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  #1  
Old 09-09-2018, 12:04 PM
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MIPS MIPS is offline
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AMC Eagle

I mentioned a number of months back that I was looking at K-cars but someone pulled me aside, showed me this and told me to make the right choice.
For $2000 it seemed great.


http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a1...t/CGS_8127.jpg

1982 AMC Eagle wagon. The part-time AWD car that seats six and I had no clue existed. I read over the specs and they seemed to run like a champ and score well in tests. Hell, even the commercials seemed appropriately cheesy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OHj72gFU3M

So what happened here was that I drove to the coast last weekend to inspect, start and test drive the car. It does have a few tiny rust spots and wear but for a car of its age it was in great shape and clean. The largest issue was missing rubberized trim pieces and the Select Drive system was not working and was locked into 2WD mode for safety.
I inquired with a local salvage yard and they happened to have an Eagle that came in a month earlier, so I also had a source of parts to do repairs AND almost all the missing trim pieces I needed.
I was driven down yesterday with the cash and paperwork completed and after the handshake I zipped back to the salvage yard for a three hour session on how to get almost everything I needed with a screwdriver and pliers and then back through the mountains. I now have a complete replacement vacuum line and actuator kit for the 4WD. By god, I cannot believe how many heads this turned on the highway and how many people approached me when I was stopped and asked where I got this car. Snazzy.
The 300km trip otherwise was uneventful. The car ran, handled and performed great at mountain highway speeds up to 120km/h.

Anyways after dinner last night I decided to take the car out to see how it handled and get the ropes of driving and parking a wagon. About five minutes after the above photo was taken I drove up the steep hill in town....and the automatic transmission died and dropped into neutral.
I did get the phonebook sized service manual with this car. The fault isolation matrix seems to indicate a hydraulic failure. The car itself was hopeless to shift into anything or make any transmission noises unless it was cold. The car was towed with my BCAA coverage to a transmission shop I know and we'll start learning how much more this car is going to cost me tomorrow.

On a lighter note, what the hell is the type of rubberized plastic AMC used on this thing? I cannot believe how flexible everything is after 35 years. There's stuff in my tracker that has long since gone brittle with age.

Last edited by MIPS; 09-09-2018 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 09-09-2018, 01:33 PM
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Electronic M Electronic M is offline
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Probably uses the same plastic as the bumper filler pieces on my '78 Lincoln (which are also still flexible).

Those are somewhat interesting cars (this coming from someone who never cared for most cars 80's and newer), and quite rare here.

I think I've only seen 1-2 in person (maybe more before I started having an interest in cars), and the last one was at a repair shop in Superior this summer.

You probably aren't as bad off as you could be. A friend bought a BulletBird (early 60's T-bird) drove it home from Iowa on barely working brakes (the ride there was quite a humorous story) months later after getting vanity license plates they drive it for the first time since then and go to a restaurant...Now the trans had been leaking badly for a while, and leaving the restaurant they discover they have no reverse (their driveway is a steep hill down to the road so I know why they never noticed no reverse). IIRC they shifted into neutral pushed it out of the parking space, and drove to a transmission shop...The techs there were astonished the car made it there under its own power...The transmission case was cracked in half in the middle (apparently a common problem that year)...He had to find and buy a fresh core, and then pay to rebuild that...Luckily this happened in fall so it got stored/worked on all winter.
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Old 09-09-2018, 10:34 PM
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More mixed news today while the shop was still closed.

I went and tried the transmissiont this morning after it had gone cold and the transmission was extremely noisy but would go into gear, so it's not completely dead, just, unwell. Still no indications of particles in the fluid, nor does it look burned which is good.

I also dug through a bin of parts that the previous owner had and found the original AM/FM/cassette unit, which no longer fits as the opening had been widened to fit a standard car stereo head unit. There was also a lot of odds and ends for trim pieces, the dome lamp withe dual map lights and little replacement parts that will come in handy like a new lock for the ignition and the drivers door but more importantly I discovered this car is equipped with Cruise Control!
I could not get the cruise control to operate while I was driving however now that I know what the peculiar yellow box I restuffed under the dash was it may simply be a disconnected wire or vacuum line.
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Old 09-09-2018, 11:20 PM
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The transmission shouldn't be too much of an oddball. In those years AMC used a lot of Chrysler 727 variants and also some from GM. I'm a fan of the various Hornet/Concord/Eagle models but have never owned one. Earlier this year, while facing a possible job change which would have eliminated my company car, I very strongly considered buying a Hornet as a commuter. My job stayed so no Hornet...yet!
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Old 09-09-2018, 11:35 PM
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Ok.

*cracks knuckles*

You have a 4wd vehicle, that 'goes into neutral.' Red flag. The transfer case may be in neutral. If the 'transmission' sounds like it's grinding gears while in gear, or if it's in neutral completely and you put it in drive for a minute, then put it in park, and it makes a loud fast grinding, you're looking at a transfer case problem. You already indicated that it had a transfer case issue.

Check the trans fluid, engine running, in park, on a level ground. Is it in normal range, or too high/low? Check it again with engine off and compare the levels. Should be much higher on the stick when it's off. If there isn't much difference, the trans isn't sucking in fluid like it should. The filter could be clogged, or fallen down.

I'm not sure which transmission is in that Eagle, but the good news is that it's either a normal GM or Chrysler. So parts will be available.

As an aside, here's a funny story. When I was in college, a friend of mine said that his friend was going to get an oil change in his 'AMG' and asked me if I'd like to tag along. I told him I didn't give much of a shit about Mercedes, but I wouldn't mind coming along. We strolled through the parking lot and stopped at a black AMC Eagle, just like yours. My friend who had thought it was an AMG was all pouty, and I was happy as a clam. It's a fucking cool car. It has shitty toggle switches on the dash board because AMC was so poor! But it's cool.

Last edited by MadMan; 09-09-2018 at 11:39 PM.
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Old 09-10-2018, 12:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadMan View Post
You have a 4wd vehicle, that 'goes into neutral.' Red flag. The transfer case may be in neutral. If the 'transmission' sounds like it's grinding gears while in gear, or if it's in neutral completely and you put it in drive for a minute, then put it in park, and it makes a loud fast grinding, you're looking at a transfer case problem. You already indicated that it had a transfer case issue.
No grinding gear noises actually, or at least compared to what I know of a manual transmission there's no obvious gear grinding going on. Think more the sound of a power steering pump under load. The previous owner also mentioned he had just serviced the transfer case and the rear differential, so both have recently had their fluids changed as well.

Quote:
Check the trans fluid, engine running, in park, on a level ground. Is it in normal range, or too high/low? Check it again with engine off and compare the levels. Should be much higher on the stick when it's off. If there isn't much difference, the trans isn't sucking in fluid like it should. The filter could be clogged, or fallen down.
This was one of the first things I did once I was rolled into a parking lot. The fluid didn't smell, did not look burned, I didn't see anything shiny in the fluid but it was topped off before we left and was still reading high, both at hot idle and with the engine off. I checked it again this morning and still read the same, even after the car had warmed up, so I am still thinking it is a hydraulic issue. I was able to get it to shift into a gear this morning while cold but it was noisy, took a few seconds and would fail back to neutral and go quiet if I tried shifting out again.
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Old 09-10-2018, 01:03 AM
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That has to be the most versatile classic car one can get their hands on. I like the look of the '80 best but I don't care for its always-on 4WD. I reckon that could be changed without much trouble.

Many moons ago a neighbor got an '83 Concord DL wagon for daily use after his '84 Mercury Lynx got rear-ended, a crackup that did little more than cave in the bumper. He didn't have it for long before his son got his driver's license and promptly tore up the driver's side fender.
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Old 09-11-2018, 12:14 AM
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If you're lucky, the filter just fell out, or failed in some way. Easy fix, you just need to get under the car and have ready a large, deep oil pan. The empty power steering pump whine is tell tale of the transmission oil pump picking up air.
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Old 09-11-2018, 12:31 AM
fixmeplease fixmeplease is offline
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For whatever its worth, Ive never owned one, but about every post office mailman here used them back in the day. 4 wheel drives, except for trucks, were pretty much non-existing at that time. They held a lot of mail, would go anywhere, rode better than a truck, better mileage than a truck, and were decent vehicles. Not to mention decent looking.

You have to keep in mind that front wheel drives barely existed back then too. They were kinda ahead of their time. I always liked them but never owned one. Fix it up good and you'll be set for quite a while.

Take a good look at what vehicles were available at that time and you will understand how innovative they were. Kind of like the VW Bug or Karma Ghia, but in a different way of course.
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Old 09-11-2018, 08:16 AM
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I always wanted one of those when I was delivering pizza. That would be a beast!

PS- You always find the coolest stuff...
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Old 09-11-2018, 07:17 PM
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Had something kind of similar happen to me recently. I found a car for sale that I liked, went and looked at it, and agreed to buy it. A few days later I came back, completed the deal, and LITERALLY 30 MINUTES LATER AS I WAS DRIVING HOME the check engine light came on. The car sounded normal and drove fine so I continued on my way, but not without spending the duration of the trip home wondering if I got ripped off. Turns out it was really no big deal, just a sensor in the emission control system. I had it checked by a mechanic and he couldn't find anything wrong. This was my first car purchase, and how I would have paid for major repairs I'm not sure. After a giving it some hammer on the highway and a few hundred miles of driving, no warning lights have returned. Bullet dodged.

Good luck, you found a really cool and unique car. This is one of the few 80s cars I wouldn't mind having, along with a Mercedes diesel of course. BTW what's under the hood? Wikipedia lists several engine options for this model.

Last edited by SpaceAge; 09-11-2018 at 07:20 PM.
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Old 09-11-2018, 10:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fixmeplease View Post
You have to keep in mind that front wheel drives barely existed back then too. They were kinda ahead of their time. I always liked them but never owned one. Fix it up good and you'll be set for quite a while.

Take a good look at what vehicles were available at that time and you will understand how innovative they were. Kind of like the VW Bug or Karma Ghia, but in a different way of course.
I've never been a real fan of transverse engines because it made servicing a lot of cars really complicated. I was okay with the Subaru Justy being transverse however it's a three cylinder so you still ended up with enough space under the hood to comfortably do your own work and not need specialty tools.

Even though this is a much larger station wagon compared to my current Geo Tracker and ten years older there are quite a few characteristics it shares with my parents later Subaru Outback Legacy while also retaining some of those really unique features that are not so much desireable but otherwise you'd want to clutter up the yard with another car just to say you have it, like the bench seats. showing up almost anywhere while playing the role of a clown car is amusing.

Also good christ Vanagon's and their equivalents got incredibly expensive. Even 25 year old import Delicas are $10000+
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Old 09-11-2018, 11:22 PM
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I'd never heard of a Delica until a guy at church bought one earlier this year to replace his rusted-out Quigley. I told him he's my hero!

Hemming's Classic Car has a cover story this month (just read it today) on the very rare Eagle convertible.

In about 1990 I tagged along on a trip to a mountain resort in WV. It seemed like every other house had an Eagle in the driveway. At the time it really was among the most civilized 4wd vehicle you could find, though SUV's and pickups where on their way up the ladder.
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Old 09-13-2018, 09:43 PM
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Vanagons suck. I mean, there's a reason literally everyone replaces the arthritic VW motor with something else. If you want a minivan, just save yourself the trouble and buy a Caravan.

I worked on a Vanagon once, with a Ford Focus engine in it. Manual transmission, 4 speed. The man wanted to drive it on the highway, cuz it was a camper, but 4th gear just wasn't tall enough, at 60mph the motor was buzzing away at 4000rpm. After much deliberation and research, we came up with a plan. I replaced the 4th gear gears with 5th gear gears from a 5 speed. There's now a giant ass gap between 3rd and 4th, but in 4th it cruises on the highway with low rpm. Man was happy as a clam.
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Old 09-14-2018, 01:12 AM
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I'm one of those people who don't get hotel rooms when they travel. I think in the last five years I've only had to get a room once. Minivans are nice for sleeping out of but I've always hated the engine being stuffed up and under the front dash, mind you with these cars it can be not much better but I still remember how much of a pain in the ass getting the back cover off the engine compartment in an Aerostar was.
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