When you think of world-class luxury sport sedans from American car manufacturers, Eagle probably isn’t the first brand that springs to mind. But one of the best American cars of the late 20th century might be one you’ve never heard of. Today’s Autotrader Find is this 1988 Eagle Premier, and, against all odds, it’s actually a fantastic car.
Before we get into the details of this well-preserved example, let’s go over the interesting story of the Premier. The Premier was the flagship of the Eagle brand when it kicked off for the 1988 model year, serving as a midsize luxury sedan. Eagle never really figured out its identity, but when it started in the late ’80s, it wanted to take on the imports in a domestic package. Think of it like Saturn, but with its sights set on Europe rather than Japan.
The Premier was the product of a collaboration between AMC and Renault before AMC was bought out by Chrysler and mercy-killed. It’s an Eagle that has roots in AMC and Renault — its base engine was a 4-cylinder AMC engine, and its unibody chassis was derived from the Renault 25. The exterior was designed in Italy, the interior was designed in America, the chassis is a French design, and the car was built in Canada. So the question of whether the Eagle Premier was a domestic or an import was a bit complicated, but it was sold under an American marque at Eagle and Jeep dealerships, so that’s good enough to call it a domestic.
The Premier was a weird car, but the weirdest thing about it was that it was actually an excellent sedan. It was widely praised by the automotive press for its exceptionally roomy and feature-rich interior and its sharp handling, which made it competitive with more expensive European luxury cars. There was just one problem: Nobody bought it. Not only was it sold under an unfamiliar brand alongside Jeep SUVs, but people weren’t quite sure what it was. Was it supposed to compete with mainstream cars like the Ford Taurus or fancier imports like the Acura Legend? Even when Chrysler tried to rebadge the Premier as the Dodge Monaco in the early ’90s, sales were weak.
Though the Premier wasn’t the Audi killer that put Eagle on the map, like Chrysler wanted it to be, the example you see here was well taken care of by someone who really appreciated it. It has only 78,050 miles on the clock, and it appears to be in outstanding condition inside and out. It’s offered by Button Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Kokomo, Indiana, with an asking price of $5,999. This is the ES trim, which was the sportier version of the Premier, compared with the base LX. It includes a standard 3.0-liter PRV V6 engine (yes, like the one in the Delorean), a stiffer suspension, bigger tires, bucket front seats and surprisingly tasteful cladding on the lower body.
This Eagle Premier would be a great way to drive a unique piece of American car history. As of this writing, it’s the only Premier for sale on Autotrader, and that it’s the desirable ES trim and in such great shape makes it even more interesting. NADA Guides puts the value of this car in the $2,000 to $3,000 range, so its value proposition is questionable, but good luck finding a cleaner Eagle Premier ES for sale. Find an Eagle Premier for sale