Sporty 4×4: 1983 AMC Eagle SX/4

This 1983 AMC Eagle SX/4 is claimed to be a low-mileage example despite appearing a little rough around the edges, with 48,000 miles showing on the odometer. It certainly needs some love in the cosmetics department, but as an Arizona car, it’s likely not to have much in the way of rust. Plus, it checks most of the boxes for AMC fans, with four wheel drive, the venerable straight six, and the cool SX/4 package. Surprisingly, as an Arizona vehicle, it doesn’t have A/C – so perhaps it was sold new in a market that didn’t demand year-round cooling. Find it here on craigslist with an asking price of $3K.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Ikey H. for the find. The SX/4 package attempted to inject some sportiness into what was otherwise a very utilitarian vehicle – then again, almost every vehicle in AMC’s lineup was intended to be a Swiss Army knife rather than something you’d buff to a showroom shine every weekend. While this was largely a case of window dressing, at least what was added to the base hatchback via the SX/4 option resulted in major improvements in the looks department, from fender flares to window louvers to stripe kits and more. All of these elements seemingly remain intact on this example, which is a major selling point if you’re hunting for a genuine SX/4.

The interior looks like it’d respond well to a good cleaning, as I don’t see any major damage to the seats, carpets, or dash. While you could get a manual gearbox, the original owner opted for the automatic, which purportedly got better fuel mileage than the manual. The dash does show some damage on the driver’s side where it meets the A-pillar, and most all of the wood trim is washed out and faded. Door panels look decent and the backseat doesn’t appear to have seen much use, and the AMC even retains its original AM/FM radio. These cars were generally loved by their owners, so it’s not surprising to see a tired example that still remains this complete inside.

And, of course, that engine: the notorious, can’t-kill-it inline six. While a four-cylinder was offered, this is the engine you wanted in an AMC product. The seller notes the 4.2L mill “…runs with assistance,” which loosely translates to not running on its own power at the moment. However, if there’s one thing we know, it’s that these engines don’t need much help to become strong runners after they’ve been left down for a while, and I suspect a weekend’s worth of diagnostic time would get it running on its own power again. While AMCs of this generation likely won’t escalate in value any time soon, they are celebrated by enthusiasts for their durability and uniqueness, and those qualities alone make this one worthy of revitalization.

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  1. That AMC guy

    Although these engines are tough to kill, the 1980s versions have what looks like miles of vacuum lines and emission gadgets. A vacuum leak could very well be the cause of the engine needing “assistance” to run. Another common issue if it doesn’t idle is the idle tubes in the carb tend to plug up. That’s happened on the Eagles I’ve owned and it’s an easy fix, you don’t have to remove the carb.

    I see this 258 still has a plastic valve cover, though there’s no obvious oil leakage visible in the engine photo. Aftermarket aluminum covers are readily available when needed thanks to this engine’s use in Jeeps, though you have to tap some unthreaded holes in the head to bolt the cover in place.

    Another problem area on these is the vacuum-operated front axle disconnect on pre-1985 Eagles with switchable 4WD. A popular fix is to permanently engage the front axle, then it can be treated like the later Eagles with shift-on-the-fly 2WD/4WD selection.

  2. Howard A Member

    No way. These peoples pictures kill it everytime. Nice car, the automatic is the more preferable one. I have a friend that bought an ’84 with a 5 speed and had nothing but trouble,,with the 5 speed, that is. The rest of the car was great. Went through snow, good heater, kinda economical, but the 5 speed was problematic, after the 3rd failure in 2 years, he sold it. Again, great concept, rural mail carriers used the wagons for years. Fact is, in some small towns, they still do. This one is pretty rough, 148K would be more believable, still a great find. I’d love to have one.

  3. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I wonder what happened to the corner piece of the left front bumper. There doesn’t appear to be any damage in that area. This would be a fun car to make a daily driver out of, a few minor repairs, buff and shine as needed and buzz about town. Don’t really have a use for 4 wheel drive as a city dweller here in Houston, Texas, but the car is rather cute with the short wheel base and stance. I can do without a/c having grown up in Northern California with no a/c and temperatures often reaching over 100 degrees f. But it is quite nice to have now that I’m a little older, 73 in June.
    God bless America

    • thomas f

      The end caps for the bumpers are made from a plastic that became brittle from sun and age. They are commonly missing tho I believe there are folks 3D printing replacements

  4. Araknid78

    Vehicle location: Phoenix, AZ

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