Preserved Kammback: 1981 AMC Eagle

While the four-wheel drive AMC Eagle wagon was an outlier when introduced, the hatchback versions –  affectionately known as either the Kammback or SX/4 – were really out there by 1980s standards. This 1981 model is the squared-off Kammback body that checks all the boxes for being one of the more obscure vehicles out there, combining four wheel drive with a manual transmission. There’s one bid to $5,700 here on eBay with a Buy-It-Now of $7,500.

I would imagine more than a few AMC Eagle collectors are monitoring this auction, as it seems to capture everything an AMC lover would cherish about this quirky brand. The legendary 4.2L straight-six under the hood combined with go-anywhere 4WD capabilities and the funky rear hatch opening make this Kammback hard to ignore, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone hit the Buy-It-Now button.

The seller mentions more than once that the Kammback is destined for investment greatness, but I suspect sending one of these to Barrett-Jackson is a bit premature. The interior is quite handsome, however, with nicely preserved bucket seats, plush carpets, minty door panels, and an uncracked dash and steering wheel. The manual transmission is a welcome feature and should pair nicely with the torquey I6.

The list of replacement parts and upgrades is extensive, including: new front axle shafts, new belts and hoses, new battery, new clutch, new transmission and transfer case seals, new pinion, and bearings in the rear axle, new paint in the original color, and more. Lots more. The next owner will seemingly have a turnkey car without too many looming issues lying in wait. Find a better one!


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  1. That AMC Guy

    These are extremely rare. The only one I’ve seen in person was so rusty that it was a basket case. That one had the Iron Duke 4-banger from GM. With the 258 six in this one, one of the nice upgrades is the aftermarket cast aluminum valve cover to replace the nasty OEM plastic job.

    It’s a shame the door panels were cut up for aftermarket speakers, but they don’t look too bad. Seems pretty well equipped aside from lack of air conditioning. I see tilt steering wheel and cruise control and of course the six cylinder engine was an option.

    Hopefully this car looks as good underneath as it does up top. That plastic cladding can conceal a horror show.

    Like 3
    • David P. Reeves

      Thankfully, it looks like the cut up door panel is the carpeted lower part, so if desired, the new owner could look into getting matching/close enough carpet to replace the cut carpet. (I’d do it if it were mine)

  2. Kevin

    coolest Gremlin ever

    Like 6
  3. Eric L.

    Kammbacks rule!! Still kicking myself for not buying one of these 12 years ago for under $1k when I had the chance to do so. :-(

    Wonder if it’d be possible to mount the front sheetmetal from an early Gremlin to one of there w/o it requiring a lot of fabrication?

  4. W9BAG

    Always wanted a Limited wagon. I had a friend that bought of these new, and in the worst winter in the last 25 years of recorded Northern Illinois history, we tried to get it stuck. Not happening (with after market snow tires). Sweet little car.

  5. Miguel

    A Gremlin on steroids.


    Like 2
  6. Mitch Ross Member

    This is the rarest, and I believe, the most sought after Eagle of them all. It has the most sought after drive train too. Should bring the right money.

    Like 2

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