Same Owner 30 Years: 1983 AMC Eagle SX/4

There are a lot of small cars being made today but there aren’t many small two-door cars. I can’t think of a small two-door car with 4WD being made today but I’m sure there will be a few folks who can come up with one. The seller has this 1983 AMC Eagle SX/4 listed here on eBay in Manitowoc, Wisconsin and they have a $14,000 buy-it-now price listed or you can make an offer.

$14,000! Yowsa, where has the time gone?! AMC’s Eagle division had some very cool and unique vehicles, although I guess I can say cars because they didn’t offer trucks. They were a pioneer of AWD in passenger vehicles and I hesitate to say “They had the first…” because that automatically generates comments about, “Yeah, but what about the…”. So, if you know the actual first 4WD/AWD passenger vehicle, at least in modern times, let us know in the comments section and we’ll all have a friendly debate about who’s more correct!

The Eagle SX/4 was part of what is widely considered to be the first family of 4WD vehicles available at the time. The company offered the famous Eagle wagon which we’ve seen many times here, and also a four-door sedan, a two-door sedan, and my personal favorite: the Kammback, in addition to the SX/4. They even partnered with a company to make a two-door convertible. 1983 would be the last year for the SX/4, leaving the four-door sedan and four-door wagon until the Chrysler buyout of AMC in 1987 and the final year of wagons only for 1988.

This particular SX/4 looks great as you can imagine by that eye-watering asking price. It had better look nice. I would personally want a manual transmission but only half of my vehicles now have one so I seem to be defaulting to automatics in my old age. This one has a Chrysler TorqueFlite three-speed automatic and the interior itself looks as close to being perfect as I can imagine one looking. The seats look like new, both front and rear, and the tiny storage spot under the hatchback is as clean as a whistle. It reminds me of the ol’ 1986 Nissan Stanza 4WD 5-speed wagon, the spare tire takes up a good portion of the floor space which is weird.

I’ll try to not mention the unfortunate red hoses on a $14,000 vehicle more than once. The engine looks fantatsic otherwise and it’s an AMC 258 cubic-inch six with 110 horsepower and 210 ft-lb of torque. These are great engines and the seller says that this car has had a single owner for 30 years and everything works right down to the air-conditioning. Although, the heater core has been bypassed for an unknown reason. Any thoughts on this SX/4 or on Eagle’s 4WD cars, in general?

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Comments

  1. wuzjeepnowsaab

    These are pretty awesome snow vehicles and will do amazing in light off road duty too. You can wake up that 4.2 engine pretty easily too. These were the Outback before the Outback was the Outback

    Like 14
  2. wuzjeepnowsaab

    That said, 14 large is pretty steep for a mid 80’s AMC product, as nice as this one is

    Like 12
  3. That AMC Guy

    Nice car but that’s a crack pipe price, especially since the heater core likely is bypassed due to leakage. (Need to tear the dash apart to replace it.) The aftermarket Jeep valve cover is a nice touch since the original was plastic and very prone to warping and leaking. The radiator looks a bit crooked, not sure what’s going on there.

    It’s a concern that there are no underside photos. Despite factory-applied Ziebart rustproofing, when these cars were used for winter driving for decades there can be significant rust. Aside from what may be readily visible underneath, the plastic cladding can hide a lot of rust damage. Prospective buyers will want to check carefully.

    Like 9
  4. ClassicCarFan

    OK, I’ll take the bait…. There was a four-wheel drive version of the Jensen Interceptor from 1966. The Interceptor FF (for “Ferguson Formula” after the Ferguson company famous for their tractors, who were the designer of the four-wheel drive system used) the car also had anti-lock brakes.

    Admittedly, it was not available in the US market in left-hand drive format. the packaging of the drive-shafts and transfer case etc could not be configured to work around a left-hand dive layout apparently – so maybe it doesn’t count !

    I agree – the price on this AMC looks optimistic…unless there is some fanatical following for thee cars I just never knew about? They do have a certain novelty value and sort of historical significance as an early iteration of the sort of crossover car/4×4 that would be come so common in more recent years? but I can think of a lot more desirable classic cars you can buy for that $14k …

    Like 3
  5. Rich Fasano

    AMC in that year had the Chrroker the Cherokee Chief and the Wagoneer

    Like 1
  6. Pleease

    My boss had one of these – a blue one – as a company car, and I borrowed it one day for business purposes, then left it in the office parking lot for him to pick up.

    The next morning he called me to his office and pointed out the window at the parking lot below, where I saw muddy tire tracks in circles….and I said “what?!” and he told me the story.

    Well, I had gone home with the Eagle key in my pocket – he was not happy about that! – so he asked his wife to bring the spare key to the office. He hopped in, started it, remembered something he needed to ask his wife so hopped out and walked over to their personal car. The Eagle then somehow took off on its own, rolled through an area of newly-planted grass (hence the mud) and rolled around in a circle before slamming into the side of his personal car (with wife & 3 kids inside)….and there was the muddy-track evidence below us, like some kinda sick disaster map.

    He said “you and that ugly MFer tried to kill my family!”, but everyone was OK and we spontaneously burst into laughter. If we had a beer now, 30 something years later, we’d laugh about it again.

    Like 5
    • glenn C marks

      I have to confess, I am a bad person. I laughed at your story BEFORE I found out everybody was OK. I will write “I am a bad person” one-hundred times on the blackboard Saturday morning. I have probably seen too many Coen Brothers. Maybe I should write THAT on the blackboard too. Why should I feel guilty? It was your boss that couldn’t put a car into park. Was his name Jerry Lundegaard?

  7. 433jeff

    Well great rig, Although i like my gen 2 Subaru 85-94 wagon with 2 or 4 wd and low range and turbo. I was going to say after 30 years this has probably broght him home in many a storm, but it looks so clean I don’t know if it was a winter rig. Anyway hats off to Amc. The big asking price could buy many cars, but maybe it really is that nice!

    Like 1
  8. Mike Morgan

    My sister asked me about buying one just like it back in the 90’s for pocket change. I talked her out of it, thinking it would more trouble than it was worth. I’ve been kicking myself ever since–kinda like the friend I talked out of buying a 67 Camaro convertible for $600 because it was a 6 cylinder/Powerglide combo!

    Like 4
  9. John E. Klintz

    Yet just another “reason in metal” that I miss AMC. LOVED their “outside the box” thinking, then acting upon those thoughts on a limited budget. This kind of creativity is long absent in the entire auto biz currently.

    Like 8
  10. $ where mouth is

    Ive wanted one, the performance model, since i was a teen. Still want one, hence im here writing about it ..
    My opinion, a great machine. The writers comment about the red hoses has no validity, sure red hoses, means the owner replaced old ones and in fact, the red ones are a higher quality so sure, red, so what.
    Mustangs, camaros, blah blah, dime a dozen, amd these dayz are shamefully fixed up with cheap, chinese S. Drake crap. This thing has a bullit proof 258, 4 wheel drive, clean original paint, well appointed interior,, and is very rare. Why not ask 14, are there others to compare it to ?
    A quality, all US made, relic.

    Like 5
  11. mrgreenjeans

    I owned several 4wd Eagle Wagons and can vouch for durability and ease of travel in rough, mud and snow terrain. The 258 inline six had good torque and the later, shift on the fly 4wd engagement simply spectacular.
    One was in this same color combination and also an ’83.

    One of these 2 door SX4 models came available a dozen years ago, so I went for a test ride. Used to my longer wheelbase wagons compliant ride, I was immediately frustrated with the harsh ‘hoppity-hop’ of the SX4.

    I would love to own one of those wagons again, but it would need to have considerably less than the 300,000 miles mine each had. And containing a lot less rust holes

    Like 2
    • That AMC Guy

      The earlier Select-Shift which required stopping to switch modes can be pretty easily converted to shift-on-the fly 2WD/4WD. Lock the front axle disconnect to keep it permanently engaged and remove the pull-down pin from the vacuum switch inside the car. Voila, you now have the later system. (That axle disconnect setup was never all that reliable anyway.)

      Like 1
  12. Frank

    Driving that for 30 years! what an exciting life.

    Like 1
  13. chrlsful

    “…Any thoughts on this SX/4 or on Eagle’s 4WD cars, in general?…”
    wagon or Kammaback the one to have for here (& late models due to the 3. 4 W hook up changes). Love the motor. Thnx for the photo links~

  14. Howard A Member

    I’d have to say, AMC’s last successful gasp before the dismal Alliance and that “other” Eagle, ( no relation) baloney. These were great cars, I see this has the preferred automatic, an EX-friend ( stupid political views ended a 45 year relationship) bought one new with a 5 speed. It was in the shop with bearing woes, twice, sidelining the car for months and never did fix it and he traded it off. He even admits, the automatic would have been a better choice. All wheel drive cars were in their infancy, a Subaru was just a toy, this was a REAL car, that did okay, not great, in the snow, but AWD cars were born. Too bad AMC never got to see the real picture they helped create. With several pass closures already, ( a bit early), winter is a coming. Can’t go wrong here.

    • Claudio

      Yeah , i get tired of those leftists too !

      Like 2
  15. Claudio

    For $5k canadian funds , i drive around with a low mileage fully loaded awd with 4wd, leather, multi zone dual a/c , camera , heated seats, mirrors and windshield, as much as i loved the 3 that i had , the asking price doesn’t make any sense , the driving , braking, handling , stopping are way better on my newer one so nostalgia can’t do it for me …

    Like 1
  16. Gary

    A Citation on steroids :-)

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