4WD Limited: 1985 AMC Eagle Wagon

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

It takes quite a bit to out-Subaru Subaru, but AMC’s Eagle division did that in the early-1980s. This 1985 Eagle wagon is listed on eBay with a current bid price of just over $3,000 and there is no reserve! It’s located in Canton, Ohio and it sure looks like it could be driven home.

For a car that has over 130,000 miles on it and has been in Indiana and Ohio throughout its lifetime, there is very little rust, according to the seller. They “removed the rocker panels and fender flayers [sic], there is rust on the rocker panels but nothing on wheel wells.” It sure looks solid from the photos that are provided. Those big meats seem at least one size larger than the factory wheels would have been but they don’t look tacky in a monster-truck sort of way.

Starting in the 1980 model year, AMC produced this traction-blessed series of cars, one of the first to have 4WD or AWD, with a center differential so they could be driven with all four wheels powering the car. Most other manufactures provided a button to activate the 4WD system and they weren’t really the best to use on dry pavement. The seller says that this is “a fun car to drive and It runs good enough to drive daily.” In 1982, they were available with Select Drive, a switchable 4WD system to go between rear-wheel drive and 4WD.

The interior may need more work than the exterior does, for once. It’s a little cracked, faded, and otherwise worn. The back seat area looks good, though. Supposedly, “the door locks are a little lazy at times. Short of that everything works including the AC.” Cool. It’s nice to see power windows, as an options guy I really like to see a vehicle loaded up with factory options whenever possible. The sloping rear hatch looks cool and modern but it really cuts down on storage capacity.

This is AMC’s 4.2L 258 cubic-inch inline-six with around 115 hp. It’s hard to believe that the factory AC still works in a 32-year old car but it does. It sounds like this is a pretty solid example but I don’t know if too many people would totally restore an AMC Eagle wagon, at least not for another decade or two. Have any of you owned one of these 4WD wagons?

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Comments

  1. Rock On

    Ex brother in law had a whole fleet of these. Two door, four door and wagon models. The two door had a manual transmission. Never seen any of them with the “flayers” off. Sure hope that the breaks are okay!




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    • Davey

      Flayers?
      Breaks?
      Who are these morons?




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      • Clinton

        Don’t forget the thread on the tires or curve rash on the rims. :facepalm:




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  2. The_Driver

    NICE!!! Perfect candidate for a 4.7 Stroker kit!




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  3. XJSLord

    Jim Babish is located in Johnstown PA (where I am). He is well known to ask crack-head prices, but the cars are usually top notch. Have fun with your new car!




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    • Matt

      He had an 81 Eagle years back I looked at. I used to live in Richland. I have two Eagles.




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  4. Redragula

    First thing I think of is Back to the Future–McFly’s girlfriend’s dad’s car




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  5. Joseph Wayne Haddock

    The bodies were galvanized on those. Had a 81 AMC Eagle SX4, basically was the 4wd version of the Spirit. Great car. I swapped the 4 banger for a 1979 Chevy v6, (305 w/2 cyl less). Ran like a scalded dog. Alot of fun.




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  6. Lindsey Johnstone

    I kind of had an Eagle. More precisely, I had the AMC Concord station wagon with the V8. It was sitting in the middle of my buddy’s car lot and while I was waiting for him I saw several couples head over to the rig, sales guy would come up and the folks wandered on. I asked my buddy about it and he say “It had a V8, everyone wants a 6 cylinder. Funny thing, the V8 only gets 1mpg less in town than the 6, and it is exactly the same mileage on the highway”. I ran the poor little thing into the ground. I believe I put 200k on top of its already 20k. It was still running great when I traded it in for a brand new 86 Sable wagon. The door hinges on the Concord were gone by then, to close the driver door, you had to lift up when closing. Also, I had the heater core blow out twice (in exactly the same spot on the freeway!)




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  7. Puckster

    Extremely capable in the snow. Just after high school in Michigan I met a guy with one of these and we took that thing to the edge of insanity trying to get it stuck. The second winter we finally succeeded by trying to climb a snow mound in the back of a shopping center parking lot; oh the fun we had!




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  8. Mark Member

    I think you are a scammer , too many story’s . Always buying a car for 1000 less than asking price. Seems you want people to see this car dealership.




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  9. Alan

    XJSLord my 81 Concord is Nothing like that piece of garbage! my car has been removed from recently sold on website. I am attaching photo




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    • XJSLord

      Looks beautiful man




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  10. Alan

    another photo




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  11. Alan

    and another!




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  12. Alan

    an interior photo




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  13. Alan

    Photo of small 4 cylinder engine




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  14. Alan

    another interior photo




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  15. Alan

    another engine photo




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  16. That AMC Guy

    I’ve had a couple of Eagle wagons over a period of about 25 years, most recently just a few years ago when it was finally done in by the tinworm after decades of winter service. Those plastic panels can hide a lot of rust so those are areas that should be carefully examined. These cars had good rustproofing for the day but they will ultimately rust out when used for a long time on salted winter roads, which is their natural environment. (If I had a nice Eagle today I would not want to use it up that way.)

    As has been mentioned these are great in snow. It looks like this one has an aftermarket aluminum valve cover which is a plus. The 258 came with a plastic valve cover from the factory in the early-to-mid 1980s and those would warp and leak like crazy.

    The AC on the Eagle is a very basic system. It’s not a modern reheat type setup but cycles the compressor to regulate temperature. As i recall the power windows on these used a cable drive system which can be troublesome. (My Eagles had manual crank windows.)

    Also the electronic feedback carbs on these cars can be a bit of a pain but work well enough when properly set up. The emission system is pretty wicked in general as it was not easy or straightforward to meet 1980s standards with a carburetor. If you live in a strict/insane state like California you may have a real tough time getting through smog inspection.

    A Jeep/truck type transfer case is used, though with no low range. The 2WD/4WD selector is vacuum-actuated and that system frequently fails, however you can manually operate the lever from underneath the car using a wrench if need be. The center differential uses a viscous coupling to give a limited-slip effect so that if you lose traction on one end of the car, the other end takes over. However over a long period of time this coupling can fail and the system reverts to an open differential, meaning a single wheel losing traction can stop you. (1986 models for some reason came with an open differential from the factory, all other years used the viscous coupling.)

    Mechanical parts and upgrades are generally still easy to come by since it’s essentially the same engine used in Jeeps of the same vintage.




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  17. Hide Behind

    Know an old farmer still driving his he bought new.
    He has newer car and truck but uses wagon for parts chaser and even hauls carp around his different parcels.
    6 BANGER BEEN REBUILT COUPLE TIMES, RIPPED ALL SMOG APART AND OLDER 2 BEL RUNS GREAT BUT IN
    RURAL WA COUNTIES WE NO SMOG T
    EST. ELK ON HIS LANDS SEE HIM DRIVING UP TO GATE COME RUNNNG AS HE FEEDS THEM SOME TIMOTHY AND GRAINS WITH MOLASES .
    Odd but the darn thing has little visible rust other than chrome and hasn’t been washed in 20 years.
    GOOD reliable all weather vehicle.




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    • dan westerberg

      that must have been a smelly ride ,hauling all that carp around……………..lol




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  18. Rabbit

    Never owned one, but experienced many during my stint at the dealer. AMC’s best idea since buying Jeep from Kaiser. And the best part? It worked, & worked well. Wonderful vehicles.




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  19. Rube Goldberg Member

    Very nice, a Sportabout on steroids. I think this was probably one of the last decent cars made by AMC. They were used as mail carrier cars ( and might still in some places) until the Subaru wagons came out. They were generally owned by elderly folks, which is why they still come out of the woodwork looking like this. You certainly can’t go wrong here.




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  20. JagManBill

    We had an 84 Eagle – Wife’s absolute favorite car of all time. Cheap and easy to fix/keep on the road. By 84/85, the only thing that was AMC built was the engine and body. Everything else on the car was GFC (GM-Ford-Chrysler).




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    • EHide Behind

      yup!




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    • Matt

      From 1980 to 1987 there was almost no change to where the parts were sourced from. They all had a Motorcraft ignition, DANA axles and Chrysler TF transmissions (automatics, anyway). The 1988 model year, which was the only Eagle year under Chrysler is a gray area, but since they were built until parts inventory was depleted there is little evidence that much was changed. 1980-1981 saw a body styling change and around 1984 the did away with hood ornaments and switched from a shaft style to a DIN style stereo. 1986 used a one year only NP128 transfer case.




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  21. Ed

    Had one back in the day. Same color as the ones the Pitkin County [Colorado i.e. Aspen] Sheriffs Dept used at the time. I sure had people slow down. It did all things “pretty good” was a pleasure to drive compared to a CJ.




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  22. Rich R

    AMC guy nailed it! I worked in an AMC dealer as a young mechanic starting in the business. These Eagles were great at what they were designed for….daily transport. From 1980 to 85, I saw many leave our shop. This one would be one I would own, no problem, if I could spare the cash! They were relatively comfortable, pretty good in snow, and pretty reliable. The carburetor system sucked so bad in those days, being a new system with no training! And those plastic rocker cover…..poor design! Best thing they did was make it switchable from 2 to 4-wheel drive on the fly.
    Wanted to own one then….still would!




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    • Alan

      As my recent buy is 81 Concord with 4 cylinder 2.5 engine I appreciate your techincal or pro opinion on my Concord. thanks




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  23. Miguel

    I had the sedan version of this for a short while.

    It was really a nice highway car. It was very comfortable.

    I would buy another one.




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  24. Chuck

    I had an ’84 Eagle wagon, which I loved dearly! It was the most comfortable vehicle that I have ever owned. The handling was wonderful, and the shift on-the-fly worked great! It would get 27 MPG on the highway, and about 22 MPG around town. My wife had a Suburban 4X4, and living in Michigan, we got a lot of snow. She would get her Suburban stuck, and would push it out with the Eagle, which really upset her. I’ve owned / driven 4 wheel drive since ’75, and the Eagle was the best one!!!




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  25. Mark

    My 1990 Jeep Cherokee has factory rims just like that I’ve had my jeep 17 years and a lot of parts are interchangable. Those are Jeep rims.




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  26. Alan (Michigan)

    Cool car. Tried to buy it’s clone a couple of years ago, but the seller literally would not let me have it if I wanted to DD it. It was to be a basically dedicated rally-cross car, or no sale. I went Subaru instead.

    OT:
    Why does this AMC look so good to me?
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/1978-AMC-Matador-Barcelona-Edition/282820017684?hash=item41d962fe14:g:DBQAAOSwnlFaZ0Nl




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  27. Gay Car Nut

    Sweet looking Eagle wagon. I’ve seen my share back in the 80s. It’s a damn shame that it was discontinued that it was. However dated it looked, with the body of the Hornet and the Concord,




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