Junkyard Find: 1980 AMC Eagle Coupe

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?

Join the conversation
2 of 42 comments
  • 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.

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.