Good Morning Oppo

Long time Lurker, first time Author thanks to Party-vi. So hang on folks, I promise this journey will entail terrible decisions, some successes, probably blood, and pretty close to an utter lack of any true knowledge or skill.

So, let us begin!

I’ve got an 88' AMC Eagle Wagon.


Ta Da! It’s old, it’s brown, it’s from a defunct automobile corporation, it was but now isn’t working, and it’s all mine! It’s a three speed automatic... but we’ll come back to that point. Oh yeah, and it’s on the fly 4DW!

So the good:

-Body / Frame pretty good shape


-It can move under it’s own power (well, could)

-When up to snuff the 4.2L 258 engine has wads of torque for a gas engine.

-I mentioned the 4WD right?

-Roof rack!

-Power options, and cruise control

-Brakes were just redone before I purchased it

-Interior is decent

The Bad (here we go):

-Transmission was almost dead, got it rebuilt

-It does need some body work and a new paint job

-The carb was being a shit, so I rebuilt it, and it’s actually worse

-It’s a 3 speed with a 0-60 time of next Tuesday

-AMC is dead and stuff is difficult to find in good shape

-The redone brakes are 80's tech and even redone still suck

-Engine probably needs a rebuild. (198,000km)

-Steel wheels are worked out and need replacing with something better

I’m sure there’s other stuff to list but whatever, it’s a car! it’s always going to have something wrong with it. Hell, I’ve got a 2013 Turbo Veloster that blew it’s stock engine at like 18,000. Shredded the block and seized the transmission. Hyundai in Korea shipped them back to study, maybe it’ll help the new N line of i30's not blow up. But WHO CARES?!?! I’ve got an 88 AMC to make work now.

First task completed was changing out the leaky headlights. Super easy 2 minute job in most modern vehicles... Took me about an hour with this car. In my defence, I’ve never changed this style of “bulb” before so it had a learning curve. Have to remove a large part of the grill to get to the clips / clamps that hold the bulbs in.

Leaving this sad looking scenario:

So you can get back to this, now without a bunch of murky fluid sloshing about:

The astute observers out there probably noticed I have pics from the left and right sides of the car. Haha! Tricky!

So then we take a break and admire what we’ve got; a car that can drive in the dark. Awwww yeahhhh.

Yes I realize my garage conditions a little austere. I’m working on it.

So as stated previously I then took a crack at the carb... And she was a mess.

Start labelling things, removing things and bam! on the table in basement she goes because I’ve got nowhere else to work on it.

Breakdown and cleanup complete. Tried to keep it organized because I know, that I don’t know, what I’m doing at all really. I’ve rebuilt an 83' Honda trike carb before... this is a little more complex.

The cat gets overly protective of my tools sometimes. Construction Kitty will not be denied her fun.

Put it all back together following the specs and measurements supplied, and voila, it’s whole again.


I reinstalled it on the car, it started up, I adjusted the mixture to get it running nicely and took it for a short drive and stall. Stall. STALL. It’s got a really bad stutter when first stepping onto the gas. Enough to lug it right out. After it gets going it’s all good. It’s probably one of the little needle tubes needing some high pressure blowing out, or having a wire pushed through it. No biggie I say and decide to flounder ahead!

Next up the distributer cap, wires, and ignition coil. Changeout of the wires is uneventful (I’ve done that before on other cars). Go one at a time so no mix ups. I pull the old wires off the spark plug and car and replace it, same place, on the new cap. Do all 6. Remove old cap, yank off rotor contact, replace with new contact (beveled fitting so only goes on as it came off), put the new cap on and NOTHING.

Chugga Chug nothing. Fiddle with it, swap new back to old, same. Swap wires, same. Pull all wires, replace following a diagram for this engine, same order, same result, nothing... Couldn’t change the coil as I didn’t have a #50 Torx, only a #45 (got one now). Think I borked it up somehow. I read a tip on a Jeep YJ forum that leads me to believe I may have lifted the gear out of place and need to get the engine to top dead centre to figure this out. Tomorrow’s a new day and I’ll have another look at it.

So, I’ve currently got a car that has a working transmission, working headlights, a semi repaired carb, and an ignition system that does nothing... huff.

Now to come full circle on you guys here. I mention WAY up top (remember when you were 15 minutes younger? You’ll never get that time back, it’s mine now MINE!) that it’s a 3 speed auto. Well it’s got the 4.2L 258 AMC block, Carter 2 barrel Carb, and the original transfer case and transmission (now rebuilt). If I can’t get the thing to fire up it gets towed and falls onto a mechanic to undo my stupidity. Keeping in mind the engine probably needs a rebuilt anyway. If a mechanic gets involved should I have him:

A) Fix what the “gods” at AMC gave ‘er. (fix carb, ignition problem)

B) Fix and rebuild/re-spec the engine

C) Rebuild the engine and add the Mopar MPFI (fuel injector / manifold kit)

D) Give the block to an engine shop and get it back when it can push over 300hp either N/A or with a turbo

E) Consider getting a crate Mopar engine, transmission, transfer-case from something SRT and and just be done with it.

I’m kinda hovering around C or D...

Okay, I’m off to bed. Hoping there’s not too many errors or typos up there. Interested to see the feedback on this, my first article as such.