4X4 Project: 1983 AMC Eagle SX/4

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You have to hand it to American Motors. They were always willing to take a chance on doing some different in hopes of it catching on. In the late 1970s, they took the aging Concord (aka Hornet) and added four-wheel-drive to it to become the Eagle. That created a niche they would sell more than 150,000 cars into before the end came for AMC in 1987. They tried it again by turning the Spirit into a 4WD sub-compact called the SX/4 and sold another 30,000 automobiles. This 1983 SX/4 is being offered from the estate of the original owner. It hasn’t been used in about five years and does run but needs brake work. Located in Flagstaff, Arizona, it’s available here on eBay where the bidding has reached $5,300.

AMC performed surgery on the Hornet in the early 1970 to come up with the Gremlin to compete with the Chevy Vega, Ford Pinto and the growing onslaught of Japanese imports. As the Hornet morphed into the Concord/Eagle, the Gremlin became the Spirit in the 1980s. That gave AMC the basis for the SX/4 which saw a shorter production run as the Eagle. It appeared for only three model years 1981-83 and the last year of manufacture is the hardest to find today because production was low, including the seller’s interesting car.

This single owner SX/4 was always garaged-kept in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After the passing of the original purchaser, the car somehow found its way to Arizona because the buyer will have to retrieve it there. It’s been inactive for about five years and we’re told it does start and run but doesn’t stop because the brakes are stuck from sitting so long (we assume they’re stuck open). The body looks good for its age and the SX/4 still wears its original paint. It’s mostly rust-free, save some surface rust on the undercarriage. We’re told it was never in an accident and has new tires and wheels. It sports a set of lovers on the rear window which is part of the hatchback design of the car.

The car is powered by AMC’s 258 cubic inch inline-six which was good for 110 hp back in the day. It’s paired up with a 4-speed manual transmission in support of the full-time 4WD. The mileage is said to be 72,000 which should equate to there being more life being left in the old girl. The seller mentions that the car has controls for factory air conditioning, but none of the hardware is there under the hood. It must have been removed at some point and is long gone now, but a little blue electric fan is there now in its place!

Some paperwork for the AMC product has been saved, such as the owner’s manual and sales brochures. These cars weren’t commonplace back in the day and less so almost 40 years later. AMC built 17,390 of them in 1981, another 10,445 in 1982 and just 2.259 in 1983, the last year for the SX/4. Hagerty doesn’t offer an estimate of their value today, but there have been a handful here on Barn Finds over the past couple of years. Those sellers were asking as little as $3,000 for a project and $17,000 for a real stunner.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Jason

    I’d love to have one of these. Just not in that color and not without its A/C parts intact. Otherwise it’s a great survivor.

    Like 3
    • That AMC Guy

      That car is not set up for A/C inside. Eagles (and Concords and Hornets) with air conditioning had a parcel shelf under the dash with air outlets on the ends. The vent you see to the left of the steering wheel is what non-A/C Eagles came with. Also, Eagles with air conditioning had the compressor where the alternator is located on this car and the alternator was placed underneath.

      So if this car actually has AC settings (can’t tell from the photos), either HVAC controls from an AC equipped Eagle were swapped in sometime in the past, or the interior AC bits were removed and a non-AC vent installed along with no-AC accessory drive on the engine.

      Like 7
      • Glenn C. SchwassMember

        That’s in amazing shale. We had Hornet that I learned to drive in and work on. They all rusted on top of thecfenders and ours had a 5mph bumper mount fall off the frame from rust.

        Like 0
      • That AMC guy

        Like most cars back then the Hornet lacked inner fender liners and was overall not very well rustproofed, so they tended to start rusting quickly on salted roads.

        Although the Eagle uses the Hornet platform, fender liners are used and starting (I think) in 1981 the factory applied Ziebart rustproofing to them. So Eagles are a lot more rust-resistant than the old Hornets. However decades of severe winter service will still ultimately allow the tinworm to do its dirty work on Eagles as I have found through personal experience.

        Like 1
  2. Steve Clinton

    AMC forever!

    Like 8
  3. Bob19006

    As an AMC owner from 1967 to 2005, my last AMC was my father’s 1982 Spirit, same body as this car and about 1 shade lighter cream color. As a later AMC it has electric wipers and I believe ball joints finally replaced the legacy Nash designed trunnions that remained into the early 1970’s. The AMC straight 6 engine originally deigned in mid-1960’s was produced in 3 versions, the 199, 232 and the 258. They usually runs forever and the 258 in size is close to that of a small block V-8. The engine was so good that Chrysler kept the AMC straight 6 engine with upgraded electronics and fuel systems into the 1990s for use in Jeeps so swaps to the 1990’s Jeep straight 6 are easy.

    Like 8
    • That AMC Guy

      The old trunnion front suspension was abandoned in favor of ball joints across the board at AMC for the 1970 model year, which would have been in late 1969. Electric wipers became standard for the 1972 model year.

      Aside from setting up the electronics, the main problem with installing a Jeep 4.0 six into an Eagle is that the front differential mounts to the 258 engine block. AMC modified the 258 for the Eagle by adding drilled and tapped mounting bosses for the differential.

      Early 4.0 blocks have the mounting bosses but they are not drilled or tapped. Later 4.0 blocks dropped the mounting bosses entirely. (Possibly AMC considered making the 4.0 available in the Eagle when that engine was designed but never did so.)

      Like 2
  4. Johnny

    I like it. Nice lice little car to tinker with . Can,nt say if it has or has not a hydralic clutch. Never fooled with one,but they say they hard a pain to bleed the air out of them. I did notice the LOUVERS ,but I DID NOT SEE ANY LOVERS ON THE BACK GLASS.

    Like 7
    • scott m

      But give them credit- right after Lovers it said New Rubber🤣👍🤗

      Like 4
  5. Easy Streamer

    What is up with the bias ply trailer tires?

    Like 0
  6. David

    Had a 83 black on black vinyl 5 speed manual Rear spoiler ground effects Ac. Cool looking car wondering what that would go for today spent 4000 in 1988 for it

    Like 0
  7. Easy

    What is up with the trailer tires?

    Like 0
  8. Jinwoo

    I had one back in 1986. It was 1981 red with black and had about 40000 mile. I bought it for $3000. It ate transfer case mount and idler are like crazy. If the tranfer case mount goes bad, the front drive shaft can pull the front differential and crack the differential mountung bracket. It appened to me at about 42000 miles. The differential came off the car when I visited New York spilling all the ball bearing from CV joints….. The car was towed to a local AMC dealer and they had it for 2 month but they said they cannot fix it. I had to tow home to Phily and tried to fix it myself. Had problem getting the new bracket because it was not showing up on micro film at the dealer ship. A friend of mine weld it for me and got fixed I remember the repair costed a lot. Rebuilt CV joint was about $360 at the time. After about a few thousand miles I noticed the transfer mount was going bad again..got rid of it in 1987..unfortunately As an struggling student at the time, not good memories I have with the car.

    Like 0
  9. walter

    WHAT!?!?!? nobody is going to say anything about all the land cruisers!?!?!?!?

    Like 1

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