While not the first 4-wheel drive car, AMC's Eagle is arguably the first crossover ever. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe '81 wagon may look like something out of the John Deere catalog, but is its price something to get cross over?
American Motors Corporation did not have a long history, harkening back to the 1954 merger of battle scared Nash Kelvinator and the Hudson Motor Car Company. They say that the candle which burns twice as bright burns but half as long, and in its short life, AMC did have a few bright ideas. One of those was to combine their long-serving Hornet/Concord sport wagon body with a version of Jeep's sturdy 4-wheel drive mechanicals. At the same time that this you got your peanut butter in my chocolate brilliance was hitting the market so was the fruits of AMC's sale to French car maker Renault, a decision that set in place the makings of the Kenosha Wisconsin company's ultimate demise.
But before all that there was the Eagle, and whether sedan, coupette, or sport wagon, AMC's offering was unlike anything else out there save for the later and less capable Subaru and maybe Toyota Tercel SR5 wagon. Still, with its application of the Ferguson Formula full-time four wheel drive it was pretty unique.
Unique doesn't begin to describe the changes wrought in the restoration of this 1981 Eagle Sport wagon, its John Deere color scheme potentially eliciting an oh dear upon first viewing. One of the Sport wagon's less attractive features - one that harkens back all the way to the original 1970 Hornet edition - is the small hatch opening and high liftover afforded by the rear end design. This Eagle still has that, but adds the pure driving satisfaction of massive blind spots by covering over the rear-most windows in evocation some sort of panel van.
Getting past the color and the secret squirrel nut stash of a back end, this Eagle has landed a whole slew of new kibbles and bits, including basically the entire suspension and braking system, as well as a rebuilt engine and transmission. Eagle-eyed observers may note that engine to be AMC's venerated 4.2-litre OHV straight six, rather than the available GM Iron Puke. That six is a design of such robustness you wouldn't be surprised to find it powering post-apocalyptic cockroaches - that is if you happened to survive as well, likely making you a cockroach too. Changes to the six in ‘81 made it the lightest ever, but at 450-lbs, you still probably wouldn't want it dropped on your manberries.
In between the six and the four wheel drive lies either a Chrysler Torqueflite 3-speed automatic, or a 4-speed grauncher of a manual, the seller doesn't say which and there are no shots on the interior to provide a clue, I know, I looked. Either way, the tranny should be up to whatever task you or the 111-bhp six throw its way, as it too is claimed to be rebuilt.
AMC built 10,371 Eagle wagons in 1981, making it the second most popular bodystyle, after the new-that-year SX-4 hatchback. Build quality on AMC products of the time, as well as durability of the ephemera from which they were constructed, mean that it's unlikely you would find one in serviceable original condition. That means that most you will find are either totally clapped out, rocking Fred Flintstone floorboards, or have been renewed like this car. Well, maybe not quite like this one.
And that brings us to the reason we're all here today - and no it's not the complimentary buffet. Your job is to determine if this Egale will land its $4,000 asking price. That's typically a lot for an Eagle, but then again this one's had a lot of work dine to it. Then again, it's had a lot of work done to it. What do you think, does that price make this Eagle something that would keep ‘em down on the farm? Or, is that just too Deere?
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