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AMC Eagle wagons in Japan?? Very unusual!

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  • AMC Eagle wagons in Japan?? Very unusual!

    The Mysterious Story of Japan's AMC Eagles (roadandtrack.com)

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    sigpic
    In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.

  • #2
    Yeah. I'm kinda surprised to see Eagles in Japan, but somehow not surprised... if that makes any sense. I definitely do not agree with the writer's first statement about the Eagles being unloved in America. Where I grew up in northwestern Montana, these cars were fairly common; all of the bodystyles offered were well represented (save for Sundancer convertibles), but the wagons were far and away the most popular. Most were highly optioned and not a particularly cheap ride. Not sure if Eagles were viewed as a status symbol, but they were highly respected as a car that could and would get you where you needed to go, even if your destination wasn't really on or near a road. These definitely had more off road chops than the Subarus of similar vintage.

    I'll guess that they didn't make much of a splash in areas with mild weather... but am positive other people in northern climates remember these cars as I do! Make mine an SX/4 Sport with 258 and a 5 speed

    Whirling dervish of misinformation.

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    • #3
      An interesting and cool story! Eagles were cool here and in Japan too.
      1963 Studebaker GT Hawk R1 63V-33867
      1964 Studebaker Avanti R1 R-5364
      1970 Avanti II RQA-0389
      1981 Avanti II RQB-3304

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      • #4
        Back when those cars were current I drove all the way through West Virginia on secondary roads and saw a bunch of Eagles, primarily the station wagon. They get more snow than we do in East Virginia, and, of course, have more hilly terrain, so the Eagle made a lot of sense. AMC had no competition until the Subarus came along.
        -Dwight

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Dwight FitzSimons View Post
          AMC had no competition until the Subarus came along.
          The first 4wd Subes came to America in 1975; they'd already been available in Japan for a couple years at that point. They were still very small and low powered when the AMC Eagle came online in 1980, but I think they also sold very well in my area (Kalispell, MT) from day one. They were pretty capable, if a bit short on ground clearance, utilitarian, and slow. It took Subaru awhile to hit their groove in the mainstream, though... the Legacy came in 1989, and then the Outback trim level in 1995- which also included some mechanical improvements and an increase in ride height for 1996.

          Whirling dervish of misinformation.

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          • #6
            The Eagle seemed like the perfect car for the back roads of Vermont, where there is a lot of snow and mud (mud season in the spring). However they didn't survive well here as they rusted out quickly and the quality control was so poor at AMC that they appeared poorly built right out of the showroom. It took a while but people soon learned that Subaru's were a rugged, well built car and they are now the unofficial "Car of Vermont". AMC had the right idea, just couldn't make it work.

            ​​​​​​
            Last edited by dpson; 03-28-2021, 05:41 AM.
            Dan Peterson
            Montpelier, VT
            1960 Lark V-8 Convertible
            1960 Lark V-8 Convertible (parts car)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by dpson View Post
              The Eagle seemed like the perfect car for the back roads of Vermont, where there is a lot of snow and mud (mud season in the spring). However they didn't survive well here as they rusted out quickly and the quality control was so poor at AMC that they appeared poorly built right out of the showroom. It took a while but people soon learned that Subaru's were a rugged, well built car and they are now the unofficial "Car of Vermont". AMC had the right idea, just couldn't make it work.

              ​​​​​​
              "The survival rate of these Eagles is reasonable, as American Motors had good rustproofing procedures in place when they left the factory. By the late 1990s, the wagons had already reached their nadir of depreciation, and by the turn of the century, were starting to rebound. In 2010, the Eagle wagon was valued notably higher than its siblings; NADA gave the 1980 4x4 wagon a low-to-high retail range of $3,125-$8,400, when a two-door sedan version was worth between $1,875 and $5,575. This is still valid a decade on: That same wagon has a range of $7,900- $16,500, compared to the two-door's $4,550-$13,350."

              In the PNW they were rather popular. Admittedly they were not subjected to the same harsh weather conditions and the resulting extremes in some other areas. I just never saw one rust out like dpson alluded to. I always thought that AMC's production process was pretty well sorted out. It could have been the way they were used. I have a good friend who swore by them. This is just a snippet of a Hemmings article that I found on line.

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              • #8
                Subaru claims to have the "first sport utility wagon," but the AMC Eagle pre-dated it by 17 years.

                While the Eagle started out with an NP203 transfer case, based on Jensen FF technology, the car soon moved to a state of the art, 42-disc New Process Gear NP119 transfer case. Both transferred power to the wheels with the most traction. The full time four wheel drive system, dubbed "Quadra-Trac," was co-developed by AMC/Jeep and Chrysler's New Process Gear.

                Power went through the rear driveshaft and was sent to the left using a Morse Hy-Vo chain to the front of the car. Differential action was aided by a velocity-sensitive viscous coupling, which also limited slip. The silicone-based fluid in the coupling had high shear and heat resistance, keeping its viscosity through a wide temperature range (starting at 40°F below zero and going over 400°F). The system provided some anti-skid protection, by the way it worked to equalize driveshaft speeds - whether or not the car was moving under power.

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                • #9
                  Very popular here in CNY in their day. Most didn’t care about Subaru, so the Eagle was thought of as the first real 4x4 car. In their time they did well. Mostly the issue was the chronically leaky valve cover in the 258, and that sketchy vacuum-operated 4wd switch in the glovebox.

                  Of course, they had that trademark cheap feel everything AMC had by then, but people overlooked that to get a 4wd car.
                  Proud NON-CASO

                  I do not prize the word "cheap." It is not a badge of honor...it is a symbol of despair. ~ William McKinley

                  If it is decreed that I should go down, then let me go down linked with the truth - let me die in the advocacy of what is just and right.- Lincoln

                  GOD BLESS AMERICA

                  Ephesians 6:10-17
                  Romans 15:13
                  Deuteronomy 31:6
                  Proverbs 28:1

                  Illegitimi non carborundum

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                  • #10
                    My mother bought at early Subaru wagon. It had all wheel drive. I believe you could put in and out of four wheel drive. She bought it because she had a vacation just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. The road was dirt and had a steep climb the last few hundred yards to the cottage. The Subaru was great up there. It handled better and made up those dirt hills easier than her husband's Jeep Wagoneer. There was a place under the front end of the Subaru where you could adjust the height off the ground. Granted it wasn't the quickest thing on the road, but I thought it did just fine. I'm not sure that there even was an AMC dealer here at that time. Oh and yes I have followed in Mom's footsteps and am now on my second Subaru, the latest an Outback.
                    Joe Roberts
                    '61 R1 Champ
                    '65 Cruiser
                    Eastern North Carolina Chapter

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                    • #11
                      And you don't have to go as far as Japan to find a fine example (just here in British Columbia):
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                      • #12
                        And it's a "Woodie"
                        "Every man I meet on the street is superior to me in some respect, and from that I can learn."
                        R.W. Emerson

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Buzzard View Post
                          And you don't have to go as far as Japan to find a fine example (just here in British Columbia):
                          Whoa hey hello! How you doin?? (the car). Please do tell more!

                          Whirling dervish of misinformation.

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