Monday, August 30, 2010

1 Part Useless SUV+1 Part Defunct Auto Brand =

Odd, front-wheel drive base model Jeep Compass, greets its second-cousin, once removed, ancestor, the long-defunct Eagle brand, and the result is this little hipster pickup with precious little cargo room and even less off-road traction, the Jeep Eagle Compass Cute/Ute Pickup Thingy. But it's damn attractive!

C H O P — Sometimes the mouse clicks and drags wherever the mouse wants to click and drag. I started with a photo of the 2007 Jeep Compass, a Jeep in name only. Its platform is more closely related to a Dodge Neon than it is to any "Trail-rated" puddle- and tree-jumper Jeep. The fwd Compass MAY have drawn an additional 12 people into Jeep showrooms, but no one took names so I don't believe it.

Photoshop allows me to create cute little vehicles, without any consideration of platform capability or production numbers or any practical considerations at all. The long-gone Eagle brand was created by the equally long-gone automobile manufacturer, American Motors Company. Eagle actually soldiered on for a couple of years after AMC ceased to exist, having been absorbed into the Chrysler company, but was never more than a Hornet or Gremlin in tippy-toe all-wheel drive drag. The Compass, and its more sanely-styled Patriot brother, are really more akin to an Eagle than a Jeep, so I thought it would behoove Chrysler to rebrand the cars as Eagles. What says 'buy me now' more than a small pickup truck with a three-foot bed, front-wheel drive, macho side cladding, suicide doors, and a cute smiling face? And the slotted roofrack is PERFECT for that off-roading necessity, a new Tempur-Pedic mattress from Bed, Bath & Beyond!

I started this chop a few years ago, when the Compass was first introduced. Checking out Woody's Car Site last night, I saw he posted a piece on the updated Compass coming out shortly. When I saw the press photo of the original Compass there, the same original I used for this chop, I was reminded of my little pickup chop. I opened up the file from the archives, and spent a couple of hours updating it and "fixing" several errors in the original chop, making it even cuter than it was, lol. So thank you for jogging my memory, Woody! Check out Woody's post here.


  1. Shades of the BRAT/Baja.

    There are some really die-hard AMC Eagle fans out there. They claim all sorts of firsts - before the Quattro, Subaru, etc. Really, as you say, a tarted up, hiked up Hornet/Concord. There was even a 2 door Eagle hatch the SX/4 and a Kammback Gremlin type thing.

    Then the Vision, enter Mitsu., the Talon, Summit.

    I forget the rest, K-hole or something.

  2. I've been reading a lot about AMC lately, from the first talks of the merger of Nash and Hudson, through the Rambler years and on into the sixties and seventies. After the first gas crunch in '73, my aunt parked her Tbird and Country Squire and bought a Hornet SST coupe and a Sportabout wagon. They were so fun to drive after the big V8s. Their 258 ci sixes were powerful enough for the Hornet's small size and her 'mexicali' interior was pretty bodacious for that period! My piano teacher drove a Gremlin, a dark green 2 seat base model. My first boyfriend in college, a senior when I was a freshman, drove a brand new Levi's Gremlin with the fake denim interior, I ended up liking that little car more than him, lol. I've also always been drawn to Hudsons. The editor of the White Triangle News, the Hudson newsletter, lived in my town, and was friends with my dad. I grew up with old Hudsons driving around my town and loved them. My grandmother's last car was a Rambler Ambassador, a '62, and when I was 7 my uncle was driving it with me in the backseat when a dumptruck hit us from behind, breaking my lower 3 vertebra. I've had a weak back ever since. I've had a pretty interesting time with AMC cars. I'd love any number of them today, but they were all so low-production, they're almost impossible to find if i could afford one. They had good designers too, that had to do a lot with very little, Dick Teague, Ed Anderson and others I can't remember right now!

    here's a good link for an abbreviated history:

  3. Casey, your post totally made me laugh, particularly the title. I really miss seeing the Eagle brand in show rooms and was a big fan of the Talon when it came out sporting AWD. As much as I love the Italianess coming out of Chrysler, it would have been nice to see a return of the AMC (not the movie theaters) especially the Eagle SX/4 (I wonder if Suzuki ever realized it used the same tittle but nobody can sue them for it after the liquidation of the company).

    Thanks for the link : )

  4. Woody, your blog has inspired me plenty of times. you get the news that gives me ideas for chops.

    there was an Italian tie-in with Chrysler back in the days of the Eagle. Remember, that Chrysler owned Lamborghini for a while. There were rumors that Chrysler might start selling Alfas too. If you look at the Eagle logo, it's almost the exact shape as the Alfa 'shield' and was rumored to be designed that way so that Eagles could be easily badged as Alfas in Europe and vice-versa over here. Of course, nothing became of it!

  5. Casey,

    I especially loved the Eagle logo -- and there were several Eagles you didn't mention like the Eagle Premier (aka Doge Monaco -- there's a "what were they thinking" move on Chrysler's part) that was developed by AMC just before the deal with Renault, and the Eagle Medallion that was a Renault __ (I forget what number it was as a Renault). And as for the Itlaian connection, what about the Chrysler TC by Maserati? What WERE they thinking????

    As I mentioned when we got back from Maine, our rental car was a Jeep Compass. It's the same architecture as the Dodge Caliber (of which I've rented two over the last few years -- there's a reason Dollar is cheaper than all the other rental car companies!) and it was perfectly serviceable. It's a big higher than a "car" and is easy to get in and out of and with the back seat folded we were able to stash all of our voluminous luggage.

    I LOVE your chop of the Compass into that adorable cute-ute. If only!

    I'm glad you are catching up on AMC history. I'm sure you read Patrick Foster in Hemmings -- he's a huge AMC fan as you know. I've always been fascinated by AMC -- my Dad was a UPS man and one of the stops on his route was a Nash dealer (later AMC, later AMC/Jeep, later Chrysler/Plymouth/Jeep/Eagle and he always brought me brochures from there and when I was five he brought home a cardboard Nash garage -- dealership and service -- with three cut-out cardboard Nashes -- a red Ambassador, a green Statesman and a yellow Rambler -- this was 1953. I loved that until my cousin Mike sat on it and that was that. We still joke about it! Anyway, I've always been obsessed with what would have happened had George Mason's vision come to pass -- the four major independents merged into one company. My real obsession is with the orginally proposed Nash/Packard hookup. What might that have resulted in? What is Mr. Mason hadn't died? Oh, it's all too much!

    Sorry to Ramble (hee-hee) but that chop opened up the floodgates!!

    Paul, New York City

  6. We had two AMCs, both Rebels. A light blue 4-door and a gold coupe. The coupe was the car I drove to my prom. I was a bit embarrassed - AMCs weren't very "cool" back then.

    There was one Dick Teague car that I wish had happened. The AMX/3 that was built by Bizzarrini. It was powered by the 390, I believe. It was beautiful and would have been a real competitor to the Pantera.

  7. Ramble on, Paul! Yes, I read Foster every month in HCC and all the way back to Special Interest Autos. I think he lives not too far from me too. I"m SO fascinated by Nash the more I read about it. Those postwar AIrflytes were so advanced, from their 'uniscope' steering wheel column-mounted instruments, their aerodynamic unti-bodies, and the first little Rambler's upscale Convertible model. The '56 Ramblers in Nash and Hudson guises, were so well-received by the press. If George Mason had lived, I really think they'd still be around today.

    check this Statesman out. The styling knocks me out! Even the radio controls have a slide-down cover. I slightly prefer the Ambassador's much longer hood, and its straight eight engine, with NINE main bearings I believe, but I'd take this smaller model today. Nash's engines. going back to the '30s with their twin spark plugs, were really a cut above. I never really appreciated Nash and its place in the automotive landscape until the past couple of years.

    I'm also very partial to the later Nashes, credited to Pininfarina, but mostly designed by Nash's own designers. I really used to think of Nash and AMC in general as 'fuddy duddy' cars, but I see them as upscale Buick-like cars in a rational size these days, with quality touches everywhere you look. I really think it took a discerning buyer to appreciate them back in the day.

    ON the other hand, I really don't know what to think about cars like this next one. On one hand, it's a survivor that might turn a few heads at car shows and get a new generation interested in AMCs and Nashes. On the other hand, I'd MUCH rather see it restored to original, but if it was basket case or perfect restomod, I guess I'd have to take this, but I wish it was more original LOOKING on the outside. IT reminds me of Dame Edna vs Queen Elizabeth.

    there is a shell of a 1960 Rambler American 2 door sedan on my property. It's only visible in winter. It has so many wild roses growing over it with their millions of thorns, you can't even get close to it. I THINK we're goign to clear that area of the property this fall or next spring, and my friend Mark that owns Pink Gardens has assured me we'll keep the car and maybe plant flowers around it as a sculpture!

  8. Something else I read regarding logos. The Kia oval was designed to be the same size as Ford's blue oval. It was meant to just pop into place. Was the Festiva the only car built for Ford?

  9. I remember those Bizzarini AMXs, I think there were three different versions of them, each one getting better looking. Dick Teague was a highly-underrated designer, going all the way back to Kaiser and Packard's postwar models. here's his Wiki, which is pretty accurate and well-written for a change, lol:

    I"m fascinated by designers like Teague and Ed Anderson, also of AMC later in his career. Designers that had to do whatever they could with extremely limited budgets. Harley Earl was the father of automotive design, and i've 'appropriated' his studio name of 'artandcolour' for my very own, but he always had as much money and talent as he wanted, a glorious excess of everything, and it's no wonder he was able to craft the groundbreaking designs he did. But the fellows that had to work within tight budgets and with no time, and only a few employes really speak to me.

  10. The 1954 Nash Rambler that you linked us to screams Dame Edna! And it didn't have to! And that is so sad. The guy obviously spent a ton of time and money on this car. Very nice detailing. If he had only started the flames on the fender's edge and not used the headlight surrounds. A fixable but fatal flaw.

  11. Casey,

    The Poastwar Ambassadors used a larger six-cylinder engine (234 cubic inches) vs. the Statesman's smaller one (185, I think -- not sure about that). The Nash straight eight did not return after the war. Those 49-50 Nashes were pretty startling in their day -- maybe not quite the departure that the Citroen DS was in 1955, but think about what else was around in 1949! It's too bad that the Uniscope was impossible to fix and was discontinued for the more "conventional" 51s. I've always loved the 52-54 big Nashes and the 46-48 as well -- my Grandma had a light green 47 600 slipstream (fastback) sedan when I was a little child. I loved it but after my granda died she wanted a new car and got a 51 Plymouth fastback (Concord Coach) and I have many happy memories of riding with her in that car.

    I sent my ex in Atlanta a 1/18 scale model of the 52 Nash Ambassador (without continental kit) and it's pretty fabulous. Those cars were SO big and roomy inside -- it's too bad you have to buy a minivan (not that there's anything wrong with that!) to get that much room in a car. May choice would be a 52 Ambassador Country Club, although a 54 would be nice too, because that'st he year they introduced the first modern car air conditioner!

    Paul, NYC

  12. I hate when I'm wrong, lol! But of course you're right about the straight 8. I remember reading that the 8 didn't return postwar, but of course, forgot it. The hood of the Ambassador was so long, it really looks like they must have thought about a straight 8 at least. This is a small jpg I found, but it's so beautiful. I think I might like the 2 door even more, but this 4 door is just fabulous looking:
    I'm thinking of doing a chop of a modern-day Airflyte Ambassador. I found the perfect base photo...

  13. Marius: I never knew about the Kia/Ford logo! Thanks for that bit of trivia. I wouldn't mind some more Kia/Ford tie-ins right now, with Kia's great looking cars it has introduced lately. I chopped two Mercurys from Kias, a Villager crossover from the new Sportage and a Milan from the new Cadenza.

    do you know if we're getting the Cadenza over here? Would that replace the fugly Amanti? I bet Peter Schreyer drew a red X through the Amanti the SECOND he sat down at his desk for the first time!

  14. Yes, the Cadenza is coming here as the replacement for the Amanti. That Amanti is pretty ugly, although the refresh a couple of years ago helped a little. But Kia is definitely on a roll as far as styling goes. They have real style and a point of view. I really like the Soul and, while it's not exactly a looker, the Rondo is adorable -- you just want to give it a hug when you see it!

    Don't make us wait too long for the Ambassador Airflyte chop! I'm sure you'll make sure it has the proper front-wheel to windshield proportions!

    Paul, NYC