STREETSIDE: 1983 AMC Eagle Wagon, The Original Crossover

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Soon after our 1979 AMC Concord D/L sighting came this Eagle, which was based on the same platform. It’s another well-preserved California car.

Across this South of Market intersection in San Francisco was this AMC Eagle Wagon, which looks very much like a 1983. It’s the original crossover, meaning it’s the US market’s first car-based, all-wheel drive utility vehicle.


Like this Concord, the Eagle was based on the Hornet platform, which itself grew from the old-iron Ramblers from the ’60. Still, the Hornet Sportabout was a jazzy little number, with the overhead view in this 1971 ad showing off its best angles.

ad_1971_amc_hornet_sportaboutThose angles are present and accounted for in the Eagle. Still the same luggage rack too, after all those years.

Although it does appear that the rear bar was brought forward just a tad.


It’s amazing that this evergreen platform from AMC found its way all the way through the import-onslaught 1970s and ’80s. Adding four-wheel drive – which was conveniently part of AMC/Jeep’s purview – was a master stroke that helped to milk the platform for all its worth.

If you’re going to keep things fresh, then you’d better add some pinstriping.


And maybe some eagle heads.


These “argent styled wheel covers” are hideous. Bold and defined, they’re like a cheese grater to your eyeballs.


Inside, we see how dated this car was becoming. The plaid on the seats that looks like it came from a chair on an early episode of Three’s Company. Still, those headrests that were integrated into the top sides of the seats were neat.


This Eagle has apparently lived in the city for a while. But it presents well – you don’t notice the flaws unless you look for them.

Although it’d be great if this Eagle could somehow regain its bumper end caps.


Up front is an eggcrate grille, quad headlights and a hood ornament. It’s a style that is firmly rooted in the 1970s.


Eagle sales bumped along in the 30-40K yearly range through 1983, and then the Eagle began its death spiral to less than 10K sales in 1988.

On the one hand, it’s a shame the Eagle died just before interest was rising in SUVs and subsequent crossovers.

On the other, it is again hats off to AMC (before it was gobbled up by Chrysler)  for finding a way to sell the same basic car over two torrid decades. It could never happen again.


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