Rare Rides: The Eagle Premier Story, Part VI (The End)

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Today we wrap up our Rare Rides series on the orphan Eagle Premier (other five parts here), and discuss the boxy sedan’s important legacy at Chrysler.

Though praised by the automotive press at the time, the Franco-American Eagle Premier fit in neither with Chrysler’s K-everything lineup nor with the Japanese and French Eagle offerings. By the time it was introduced, the early Eighties Renault 25 platform underneath it was also fairly dated. As a result, Premier was on sale for just five model years before its cancellation.

At debut in 1988, Chrysler still promised another variant of the Premier: the Dick Teague-designed coupe referenced previously. While the base LX had minimal exterior trim and was the truest to Guigiaro’s design, Chrysler added cladding to the upscale ES version. ES also used bucket seats, a firmer suspension, and offered a console shifter. 1989 was the last time the Premier coupe was promised, announced by Iacocca himself in an attempt to prop up Eagle sales. While the coupe never launched, an ES Limited trim appeared and made the Premier monochromatic.

Halfway through its run, Premier was reworked for 1990. Disc brakes arrived alongside a stainless steel exhaust system. Chrysler threw out the Renix (Renault-Bendix) electrical system for a Chrysler one. Of note, Renix also supplied the electronic fuel injection on the Jeep 2.5- and 4.0-liter engines. Chrysler fiddled with the Premier’s exterior this year too and took away the Guigiaro badging from the front fender trim. The true base four-cylinder model went away as it was unpopular (and inconvenient, see below), leaving only the V6.

This year also saw the introduction of the slightly downmarket Dodge Monaco, a resurrection of a nameplate that was dormant since 1979. In the Dodge lineup, Monaco was a replacement for the recently deceased midsize Diplomat. Like the cancellation of the four-cylinder engine, Monaco was created for one specific reason: Chrysler needed to shift more PRV V6 engines. The company was contractually obligated to buy 260,000 engines, but Premier sales had totaled under 90,000 for its first two years of production.

The Premier and Monaco continued through 1991 and 1992 relatively unchanged, as their future had already been sealed by Chrysler. By then the company fulfilled their PRV engine contract and had a new line of cars: the LH platform Eagle Vision, Dodge Intrepid, and Chrysler Concorde.

Chrysler appointed a new VP of product engineering in 1988, François Castaing, who was formerly with Renault and AMC and was very familiar with the Premier. Late in 1989, it was decided Chrysler would use the Premier as the basis for its upcoming sedans, as it was the most modern vehicle in the company’s lineup. Castaing used many of the Premier’s characteristics to develop the LH, specifically its longitudinal engine layout. The layout was a Renault hallmark, and different from the transverse front-drive tradition at Chrysler. Also ported over to LH were the Premier’s suspension design and select components of the braking system.

Paired to the longitudinal engine was a new Chrysler four-speed automatic transmission that was very similar to the Premier’s automatic. And when Chrysler sent out LH prototypes for road testing, they used Premier body shells. LH cars went into production the ’93 model year and took up the space at Brampton Assembly formerly occupied by Premier. LH was designed with flexibility in mind and accommodated front- or rear-wheel drive. The rear-drive version was eventually named LX and was used in the new Chrysler 300 of 2005-2010.

The Premier behind these Rare Ride entries was for sale via well-known eBay dealer Rover Classic at some point. A 1989 of ES Trim, this example was white and gray over red velour, and in superb condition. Looks like it was donated to a car auction with a broken indicator lens, and Rover Classic cleaned it up for sale. Easy money, eh?

[Images: Chrysler]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

More by Corey Lewis

Comments
Join the conversation
2 of 34 comments
  • Steve Cohn Steve Cohn on Aug 24, 2021

    I really enjoyed my new '88 Eagle Premier, for the first 1 1/2 years that is. After that not so good. The ride & handling were better than the GM & Ford sedans of the day, but persistent electronic gremlins in the engine computer ruined the experience in my 3rd year of ownership. My new '91 Acura Legend greatly overshadowed the Premier so I sold it for $5000, and I think I was lucky to get that amount.

  • Plee Plee on Aug 25, 2021

    I was a salesman at a Jeep/Eagle dealership back in 89 and my demo was an 89 Premier ES. It was very roomy and I felt that it drove nicely. Only trip made was from Wilmington, DE to Washington DC with the family and my recollection was that it was a very good cruiser on interstates. They were a very slow seller, just were not on people's shopping lists. It was much easier to sell Grand Cherokees and Wranglers but we had no idea back then how popular these two would eventually be.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic Once e-mail was adopted by my former employer, we were coached about malice software as early as the 90's. We called it "worms" back then.They were separating the computers that ran the power plants from the rest of the system in the early 00's. One plant supervisor loaded vacation pictures from a thumb drive on his work PC. His PC was immediately isolated and the supervisor in question was made an example of via a disciplinary notice. Word spread quickly!! 🚗🚗🚗
  • 3SpeedAutomatic At this time, GM had a "Me Too" attitude towards engine development:[list][*]the Euro luxury brands have diesels, so can we via an Olds V8[/*][*]variable value timing, welcome to the brave new world of Cadillac V8-6-4[/*][*]an aluminum block V8 engine via the HT4100, the go-go 80's[/*][*]double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, no sweat, just like the Asian brands via NorthStar. [/*][/list]When you mindset is iron block and cast iron heads, life if easy. However, each time, GM failed to understand the nuances; intricate differences; and technical difficulty in each new engine program. Each time, GM came away with egg on its face and its reputation in ruin.If you look today, the engines in most Cadillacs are the same as in many Chevrolets. 🚗🚗🚗
  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
  • ToolGuy Random thoughts (bulleted list because it should work on this page):• Carlos Tavares is a very smart individual.• I get the sense that the western hemisphere portion of Stellantis was even more messed up than he originally believed (I have no data), which is why the plan (old plan, original plan) has taken longer than expected (longer than I expected).• All the OEMs who have taken a serious look at what is happening with EVs in China have had to take a step back and reassess (oversimplification: they were thinking mostly business-as-usual with some tweaks here and there, and now realize they have bigger issues, much bigger, really big).• You (dear TTAC reader) aren't ready to hear this yet, but the EV thing is a tsunami (the thing has already done the thing, just hasn't reached you yet). I hesitate to even tell you, but it is the truth.
  • ToolGuy ¶ I have kicked around doing an engine rebuild at some point (I never have on an automobile); right now my interest level in that is pretty low, say 2/5.¶ It could be interesting to do an engine swap at some point (also haven't done that), call that 2/5 as well.¶ Building a kit car would be interesting but a big commitment, let's say 1/5 realistically.¶ Frame-up restoration, very little interest, 1/5.¶ I have repainted a vehicle (down to bare metal) and that was interesting/engaging (didn't have the right facilities, but made it work, sort of lol).¶ Taking a vehicle which I like where the ICE has given out and converting it to EV sounds engaging and appealing. Would not do it anytime soon, maybe 3 to 5 years out. Current interest level 4/5.¶ Building my own car (from scratch) would have some significant hurdles. Unless I started my own car company, which might involve other hurdles. 😉
Next