33k Mile 1988 AMC Eagle 4WD Wagon

Even though it wore badges that said that it was an AMC, Chrysler’s takeover of the company meant that for 1988, this vehicle would be known officially as the Eagle Wagon. The end had finally come for AMC, but it does seem fitting that its final unique offering was also one of its most ground-breaking vehicles. This is one of the Wagons from that last year of production, and it appears to be an original survivor in search of a new home. It is located in Deckerville, Michigan, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. A single bid has seen the auction open at $6,500, but the reserve hasn’t been met. There is a BIN option, and this has been set at $11,500. While bidding has been slow, it hasn’t deterred 70 people from watching the auction action.

The Eagle is finished in Dark Baltic Blue, and its presentation is very impressive. The paint shines beautifully, and the panels appear to be as straight as an arrow. The woodgrain looks consistent across the entire vehicle, with no signs of any fading or damage. Rust doesn’t appear to be an issue with this vehicle, with nothing visible externally. The owner states that the Eagle has actually been rustproofed on three occasions, which augers well when it comes to the question of physical longevity. The trim and chrome shine perfectly in the sun, while there are no visible signs of problems with the glass. The wheels aren’t original, but I think that they suit the Wagon quite well. However, replacing them would not be an issue if the buyer doesn’t find them to their taste.

It was what was happening below the skin that made the Eagle Wagon such a ground-breaking vehicle. When it was launched in 1980, it represented the first mass-produced American passenger car that featured full-time 4-wheel-drive. Today that doesn’t sound so radical, but in 1980, it was a feature that set both journalists and the motoring public back on their heels. It made the Eagle a competent wagon on loose ground and wet roads, which was something that the motoring press loved. This Wagon is powered by a 258ci 6-cylinder engine, which sends its 112hp to all four wheels via the optional 3-speed automatic transmission. Combine that with power steering and power brakes, and this is a classic that should offer a relaxed driving experience. The owner states that the Eagle has a genuine 33,500 miles on the clock, but he doesn’t indicate whether he holds evidence to verify this. He does say that the Wagon has recently been fitted with a new intake and carburetor. That means that it drives nicely and is ready to be enjoyed by the next lucky owner.

Pale interior trim, especially when it features cloth, can show its age quite rapidly. That isn’t a problem with this vehicle, because it appears to present well. We don’t get a look at the dash, but the upholstery on the seats and the door trims is free from major flaws. There are some dirty marks on the driver’s seat, but I believe that these could be removed successfully by a professional detailer. The carpet is in excellent condition for its age, and what can be seen of the plastic shows a lot of promise. A Bluetooth stereo is a recent addition and, combined with air conditioning and a tilt wheel, represents the major nods to luxury in this classic.

From a corporate perspective, AMC was a manufacturer who went out with a whimper. The company could produce exciting and innovative vehicles, but it never had the budget to sustain their development. It is also one of the laws of economics that when the buying public perceives financial dramas with a vehicle manufacturer, they will stay away from its offerings in droves. That was the case with the Eagle, and only 2,306 buyers splashed their cash on one in that final year of production. That is a crying shame because the Eagle was a great wagon. If you look at the few on offer in the market today, they are generally listed for prices lower than this one. Even NADA shows a potential value of a paltry $2,900 for an average example and $5,100 for a spotless vehicle. That makes this one appear to be over-priced. However, the BIN is not unprecedented. There have been a few in recent months that have sold for more than $10,000. If this one is as good as the listing suggests, and if the mileage claims can be confirmed, I believe that the price is probably realistic.

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Comments

  1. Mitchell Gildea Member

    Swap the wheels for a set of steelies and cruise

    Like 1
    • Skorzeny

      Wheels are always a matter of personal taste. I love them. But yes, cruise this. I never see them anymore.

      Like 5
  2. Alex

    The phrase is “augur well” not auger (means a drill bit for cutting)

    Like 8
  3. Michael Keil

    the odometer appears to be a six digit one so the mileage might be correct but one never really knows as they were easy to modify. i do like the color and the wheels. Just needs a engine and transmission swap. As stated the 4.0 inline six from a Cherokee would make this perfect. My dad once had a Hornet Sportabout wagon and it was a great little family car.

    Like 3
    • John

      The 4.0 from a Cherokee is the Nash/AMC inline six… In an earlier version powered Austin-Healy’s to wins at LeMans.

      • James Simpson

        Interesting! Being a parts restorer by trade, it is always good to see the anthology of motor and parts design. Yes, there are scratch-built designs, and refurbished designs, and modified designs. It is amazing how -often by accident- that a simple inclusion, or omission can radically change performance, or enhance characteristics. As a restorer, I often include modern components in ancient parts- when authorized to do so. Good to know. Thanks!

    • Jski

      The 258 is the AMC 4.2l in line 6 cyl.

  4. Thomas McCown

    Years ago I was working way out in the deep sticks jigging out lines of fiber optic cable lines and I had decided to take a break for lunch ” AND I was talking with my coworkers about nothing as usual!? Lola And I then noticed a little house not very far away and we decided that we would let the people know that their cable might be interrupted for a while!?? So I walked up to the house and a older lady answered the door and i told her that the cable was being replaced ‘ and she said fine ” And I noticed this car while walking up to her house and I asked her about it because it had a for sale sign in it!?’ And she said that it had been sitting there since her husband passed away a few years back !?” I have always liked cars like this and I inquired about how much she wanted for it !?” An surprisingly she stated that she only wanted $500.00″ For it since I reminded her of her own son!?” And that she just wanted it gone!! Cause it just reminded her of her late husband ” I told her that I had to finish up work for the day and that i would return the next day “!!?? I took her number and headed out happier than a country boy who was just offered a big bowl of Beans and cornbread “!!! Lol” SO anyway I called her the next day to let her know that my schedule was really tight and I had to wait a few days until I could get a tow truck and then she hit me with a verbal left hook “!!!!! Lol” She told me that her son had rethought about getting rid of the car and she apologized for going back on her word”!!!? But that to hold on to her number and she would keep mine and if anything changed about getting rid of it in the future “!!?? She’d make certain that I had first dib’s!!? And in the future please call her and keep updated on each other’s well being “!!? And time went by and I totally forgot about it until now!!!!!?” Wow “!!! I wish I still had her number “!!!!!” LOL “” SO sorry for rambling and ranting!!!!” LOL It’s kind therapy for me!!?” LOL Anyways “This surly is a beauty 😍!!!!!” God bless you all today Shalom ‘ PS” Especially for the ones who stuck it out until the end!!!!!??” LOL 😆

    Like 10
    • Johnny

      Know the feeling. I was promised a 29 Ford coupe in the spring.When spring rolled around/ About 2 weeks before I was suppose to help the guy on his other coupe. He up and died of a heart attack. A few years later I got hold of his daughter and told her about the deal her dad and I had. She told me she didn,t want to sale it-and its still in the woods rusting away.

  5. bikefixr

    Under hood is an absolute hot mess. 33K miles? Not buying it. Not with that much crud under there.

    Like 6
  6. That AMC Guy

    Those plastic flares can conceal a lot of rust! Some underside photos would be welcome, particularly for a Michigan car.

    It looks like most of the emissions plumbing is missing and a non-stock carb installed. Something to be aware of if living in a state with smog testing.

    Fitting a 4.0 or other engine would be a challenge if you want to keep the 4WD system because the front differential is bolted to the engine block. I believe the early 4.0 blocks have the diff mounting bosses but they are drilled or tapped.

    Like 3
    • That AMC Guy

      That should have read “they are NOT drilled or tapped”.

  7. AMCFAN

    I think the wheels look good. It is nice to see the Eagle finally getting some respect. When sold new were popular and new for those who wanted to get around in the winter that didn’t want a bulky Suburban, Wagoneer or monster truck. That being said most were used up and have corroded away. Nice examples are hard to find even though they find their way on ebay from time to time.

    Like 3
  8. Stuart Wullenweber

    It was basically a sport about with 4wd. That 258 is 4.0 eng but a 4.2 with a carb,which always a issue. You might be able to fit a throttle body where the carb is. That 4wd was the best ever matchup and literally would go any where Clearance restraints would allow it.

  9. Uncle Leo

    Have an ’87 65k, tucked away in the garage. Needs cosmetics, it’s the ugly brown with faded woodgrain sides. Also have a ’99 4.0 HO. Curious about the swap,or leave it as is.

  10. Stan

    The Police Dept in Virginia City, NV, used Eagle wagons because of the steep streets. My parents, who lived there, also bought one, for the same reason. Great car.

    Like 3
  11. Paul pestello

    Just dropped a rebuilt 4.0 l into my 84 Amc Eagle wagon, no issues other than the exhaust modifications. World of difference and fuel injection kit. Now a pleasure to drive.

    • Ron

      Hello, I’am contemplating the same engine swap in my 84 Eagle. Did you have problems hooking up the electrical system? Also motor mounts. Do you still have four wheel drive?

      • Paul

        4×4 not affected and works As b 4. Only issue was the exhaust. Had to modify the header by cutting it way back and hand manufacture exhaust pipe coming off to clear . Also switched out the motor mounts on the new motor because they were not rubber but a synthetic hard plastic and gave a terrible vibration .

  12. James Simpson

    Being a Value added guy- I rebuilt the engine and tranny on my Eagle, and drove as our daily car while kids grew up. The 4.0 engine was later touted as the highest HP inline six–yet, that was the Jeep Fuel injected version. This Melase-era smog baron carbureted engine was SO WEAK that its maximum speed was 10MPH in 1st gear when on steep climbs in the mountains at altitude around Tahoe. Its final demise- after the headliner inverted was failing plastic throughout. Its pink colored panels deteriorated faster than I could SEM recolor them. I even re-cast the outer door handles in ZAMAC alloy- because the hinge points and lever appendages broke off. Still, I liked its higher stance look. It was an experience!

    Like 1
  13. David Bailey

    I’ve had a couple of these. The bodies DO hold up well due to fact after the Hornet/Concordes top fenders always rusted out, I believe Federal regulations required galvanize “dip” on lower 3/4 of car.
    The latter years held up quite well.
    The main problem with AMC 4WD was the switch vacuum levers. These hoses and spring loaded mechanisms tended to crack: Usually a 30 minute swap with new switch.
    Parts were numerous and cheap.
    Don’t know if they stll are.
    AMC’s were first to use lLOTS of plastic on interiors.
    First reason: Cheaper than metal/padded Federal regulated dashes etc.
    Second: Much cheaper to tool up. Quicker as well. AND better fuel mileage with newere Federal Regs.
    These cars REALLY gripped the road in winter.!!

    Like 3
    • Ron L.

      The 1980 models were full time 4wd with no switch. That was added on the later models to improve fuel mileage. I had a 1980, it was a great car. Pulled a few cars out of ditches with it in a snowstorm,

  14. Pestty1

    Recently dropped in 84 amc eagle limited wagon. Completely rebuilt 4.0 Liter And added fuel injection. Fits like a glove with only exhaust modifications. Huge difference in drive ability and power. Found motor and injection kit on Craig’s list by a gear head. Sweet deal

  15. alphasud Member

    I remember as a kid I went with dad on a test drive to buy one. It’s funny what we remember but I can remember all the ill fitting plastics starting at the A-pillar trim and going back. I think we had the Volvo 265 GL at the time and the build qual was much better than what AMC was building. Of course the PRV6 in the Volvo was on its 2nd set of cams and was a bomb waiting to go off.
    I moved out of the NE in 2005 and these were still being driven. People who bought them held on to them until they were used up. I always liked the look of the wagons even today they are still pleasing to the eye.

    Like 2
  16. Frederick Pinczuk

    Friend had one in Highschool. Was his 1st car given to him by his Step-mom, and the car had belonged to her late father who had just passed. The car was like brand new…….anyway, 18 year + Wagon = Jumps (a la Duke’s style).

    This one time he had forgot about his seat belt and hit a ramp so hard. All I saw in my rear view mirror is him hanging on to the steering wheel while the rest of his body was glued to the ceiling. The car landed, bounced and miraculously stayed in one piece.

    He pulled over and check to make sure the oil pan wasn’t lying on the floor, he had taken a 3 inch carve out of the dirt ramp with the skid plate after all. But all appeared ok.

    Got back in the car and it was undrivable, swerling and darting left and right. Stopped and looked again, and upon closer inspection. The shocks had been pulled out of the main bodies in all corners. Piston stayed inside, but nothing connected.

    Anyway, quick stop at Canadian Tires, 4 new shocks installed and off it went.

  17. Claudio

    I also had a few of these as workhorses and they were great in a montreal snow storm
    I think that i would stupid enough to buy another one to pull a vintage rv with
    But it would need to be efi and overdrive
    I will research what can be swapped to achieve this …
    My gf would be so pee off to have to ride in this !

    • v

      tell her its a copy of camaros hounds tooth interior. what class…the amc eagle of today is the chevy equinox.

  18. v

    rustproofed 3 times ??? how much do you want to bet the drainage holes in the body and doors from the factory are still opened…go through mud puddles end up with swimming pools in the doors and rockers…because they will not drain.

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