Immaculate 4×4 Wagon: 1986 AMC Eagle Limited Edition

Every now and again, we, the writers, have to remind ourselves not to overuse certain adjectives. This includes words like “survivor” that can get tossed around pretty easily if you’re not careful. But there are times when we really do have to admit a certain car fits the bill of being a survivor, and vehicles like this 1986 AMC Eagle Wagon 4×4 Limited Edition certainly qualify. It has under 40,000 miles from new and just two owners, and it presents exactly as well as the seller describes. These are sought after by a certain group of collectors, and I suspect this one will find a new home soon if it meets reserve. Find the Eagle here on eBay where bidding is at $13,500 with the reserve unmet.

It’s a shame this car wasn’t photographed better as it would present like the timewarp specimen that it is as opposed to just another used car. I recently had two of my cars photographed professionally and wow, what a difference it makes! I will freely admit I don’t possess the skills to document cars at that level, as most of us don’t. The seller’s photos still manage to capture just how incredibly well preserved this luxurious interior is, with the acres of leather seemingly in mint condition and the carpets and door panels likewise looking like new. The fake woodgrain trim appears to be nearly brand-new with no evidence of sun fade or other cosmetic faults.

The seller includes this random photo of the mirror which may seem slightly useless on the surface but when you realize just how perfect the chrome is, it’s meaningful. The seller reports that the documentation is heavy with this Eagle, ranging from the original title document to the original window sticker. The Eagle was apparently purchased new in South Dakota, and the seller bought the car from that original owner with just 35,000 miles on the clock. The Eagle is currently located in New Jersey and obviously has not been subjected to the slop and salt of wintertime roads in the Northeast. It’s also worth noting that the woodgrain paneling also appears to be in as-new condition.

Brown is a suitable color for one of these, and perhaps the best paint finish given how it absorbs some of the woodgrain effects. The wire hubcaps and whitewall tires are also OEM correct, so it’s clear that the two caretakers of this Eagle have both placed a great deal of emphasis on preserving its originality. The collector car market does like the Eagle 4x4s and most enthusiasts appreciate what a ground-breaker it was. But to get top dollar, you have to go all the way with the presentation factor, so hopefully a seasoned Eagle collector can see through the image gallery to understand just how special this Limited Edition wagon is.


  1. alphasud Member

    Jeff I agree 100% with your statements presentation is everything. It also the reason I passed up this listing when I saw the cover photo. The car has definitely been a garage queen all its life. These were great vehicles in their day. I lived in the NE growing up and the people that owned them were fiercely loyal to this car. Finding a low mileage one is a challenge. If you can afford to pay what the sellers reserve is you probably won’t loose if you hold onto the car and preserve it.

    Like 12
  2. Sam61

    Ditto… that’s a beauty! I have a base original condition 87 Eagle wagon, beige/gold, with 67k…nice but not the same level as the subject.

    I wish had the cash to “trade up”.

    Like 5
  3. Steve Clinton

    Nice car, but definitely NOT a surf woodie!

  4. RMac

    Surf theme today ? First Surf Bird (awesome) now surf wagon also awesome in its own very different way
    Assume these all came wit I-6 and auto cause I didn’t see any photos or mention of the drive train
    Really sweet wagon

    Like 2
  5. Allen L

    On the latest episode of Better Call Saul, there is a flashback to Kim Wexler’s teen years, her mother is driving an Eagle 4×4 wagon.
    Some other interesting cars of the era can be seen.
    Fun to play name that car.

    Like 1
  6. Raymond L Saunders

    First, you are a moron…this is not a Limited Edition anything, it is not 1 of whatever, Limited was always AMCs top trim level, do your research before you state something as fact…..that aside, this is the cleanest example I’ve seen in a long time, I see it bringing 20 easy…glwta

    Like 4
    • Ralph

      Words spoken by the smartest guy on the interwebs….YMMV

      Like 8
    • Armstrongpsyd Armstrongpsyd Member

      Gosh Raymond, Are you sure you don’t want to back up a bit after your caffeine wears off. We’re all in this together, sharing knowledge and expertise. I learn things on this site daily. Does it make me a moron if I state something incorrectly prior to learning something new. Am I a moron if someone misunderstands my casual usage of common terms. The write ups on BF are always smart, informative and invitingly honest perspectives of the contributors. Keep up the brilliant work guys.

      Like 15
  7. RMac

    WOW harsh Raymond I do not think anyone (well maybe 1 person read it as a”Limited Edition” most people know it is a “ Limited” edition model designation in the title the writers are mostly really good and have done their research in my opinion

    Like 18
  8. That AMC guy

    Nice, I’ve owned a couple of these over a period of 20 years.

    I believe this was the last year that the 258 six had a plastic valve cover which inevitably leaks, You can see it in the engine photos. Aftermarket aluminum covers are readily available from vendors catering to Jeeps but you need to tap some unthreaded holes in the cylinder head to fit one of them.

    One of the engine photos in the ebay ad (#22) looks like it’s actually from an AMC Pacer! Note the flattened air cleaner design, metal valve cover, rear of the engine under the cowl, and front-hinged hood:

    For reasons that no one seems to know, for 1986 only the Eagle came with an open center differential rather than a viscous coupling. So if you lose traction on one wheel you’re just going to sit there spinning that wheel. (Not that you’d want to use this beauty in foul weather!)

    If you live in an area that tests cars this old for emissions it can be challenging to get these through. The emissions system is very complex with seemingly miles of vacuum hoses and gadgets. An electronic feedback carb with an O2 sensor and engine computer are employed. It’s a fairly sophisticated setup for its time, via the knock sensor ignition timing can be varied on individual cylinders on the fly!

    The OEM wire wheel covers for these had AMC stickers pasted on top of the Buick Tri-Shield logo, and of course after many years those stickers would inevitably peel off revealing their GM origin. If the wheel covers are original to this car it looks like the center caps have been painted over.

    Like 3
  9. James Simpson

    Shangri-la syndrome is the unavoidable consequence after driving this car away from its mythical garaged retreat. As soon as the car sees sunlight, it’s true age will be revealed in a very short period of time. I owned one without the luxury of a garage. The headliner will fall, every bit of pebble grain plastic in the interior will shift-shape, the outer door handles will break, the vacuum operated front wheel drive solenoid will fail, the locking torque converter will permanently lock up. At skiing altitude you will be lucky to manage the slightest hill at more than 20mph due to tiny carburetor. It IS very pretty, and I attempted to extend my wagon’s life by rebuilding its engine and transmission. Mine got ugly fast after that. So, get yourself a nitrogen filled tent, and take this brittle maiden home. It has outgassed its last plastic gasp. Unavoidable.

    Like 3
    • That AMC guy

      My Eagles were just workaday winter vehicles so I never concerned myself with things like what the interior plastic looked like or the headliner falling down. (I just used upholstery tacks to pin it back up!)

      There is no vacuum-operated front axle disconnect starting in 1985 with the Eagle’s on-the-fly Select Drive, but the vacuum motor for the transfer case can certainly fail. I used to crawl under my last Eagle wagon with a wrench if I wanted to shift it between 2WD and 4WD. (The earlier Select Drive system, with the axle disconnect that required stopping to to switch modes, can be converted to the later setup. That at least gets rid of one failure-prone vacuum gadget.)

      I expect if this one is kept garaged and only taken out on nice days it will stay in good condition for years to come.

      Like 1
  10. Rob Norman

    sure glad subaru came along

    Like 3
  11. Doug

    Looks like it has Chrysler wheel covers ?

    Like 1
    • Chuck Dickinson

      That was my thought as well. Mopar, not Buick wire caps.

      Like 1
  12. Gary

    I had a black one with the same interior. I am sorry I ever sold it, it was a great car.

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