Junkyard Find: 1980 AMC Eagle Coupe

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1980 amc eagle coupe

The AMC Eagle must have sold better in Colorado than in any other part of the world, because I see so many of the things in Denver junkyards that I don’t even bother photographing most of them. This ’80, however, is a hyper- Malaise two-door with vinyl top and purple-and-red tape stripes, and that makes it special.

See, purple and red stripes! After this ’79 wagon, this ’81 SX/4, this ’82 hatchback, this ’84 wagon, this ’84 wagon, and this ’85 wagon, it was time for a proper Eagle coupe in this series.

Members of the Brown Car Appreciation Society will love this interior.

It was 106 degrees in Denver when I shot this photograph, and even the valve cover looked comfier than this scalding brown vinyl.

The good old AMC 258-cubic-inch L6, the most famous version of a family of engines built from 1964 through 2006. One of the better engines to come out of Detroit, er, Kenosha.

While cars don’t rust much in Great Plains Colorado, what with the single-digit humidity, the high-altitude sun is murder on vinyl tops. Someday I’ll add a selection of Peeling Vinyl Top images to my computer desktop wallpaper collection.

Because most drivers are just confused by the choice between two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive, AMC used a center differential in the Eagle and left it stuck in four-wheel-drive at all times (later versions could be purchased with an optional selector that enabled a fuel-saving rear-wheel-drive setting). This is a four-speed car, but it has “Automatic 4.W.D.” according to this dash emblem.

Even by the tolerant standards of 1980, this was a homely-looking car. But try taking your Fairmont or Cutlass up a 45-degree grade in the mud!

The Eagle has landed… on all fours. Huh?

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  • Bill mcgee Bill mcgee on Jun 30, 2012

    one of my brothers-in-law had one , the wagon version, I believe a 1982 or 1983 . It also was a stick-shift in a similiar color scheme but I believe more of a caramel color interior with the white / brownish twotone . He bought it new living in the snowbelt but brought it back when he returned to Texas . I recall a couple of hot rides in summertime visiting them in Austin . It had no A.C. and perforated or not the vinyl interior was boiling hot . He really liked it but I recall it being a bit problematic and my sister-in-law insisted he get rid of it . No surprise that back in the day Eagles were seldom seen here in Texas , particularly the coupes with what at the time the car magazines considered , rightly , the most hideous Landau top in the biz .

  • Rokop Rokop on Jul 03, 2012

    I had an AMC Eagle 4 door sedan that I bought in 86 with 11k miles on it. It had the I6 engine and four wheel drive with the same color scheme as this junkyard find. At the time, there were no other American cars with 4 wheel drive and I remember this thing was the best car I ever drove in the snow, and certainly more stable than my brother's CJ7. It was in showroom condition, even when I sold it. There were a lot of old guys living in the country who wanted to buy it from me.

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  • 2ACL If you weren't throwing away your Mercedes after the warranty expired, this will fix that. This is an overly complex answer to the AMG question I don't think will endure the test of time.
  • Kwik_Shift Looks like what a redesigned Nissan Murano would be. I believe Murano is done.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is a Volvo EX90 with swoopier styling and less interior room. I'm really not sure I understand the target audience.
  • Stuki Moi If government officials, and voters, could, like, read and, like, count and, like, stuff: They'd take the opportunity to replace fixed license numbers, with random publicly available keys derived from a non-public private key known only to them and the vehicle's owner. The plate's displayed number would be undecipherable to every slimeball out there with a plate reader who is selling people's whereabouts and movements, since it would change every day/hour/minute. Yet any cop with a proper warrant and a plate scanner, could decipher it just as easily as today.