1981 AMC Eagle: A Mostly Complete Restoration is up for Auction

Restoring cars is not often a money-making endeavor. This is especially true of unloved cars like the AMC Eagle. Though the concept was ahead of its time and the 4-wheel drive technology in it was pretty advanced for 1981, AMC’s best-selling car couldn’t keep the brand afloat. That’s why you, the AMC afficionado, can be money ahead by buying this nearly complete, restored Eagle. Details after the jump, but you’d better sell your Metro on Craigslist now: The Bring A Trailer auction ends next week.

The interior upholstery has been entirely redone, so while the material is not technically AMC original, it does look new, complete with new padding. Though it’s not perfect—the new headliner is sagging, the ad says—you’d be hard pressed to find an example in better condition.
The chassis is long in the tooth: It’s seen more than 250,000 miles. Its robust 4.2-liter (258 cubic inch) inline six cylinder has been recently rebuilt, as has the automatic transmission and the rest of the driveline and steering. The ad claims there’s a bit of play in the steering, but these trucklike unibody station wagons weren’t exactly known as precision driving machines.
Speaking of precision: the speedometer has a circular sweep but a square indicator ring, typical of the confused styling of the early ’80s. The original cassette deck is there, but it doesn’t work. Air conditioning is also complete but inoperable. This car appears mechanically sound but needs a little work to be fresh as factory (by Kenosha standards, anyway).
Window tint, a fresh coat, new or refinished stainless steel brightwork, and raised-white-letter Michelin radials on optional 15-inch factory alloys make for a sharp exterior. The red-over-black two-tone job (on a claimed rust-free chassis) helps the car look lighter than its 3400-pound curb weight.
If you’re on the market for a clean Eagle that’s as factory as possible, this might be the best example you’ll find this year. Find it here on Bring A Trailer auctions and place your bid.
[Source: Bring A Trailer. | Photos: Bring A Trailer.]

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  1. Hatchtopia Avatar

    I'll be honest, this is kinda tempting to me. It actually ticks all the boxes that the Escape does, but could be passed off at random car shows as being an actual entry – a true weekday and weekend car all in one goofy-looking box.

  2. Sjalabais Avatar

    It looks great – and by no means like a 30+ year old design. Spend some time wondering what a realistic price might be … any ideas? Pretty ballsy to have this up without reserve.

    1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

      The design is actually closer to 45 years old. the basic body debut in '71 as the Hornet Sportabout.
      <img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-lSmE4SDgopw/TYE9MTlTqEI/AAAAAAAAGOE/wJ0E8QihgIA/s1600/amc%2Bhornet%2Bwagon%2Bside.jpg&quot; width="600">

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Very nice – this looks more like a slightly bigger Opel Kadett wagon than a 100% American product.

        1. nanoop Avatar

          … with Fiat X1/9 door handles!

    2. Hatchtopia Avatar

      Completely pulled out of thin air, but if I was actually in the market, I would say $4000-ish would be a decent price if it is as clean as it looks in the pictures.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Seriously? Wow…I guessed 15k in the price guessing competition. 😀 That 4k would be an amazing deal.

      2. Sjalabais Avatar

        It sold for 4500$ – I’d say you nailed this. Amazing.

  3. safetystephen Avatar

    I loved my Eagles. The 4wd was fantastic and even saved my bacon when I once ran out of road while driving lost in the country. When I found myself sliding down a forested, quite steep hill I simply flicked the dash switch and drives out like a boss. The last one even had an AM Stereo from Chrysler. Comfy car but the ride on a bad highway at 65 would get pretty jiggly. Lots of malaise era issues but great cargo space. The torquey engine could even chirp the tires a little bit and pulled a trailer/16 foot boat without complaint.

  4. Alexis L Avatar
    Alexis L

    Having had one of these as a first car, same wheels, but perhaps a bit more "luxe" an edition with woodgrain and red plaid interior, I'm glad this guy took the time and care to keep this as pristine as it is. It brings back a few months of fond memories. Why only a few months? It was an absolute pig on gas, and couldn't go more than 10-12 miles without mechanical incident. It also handled like a pig on rollerskates and had very little power, which might have had something to do with the notoriously trouble prone carb and miles and miles of vacuum lines. Also, the one redeeming feature for a car like this in New England is the four wheel drive, which could not be counted on to engage when you needed it, so it was pretty much useless. I sold it (and I couldn't believe my luck: The next owner had not one but TWO of these terrible cars and since mine was in such beautiful condition, they paid top dollar) and bought a 1985 Civic 1500s which I found nearly orgasmic in comparison..
    Looking back on it, with a few well chosen modifications (heavy duty gas shocks, sway bars, perhaps a Jeep 4.0 head, different carb and electronic ignition), it might have been a little better. I never want another one, but I hope some enthusiast keeps this one going for another decade at least…

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Do you see any chance that a persistent and patient owner like this got the Eagle sorted and, as such, made it a less troublesome driver?