Wednesday, April 2, 2014

1990 Eagle Premier - A Cool, Cheap Car

Ahhh... What could have been.

The Eagle Premier was the last car born of the AMC / Renault hook-up. Contrary to popular belief, it was not a Renault 25 dressed in new clothing. The Premier, while using plenty of parts and engineering from the 25, was its own car. It was a damn good car, too.

The body was designed by Giorgietto Giugiaro. Like most of Giugiaro's designs, it's simple, tasteful and modern. It had a drag coefficient of 0.31, which was slightly lower than the Ford Taurus, a car touted for its aerodynamic shape.

Initially, there were two engine choices; the AMC designed 2.5 liter four and the 3.0 liter Peugeot-Renault-Volvo (PRV) V6. Most customers went for the V6 and by 1990 the 4 was dropped. With the V6, 60 MPH came in 10 seconds.

The interior was designed by AMC's Richard Teague. It was, at the time, unique and futuristic. Pods on the sides of the steering column housed the climate control switches, lights and wipers. The turn signal wasn't a traditional stalk, but a switch. It returned to its centered position immediately after a driver signaled a turn and a chime indicated its cancellation after completing the turn. The cabin was very roomy and, as typical with a car from Renault, the seats were extremely comfortable and supportive.

The Premiere premiered to rave reviews, but big sales never materialized. Some say that was due to the American prejudice against French cars. Other reports say that Chrysler, having bought AMC mainly for the Jeep brand, resented having to sell the Premier and did little to promote it. Chrysler had a contract to purchase 260,000 PRV engines from Renault. Rather than continue to build the car, Chrysler dropped it after 1992 and paid a penalty for the 100,000+ engines they did not purchase.

It's rare to see a Premier on the road today. Early cars had some teething problems (mostly electrical), but by 1990 it was a reliable car. 4 cylinder cars are rare, but unless you find an extraordinary one for next to nothing, there's no real reason to want one. The V6 is a much better engine. (Yes, this is the same PRV that Volvo had so many problems with in the 264. The problems were sorted out by the time it made its way into the Premier.) It is generally agreed that the 1990 through 1992 cars are the best of the breed.

I'll take some heat for saying this, but the Premier is a viable low cost alternative to a similar era Audi, Volvo or Acura. This car, which appears to be in very nice shape with just 75,000 miles, is priced at just $975.00. The seller says it needs a battery. (Budget for an alternator. ;-) )

In a 2003 article, Autoblog.com said the Premier was "one of the best American cars of the last 20 years, able to hold its own against luxury European marques, and being a caretaker of the last AMC car (Jeeps aren't cars!) would be a responsibility we'd relish." If this car wasn't as far away from me as it could be without being underwater, I'd buy it. It would be a perfect winter car.

Located in Lakewood, CO, click here to see the Craigslist listing.

1 comment:

steve in podunk said...

These cars were as close to free as any 4 or 5 year old car could be in the mid nineties when I'd see them at the dealer auctions;$500 to 1,000 at most. I was never brave or foolish enough to raise my hand to bid on one.