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Oddball Convertible Weekend: The AMC Sundancer

As weird convertible cars come, it’s difficult to get much weirder than the AMC Sundancer. Come to think of it, a regular AMC Eagle is sort of offbeat – a proto-Allroad, a lifted Concord, something as backdated and unmistakably distilled in its origins as a Saab was in the ’80s, cool by not trying to be obviously cool.

So, to turn that weirdness up a notch, an Eagle was treated to the same convertible conversion treatment as a contemporary Toyota Celica. How’s that for oddball-ity, a jacked-up 4×4 droptop?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely fond of the Sunchaser AMCs; pluralized as you could get the work on either a Concord or an Eagle.

 

There’s something about the fake wood/tan vinyl/chrome/white-lettered tire/chest hair/beercan 1980 USA that the car conveys, and which I really, really like. I would absolutely, totally daily-drive an AMC Eagle, and a Sunchaser would be a perfect counterpart for that. The sun doesn’t set here in the summer, so it’s pretty easy to chase once it stops raining.

[Images: Wikimedia/CZmarlin and amcsundancer.wordpress.com]

  • 1977ChevyTruck

    I think the Pope wins this weekend:

    Pope Swaps His Bulletproof Mercedes for a . . . Topless Hyundai Santa Fe?

    • nanoop

      This seems appropriate to his general style which is less opulent than expected, but how cool would it be if he used a Sundancer (Eagle, lifted even more so that the crowd could see him)?

  • nanoop

    The ad is worth reading. They call the Concord a “sport Landau” – the nerves! I am also impressed how they stress the safety features of the conversion, dropping “steel” four times in two sentences- and it’s got warranty 12 months for conversion related bits…

    • 1977ChevyTruck

      They also say “Sundancer is America’s only 4-wheel drive convertible”, a statement that I think the Jeep CJ-5, Jeep CJ-7, Ford Bronco, Chevrolet Blazer, GMC Jimmy, Dodge Ramcharger, Plymouth Trailduster, International Harvester Scout II would beg to differ.

      • 0A5599

        Sundancer production was 1981-82. Jeep was cranking out CJ-5, -7, and -8 at the time, but they were owned by AMC and unlikely to sue over Griffith’s claims. The rest of the vehicles you mentioned were either out of production by then or no longer available with soft tops.

        • 1977ChevyTruck

          Actually, the ones out of production (Convertible Ramcharger, Trailduster, Scout) all went out in 1980, so there should have been some overlap between the last of those and the Sundancer. Anyway, Griffith claimed “only 4×4 convertible” not “only soft top 4×4 convertible”.

          A hard top convertible is still a convertible.

          • 0A5599

            Depends on how you want to slice it. See the AACA’s definition, for example, which specifies a non-removable soft top. Usually, if the doors have framed side windows or no side windows, that kicks it to another category, too. Disco-era Ramcharger/Trailduster used framed doors. I’m not sure about Scouts. I know they had a no-door option, which wouldn’t have windows, but can’t recall what the doors looked like without a roof.

            • 1977ChevyTruck

              I’m basing my views off of the basic definition: “A convertible is an automobile body style that can convert between an open-air mode and an enclosed one, varying in degree and means by model.”

              You do have a point, though. As with everything, it’s just how you look at it.

  • Sjalabais

    So how many were made of these?

  • tonyola

    Pretty neat car. Both the Concord/Eagle and the Celica versions of these convertibles used to be fairly popular in Florida in the 1980s. They do look a bit awkward all buttoned up, though.

  • smalleyxb122

    I never knew that this existed. Now I want one, despite its questionable top-up aesthetic.

    • gord

      that is my eagle in the one pic…. for sale, check my ad at

      [email protected]

      • I am both sad and relieved that I don’t have a spare $4800 lying around right now.

        • gord

          well i am not in a rush to sell so will do deposit, payment over time too if it helps
          long story short, looking for new home for her
          success to you regardless in your search

          • You’re not helping. 😀

            I’m actually not searching, I have a lovely Tbird in the garage that could use some TLC if I get some cash. I do love the idea of this car, but not now.

            Good luck with finding her a new home.

  • JayP

    Will we look at the Murano Cabrio with such lust on 30 years?

    • nanoop

      Only if Nissan dies in 10 years: then, the Murano will be considered a misunderstood, pioneering vehicle. If Nissan survives, they’ll keep the cheese dome on it, so the smell won’t come out…

    • I dig the CrossCabriolet right now!

  • stigshift

    The same thing was offered on Celicas as well. Eagle looks better.

    • JayP

      A college pal bought one used in 1990… and within 20 miles the trans took a dirtnap.

    • Cameron Vanderhorst

      I think the Celica Sunchaser looks a bit goofy with the top up, especially since the coupes and liftbacks were so attractive to begin with.

      • stigshift

        Calling it a bit goofy is akin to praising it by faint damnation. It looks so cheesy, it probably has Wisconsin tags…

  • Jaap

    Wow! This one belongs in the post on cars ahead of their time. A SUV targa: a niche unexplored nowadays. Forget the Nissam Murano Convertible, that’s a fat ugly car. When done properly, like the AMC it’s a stunber

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