Rare Rides: The Eagle Premier Story, Part I

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the eagle premier story part i

Today’s Rare Ride combined Italian design and French running gear in a full-size sedan marketed under an all-new brand: Eagle.

It’s time for the Eagle Premier story.

As mentioned above, the Premier was a multinational sort of car. Developed by AMC while Renault was a major stakeholder, the Premier was created in the relatively brief time span which gave us cars like the Renault Alliance built in Wisconsin, and the French-built Renault Medallion that was later rebranded an Eagle.

The Premier was to take the flagship position in the AMC-Renault North American lineup, and it spent several years in development. Renault bought into AMC in 1979, and the pair started work on a new front-drive sedan in 1982. With code name X-58, the jointly-developed sedan was slated to enter production in 1986.

AMC hadn’t fielded a larger car for quite some time, as the brand’s last entry in the full-size space was the Ambassador 1974. AMC hadn’t even offered a true midsize car since the Matador lineup of 1978. Big stakes, but as expected AMC was not exactly flush in the wallet region, so some cost-saving measures occurred right at the start of the X-58 project.

AMC’s all-new car would in fact use an existing platform, from the full-size Renault 25. The 25 entered production in 1982 and was the largest passenger car produced by Renault. The 25 was sold in Europe’s executive luxury car space above the 21 family car (Medallion). A modern monocoque chassis, the 25 was a much more advanced platform than anything AMC had in production at the time. The 25 chassis would be lightly reworked for American use and featured an independent suspension straight from the Medallion.

Early in development, design work began on the X-58 and its sister car the X-59. The X-59 had a planned introduction two years after the sedan, in 1988. A midsize two-door coupe, X-59 was intended to be more sporty and exciting than its sedan sibling. AMC called their favorite long-time designer, Dick Teague, and asked him to work up designs for both the X-58 and X-59. Teague drew sleek aerodynamic shapes and included hidden headlamps on the coupe. AMC went as far as a full-size mockup of the X-59, which adopted the name Allure at some point and wore Renault branding. Even after the launch of the sedan the media believed a coupe was coming to production, given statements made in the Premier’s MotorWeek review.

In the end the X-59 never saw production, and Teague’s X-58 sedan design was scrapped in favor of a three-box shape created by Giorgetto Guigiaro at Italdesign. Given the influence Renault had over the end product and the pervasive feeling among domestic car makers in the early Eighties that “The desirable customers want European-type cars!”, the design choice was not surprising.

With that call, the platform and exterior design were cemented. In Part II we’ll dive deeper into the hugely successful car that was Premier.

[Images: Chrysler]

Join the conversation
2 of 31 comments
  • Jo Borras Jo Borras on Aug 17, 2021

    We bought one of these for my aunt when they were new (my family had a real, unexplainable love for Renault and Fiat products-- it was a problem). I remember it as a great-looking car, and was sorry to see it go.

  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Aug 17, 2021

    Shares a lot of styling with the Audi C3.

  • Dusterdude @El scotto , I'm aware of the history, I have been in the "working world" for close to 40 years with many of them being in automotive. We have to look at situation in the "big picture". Did UAW make concessions in past ? - yes. Do they deserve an increase now ? -yes . Is their pay increase reasonable given their current compensation package ? Not at all ! By the way - are the automotive CEO's overpaid - definitely! (That is the case in many industries, and a separate topic). As the auto industry slowly but surely moves to EV's , the "big 3" will need to be producing top quality competitive vehicles or they will not survive.
  • Art_Vandelay “We skipped it because we didn’t think anyone would want to steal these things”-Hyundai
  • El scotto Huge lumbering SUV? Check. Unknown name soon to be made popular by Tiktok ilk? Check. Scads of these showing up in school drop-off lines? Check. The only real over/under is if these will have as much cachet as Land Rovers themselves? A bespoken item had to be new at one time. Bonus "accepted by the right kind of people" points if EBFlex or Tassos disapproves.
  • El scotto No, "brothers and sisters" are the core strength of the union. So you'll take less money and less benefits because "my company really needs helped out"? The UAW already did that with two-tier employees and concessions on their last contract.The Big 3 have never, ever locked out the UAW. The Big 3 have agreed to every collective bargaining agreement since WWII. Neither side will change.
  • El scotto Never mind that that F-1 is a bigger circus than EBFlex and Tassos shopping together for their new BDSM outfits and personal lubricants. Also, the F1 rumor mill churns more than EBFlex's mind choosing a new Sharpie to make his next "Free Candy" sign for his white Ram work van. GM will spend a year or two learning how things work in F1. By the third or fourth year GM will have a competitive "F-1 LS" engine. After they win a race or two Ferrari will protest to highest F-1 authorities. Something not mentioned: Will GM get tens of millions of dollars from F-1? Ferrari gets 30 million a year as a participation trophy.