall something significant about the transmission with these. They had an (optional?) AutoStick, like TipTronic. It wasn’t available on the other LH cars. It was the first (American?) sedan with this feature. Just 4 speeds, of course, but still, a nice gadget from Eagle, which was supposed to have a high-tech image.

  • avatar

    I had one of these in college – my parents’ car, they had moved on to better things. It was white like this one, and had the grey leather interior. It was a fine car until I pulled out without looking (well enough, apparently) and received similar front-right damage… and that was the beginning of the end. The “fix” was another light from another LH car but the mounting bracket was broken so I wedged it in with wooden shims at about the right direction. It was always a little cockeyed after that. Not long after the A/C decided not to run, which wasn’t the end of the world… but not long after THAT it would decide randomly to blow hot air at full volume into the cabin, which made it uncomfortable in winter and unbearable in summer. Thankfully it didn’t happen that often, but nothing would turn it off.

    I left it at college for my little sister to use – which she did for three years, before it got passed to my other sister for another two… it still had no A/C, but did have things like traction control (which could be turned off) and airbags, as well as mid-20’s mpg. After neither could put up with it anymore we recently sold it off for $700… the next owner will tow it to the junkyard, I’m sure… it’s worth half that in scrap.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    These were a nice design for the era. It’s too bad that Mopar never did a AWD version which could have worked well with the north-south engine layout. A nice alternative to the 90’s SUV craze. Then it really would have been an Eagle or American Quattro.

  • avatar

    I realize this post is almost a year old but what Junk Yard is that Vision at? I love my 96 Vision unfortunately my daughter just ended a deer’s life with it and I could use that hood, grill section, lights etc if it is still there and available. Might be there are not a lot of them on the road any more getting repaired.

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