On a recent sojourn to the city of Hayward, CA I spotted this well-preserved example of the 1986-1990 Jeep Wagoneer (XJ-series). According to Wikipedia, this is not the “Wagoneer Limited”, but just the plain-old “Wagoneer”, distinguished by having a rather outlandish 2-tone paint job instead of the even-more outlandish fake woodgrain finish on the “Limited”.
I always thought these were the XJ-series Jeeps for the non-conformist. Everyone appreciated the fine lines on the XJ-series Cherokee, largely from the AMC team of Richard Teague. But if you really wanted to stand out from the crowd, you had to get the Wagoneer – what other vehicle could match your plaid pants and oversized sunglasses when you have to leave the cozy confines of your cabin to venture into downtown Vail?
Well, of course, a Grand Wagoneer would do, but that wouldn’t also simultaneously reflect your “commitment to the new” reflected in the modern, space-age, unit-frame XJ-series chassis. Not to mention the joy experienced via the magic of the AMC 4.0-litre six. By getting the straight “Wagoneer” instead of the “Limited”, of course, you are expressing your own particular brand of frugality – no ostentation for you, no-siree-bob, just the 4X4 and the 4.0-litre.
Of course, the interior is a nice, frugal cloth, but color-coordinated with the body, of course. The woodgrain inlays on the instrument panel add the last little extra bit of class, as well as the dealer-installed carpeted dash cover – protects the plastic! And just to show we’re sporty, a nice floor shift for the automatic transmission in the console between the bucket seats.
Oh, and the flyscreen in front to keep the bugs off. Nasty bugs.
One must ask – how did it come to be that they stopped making these? And one year earlier than the woefully out-of-date Grand Wagoneer? What has happened to America?
But seriously – when was the last all-new Brougham SUV, not counting the Grand Wagoneer, which had been introduced in the 1970’s on a design from the 1960’s and hardly changed since? Perhaps one might nominate the Eddie Bauer-edition Ford Explorer. But I think nothing can top the XJ-series Wagoneer as the last all-new Brougham SUV.
As a final note – Dick Teague has an interesting catalog of hits and misses over the years – the hits including the XJ Cherokee, the original AMC Hornet, and further back the 1955-56 Packards, and the various mostly sharply-designed AMC products of the 1960’s. But he was also responsible for such questionable-at-best designs as the Pacer, the Matador Coupe (and simultaneously the ungainly long-nose Matador sedan), the Gremlin, and the XJ-series Wagoneer. What other designer had a record with such highs and lows, oftentimes simultaneously?