Curbside Capsule: 1989-91 Jeep Grand Wagoneer – Broughamnative Dissonance

Introduced for the 1963 model year, the Jeep Wagoneer was offered as the “world’s most sensible family car.” In what might be close to a record, the Wagoneer name survived through four successive auto companies (Willys, Kaiser, AMC and finally Chrysler) over a 28-year run (30, if you include the one-year-only 1993 Grand Wagoneer ZJ based on the Cherokee platform). Virtually no changes to the basic sheet metal were made over that period (ZJ excepted), but the grills, trim bits and overall “value proposition” certainly did change; always moving upscale.

While under AMC stewardship, and concurrent with the introduction of the Cherokee, the vehicle picked up the “Grand” prefix. While the significant portion of Grand Wagoneers wore dinoc woodgrain sides, one could still order a plain-sided model from the factory, should they find the faux paneling a bit pretentious.

The Grand Wagoneer, despite its constant upward climb toward Ultimate Luxury, never actually wore the Brougham moniker. For three years starting in 1981, however, you could indeed order a Wagoneer Brougham with added trim and convenience items above those of the Wagoneer Custom.

1986 brought quite a few changes, including a new instrument panel bedecked with woodgrain overlays. I was just able to make out the text of the white label above the speedometer, and found it quite fitting for this vehicle:

Jer[emiah] 6:16 – Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

Ask for the old paths, indeed!

The presence of a rear window wiper and tailgate cap peg this as a 1989-91 model. 1991 models could be ordered with an optional “Final Edition” badge on the dash (which this car does not have). Only 1,560 Grand Wagoneers were produced the last year, so they’re fairly rare at this point.

“Styled for beauty, built for duty!” was the rallying cry from the ad men. The Grand Wagoneer remained an incredibly capable 4wd vehicle throughout its production run (and indeed, our subject car had an orderly “bad weather kit,” including tow strap, in the back), and yet somehow managed to adopt many of the defining characteristics we associate with Broughaminess here at CC. For the man who could get past the cognitive dissonance and who wanted to dabble in both worlds – function and form – the best option, the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, came out of Toledo.