Here in The Garage we’ve talked about the possibility of a GM/Chrysler merger, as well as Ã‚Â rumors that Nissan may buy 20% of Chrysler. We’ve speculated that GM would likely scrap all of Chrysler’s offerings, save the Jeep brand and the Caravan/Town & Country minivans.Ã‚Â
A similar scenario was actually played out in 1987 when Chrysler bought out AMC. Chrysler wanted the Jeep brand and nothing else. However, Renault had a considerable stake in AMC, and were just about ready to bring to market two new models. Renault OK’d the buy-out, but Chrysler was obligated to sell these new cars in North America. Chrysler quickly formed the Eagle brand, intended to appeal to enthusiasts. So what were these long lost, forgotten cars? Read on…
1988-1992 Eagle Premier
Sold as a full-size, front wheel drive , six passenger car, the Premier came with either a 111hp 4-cylinder or 150hp V-6. The car was fairly well engineered for its time, with a four-wheel independent suspension and rack and pinion steering. The body was designed by the famed italdesign.
It’s hard to market a car you never wanted to sell, but Chrysler had a hefty contract for 260,000 V-6 engines for five years. In 1990 the badge engineered Dodge Monaco hit the showroom floor without much notice from anyone in a weak attempt to sell more of those V-6’s. Finally, in 1992, Chrysler cancelled both cars, with only a total of 139,000 sold. A contract is a contract, and Chrysler apparently had to pay Renault for each engine not sold.
1987-1989 Eagle Medallion
Positioned under the Premier, the Medallion was a front-wheel drive, four cylinder car available in a four door sedan or wagon. While the Premier was developed jointly by AMC and Renault, the Medallion was a Renault worked over for the North American market. Though the cars offered efficient packaging and styling that stood out from its competition, this was a car Chrysler gave little or no support to, and cancelled the car in 1989.
A sad tale for what were essentially two orphaned cars. Chrysler got what it had wanted in Jeep, and the Premier and the Medallion were inconveniences to Chrysler, who had their own passenger car problems. Remember, this was the late 1980’s, and every passenger car sold by Chrysler (save the Diplomat, Fury and 5th Avenue) at the time was based on the basic, archaic K-Car. The cruel irony is that the Eagle cars were dynamically better than any car Chrysler offered at the time in almost every conceivable way.
In the wake of the Renault/AMC cars, Chrysler continued Eagle with a rebadged Mitsubishi Mirage as the Summit, Mitsubishi Eclipse as the Talon, and Dodge Intrepid as the Vision. Even so, Eagle was always a tough sell. Usually sold in Jeep dealers, the attention was always on the successful Jeep. In 1998, Chrysler finally put Eagle to rest.