Crapwagon Outtake: 1983 AMC Eagle

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
crapwagon outtake 1983 amc eagle

At times, I’ll start a new week with a theme for my Digestible/Crapwagon pieces, such as last week’s “what could I legally import if I had money” saga. Other weeks, I’m lucky to stumble upon any interesting cars at all, so any imagined thread tying them together is absolute happenstance. Like this week’s “Obscure, from Detroit” theme. I never planned it, but it is what it is.

Today brings a car that’s perhaps the most deserving of any to wear the Crapwagon label. No rational enthusiast would ever take this particular car on as a project. Yet, I really want this, or something like it.

Like I said, no rational enthusiast would touch it.

Indeed, I’m drooling over a rusty 1983 AMC Eagle wagon. If I could find a good one, I’d be all over it, but there seems to be a shortage of Eagles on the market, I’m afraid. The success of this car likely spawned the Subaru Outback, after all.

Sadly, this rough example doesn’t wear the “wood” paneling that seemed to be on every Eagle I ever saw growing up, though the $500 parts car might be so equipped. And I’ve seen (and purchased) cars that are in worse shape than this. No undercarriage photos are included, but I can’t imagine that it’s too far gone.

Mechanically, this can’t be too bad to work on. The always-underfunded AMC had to pull from so many parts bins that most pieces should be readily available with research. The 258 ci six-cylinder engine is under the hood of so many Jeeps that any number of donor engines could be dropped into the Eagle with little work. The pioneering all-wheel-drive system might be tough to repair, but it otherwise looks like a great, easy project car.

The problem is there is no way one can get any money out of this. This is a $2,500 car that would take, at least, $5,000 of parts, paint, and labor, after which you’d have a car worth about $3,500. That said, had the Powerball numbers come my way, an Eagle would have been one of my first automotive purchases.

Chris Tonn is a broke classic car enthusiast that writes about old cars, since he can’t afford to buy them. Commiserate with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Join the conversation
2 of 48 comments
  • Wheeljack Wheeljack on Jan 16, 2016

    The Denver Police department had a number of Eagle 4WD sedans in service for years after they went out of production. It was always funny to see one of these in Police livery since they couldn't outrun anything. Too bad they didn't offer the 304 V-8 out of the CJ in these - I'm sure it would fit as they offered the 304 briefly in the AMC Spirit.

  • LXbuilder LXbuilder on Jan 16, 2016

    I always envisioned having one of these with a set of BFG all terrains, and a off road light bar on the roof. Not sure why exactly, but it might come from day dreaming on the line as a young autoworker, and trying to think of how to make the cars I built look "cool" enough for a 21yr old to actually own.

  • MelanieRichardson GOOD
  • El scotto @jwee; Sir, a great many of us believe that Musk is somewhere (pretty high) on the spectrum and move on.I work on the fringes of IT. Most of my presentations get picked over extensively and intensely at meetings. I'm smart enough to know I'm not that smart and willingly take advice from the IT crew. I bring them Duck Doughnuts too. We also keep a box of Crayolas in the meeting room.At one meeting an IT guy got way into the details of my presentation, the meeting went long as we discussed my target audience. Same IT guy insisted it was a disaster and would fail miserable and that I was stupid. Yeah, F-boms get dropped at our meetings. I finally had enough and asked if he was such an expert, did he want to stand up in front of 30 senior executives and give the presentation? His response was a flat "NO". He got the box of Crayolas. For you non-military types that means shut up and color. Musk is the same as that IT guy, lots of gyrations but not much on follow-through. Someone just needs to hand him a box of Crayolas.
  • FreedMike The FJ Cruiser would be a better comeback candidate. The gang back at Toyota HQ must be looking at all those Broncos flying off Ford lots and kicking themselves.
  • Tassos 2015 was only 7 years ago. $58k is still a whole lot of $ to pay for a vehicle. FOrtunately one can buy a flagship vehicle with great active and passive safety for half this amount, if one does the SMART thing and buys a pre-owned luxury flagship vehicle. they have historically been SCREAMING BARGAINS. A breadvan on stilts SUV, wether the more compact Macan or the more bloated Cayenne will never pass as a Flagship Vehicle. No matter how well it drives or how reliable it suprisingly is. It still is a breadvan on stilts.
  • Sean Ohsee Bring back the 100 series and its I6 diesel.