By on December 16, 2015

08 - 1995 Eagle Summit in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

It’s hard to keep track of all the twists and turns of the drama involving Chrysler, Mitsubishi, and American Motors vehicles and branding during the last quarter of the 20th century — and that’s without even bringing Rootes Group stuff into the cast of characters.

The Eagle Summit Wagon, which was a left-hand-drive Mitsubishi RVR slapped with the badges of a marque named for a long-defunct AMC vehicle and not much related to the Mirage-based Eagle Summit car, is a good example of an obscure Mitsu-Chrysler sold just a few years before a bunch of Daimler DNA got added to the Chrysler genome.

We saw this ’93 Eagle Summit FWD Wagon a couple of years back, and now here’s an AWD example that I spotted in Denver last month.
09 - 1995 Eagle Summit in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

If there’s a low-American-sales-figure Japanese four- or all-wheel-drive vehicle, you’ll find it in a Colorado wrecking yard — sooner or later.

03 - 1995 Eagle Summit in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

This one didn’t have particularly high miles on the clock when its career came to an end.

01 - 1995 Eagle Summit in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

Perhaps it failed to pass Denver County’s not-very-rigorous (compared to California, where I once lived) emissions test.

19 - 1995 Eagle Summit in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

Sold in Denver (or a Denver suburb), will be crushed in Denver.

11 - 1995 Eagle Summit in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

Of course, all the different-colored body panels from other badge-engineered RVRs (including the hood from a Plymouth Colt Vista wagon) weren’t doing the resale value of this car any favors, so perhaps the final owner just gave up on it due to lack of sufficient cup holders.

In Europe, the ’95 RVR (badged as a Space Runner) was sold using this “your life is over now that you have children, so who cares what kind of car you drive?” ad campaign.

In Japan, the RVR was ideal for hauling a busted-legged Daffy Duck in the back seat.

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43 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1995 Eagle Summit AWD Wagon...”


  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Ithaca NY seemed to have a disproportionately high number of these things, popular with cyclists, the sliding door and tall interior was awesome at stowing bicycles inside.

    The Space Wagon/RVRs were absolutely everywhere in Novosibirsk Russia back in the early 2000s as RHD used imports. Fully kitted out like in the above ad with brushguards, huge rally style driving lights, even safari ladders on the back hatch. Sturdy drivetrains, and the AWD sure came in handy during long Siberian winters. I didn’t see a single one when I went back this summer however, people have long since gotten enough money to upgrade to legit new LHD CUVs (Rav4, CRV, Outlander, Renault Duster).

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I feel like when I saw these in my childhood (which was not often) they were one of two colors:

    Red over silver
    Light dusty blue

    I think I only saw the Eagle version, and no Colt Vista versions. Of course there were also a couple of Mitsubishi Expos, always in white over khaki.

    Were the Colt Vista and Expo versions also available in AWD?

    The customer for this car is the exact same sort of customer who’d later go after a Forester or Element, they just didn’t know it yet.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      Wikipedia confirms they were And the Colt Vista too. With 98hp for the Vista(!)

      There was a limited production JDM-only version of the Expo with the 4G63 motor from the contemporary (early 90’s) Evo. I swear it was in the original Gran Turismo.

  • avatar
    tsoden

    I used to really like the look of these cars back when. Both Plymouth and eagle variants were great utility vehicles. I did not know that the RVR name was used for this car as well. In Canada, the Outlander Sport is called the RVR… was wondering where that name originated from.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    The spiritual predecessor to my Mazda 5. I remember a fair amount of these in my youth and the Colt Vista that preceded it. Mostly rust got them here, as with nearly any 90’s Japanese car. Probably not much to drive, but very versatile.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I think it was a very neat-looking and practical vehicle, as a proto-Mazda 5.

    In an alternate universe, the microvan would be a pretty popular car, replacing the compact CUV, while station wagons and hatchbacks displaced sedans.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    I owned a ’92 Mitsubishi Expo SP – the longer version of this vehicle with swing doors for the rear seat. I’m pretty sure that AWD was offered on them at the time. Mine was a slush-box with the largest engine – the 2.4 liter IIRC. The only issues were oil consumption (1 qt or so every 800 to 1000 miles) and water pump replacement at 110k miles – no room to remove the pump with the engine in the vehicle. I had to pull the engine to do the deed. Great cars, these. Well built, didn’t rust (even here in Ohio) and lasted for 224,000 miles.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    These are neat pre-CUV CUV things, kinda ahead of their time if a little short on leg space up front.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    I was tempted to buy one of these Mitsu microvans in the early 1990s. I was a pro musician and it would have been just right for hauling keyboard gear and a small PA system rather than cramming as much as I could into a CRX. Unfortunately, the typical pro musician’s pay did not allow budgeting for a new vehicle. I still like the practical aspects and the overall lines of the Summit.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    It doesn’t look inspiring nor special but the comments make it sound O.K. .

    I wonder why more didn’t sell to families / farmers by word of mouth .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      To an American farmer both then and now, it’s BOF RWD/4WD pickup truck or nothing.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        ” To an American farmer both then and now, it’s BOF RWD/4WD pickup truck or nothing.”

        You’ve never lived / worked on a Farm then ? .

        May used Station Wagons when I was a lad , the pickups were used for the dirty stuff , fence posts , bailing wire etc. but keeping feed / tack and so on dry in inclement weather was always important , I thought (there I go again) that the 4WD aspect along with large weather proof carrying capacity would make it a natural .

        Certainly many Farmers bought Willys 4WD Wagons back when they were still being made .

        -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      What would a farmer do with these?

      For families, the problem was that if you wanted a vehicle that was smaller than a van, could carry a lot of people/stuff, and didn’t have objections to owning a Chrysler, you would have just bought a Voyager or Caravan.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        A Grand Voyager isn’t smaller than a van, it’s Grand! Interesting you chose to call out the Plymouth variant. Why you do dis?

        • 0 avatar
          matador

          I said Voyager, not the Grand one. I mentioned both the Plymouth and Dodge versions, because I don’t recall there being a SWB Town and Country.

          “Plymouth – Isn’t that the kind of car America wants?”

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Cripes, I need to wake up. My mind put Grand in there.

            No SWB T&C, you’re right. Maybe the very first generation perhaps, before the LWB was available. But don’t quote me on that one.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            No biggie….

            I’ve ridden in a LWB Grand Voyager- it was nice, but pretty large. I’d think that the SWB one would be very much cross-shopped to this.

            It doesn’t help that Eagle was a new brand, named after a car that had a cult following.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I remember as a kid going through the Auto Trader pages for Chrysler vans when he was looking, thinking I’d spot something he didn’t see. We had to have the LWB one with three kiddies.

            94 Grand Voyager which was crap.
            Followed up with a 99 Grand Caravan Sport, which was crap.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            One word- Ultradrive.

            That’s enough reason for me to avoid pretty much all 1990s Chrysler products (Dodge trucks with manual transmissions excepted of course).

            We had a New Yorker with the 3.0L Mitsubishi- it made 268k before the second case of Ultradrive set in….

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Lots of parents of my contemporaries in middle and high school had cars roughly like this (although a bit earlier; I was in college by 1995). They were all seen as terminally dorky, and the richer parents bought Explorers/Grand Cherokees instead. Funny that the exact same idea but with bigger wheels and MOAR STYLING is now the default vehicle for everyone and seen as the only non-dorky option by a lot of people.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Mismatched body work screams deferred maintenance and not a lot of love. I suspect the relatively low miles is partially the result of a very hard life.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    Speaking of AMC Eagles, I actually saw a running AMC Eagle SX/4 in a parking lot yesterday. It looked to be in surprisingly good shape given the era in which it was produced.

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    These were very practical vehicles in their day, but most were done in by the crappy capacitors in the engine and transmission computers. The usual cause of vehicle problems in these from my experience.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Back in ’88 I cross shopped a Dodge Colt/Eagle Vista with a Nissan Multi, Toyota Tercel tallboy wagon and a Honda Wagovan. You could get any of them with AWD systems. The Colt/Vista could I believe also be ordered with 7 passenger seating.

    We ended up with the Honda with ‘realtime allwheel drive’. A 6 speed manual, one gear locking in the AWD system. Dollar for dollar and pound for pound one of the best vehicles we have ever had. Unfortunately traded it when another child arrived and had to go the Caravan route. The sales manager of the dealership offered me top dollar for the Honda as his daughter was going away to school and an avid skiier and it fit all his requirements for a safe, winter car for her.

    They made up a segment that was referred to as ‘micro-vans’. For those who did not want a mini-van or a full size van.

    The microvan segment went dormant in North America for about a decade. It experienced a brief resurgence with the Mazda 5, Kia Rondo and Chev Orlando. However those never really caught on in the USA. Two of them are still available in Canada.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      My folks bought a ’88 3-row Vista Wagon to replace the tan K-car wagon. Seven seats in a vehicle that was basically a LWB Fit. The regular Chrysler minivans were appreciably more expensive.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I don’t know if anyone reads these anymore…

    Passive Aggressive – Placebo – Black Market Music (2000)

    youtube.com/watch?v=o3aAw5Gkb3k

    GUIDANCE

    Shards of light slightly blinded her eyes as Grace depressed the brake and the rusted rotors slowed the multi-colored Eagle to a halt. Bryce, the adolescent, turned his head and stared at the group of girls coming around the corner as his sister Dana colored her book. The radio, tuned to 89.7, blared generic Christian rock as Grace looked up and the light changed. The positive and life affirming messages did not seem to help much when the thought on her mind was how am I going to pay for a ticket and get to work if someone notices the 11/15 smog sticker. She swore to herself as another driver cut her off as she attempted to switch lanes and then gunned the weak little Mitsubishi motor as she then made the switch.

    “Mommy, don’t swear” Dana said softly.
    “Sorry honey, Mommys got a lot on her mind” Grace remarked.
    “Like what?” Bryce queried.
    “Like how we’re going to do Christmas on an aide’s salary. Like how I’m gonna fix the car. Like where the hell your father’s child support is this month” Grace resounded to the children in a sarcastic tone.
    “Oh and you kids will need coats. Ugh.” she said aloud placing her palm on her forehead.
    “Pastor Grosbach said all we have to do is pray for guidance Mommy and God will help us” Dana whimpered and turned her attention back to the coloring book. Grace had some doubts these days.

    She cut the wheel right as they slowed and pulled onto their street. Passing under several blocks of winter barren trees the Eagle crawled past their neighbor Mrs. Trautman’s home which now featured a large blue and white Coldwell Banker “For Sale” sign in the yard accompanied by a large moving truck in it’s driveway. Grace parked in the driveway and her worn coat was caught in the seat-belt, again. Bryce unbuckled and helped his sister out of the booster seat before slamming open the sliding door and rushing into their house. Dana sat on the side of the car and slowly climbed out waiting for her mother. Grace fumbled with the keys as she saw Bryce open the front door.

    “Ugh did he purposely not lock the house again” she mumbled to herself. Walking over to the other side of the Eagle she pulled the door shut and bent over as Dana stuck her hands in the air for a hug. Grace hugged her daughter and remarked
    “Now you know Mommy’s been limping on her foot so why don’t you head up to the house and I’ll be in to make dinner, ok?”
    “Ok Mommy” Dana replied and ran toward the open front door. Grace looked to her right and was startled when she saw a strange man approaching her with his hand outstretched.

    “Hi I’m Max. You’re Grace Watkins right?” Max asked.
    “Yes I am” Grace replied “You with the state?”.
    “No, no. My aunt spoke well of your mother. I’m Max Keller, I was Kaleigh’s cousin. I think we met one summer a little over twenty years ago” he explained.
    “Kaleigh… oh right. You look, vaguely familial” Grace acknowledged.
    “Yeah, I was out here for the funeral if you went. I had to go back home once I got the estate paperwork kicked off and stuff transferred.” Max said with open hands and then took a deep breath. “As you probably know after my cousin died at the end of ’94, Aunt Vicky was just never the same. Then my uncle, a few years later…” he said as he paused and looked back at the house.
    “Yeah I was in college then but I remember. My mom went shopping for her till I had to put her in Johnson Center last year” Grace said as her tone changed.
    “Is that around here? How is your mom?” Max asked.
    “Not far, its in Greenwood Village.” Grace disclosed looking up at him and then bowed her head “I, I just hadn’t had time to get out there.” she continued, stuttering.
    “My dad’s in a home in Sacramento so I had to come out to handle the house. Can I give you a piece of advice” Max said in a low tone.
    “Um, sure” Grace replied quizzically.
    “The clock is always ticking. Just don’t put off what is most important. What my aunt and uncle would have given for Kaleigh back. They, just, blamed themselves.” Max continued “Think big picture, ya know” Grace nodded but then stopped Max as he tried to turn around.
    “Why haven’t I seen you in twenty years then?” She asked almost sarcastically.
    “Initially my uncle was there, but Aunt Vicky became a recluse after his sudden death. She refused my dad’s phone calls and letters. I called her about a year ago on the anniversary of Kaleigh’s death and she was totally gone; didn’t even remember me. She even told me Kaleigh was still away at school and thought I was a boyfried calling.”
    “Wow” Grace lit up and replied “I used to bring her grocer-” as Max interrupted her.
    “You know what she did tell me though? She went on and on about card club with Mrs. Watkins. Shopping with Mrs. Watkins. This and that about Mrs Watkins for a good fifteen minutes. I don’t really know if any of it actually happened but she thought it had.” Max took a deep breath and looked at the clear blue sky “Now they’re all finally together… and that’s that” Max finished.
    “Yeah” Grace nodded. Max turned his focus back to Grace.
    “I got to run, nice to meet you. Excuse the noise we hope to be out of here by tomorrow” Max said and turned to head back toward the house as movers carried a large china closet.

    After dinner, the kids were finally tired and she told them to go to their rooms. Bryce of course played video games and Dana read her fairy tales alone until it was time to sleep. Grace laid outstretched in her mother’s worn out bed, staring at the beige painted ceiling and wondering what went wrong. Bones feeling worn and muscles exhausted, the room seemed to spin as she imagined her life until this point. School. College. Teaching. Marriage. Bryce and Dana. Divorce. Drugs. Born again Christianity. Back home with Mom. Aide work. Now it seems like its gonna be just her and the kids. Maybe she’ll take them to see Mom for Christmas, somehow. Somehow.

    “Lord, if you really are there… please grant me guidance” Grace said softly as she clasped her hands together and said three Our Fathers before leaning over to click off the light.

    * * *

    The 6:00 AM alarm always seemed to come so early. Grace rose quickly and slipped into the black slacks laying on the edge of the bed. She exited the bedroom past the white banister in order to get into the bathroom before the kid’s 6:10 alarms. She finished and closed the door behind her just as the children’s alarm clocks went off in unison.

    “Kids get ready” she yelled hoarsely while slowly put the ball of her foot first and climbed down the stairs. Limping to the front door, she opened it expecting the newspaper but instead a small red box with a bow sitting on the porch. She knelt down slowly and picked it up, removing the top. Inside were vintage Ford keys, an owners manual to a 1993 Ford Taurus Station Wagon, and a note:

    Dad knew a guy here who took care of the title. State will send you one in your name in a few weeks, when it comes just go to AAA for a plate with proof of insurance. Car is parked in your back yard, its been sitting in the garage for many years but I got it started with a new battery and fresh gas. Should pass smog.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS

    MK

    * * *

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Yep ;

      Read ’em and this one was very good .

      -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Thanks.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          No, 28 don’t thank us instead we owe a big thanks to you. During what has been a very trying day, you brought a much needed touch of light and Holiday Spirit.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thanks, its been a trying year for 28 and I’m glad to have helped lift your day. I wanted to write something positive for Christmas and started doodling the dialogue between Grace and Max in Notepad++ to express my point(s). Then I found a piece of music I like and It writes itself.

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      We still read them.

      It’s nice to see one with a happy ending, though!

    • 0 avatar
      CarOli

      Always read ’em…this was one of your best.

    • 0 avatar
      never_follow

      Long time lurker, like since Farago days. I’ve seen many people comment (it makes the place), but your stories made it so that I didn’t skip a single junkyard find. I guess you’ve been busy, but believe me, your stories are great and I’m sure I’m not the only one who checks in just to see if you’ve made a hilarious/tragic/hilariously tragic story about the last owner.

      This was a nice heart warming surprise though. Thank you.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Thank you. Sometimes its difficult to write and sometimes I am just busy. More of the former lately than the latter. I have ideas in my head for a mini series type story and another for a much longer story which would probably make a book but its finding time and inclination to make it happen which can be challenging; as well as finding a place to showcase it. The junkyard genre is interesting as it presents a random challenge each time but is also rigid in a sense because it should be/has to be about the car in question – not whatever I feel like writing. I tried something in another vein in October and it met with some, shall we say constructive criticism. Sometimes you have to give your public what they like, but always leave them wanting more.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The Car Talk guys, Click and Clack used to extoll the many virtues of the Dodge Colt Vista wagon.

  • avatar
    valvashon

    In the early 2000’s we decided to sell the Eagle Summit 2 door coupe that my wife had when she decided to go back to Corollas. For over three months we took calls from people asking if it was one of the wagon types, even though we stated explicitly in the ad (this was in the days of putting ads in print publications) that it was the 2 door car. If we had 50 of the wagons we would have sold each one of them. Finally had to drop the 2 door down to a giveaway price and explain what it was before we sold it. We discovered that both the wife and I were car people and knew what an Eagle Summit 2 door coupe was, but nobody else did. Lesson learned about buying an odd, badge engineered car. After this experience of practically not being able to giveaway an Eagle Summit, Stacie wouldn’t even look at a Geo Prizm. Her Corolla had to say Corolla on it! The whole time I was driving my Renault Encore, which I eventually did give away.

  • avatar
    April S

    My artist friend has the Mitsubishi version of this car (Expo LRV). It and the earlier incarnation (the super boxy van) she has comes in handy hauling around her larger projects.

  • avatar

    I used to really like these as a kid. Someone in our neighborhood had a white Plymouth Colt Vista, and it looked like a simple, honest-to-goodness little van. Back then I was always into dorky vans, so this was befitting.

    In college, my first boyfriend had a 1990 Nissan Axxess. That was the same basic principle, being a small minivan. However, the Axxess is even more rare than the Mitsubishi trio (sold only in 1990 in the US), had very Japanese futuristic 80’s styling, and unlike the other vsns of the time; had dual sliding doors.

    Parts were even relatively easy to find, since the mechanicals were shared with the more-common Nissan Stanza

    I grew to love that van. It was easy to park in the city, fuel efficient, incredibly roomy, great visibility, and was just unique.

    But it had a tough life. The boyfriend constantly brushed it against a roof pillar in the apartment complex parking lot, the sunroof leaked and the interior eventually smelt like mildew, and the engine mounts were out; at idle the car shaked relentlessly.

    The mini-minivan idea is a fantastic one that just never caught on here

  • avatar
    la834

    Despite the single sliding door, I see these as an early crossover more than a micro-van. These were poorly marketed and disappeared just as the Toyota RAV4 became available. In addition to the Expo LRV that this Eagle is a clone of, there was also a longer Expo AWD with four hinged doors. Throw bigger tires on either of these and Mitsubishi could have developed the car-based crossover market instead of Toyota.

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