The AMC Eagle SX/4 – An American 4×4 sports car ahead of its time

The AMC Eagle SX/4 was a car decades ahead of its time, it offered a sports car body with increased ground clearance and a four-wheel drive powertrain, creating a whole new genre overnight. automobile.

The larger but closely related AMC Eagle was introduced in 1979. It is widely considered the first American “Crossover” vehicle that combines the comfort and handling of a road car with a four-wheel-drive system and increased ground clearance for occasional off-roading.

Quick Facts – The AMC Eagle SX/4

  • The AMC Eagle SX/4 was one of the world’s first four-wheel-drive sport crossovers. It combined the body of the AMC Spirit with a 4×4 drivetrain and increased ground clearance.
  • AMC introduced the Eagle SX/4 in 1981 to accompany the larger AMC Eagle line of 4×4 vehicles which had been introduced in 1979.
  • The series proved immediately popular for AMC and helped keep the company afloat as their Jeep line of 4x4s waned in popularity during the 1979 oil crisis due to their low mileage.
  • The AMC Eagle SX/4 was powered by either the 2.5-liter Iron Duke inline-four or the 4.2-liter inline-six engine, automatic transmission was standard, and the cars had either a permanent all-wheel drive, i.e. a switchable 2×4. / 4×4 systems.

The sports car that doesn’t always need a road

Periodic reviews of the AMC Eagle SX/4 have been overwhelmingly positive, though often a little perplexed by the unusual nature of this new sports car with higher ground clearance and four-wheel-drive system. The usefulness of such a vehicle was undeniable, especially for those who experience long snowy and icy winters.

Picture above: This is a vintage advertisement for the AMC Eagle SX/4, these cars became popular in northern latitudes with regular heavy snowfall, as the four wheel drive system made them much easier to drive handle in slippery conditions.

Reviews from magazines like Popular Mechanics and Car and Driver praised the abilities of the quirky new crossover, with Popular Mechanics magazine coinciding with a particularly snowy winter in Detroit.

At the time, four-wheel drive passenger cars were largely unknown. The two-door, four-wheel-drive Jensen FF GT car had of course been launched in England in the late 1960s, but the AMC Eagle predated the Audi Quattro and the many 4×4 touring cars that were to come. .

AMC had hired the company behind the Jensen FF which had developed an all-wheel-drive system designed for passenger cars, “FF” stands for “Ferguson Formula”, the name chosen for the system by Ferguson Research Ltd.

The Eagle SX/4 had been created by taking the AMC Spirit, a fastback unibody sports car coupe, and adding a variant of the four-wheel-drive system used on the full-size AMC Eagle, which had been co- developed by AMC and Ferguson Research.

The AMC Eagle predated the SX/4 by two years, and it was developed by taking the AMC Concord, offered in station wagon, coupe and four-door sedan versions, and adding raised suspension and a four-door powertrain. driving wheels.

Description of the imageThis is a period advertisement for the AMC Eagle, the largest four-door 4×4 station wagon in the model line that used the body of the AMC Concord.

Upon its release in 1981, AMC introduced the Eagle SX/4 as “The sports car that doesn’t always need a road” and while that may have leaned a bit towards hyperbole, it clearly demonstrates their intentions for the model.

The end of the AMC

In the end, the innovative Eagle and Eagle SX/4 would not be enough to save AMC, the company suffered severe financial losses in the mid-1980s and it was eventually sold to Chrysler in 1987.

Chrysler was primarily interested in the Jeep brand which was owned by AMC, as well as its factories and extensive nationwide dealer network.

The AMX Eagle and SX/4 would remain in production until 1988, when they were phased out by Chrysler. Today, the cars are considered historically significant given their innovative nature, but they have yet to become collectables outside of their own niche enthusiast group.

AMC Eagle SX4 car

Description of the imageThis is an original advertisement for the AMC Eagle SX/4, the smallest 4×4 sports car coupe based on the AMC Spirit body.

The AMC Eagle SX/4 shown here

The car you see here is a one-owner 1982 six-cylinder AMC Eagle SX/4 that hasn’t been used since 1995.

The seller has spent some time getting the car back to running and drivable condition, the car is now operational and the 2×4/4×4 switch is working, but clearly there is still a lot of work to be done to repair the car. good condition worthy of the road.

There is a very active AMC Eagle community online that specializes in sourcing parts and helping to keep cars on the road, and given the unique nature of cars, it seems only a matter of time before the wider classic car community is rediscovering them.

If you want to support the project, you can click here to visit eBay listingit is offered from Hatboro, PA and at the time of writing, there are a few days left to bid.

AMC-Eagle-4x4 transmission

Description of the imageThis is the transmission of the AMC Eagle and Eagle SX / 4 cars, it uses a live axle at the rear on leaf springs, with independent suspension on coil springs at the front.

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Images courtesy of eBay Motors

AMC Eagle SX4