By on August 3, 2013

08 - 1982 AMC Eagle SX4 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe AMC Eagle may have disappeared from public consciousness decades ago outside of Colorado, but Eagles are still all over the place in the Mile High City. I can think of a couple of daily-driven Eagle survivors within several blocks of my house (not to mention several VW Vanagon Syncros, but that’s another story), and fallen Eagles show up in Denver-area self-service wrecking yards with great regularity. In this series, we’ve seen this ’79 wagon, this ’80 coupe, this ’82 hatchback, this ’84 wagon, this ’84 wagon, and this ’85 wagon. As for the very rare AMC Spirit-based Eagle SX/4, we’ve seen just this Iron Duke-powered ’81 prior to today’s find.
11 - 1982 AMC Eagle SX4 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA two-door, quasi-sporty car with four-wheel-drive… put out by a company that, by 1982, was obviously doomed. Still, some SX/4s were sold.
02 - 1982 AMC Eagle SX4 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith the good old bulletproof AMC 258 straight six, this car had all the torque it needed to unstick itself from mud and snow. Fuel economy wasn’t so great, but gas prices dropped quickly as the mid-1980s approached.
01 - 1982 AMC Eagle SX4 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinChrysler stuck with the AMC six well into our current century, but axed the Eagle just a year after its 1987 takeover of American Motors. Confusingly, Chrysler made the Eagle name into a separate marque.

Did this car really get 32 highway MPG? Maybe at 47 MPH, downhill!

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39 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1982 AMC Eagle SX/4 Sport...”

  • avatar

    Who needs an Audi, when you could have an SX4.

  • avatar

    And I thought the X6 was a new idea. When an idea is stupid there is a good chance that somebody thought of it before, I guess.

    This one has seats that match the body color. I find that very, very cool. Can one still get a new car that has that? I’m thinking volume manufacturers, not some special order one-of-a-kind big bucks Germanic special.

    • 0 avatar

      “This one has seats that match the body color.”

      I think in this case the body colour (now) matches the seats – it looks as though this example started out as a white car.

      In any case, agreed that matching interiors are very cool, and it would be nice to see interior colour choices other than grey, beige, and black on popularly priced new cars. Back in the day, even the steering columns were colour coordinated with the car – bring back red steering columns!!

      • 0 avatar

        I looked at the pictures again and you are quite correct about the car being white when it left the factory. There goes the one redeeming feature I was willing to give AMC credit for.

  • avatar

    I occasionally see the Wagons in So. Cal. Pick-A-Part yards , always 100 % rust free , I’d imagined there would be a good demand for these to be saved and sold in snow country , no ? .

    The odd Toyota Tercel 4X4 Wagons too .

    Growing up Down East early on I learned the utility of under powered 4X4 vehicles just to get around . no need for big V-ates nor Sporting anything , just reliable get up and GO vehicles.


    • 0 avatar

      I wonder if the Wagonmaster people would consider refurbishing old AMC Eagles in addition to the vintage Cherokees and Grand Cherokees they do now…

      If I had the bux, I’d go for one with a GM LSx motor and a nice leather interior. That would be sweet!

  • avatar

    My 83′ Cj-7, with a 258, 5-spd, and 32×11.5 tires gets in the low 20’s for mpg.

    It’s not stock though, far better, but even when it was it didn’t do that bad on gas; just a lot slower and had a hard time keeping up with traffic on the interstate.

  • avatar

    Oddly enough, I have a photograph of an AMC Spirit hanging in my dining room. Back when I was in college taking a photography course, my professor recommended that I pick a favorite subject to use as my course final. I dubiously said “cars?” and he said why not? So I made reflections on cars my topic. Therefore, I have artistic views of an ’80 AMC Spirit, a Pinto Sportwagon [the one with the round porthole window on the rear side panel], and the striped roof of a late 70’s Camaro hanging up in our house.

  • avatar

    I’ll stick with the AMC Hornets, thanks.

    Growing up we had a ’76 Sportabout X with the straight six– blue with the white hockey stick stripe from the front into the D-pillar. Bit fender flares, rakish roof, rally wheels… man I wish I’d kept that in the driveway!

    • 0 avatar

      We had a ’72 Sportabout with the 232 straight 6 for many years. When I turned 16 I inherited it. Loved the car, really taught me how to work on cars. My Dad finally got rid of it, but I’d like to think it’s still out there somewhere, chugging along.

  • avatar

    I just saw an Eagle wagon yesterday…literally the only Eagle in this general chunk of Pennsylvania. Great shape too.

    I gave the guy a thumbs up.

  • avatar

    To me, this and the other AMC Eagle configurations are a classic example of “first is failure” when it comes to innovation. The first manufacturer to build a vehicle on a good concept, fails because no one gets it. Then the next guy comes along and tweaks it a bit and it’s a hit.

    The Eagle was the first CUV. People thought they were odd, I remember thinking they were a great idea. I live not far from where they made these, and still see them often… So here we are full circle back to where the Eagle started it all

    • 0 avatar

      FWIW, there are folks who would argue with you that the Eagle was the first CUV. Many believe that the title belongs to Subaru.

      As much of a fan as I am of Kenosha Kars, the latter products were rather long in the tooth, and when this car was released I think many folks saw it as a last ditch effort to move the metal. Not that it’s not a neat idea and they did the best with what they had.

      I was part of the demographic they were appealing to back then, but I was a pony car snob. Maybe if they would have equipped the car with the 304 V8, I would have been more interested. But at the time, the 258 six was considered not worthy for sporty car duty.

      Looking back 30+ years, they would make a neat car today. But who would have guessed that back then?

    • 0 avatar

      Actually the first CUV would have to be a WWII vehicle built by Volvo, the Terrängpersonvagn m/43 (TPV). It was a 4WD military sedan-thing with truck mechanicals and a body from their “Sow”.

      But the AMC Eagle is probably the first civillian produced CUV.

  • avatar

    Had a 78 concord. Still think that’s the way a car should look.

    Funny thing. Still have my 57 chevy and it’s sort of a hassle. If we had kept all the cars we wish we had never gotten rid of, we wouldn’t still think that.

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    The EPA estimates were wildly optimistic back in the day.

    Some would say they still are.

    • 0 avatar

      Double-nickel era. I’d guess that the EPA highway cycle observed this, even if the general driving populace did not.

    • 0 avatar

      Also note that the city number is emphasized by law over the highway number. IIRC, that requirement went in the Dumpster during the Reagan era as part of an effort to trim regulation. Too bad the effort was not made to make the numbers more realistic.

  • avatar

    One of the cars I wanted back in high school. The Spirit was a good looking car in its day and the 4 wheel Drive SX/4 made it even neater. You figure that the roots of this car go back to the 1970 AMC Gremlin and the other Eagles go back to the Hornet sedan and Hornet Sportabout Wagon. They were not bad cars that sold well. Be neat to take on of these and transplant in a later 4.0 litre Six from a 1990s or early 2K Cherokee and see how it goes. Still a nice looking car but cramped on the inside. AMC was innovative with the little money they had and the car was riding on a 12 year old Hornet chassis at the time. I had an 83 Concord for a while. Nice riding car with comfortable seats. Drove and road well. Was rusty underneath from Maine winters so I sold it. Was good on gas. So they were good cars and reliable. Wish they had sold better.You figure if the last Eagle wagons were sold in 1988 then 18 or 19 years out of a car chassis isn’t bad!

  • avatar

    The crossover 30 years sooner with a garish adolescence?

  • avatar

    Despite not being a terrific car, the SX 4’s body shape would be cribbed for the BMW X6 and the name recycled with a Suzuki crossover.

    Needless to say that they’re not the first with Porsche taking inspiration from the Pacer for their 928 (look how great THAT turned out).

    If anything I’d like to know how such an average carmaker could be so influential?

    Ofcourse, there were also a few cars inspired by the Gremlin despite the initial car being designed on a barf bag.

  • avatar

    We had an 81 spirit, 2wd, in 1984. I remember that it was very nicely trimmed inside and the air conditioning was impressive but it got rotten mileage and the back seat was too cramped for my 8 year old self and 3 year old brother.

  • avatar

    These were neat little cars back in the day. I was way into ponycars at that time and while these appeared on my radar, if it didn’t have a turbo or five liters of V8 displacement, I wasn’t that interested. Such is life for a 20 year old guy. But a few years previous, this Spirit bodyshell with an AMC 304 V8 took on the Nurburgring. I would like one of those, for sure.

    My older brother had an 1984 (or 85?)Eagle Wagon for 15+ years, it was a stout car. Not the best assembly or materials in some cases, but the basics held up well. He was always afraid of getting stuck in our snow and Subarus were still somewhat expensive and rusted faster than AMCs, so an Eagle it was.

    Had I been more rational back in the day, I might have bought one of these. It would make a neat driver today.

  • avatar

    Well if the national ski patrol endorses it, I must have one! Off to my Eagle dealer… wait…

  • avatar
    71 MKIV

    A friend of my son’s girlfriend showed up at the house in an absolutely pristine low mileage Eagle.
    I apologized for the drool on the windshield and asked how much they wanted for the right of first refusal.

    I grew up with Hornets. Those engines will. not. die. They were like the cartoons where there was nothing but a running engine sitting in the driveway amongst the shards of the rest of the car.

    My college ride was a 67 Rambler Rebel longroof. Great grandpa to these engines. It ran for thousands of miles on 5 cylinders, laying down a smokescreen behind it from the burnt piston. It was still running when I junqued it.

  • avatar

    The AMC Eagle was dropped as soon as Lee Iacocca got the keys to the place. Not “one year later”. There was a short run of 1988 model, but not a whole year. Would have had to be renamed and not called the “Eagle Eagle”.

    Lee also killed the Alliance for 1988, and they had to rebadge a bunch of Premiers, too.

  • avatar

    I’ve owned several of these and they remain top of my list of enjoyed cars. They are also the slowest cars I’ve ever owned, all mine had 258s. It’s a tractor for the highway. There is a whole forum for eagle owners as well. Some with the Iron duke do claim above 30 mpg, I always got around 18-22 with a heavy (but still very slow) foot

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Only one I ever experienced was the B-I-L’s early eighties Eagle wagon , white with copper two-tone , with a stick that he bought during a brief period of living in the snow-belt . After they moved back to Austin I remember mainly riding in it , summertime with near 100 degree temperature and it didn’t have air conditioning and had the brown vinyl seats – oven-like , most uncomfortable even for a native Texan like me . B-I-L loved the Eagle tho, even tho I recall complaints about repairs and kept it until his wife insisted he get rid of it .

  • avatar

    A friend of mine had a wagon right after college. Mint condition, low mileage classic little old lady car that got traded in to the dealership his Dad ran. It was, without a doubt, the WORST car to drive I have ever driven. And that includes ALL of the Eastern Block iron I got to drive when I lived in Hungary in the early 90s. No power, no handling, no brakes. Rode like a buckboard. Sucked gas. Utter horror show on wheels.

  • avatar

    I was mountain biking in Buffalo Creek, CO a few months ago and saw an absolutely PRISTINE SX4 in the parking lot. I seriously considered leaving them an offer on the hood, but figured a) probably couldn’t offer them enough, and b) my wife would kill me.

    As Murilee notes these cars are loved around Colorado like nowhere else.

    They basically make the cooler older brother of the beloved Subaru’s that are every where here. You know, the one who smoked cigarettes as well as weed.

  • avatar

    If I had only been a little smarter this would have been a much better choice than the ’80 Escort wagon I purchased new for skiing trips. I didn’t like the Subaru wagon back then (though I’ve owned six since) and needed a four door wagon for the gang, and at least FWD.

    But after a cracked block I should have known…

  • avatar

    I get such a warm feeling when I see the AWD Eagles. I really would like to have one of the wagon ones – they’re impossible to find without massive rust in the Midwest.

  • avatar

    My first car being a ’74 Gremlin showed me that an AMC was a solid car, at least until rust hit it.

    Shortly after my wife and I married we bought an ’81 SX/4, and sadly had to part with it a few years later due to a move.

    Last year I picked up an ’81 Eagle Kammback as a winter daily driver. It looks like a basket case but runs like a top. They are great cars in a very crude way.

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