Matchbox has just corrected a terrible oversight of the diecast world by releasing a model of the 1980 AMC Eagle, the first diecast version of this car since… maybe ever?
The AMC Eagle is one of the least respected automotive masterpieces, and only after several decades does it get the credit it deserves. Let’s put this car into perspective.
By the mid-1970s, American Motors Corporation was struggling mightily. They offered an assortment of sedans, coupes, and wagons in all sizes to compete with Ford, GM, and Chrysler, but there was something often offbeat about their cars. The Gremlin beat most other subcompact hatchbacks to the market but looked kind of strange. The Matador, a full-size coupe, was as sporty/elegant as any of the big three’s similar offerings but looked kind of strange. Okay, maybe there is a pattern here.
The Hornet, on the other hand, was a mid-sized runabout available in various body styles, and was quite handsome and well-proportioned, so it stuck around a bit longer than those others, renamed the Concorde for the rest of its run.
Oh, and AMC has a contraption called the Jeep, unique among U.S.-based manufacturers.
One can imagine some engineers having a few beers after work and thinking, “Hey, what if we put a Concorde body on a Jeep chassis?” And they tried it, and dang, it worked. The Eagle was born in sedan and wagon form.
Sadly, the world wasn’t ready for a 4-wheel-drive wagon, so the Eagle struggled to survive, even after Chrysler bought the company. Jeep, of course, lived on. And every company in the world eventually took the same recipe that begat the Eagle to create the modern crossover.
So why hasn’t there been any Eagle diecast until now? Who knows? Ever since the crossover craze kicked into high gear, the Eagle has been retroactively crowned a genius-level innovator. And a arn handsome one, too. There should have been a model of it even when it was seen as an ironic failure.
So thanks, Matchbox, for finally releasing this thing in 1:64 scale. The first edition is brown with wood paneling, perfectly capturing the rugged country cabin mystique of the original. One hopes the casting will see many other colors, and the body could also be repurposed for a Hornet Sportabout wagon.