Motoring Trailblazers - AMC Eagle

Sat 12th May 2018

The world of motoring seems to be hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

AMC Eagle
American Motors Corporation may no longer be with us (officially defunct as of 1988), but they certainly left a legacy with the Eagle, widely credited as the first ever SUV vehicle.

Like many motor manufacturers, the 1970s were a time of real hardship, crippling oil prices couples with domestic union disputes made for a tricky time to design, develop and build great motors. Added to that, the era of cheap Japanese imports was booming, which left the establishment rattled.

In the face of this hardship however came some real innovation, and born from that was Eagle’s SUV.

AMC were best known through this period for the Gremlin, Hornet, Matador and the Pacer, they also had the Jeep range, ever popular. But the market demanded something different, something smaller, but just as powerful and efficient. The American company had long toyed with the prospect of something small but powerful, but didn’t have the funds or the design smarts to build one. So what did they do? Took the frame of their Hornet and combined it with the 4x4 of their Jeep engine series.

The initial development actually took place in the UK, AMC sending a Hornet to a British company, Ferguson Research, to be fitted with a 4-wheel-drive and after a successful series of tests, the Eagle took flight.

The Eagle was described as ‘a decade ahead of its time’ and a ‘pioneer of the crossover SUV’ category enduring throughout the early 1980s. The vehicle gained a loyal following and from their production bases in Kenosha, Wisconsin and Brampton, Ontario, there were almost 200,000 units to leave the factory and hit the roads.

Chrysler’s buyout of AMC in the late 1980s was initially to capture the lucrative Jeep operation, and this saw the relatively unprofitable cars of the AMC sent to the kerb. But at least the Eagle lived on in spirit at Chrysler beyond 1988, with a host of Eagle titled vehicles produced by Chrysler and all-wheel-drive options adopted by Mitsubishi.

Eagle’s longest lasting legacy however has to be the current appetite for crossover SUVs. We now see a market dominated by the big-small car, and that in part has to give some credit to AMC’s bold and innovative Eagle experiment of the 70s. has a whole host of crossover SUV options. Take a look online today and we can deliver to your door.