Friday, January 15, 2016

1991 Eagle Premier - Designed by AMC & Renault, Sold By Chrysler. (A Good Car That Never Had A Chance.)

This car has been kicking around Craigslist for a month or so. I remember a few years ago, when I was regularly writing this blog, the Premier had quite a few fans. I've taken the text for this post from one of my earlier posts, because, really, history hasn't changed. ;-)

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. The seller says this car "runs and drives excellent." Based on the photos, the body and interior look to be in nice shape, too.

Located in Scranton, PA, click here to see the Craigslist ad.


Unknown said...

The Dealers might not have liked the car, but Chrysler loved the car and used it as the basis for the LH car. It's always been a myth that Chrysler bought AMC for the Jeep Brand, AMC was already under contract to build Chrysler Fifth Avenues and Plymouth Fury and Dodge Diplomats...they started in 1986 a year before the merger. Chrysler was desperate for Manufacturing capacity and AMC had that in it's plants in the USA and Canada. They also had more modern technology AMC vehicles than Chrysler. The Top of the line 1990 Chrysler Imperial is based on K car technology designed at the end of the 70's, sideways front drive engines with straight rear axles. the Eagle Premier had longitude mounted engines and independent rear suspensions. The 1988 Eagle Premier was light years ahead on technology compared to any of Chrysler Products. This all above and Jeep made AMC and Chrysler a match. Chrysler could leap frog in technology, own Jeep, and have the capacity they needed.

Unknown said...

I currently own a '91 Premier ES Limited and it is one fantastic car and has not once broke down in the three months of ownership. If you are interested in owning one, I would suggest you take the time to think about it. They were rare thirty years ago and pretty much extinct now. Be prepared to answer questions to car geeks or the workers at AutoZone because you will get "an Eagle what?" every time you go get something from your local auto parts store. Also, be prepared for lengthy waits on parts and availability as well as not the best fuel mileage unless you drive on flat state routes or back roads. Other than that, they can be a great investment if you get a good one and definitely is a unique driving pleasure. They are quiet, comfortable and roomy. My brother is 6'6 and fits easily.