By on August 21, 2020

It’s unofficially been Chrysler Time around the Rare Rides pages lately, and another Chrysler product follows up the New Yorker and Conquest. It was much more important product than either of those two, however, and it signified the end of one of Chrysler’s divisions.

Picture it: 1995, Eagle Vision.

The LH platform cars came at a critical time for Chrysler. The company’s bread-and-butter car sales for the previous decade-plus were generated by the K-car platform, and its many, many derivations. But those vehicles were getting long in the tooth, and Chrysler needed a more modern mainstream sedan offering. So it turned to Renault.

Or rather, the car which Renault and AMC developed together in the Eighties, and marketed as the Renault Premier in Europe and the Eagle Premier and Dodge Monaco in North America. The twins were not successful due to a combination of factors we won’t explore today (as that’s for another Rare Ride). But the modified monocoque Renault 25 platform which the Premier rode on was a good one, according to Bob Lutz, so the Premier served as a basis for its spiritual successor, the Eagle Vision. A small team of engineers worked on the project; the man in charge was from AMC. The benchmark for all LH cars was the Premier.

The exterior design was a rework of an abandoned 1987 Lamborghini sedan concept called Portofino. The cab-forward design was lauded after its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show, but at the time Lamborghini was a new and recently bankrupted property at Chrysler. And anyway, 1987 was not a time of four-door super sedans. Portofino sat idle for a couple of years before it was dusted off and given a new purpose. The Dodge Intrepid and Eagle Vision debuted for the 1993 model year, followed by the Chrysler Concorde, LHS, and New Yorker (trim variations of the same car) for 1994.

There were two engine options in the LH cars, the smaller of which was the Chrysler 3.3-liter V6 that had powered its cars and minivans since 1990. A larger derivative of that engine (3.5-liters) was also available. All first-generation LH cars used a four-speed automatic transmission that was new for 1993.

The Vision was considered the sportiest LH car offering. It had less exterior badging than its Dodge or — especially — Chrysler siblings. The overall look was monochrome, with grey lower trim added to many examples for a more sporty, Pontiac-like look. Other unique features on the Vision were a standard Touring suspension and an optional Performance version.

For its entire run, there were two trims of Vision: ESi and upscale TSi. The TSi had more standard power equipment, leather powered seats, and a powered antenna not available on ESi. All TSi versions came standard with the larger 3.5-liter engine as well, good for 214 horsepower.

The Vision moved over 100,000 examples in the LH cars’ first generation, which ran through the 1997 model year. But by then the writing was on the wall for Eagle. The company was shedding products from its lineup by the turn of the Nineties, and by ’97 there were two left: Vision and Talon. It was decided to close the Eagle brand after 1998, as the Talon wrapped up its run. The sedan which was to become the second Vision was instead introduced a year after the other second-gen LH cars, as the Chrysler 300M. Chrysler marched on, sans Eagle.

Today’s Rare Ride is presently for sale in Illinois. With 170,000 miles on the odometer, it’s really in shockingly nice condition. Yours for $2,000.

[Images: seller]

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51 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1995 Eagle Vision – End of the Line...”


  • avatar
    zipper69

    The styling has aged well, possibly because of it’s Lambo antecedents. Just another victim of a surfeit of choice for buyers, back in the day.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’ve always preferred the Chrysler brand LH platform cars (with both generations). The 3.5L never feels quite as strong as its ratings but these were decent cars overall. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to drive one that was sorted out, they’ve always had some sort of steering or suspension trouble.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    neat engine bay. pure nostalgia

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Great write up. I had no idea of the origins/roots of the styling. A buddy of mine in college drove this exact same model, down to the color combo. It was a nice, solid ride. Sportier looking than a similar year Bonneville .
    This was 2000 or so, his dad was a general surgeon and handed it down to him when his graduation present 1st MY VW Corrado let broke down too frequently to be trusted driving from central Ill. to KC.

  • avatar
    jmo

    You should include a link to the portofino in all its 80s glory.

    https://cdn.motor1.com/images/mgl/OyAre/s1/1987-chrysler-lamborghini-portofino-concept.jpg

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    This vehicle didn’t ‘fit’ with Eagle to me at the time, and really doesn’t now. When I think of Eagle in the context of the “4 more years” article, I think of a Subaru alternative. That could’ve really taken off – heh.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      I believe Eagle was sort of meant as a faux-import division, from the realization that a big number of their customers (especially Grand Wagoneer drivers) had imports for their other cars. Thus was born the Eagle Premier, and then they found other cars to do out the line. The Vision and the Talon at least make some sense together, although the leap from assorted economy Mitsubishis to the Vision was a little big.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        The Eagle Talon was little more than a re-badged Mitsubish Starion–not exactly an economy car considering its performance characteristics. At the time, the only other sports car Mitsubishi made was the 3000GT, which competed on tracks against Corvettes, Porsches and other high-dollar models.

        Really wanted a 3000GT but like the others, couldn’t afford it at the time. The 3000GT and the Acura NSX of the same era were both vehicles I really wanted–and couldn’t have. Economy car? Camaro. At least I could afford that.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          The Talon was a Mitsubishi Eclipse rebadge along with the Plymouth Laser. The Starion/Conquest was rwd and no Eagle tie up.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @dm: You’re right for once. I was remembering the Conquest. Thank you.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Most of the time, I’m right everytime! And when I’m wrong, most of the time I simply asked the question in the form of a statement. I’m too lazy to look It up sometimes.

            If you ask a question around here, 98.7% of the time you’re totally ignored.

            But don’t ever be wrong or they’ll jump all over ya!

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @DM: Which is why most of the time people are jumping all over you because you express your opinions as absolute truths.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Opinions are the absolute truth to those that state them.

            But to start the sentence every time with “I feel…”, “I think…”, “In my opinion…”, etc, is a waste of time, bandwidth, etc.

            You know its an opinion by the very nature of the exchange…

            “…The Pinto was world class compared to the Toyota Corona…”

            Corona meant “crown”, not a the best beer in the world you can currently buy, or a future virus China would purposely set free.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @dm: But courtesy requires that you go that extra step to avoid unintentional insult.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          Sorry Vulpine, I moreso meant the assorted Summits (what, the Lancer sedan/coupe and the Expo mini-minivan? I’m a little fuzzy on the assorted names all those small Mitsubishis and their offshoots were sold under).

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Maymar: tell me about it. I sold ’em back around ’84 and even I have trouble remembering all the different changeups. Had to laugh when the little 4-door Colt wagon was called a “minivan” by one of our managers.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    Well, the Intrepid was based on the Portofino show car (quite a beautiful car, as I recall), the Eagle Vision was an alternate styling version.

  • avatar
    karonetwentyc

    The LH cars really were some of Chrysler’s best post-war vehicles, and went quite some way towards giving them a strong product lineup in the 1990s.

    The Vision and 300M were excellent at what they did, and showed that it is possible for an American manufacturer to build something that’s relatively middle-of-the-road but actually good to drive.

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    Beautiful car. Still looks good today.

  • avatar

    I have 2004 300M last of the LH cars. It’s a great car. Power if good but your right now quite what you expect. Mine is a bit odd in that it really seems to stink at highway passing power but it’s pretty fun on highway on ramps, I think that’s a combo of the 4 speed auto and engine programming for response. Mine is in need of struts now. But before that it was really one of the great highway cruisers. Easy relaxing to drive at 75 MPH but still handles back roads surprisingly well. I had to drive to central VA several times this month for work, and it was still a blast on the curvy 2 lanes running thru that state. Plus it’s really damn comfy.

    • 0 avatar
      Bobby

      I too own a 2004 300m. Figured out that by the last model year most of the bugs should be worked out so I decided to give a Chrysler a try. An older woman orginally owned mine and it only had about 79k on the odometer when I bought it. Did have to replace stuts and early on install a whole new rack and pinion assembly, but was able to buy a re-built one online for relatively cheap. Did also have to replace the exhaust system, but I figured since the car has spent its whole life in New England that’s to be expected. The 300m’s steering is tighter than previous Mazdas (and a long time ago, Pontiacs) I’ve driven, but i must admit the car’s truning radious in tight parking is better than a lot of other domestic vehicles I’ve driven. Might not seem as smooth or quick as the GM Series II engine in my previous Pontiac but once the car gets up to criusing speed it is quite pleasant to drive. Must say that the fit-and -finish of the 300m is better than ’90s-era GM cars I’ve driven too.

  • avatar
    msquare

    Couple of things:

    The Eagle Premier was originally named the Renault Premier but was never actually marketed as such anywhere in the world, as Chrysler had taken over AMC before its introduction. Renault built and sold the R25 it was based on.

    Secondly, the 3.5 V6 was dramatically different from the 3.3, as it had overhead cams and four-valve heads, good for 214 hp. The 3.3 was a pushrod engine.

    The Chrysler 300M was meant to be the second-generation Eagle Vision but once the division was dropped, it became another Chrysler model, and in my opinion, the best of the LH’s. I currently own two of them.

    AMC, at the time of Chrysler’s purchase, had a much richer product line than Chrysler did. Although the Alliance was dropped immediately, the XJ Jeep Cherokee, YJ Wrangler and upcoming ZJ Grand Cherokee were top-tier products. AMC’s engineers exerted their influence throughout the company thanks to its chief engineer, Francois Castaing, who started out at Renault and ended up helping develop the concept of product lifecycle management, in which various departments worked off a common information structure, vastly reducing costs and leading to such products as the Cirrus/Stratus and the Neon, not to mention the Viper.

    AMC might have been the smaller company, but it was certainly the stronger one. It could be argued that from the LH cars forward, Chrysler effectively became AMC.

    • 0 avatar

      See link below for pictures of the Renault Premier.

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/36914125156

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Excellent point. AMC was monetarily poor, but had developed the super-efficient product development teamwork that could compete with the Japanese. Chrysler had K-car money, and the AMC engineers knew how to employ it intelligently. Chrysler really could have become a dominant automaker, but when sub-minimum Bob Eaton sold out the company to Daimler, the AMC team and other Chrysler key personnel left in droves.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    I bought a 1993 Intrepid in August 1992, and kept it five years. I still miss that car, it was wonderful all around. Took it on many long trips, and it was reliable, stylish, and probably the most comfortable car ever for my 6’3″ 250 lbs self. Still miss it…

    PS – Aside from these cars (the Intrepid, Concorde, Vision, LHS) being stylish, their interior ergonomics were excellent. That’s why I can’t believe how badly FCA blew it with the last Chrysler 200. Good-looking car, but with a cramped, hard to get in an out of back seat. It was obvious to me that its designers or engineers never bothered to study the LH cars, or the current Altima or Sonata.

  • avatar
    AccordStu

    In 1996 I bought a 95 TSi that looked just like the one in the picture. It was a comfortable full-size sedan that weighed only 3500 lbs. with 214 hp, which made it quick for the era. It had a great, controlled highway ride and was fun on South Carolina back roads. With the narrow ‘b’ and ‘c’ pillars and short hood, the view in any direction was great. My only complaint was the terrible narrow headlights. One of my favorite cars.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Always thought the Eagle cars were nice-looking cars. But I was an Oldsmobile fan at the time and wouldn’t consider them. Now I believe the Eagle would have been the better car, despite the fact it was an AMC/Chrysler product.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    My late FIL was a loyal GM customer. However he did break decades of tradition and purchased an LH which he liked very much and kept it for about 6 years. Replaced it with another Chrysler product which he dumped after a year to go back to GM.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Very informative article. One other bit of trivia to add: Chrysler was in such desperate financial shape at the time (as they’ve been at several points in their history), the LH designation was supposedly inspired, and not just jokingly, as “Last Hope.”

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I always liked these along with their Chrysler stablemates. They were well received at the time and I still see a surprising amount of them still on the road

    • 0 avatar

      You must not be in a rust area. I haven’t seen one in some time in any guise.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        The last one I saw was about 10 years ago when my friend’s mom had to give up her license. This was her last car after a gaggle of clapped out 1st and 2nd generation, all the boxy versions, of the Voyager/Caravan/Grand Caravan. Hers was the same colour scheme as shown above (I almost wonder if that was the only colour combination offered).

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        I haven’t seen one in awhile either, and I live in San Diego. They and most full sized cars didn’t sell well in southern California. But when the AMC project team produced the midsized cloud cars, they sold very well. I still see a few of those on the road. One interesting feature of the LH cars was the longitudinal engine, designed to accommodate a new transmission that could make them AWD.

        Despite making a ton of money in the late 1990s, that new transmission that could be used in FWD, RWD, and AWD vehicles, never happened. That was probably due to the Daimler overseers taking over. Their top-down, we-know-best management style drove the AMC and Chrysler engineers out very quickly.

        Iacocca saved Chrysler only to throw it away by choosing ex GM lifer sub-minimum Bob Eaton instead of Maximum Bob Lutz. Iacocca admitted he’d made a terrible mistake, Lutz went to GM, and Eaton took a huge payoff ($45M per WSJ) to retirement.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I haven’t seen one either in at least a decade. Always liked them though and wished Chrysler would have not merged with Daimler.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    With its north south engine placement and Eagle heritage it’s too bad there was never an awd version. I’m sure there were folks whose 80’s Eagles were getting long in the tooth who would have traded in for an LH. At $2k for this clean one, it’s Radwood good.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      According to some Mopar lore, Chrysler was working on RWD and AWD versions of the LH platform. But when Daimler came onboard in the late 90s, their engineers dictated that Chrysler scrap those ambitions and build something using existing Mercedes-Benz components…which became the LX platform used by the Charger, Challenger and 300.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I’d ask if the AC still works, but it probably hasn’t been functional since 1998, about two weeks after the warranty expired.

    My first car was a ’95 Intrepid – base, but had the 3.5 and in the same 90’s green (Spruce Pearl Coat, at least for mine). Not the ES or Vision TSI I sort of wanted (common enough around my hometown as the only new car dealer was Chrysler), but I liked it. Nice to drive as I remember, but my frame of reference was a Plymouth Sundance and a driver’s ed Corolla.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    As a 12 or 13 year old kid, someone in my neighborhood had either this or the corresponding Dodge Intrepid. I can’t recall which.

    But either way, I recall even then that I found these cars completely stunning. They looked futuristic and sleek and far more advanced than what everyone else seemed to be driving.

    Would I have trusted a 90s Chrysler product? Probably not.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    My most vivid memory of Chryslers from this era not named after snakes was the new Sebring in Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” video. I had totally forgotten these but now that I recall, I remember they made a stir with all that “cab forward” stuff back in the day.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    Actually, the Chrysler Concorde was introduced in the fall of 1992 for the 1993 model year at the same time as its Dodge Intrepid and Eagle Vision sisters. It was the top of line Chrysler model for 1993. Then it was joined by its more upscale siblings, the New Yorker and LHS (with their different sheet metal and roof-lines) for the 1994 model year. The front wheel-drive LH cars handled unusually well for such comparatively large cars.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    These cars hit all the buttons when they were new, but it didn’t take long to figure out they were the same old junk as whatever came before. The Sebring too.

  • avatar

    In Russia Eagle Vision and its LH brethren back in 90s were considered as a prestigious cars. When I came to US I seriously considered new Intrepid as my first new car. During test drive I was impressed by comfort and how small it felt driving despite it’s size (European influence probably). Nevertheless several factors held me back:
    1. Used Intrepids I checked out were worn out or something was falling apart in interior what made me suspicious about long term reliability and quality of the car.
    2. I felt that car is too big (I was looking for a midsize car).
    3. I found Chrysler/Dodge dealerships as well as Mitsubishi one’s to be somewhat fishy, like being underground drug dealers or something of kind, selling cars as a cover. I could not imagine myself visiting these places to service my car.

    Regarding midsize cars like Sebring/Stratus I liked the design but the rest of the car felt ancient and unsophisticated even compared to Nissan Altima and Mitsubishi Galant (which I liked but was too small for me)

  • avatar

    Eagle was a decent brand, nice vehicles.

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