|Parent company||American Motors Corporation and Renault|
|Also called||Renault Premier|
|Assembly||Brampton Assembly in|
Brampton, Ontario, Canada
|Body style(s)||4-door sedan|
|Engine(s)||2.5 L AMC I4|
3.0 L PRV V6
|Transmission(s)||4-speed Audi AR-4 automatic|
4-speed ZF 4HP18 automatic
|Wheelbase||106.0 inches (2692 mm)|
|Length||192.8 inches (4897 mm)|
|Width||70 inches (1778 mm)|
|Height||53.3 inches (1354 mm)|
|Curb weight||2,991–3,068 pounds |
Eagle Medallion/Renault Medallion
Richard A. Teague
The Eagle Premier is an automobile developed by the American Motors Corporation (AMC) and Renault partnership. The model was inherited by Chrysler Corporation when it acquired AMC in 1987. It was sold from the 1988 through 1992 model years. It was also sold as the Dodge Monaco from 1990 to 1992.
In 1982 AMC and Renault, a major shareholder in AMC since 1979, began work on a new full-size front-drive passenger car, code named X58. It was to be the first large car sold by AMC since 1974, a position in their model range traditionally occupied by the Nash and AMC Ambassador models since the 1930s.
Rather than engineer a completely new chassis for the Premier the then-new Renault 25's monocoque underpinnings were used as a basis and adapted for the new product. Stretched in all dimensions, it provided more interior room than any of its contemporaries. The exterior by Giorgietto Giugiaro's italdesign was picked over other concepts generated by AMC's own styling department and other independent firms. The exterior coefficient of drag of 0.31 is slightly lower than the 1986 Ford Taurus, which was well-known for its aerodynamic shape. The suspension was a new four-wheel independent system, featuring MacPherson struts at the front wheels and two torsion bars at each rear wheel, with stabilizer bars in both front and rear.
The interior was an all-new design by AMC's in-house staff under the direction of Dick Teague. It was considered unique at the time. The climate controls used an unusual up-down button that cycled through the different heating modes, indicated by an array of lights. All of these controls were housed in a binnacle on the right side of the steering column. On the left side of the column another binnacle contained the light controls.
There was a choice of two powertrains. Eschewing the Renault 25's French-built four-cylinder engines, the base Premier LX trim featured a standard 2.5 L AMC four-cylinder engine. Featuring electronically-controlled throttle-body fuel injection, it developed a peak power output of 111 hp at 4750 rpm and torque output of 142 lbf-ft at 2500 rpm, and was coupled to a new electronically-controlled four-speed automatic gearbox, co-designed by Renault and Volkswagen. Optional in the LX and standard in ES models was a 3.0 L version of the well-known Peugeot-Renault-Volvo V6 engine, fitted with multiple port fuel injection, producing peak power and torque figures of 150 hp and 171 lbf-ft. Factory acceleration estimates from standstill to 60 mph (96 km/h) were 11.5 s with the four-cylinder, and 10 seconds flat with the six.
The Premier was initially to be called the Renault Premier (early 1988 production left the factory with Renault badging) in fitting with the other Renault products co-designed with and built by AMC for sale in North America (Alliance & Encore). It was to have been the first body-style in a series of three, along with a four-door wagon and a two-door coupe, named ‘’’Renault Allure’’’. After Chrysler purchased AMC from Renault the wagon and coupe body styles were cancelled as was a planned Premier DL model featuring a five-speed manual gearbox. The car was renamed Eagle Premier, the new marque taking its name from AMC’s last product.
The interior of the LX featured standard six-passenger seating, with bench seats in both front and rear. The standard four-speed automatic transmissions were thus operated using a column shifter. The ES models had seating for five, with buckets in front in place of the bench. These buckets seats were optional in the LX, and a console shifter was optional in both LX and ES.
In 1990 the car was substantially re-engineered. The entire electrical system was replaced with standard Chrysler parts, which proved to be more reliable than the original Renix system. The exterior was changed slightly, the design giugiaro badges being removed from the front fenders as a result. The (unpopular) four-cylinder engine was officially dropped from the lineup, the V6 remaining the sole choice of engine. A Limited trim line was added, with body-coloured side mouldings and other features to distinguish it from the ES.
In its time the car was considered one of the sportiest sedans (by measure of road holding and drive precision) available on the American market. The fully independent suspension on all the wheels made for better ride quality and handling characteristics, as did the rack and pinion steering design. The engineering levels achieved in the Premier are arguably the most refined in a sedan that was produced by AMC or Chrysler.
Critics have argued that Chrysler did not properly market the Premier, having confused its intended market. ES models were compared directly with the Audi 5000, Acura Legend and similar ‘import’ sedans, while LXes were aimed at a lower tier market competing against the Ford Taurus and GM A-body cars. Of the Premier and Eagle Medallion, Bob Lutz, then a Vice President at Chrysler, said they were “unsellable”.
The Premier carried many vestiges of AMC and Renault's engineering well after Chrysler acquired the car's design. For example, the vehicle identification number for the entire 1988 model year production retained AMC format., and the AMC logo was featured on many of the car's components through to the end of production.
The introduction of a rebadged model named Dodge Monaco resulted from a contractual obligation to use 260,000 of the PRV engines over five years, a clause in the AMC buyout from Renault. The Monaco sold poorly, and both it and the Premier were cancelled in 1992. There was little marketing support for the Premier by the Jeep-Eagle dealers themselves because they were focused on selling the highly successful and more profitable Jeep models. Furthermore, the decision to eventually dual Jeep-Eagle with Chrysler-Plymouth dealers called for the long-term corporate goal of phasing out the Eagle brand. There were 139,051 Premiers and Monacos built at Bramalea. Reportedly, Chrysler paid a penalty for every V6 engine not purchased from Renault.
These cars offered features that were considered quite advanced for their time. However, as a result, many vehicles have suffered from electrical problems, having proven to be one of the cars' bigger drawbacks over time. It was also chastised for various mechanical problems, particularly unreliability of the transmissions and frequent overheating of the V6 engine. Despite this, they are still seen as being a car that was on the cutting edge of design and features.
A new, highly advanced factory (called Bramalea Assembly) was built to manufacture the Premier at Bramalea, near an existing AMC plant at Brampton, Ontario. This state of the art plant was opened in 1986 and was one of AMC's assets that interested Chrysler. It was renamed Brampton Assembly after the buyout. Bramalea Assembly was retooled for the production of the Chrysler LH-cars that debuted in autumn of 1992, including the Premier's replacement, the Vision.
The Premier inspired many of the LH platform’s design features. François Castaing, formerly AMC's Vice President of product engineering and development, became Chrysler's Vice President of vehicle engineering in 1988, and as a result, the Premier was the starting point for Chrysler's new LH sedans. Although the cab forward styling was quite different, the engines in the LH cars were mounted longitudinally, like the Premier, and unlike any other front-wheel drive car built by Chrysler. The LH platform's dedicated transmission, the A606, was also quite similar in design to the electronically-controlled automatic featured in four-cylinder Premiers. The Premier's body shell was used for LH prototype development mules, under which the LH drivetrain was tested.
- Mitchell VIN Decoding, AMC/JEEP, pages g13-g17 Retrieved on July 20, 2007.
- The Eagle Premier and Dodge Monaco home page
- Eagle Premier - The Accidental Dodge at Allpar provides detailed information about the Premier.
- Derek Dorroh's tribute to the Eagle Premier
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