Junkyard Find: 1982 AMC Eagle Station Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1982 amc eagle station wagon

I live in Colorado, where the AMC Eagle sold as well in the 1980s as the Subaru Outback does now, and so I see the all-wheel-drive versions of the American Motors Concord and Spirit everywhere here. This means they show up in Denver-area self-service wrecking yards like clockwork, and I photograph them when they do (and I walk right by most air-cooled Beetles, which I know is wrong).

So far, I have documented the demise of this ’79 wagon, this ’80 coupe, this white-with-plaid-interior ’80 wagon, this GM Iron Duke-powered ’81 SX/4, this ’82 hatchback, this ’83 SX/4 Sport, this ’84 wagon, this ’84 wagon, this ’84 “woodie” wagon, and this ’85 wagon. Now we’ve got this gloriously brown-and-tan-and-beige-and-brown example of Malaise Era proto-crossover Kenosha goodness.

After Chrysler bought the tattered remnants of American Motors in 1987 (in order to get the Jeep name plus a bunch of Renault-derived chassis designs), Eagle was made into its own marque. Unfortunately, the Chrysler version of the Eagle logo wasn’t nearly as majestic as the original AMC one.

Since this car had a center differential and none of that confusing truck-ish, low-range gearing stuff, it was what we’d call all-wheel-drive today.

Back in 1982, though, if it had power to all four wheels, you called it “4-wheel-drive” and no hair-splitting pedants yelled at you about it.

This car still has some outdoorsy stuff inside, including this Coleman lantern and a binocular case, so it probably had its share of camping trips in the Rockies during its 34 years on the road.

Look, no Iron Duke engine!

“One thing the Japanese haven’t caught up to … is the American Eagle.”

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3 of 22 comments
  • E30gator E30gator on Feb 11, 2016

    Aside from snapping universal joints and falling drive shafts, my $400 '87 AMC Eagle was one of the funnest beaters I've ever owned. They had (IMO) some of the best interiors of the 70s-80s. I miss the 4.0 I-6 too. We put about 290k on ours, impressive for 80s domestics.

  • CarOli CarOli on Feb 11, 2016

    As impressive as your list of Eagle finds is, you haven't nailed the ultra rare 1981-82 only Kammback body style, which was the old Gremlin body with larger rear quarter windows. So yes, in those two model years you could get two door Eagles in trunked, hatchback, and Kammback versions, as well as the more common 4 door sedan and wagon. Here's some pics and info: http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2014/03/10/lost-cars-of-the-1980s-1981-1982-amc-eagle-series-50-kammback/

    • La834 La834 on Jun 10, 2017

      Don't forget the Sundancer convertible! It was a third-party conversion (by ASC?) but sold by AMC. So there were six Eagle body styles.

  • MaintenanceCosts Will the Bronco have a four-motor configuration a la Rivian? That seems to me like the right approach for an EV off-roader. Enables lots of neat tricks.
  • Lou_BC ERay? A southern model will be the BillyRay.
  • Lou_BC I've never used a car buying plan service. My Costco membership did get me 1,000 cash back on my last truck.
  • Jeff S I can understand 8 cars is a bit much unless you are a serious collector. I always loved the Challenger when it first came out and now. I don't need a car like this but I am glad it exists at least for 1 more year. If I had a choice between a Mustang, a Camaro, and a Challenger I would opt for a Challenger but probably with a V-6 since it has more than enough power for most and I don't need to be burning rubber. Challenger has the classic muscle car looks, more cabin room, and a decent size trunk which makes it very livable for day to day driving and for traveling. The base models of the Dodge Challenger has a 3.6-liter V6 engine that gives you 305 horsepower with 268 lb-ft torque. The car attains 60 mph from a standstill within just 6 seconds, which is quite fast. Even with their base engines, the Challenger and Camaro are lightning-fast. The Camaro reaches 165 mph, while the Challenger can go up to 11 mph faster!
  • Inside Looking Out I would avoid American cities if I can. European cities are created for humans and Americans for cars.