Before the Range Rover, before the Cadillac Escalade, there was the Jeep Wagoneer: the Socially Acceptable Off-Roader, becoming ever more elegant and upmarket ever since its debut in 1963 until it was federalized out of existence and replaced by a Grand Cherokee with wood paneling and special leather. Today, people appreciate the ruggedness and–dare I say it–classic elegance of the original Wagoneer, to the point where seeing them go for over $40,000 is not an uncommon occurrence. But if you don’t want a point-by-point perfect model, might I suggest a more economical alternative?
The first time I saw the price tag I thought it was a typo; surely they meant $36,500. That wouldn’t surprise me. Heck, I’d have even said it was a pretty good deal. It goes to show how expensive to buy Wagoneers are nowadays. It’s not like this one has been driven into the ground, as it has an indicated (but either fake or unbelievably taxing) 91,950 miles. All the badges are still there, and so are the corner lights. It even comes with a very tasteful set of fog lights that complement the look beautifully. Neither has the wood paneling faded into oblivion.
The interior is also completely present and accounted for. Apart from some visible wear and tear on the driver’s seat that could be fixed with an afternoon of elbow grease, and the confederate flag that decorates the dash (which will no doubt be a complete pain in the neck to remove), it is really well kept indeed. It may actually make me rescind my comment about the mileage, as it really looks like it has only traveled an average of 3,658 miles a year.
Up front, the venerable, carbureted AMC 360 could perhaps be the weakest point on the whole truck–not because of reliability issues, but because it’s literally weak. One hundred-sixty HP from 5.9 liters is not a particularly good HP/L ratio; in fact, it could be described as pretty terrible. Here’s something for the next time you’re playing pub trivia: the Jeep Wagoneer with the 360 is the last American vehicle to be fitted with a carbureted engine.
Sadly, we’ll have to move to the reason why this car being sold at such a low price: rust. The proverbial tin worm has done a fair number on this one. In the seller’s words,“But it has some minor rust issues on quarter panels mostly and some surface rust on doors and by the gas cap (visible on the pictures ). Frame has surface rust but its not rusted through (it needs to be cleaned up and undercoated).” I’m not so sure of the “minor” bit, since this is really a very rusty car. Of course, I could be very wrong and overplaying it because cars rarely rust around here. Still, you’re looking at a hefty bill for soldering, undercoating, rustproofing and paint. Nonetheless, it’ll probably still be less than what these go for on the market.
Would you buy and save it? Run it as-is? The listing’s here, and this seems like it could be a future COAL for its lucky owner.
Sweet looking Jeep Wagoneer. I’ve always loved this version of the Wagoneer, before Chrysler downsized it and modernized it to what it is now. I’d buy one myself if the condition were right, and the price was within my budget. 🙂
The first generation of the downsized Cherokee/Wagoneer was released in 1984, while Renault controlled AMC, before Chrysler bought them.
I wonder why the rust on left door goes quite high. It would be a nightmare to do the rust fix on that spot, because it’s door panel rather than quarter which is easier to replace.
But the good thing is I didn’t see rust in innerside of the doors around rocker panels.
The previous undercoating makes a big difference too, if just undercoated, there could be some rust around frame rail where undercoating was chipped away, if properly undercoated it would hold up even better ( but most likely not given the condition of body ) . If there is no undercoating at all, never mind.
I don’t like how the ordinary seller describes about “minor rust”. A spot of rust on the doors of a Lincoln Mark VIII just says there is a big problem out there, and “minor surface rust” on a well plastic covered SUV indicates it’s a big no. Older Chevy avalanche would be a huge rust bucket if even minor rust is visible on the doors. Huge chunk of rust is well covered by plastic trim maybe until one day they fell off and it freaks out the owner.
These are my ideal vintage 4×4, classic all the way. There are some very nice examples left out there for a premium price. Would love to own one!
I had a ’77 Cherokee Chiefin bright orange with blackout trim (identical to the one in the attached pic). Same vehicle as a GC, 2 doors. It was really sharp, but a kidney bruiser. They added a lot of luxury to the basic wagoneer from the early ’60s over it’s nearly 30 year run, but couldn’t mask the harshness. Some folks who bought them for high profile daily transport late in production weren’t really ready for that, especially at a premium price, and that helped kill them. And they did rust. I bought mine on a whim during a family day trip to Sequim, WA (a dry microclimate in the middle of the NW rainforest) in 1995 for just $2250, and shipped it back East. Within two years, a pretty rust free vehicle was rotting slowly away. The next owner used it off road, unlike me, and I think it might still be out there somewhere. Tough as nails!
There’s a type of seller who easily throws around the word “minor”. I love the guys who are selling a vehicle they know little about because they are flipping it, and declare, “We couldn’t find any evidence of rust”. What a pregnant statement! That isn’t a lie if the car was bondo-ed up and resprayed… Or, if you only looked at it once.
Nothing $20k and a trip to Wagonmasters wouldn’t fix.
that they only accept rust free Grand Wagoneers for restoration.
I was given a 1990 by my in-laws back in 2005 and absolutely loved it. The only V-8 (and second 8 cylinder car) I’ve ever owned.
Unfortunately, the first fifteen years of its life, it lived in Bangor, ME as a daily driver no matter what the weather. My in-laws were embarrassed over how quickly the rust started to show, as well as more than a few corrosion related electrical issues. Ended up selling the car in ’07 to a mechanic friend of mine, who kept it for about a year and then passed it down. Barring bodywork miracles, it’s parts by now.
This would be a fun runner if picked up for an extreme bargain. Drive ‘er into the ground.
I was toying with the idea of buying a project Wagoneer. In my area craigslist is littered with sub-$1000 Jeeps that need a lot of work, but the thought of a supreme on/offroad cruiser is enticing.
Hit the rust with some POR-15 and then keep it as the ultimate winter beater, These handle very nicely in the snow and the lack of power isn’t such a big deal when you can’t put it to the ground anyway.
When there are big holes through the sheetmetal it’s too late for POR-15.
Dark blue is my favorite color on these.
While the dash lost most of its ’60s style flavor, most of the interior, and all of the exterior except for the square headlights is pure ’60s, and I think that is what kept it going so long, and makes it so desirable now. There is a certain mountain man in a tuxedo elegance to it that nothing else had during the 1980’s.
While it was probably a lack of funds that inspired it, not monkeying with tacked on updates to make is seem more modern was these best thing that happened to this vehicle. Compare that to the (I think) rather goofy tacked on and tacky updates GM did on the later ’80s RWD B, C, D body full size cars. I accept those updates a little better now, but at the time they were new I thought they were simply terrible.
That rust is fixable, but this 4X4 should not see any more salt. Personally I rather buy one with less or no rust and deal with cosmetic issues.
I can believe they can go for 40 grand.
In Europe, for example, there are restored examples with asking price over 40.000 EUR, which is nearing 50.000 US dollars.
This example really has a lot of rust, but the interior looks nice. And if the mechanicals are in good order, it’s probably well worth the asking price of 2500 USD. Personally, if I was looking for a Wagoneer, I’d most likely buy this one. Then I would try to have the rust issues fixed – if it was impossible or too expensive to fix, at least the other parts are worth something (either to sell the parts, or to use them on another car with no rust but worn other parts).
As for the Confederate flag on the dash, I’d just leave it there. Or sell the car to Europe – for European US cars enthusiasts, Confederate flag is more likely a bonus than a pain, you see them on many cars (either as stickers or flying a real flag) at many US car meetings…
strange considering europeans are usually regarded as more tasteful and restrained and the confederate flag is seen as very gauche and borderline offensive in the states
I think we’ve got our fair share of bad taste over here 🙂
“gauche and borderline offensive” – well, some Europeans think that way about American cars (and all things American, for that matter). Of course, they are wrong.
In England, the Confederate battle flag is a staple of the “rock and roll rebels” subculture – pure rockabilly. No racist or politically incorrect baggage whatsoever. Don’t forget, the Stray Cats didn’t take off until they went to England, first.
Yes, I forgot to mention the rockabillies – like Syke said, they like the Confederate flag; and they like US cars and they usually show up at US car meetings, so you’re bound to see several Confederate flags a such events. So, people who are offended by the sight of that flag would be advised not to attend European US car meetings 🙂
Does anyone understand what the Confederate Battle Flag represents? I equate it with a certain missused Sanskrit symbol used by a certain political movement that sent many of my relatives to the ovens…a holocaust for peoples from another continent, that persisted for centuries. A plantation was basically a concentration camp, sharing consistencies of torture, starvation, familiar separation and forced labor; however, lacking crematoria. The flag is revered by ethnocentric and xenocentric hate groups to this day. The Ku Klux Klan and various neo-Nazi organizations are easily understood examples. Shalom, y’all.
Always liked these, CLASSIC…..didn’t know it was the last American to use a carburetor…..some where I read that the Izuzu was the last foreign make to use a carburetor, in their pick-up as I recall…..nice story.
You may have read that here…
Wikipedia claims the following:
1990 (General public) : Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser, Buick Estate Wagon, Cadillac Brougham, Honda Prelude (Base Model), Subaru Justy
1991 (Police) : Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor with the 5.8 L (351 cu in) V8 engine.
1991 (SUV) : Jeep Grand Wagoneer with the AMC 360 cu in (5.9 L) V8 engine.
1993 Mazda B2200 (Light Truck)
1994 (Light truck) : Isuzu
It’s a very nice example for the price. It might cost a few thousand to repair the rust damage, but that’s still under $10,000 overall, far less than what these can go for. These are already sought-after collectables, and I have no doubt they’ll only increase in value in the next decade. There’s just something about the woodgrain that makes this vehicle.
There are at least 2 or 3 here in north Florida that see occasional use. 1 or 2 are white…was black or red ever offered with the wood panel treatment? None look like they have been off paved roads in years/decades?
The 302 in late 70s Ford products was rated at 140 horsepower, which I thought was pretty dismal. In that company, 165 from 5.9 liters doesn’t seem too bad. Unfortunately, 2 liter 4 cylinder engines of today produce the same or more power.
And I heard that Isuzu was the last (small) pick up to use carburetors, too.
Black and red were indeed offered as factory colors
on the Grand Wagoneer……
Actually, the 360 was rated at only 144 HP during the final several years of Grand Wagoneer production.
You mean it was actually WORSE!? Oh dear…
If memory serves me correctly, the AMC 360 was rated at 144 horsepower in the final Grand Wagoners. Not that the additional 15 ponies you credit the GW with would have made much of a difference.
FWIW, I wonder why they didn’t go back to a 4 bbl once gas prices eased in the mid 1980s.
AMC engineers adapted Ford emissions control systems and carburetor to the engine. They probably didn’t want to mess with their success, such as it was.
That one has a nice purposeful square look to it. Today, even SUVs have become egg shaped. And they have mostly lost their off road capabilities as well. They have become nothing but style statements, if you like that kind of style. I can definitely understand why older models can command such high prices. I can’t really think of a single modern SUV that has any real off road capabilities stock, except maybe the Jeep Wrangler, and I heard it is getting an independent front suspension, which will lessen it’s already poor off road performance.
My dad is restoring an ’86 right now. Bought it for like $8k last year, with brand new paint, wood, and interior. Just had a tired powertrain. Now, it has a fully rebuilt transmission, and a brand new crate 360 chocked full of Edelbrock goodies. He has less $15k in it, and it looks as good as any I’ve ever seen. Now he’s just sitting back and waiting for values to skyrocket 🙂
I’d be out enjoying driving that (though definitely not off road)
As far as these having carburetors, I’m very happy about that. These are classic hobby vehicles, not computerized transportation appliances.
I really have no experience with these, though I used to know a guy who had an early ’70s International Travelall. Straight six, manual floor shift. That thing was built like a tank.
I have a soft spot for these since my first car in high school was a 1980 wagoneer limited (woodgrain version name until 83 I think) in 1987. In Vermont, 70000 mi, a bit of rust but nothing like this one, $3600 at that time. I’ve dreamed of owning another someday, but I suppose it’s too late now. I’d have to buy one like this one, which would be hard because I have an aversion to rust since leaving vermont. I have since lived in Arizona and Texas and am a total rust snob!
I had an impression that Chrysler put their own 5.9 in these after buying jeep, but I realize I have no actual knowledge about that. It would have been nice if they would have made it fuel injected for the last several years.
Chrysler left the AMC drivetrain intact on them…..The only changes done by Chrysler were things such as the addition of an overhead console and a rear window windshield wiper….
1986 was a sort of transition year style-wisefor the Grand Wagoneer…..new grille but woodgrain was unchanged…..1987 saw the revised woodgrain treatment….lighter shade with revised border trim.
As Dave said, AMC 360 right to the end. My friend had a GW (1989 I think) that needed an engine overhaul. He looked into swapping in a Chrysler 360 since they already came with a 727 transmission, but the bellhousing wasn’t the same for a direct bolt-in. He had his AMC engine overhauled instead and had an aftermarket TBI unit installed on it.
A link to the Wagonmaster site with some of the restored Grand Wagoneers for sale
Over at allpar (I think), there’s a decent looking retro-Wagoneer (the early, 1963 one with the round headlights/turn signals and smaller center grille) photoshop done on what looks like a current Grand Cherokee. Honestly, I think it’d be a home-run if Chrysler would go forward and put something like that into production.
I looked at the pics on the eBay auction. Unless you’re really desperate, and a skilled welder, this is probably best used as a parts donor for another Grand Wagoneer. At the current bid of $2500, there’s possibly that much in good parts on it.
A friend of mine had a GW of the same vintage. It was more presentable than this on the outside, but I fabricated and welded a replacement floor into it for him because the original rusted out. I expect the same here, and the same rust through and electrical gremlins with the power window in the tailgate. There WILL be holes in the rear fenderwells into the interior. That would prevent it from passing a safety inspection where I live.
From the pics, I see: the rear quarter panels are rusted out. Rust all around the rear wheelwells. The passenger side dogleg is rusted through! Drivers door is rusted through at the front, behind the DiNoc panelling. The rust around the gas cap and the rear corner marker light looks pretty sketchy. When you start cleaning it up, I’d expect to find perforated steel there.
What I find surprising is that it appears to be wearing factory aluminum wheels that appear to be in good condition.
It is a 25 year old truck in NW Indiana (home of lake-effect snow) If you can’t actually stick your hand through the hole, it’s not major rust. 😉
That’s about right for that area. Until you can punch your fist all the way through the rust, it’s still good to go!
My father’s 1975 Cherokee, which he bought in ’76, had rust perforation after its third Wisconsin winter. He was planning to sell it, and asked me to touch up the paint on the lower quarters behind the wheels. The “touch up” ended up being a rust hole repair.
These things were put together with a lot of small stampings; lots of spot-welded seams and no drainage. The panel I repaired was wet inside and full of mud. Dad sold it to a guy down the street, and we all got to watch it deteriorate over the next few years.
That straight front bumper is probably worth a lot to someone doing a restoration, in addition to the wheels.
The Jeep Grand Wagoneer is an archaic design. It was introduced by Kaiser-Jeep back in 1963. What Chrysler should have done with the GW was install their Mopar 360 (which went to TBI in 1989). That engine was rated at 190 horsepower. A lot better than the 144 HP that the American Motors 360 was putting out with the 2 barrel carb.
Chrysler probably didn’t want to put much new money into the GW because they had plans to kill it anyhow. Probably a bad move, as the SUv craze was just gaining momentum.
It’s an unforgivable shame that Chrysler would do that, and particularly without asking the customers, the people who bought the Jeep GW, what they wanted. I believe that Chrysler should’ve kept producing parts for the GW, if not the GW itself. That way, people can keep their vehicles going indefinitely.
What customers want, and what they get are two different things. Manufactures have to control cost, while dealing with ever tightening government regulations. Heck, if I had my way, Ford would still be building ’68-72 F-250 4X4’s…..
I agree. I like the 71 and 71 F250 and F350, and the 1976 and 77 Ford F250 and F350.
Just checked the Wagonmaster site. Wow, those are some high prices. I actually found myself attracted to the ’49 and ’55 Willys more than anything else. If those have straight rust free bodies and frames, they might very well be worth the $20,000 price. I can definitely see myself driving something like that. I would have to put A/C in it to make it driveable year round in Phoenix.
I have had 2 mid ’70s AMC CJ-5 Jeeps, and had problems with both. Not so much mechanical but broken frames and body panels. The frames cracked around the front spring mounts on both of them. I was told this was normal with these models, and had them repaired and reinforced with heavy steel plate welded on top of the frame.
The Grand Wagoneer sold between 10,000 and 15,000 units per year for much of the 1980’s……1990 saw only 6500 produced and 1991 fewer than 2000….. The Ford Explorer debut along with the proliferation of other 4 door SUV’s at that time ate into the Grand Wagoneer’s sales along with the fact that Chrysler kept jacking the price up every year so that the 1991 Grand Wagoneer listed for nearly $32,000 and buyers were no longer willing at the time to shell out that kind of money for a 29 year old design,
The founder of Wagonmaster started his restoration business after going in to buy a new one and
finding out that The Jeep Grand Wagoneer was discontinued,
While that blue one might not be worth restoring due to all the rust, if the frame is still good, I would be happy to drive it as is here in AZ. Rust does not tend to get worse here. It would definitely stand out from most everything else on the road. Just call the rust “patina” It would definitely last the rest of my life. The only issue I see would be gas mileage, or lack thereof. I suppose it gets about 16 mpg on the highway and half that in town. That’s what my former 1975 Ford F250 2WD longbed 390/C6 did.
I owned an 88 GW from 95-99. It was from Texas and rust free. The hp of the engine plunged in 89. My biggest problem was the inside front door handle on the drivers door as it had to be adjusted frequently to keep working. I sold mine when the trim was starting to deteriorate from sun damage and I could not stand it not being perfect. It got 15 highway. Fuel injection , overdrive and anti locks would have been
great. I believe that the final editions in 91 had overdrive. I now have a Jeep Commander and it reminds me of the GW. Forgot to mention the leaf springs on all four corners. It was beyond extremely capable in the snow. Mine was the same as the one listed both in and out. I bet that the floorboards are toast but they are not a hard fix. Remember having to get a needle tip for my grease gun to service the double cardan (spelling) joint. Selling that Jeep was really dumb on my part
Leaf springs and solid axles at both ends are something I believe all trucks and truck based SUVs should still have. Trucks are supposed to be tough, not ride like a Cadillac. Not only is that the toughest design ever, but you never have to deal with constant camber and caster adjustments. I just hate to see old trucks with solid front axles get cut up and fitted with Mustang II IFS.
Had a “chance” to buy one of these a couple of years ago for 500 bucks. It was in similar condition but with a no start electrical issue. Probably a cheap easy fix (it would turn over and run by arcing the starter posts) but I was not interested. Too many vehicles for another project. In hind sight considering the prices they go for I might have made a mistake.
At the time I was considering it as a parts vehicle for my RamCharger. I drove it and it seemed really weak in comparison. Then I popped the hood. Both 85’s, made by Chrysler, both 360 CI, no where near the same engine. Somewhere in my memory banks I was aware of AMC’s 360. Had not occurred to me at the time that they would have still been using it!
Aside from that, to my eye it looked a lot less cool than my RC. I should note that my 360 was HO with all emissions gear removed and propane fuel done right. I have driven several magnum FI 360’s, none of them held a candle to my 85.
What do you guys think about AMC vs Dodge 360’s?
These GW’s remind me of the Land Cruiser 60 series, just a bit bigger, heavier and more powerful. My uncle had a 1983 for several years (they were sold as the Cherokee in Australia), he would get 16 mpg on the highway and it was very capable off-road. He took it around Australia, across the Simpson Desert, up to Cape York etc.
The AMC V-8 in my grand wagoneer was very dependable but seemed very lacking in the “get up and go” area as compared to the 360 in my buddy’s Dodge . I always talked about headers and a 4bl but I had one too many kids to buy non essentials at the time. Never should have sold it!
What do you expect? This is a full-sized SUV, not a small sports car. If you want Corvette-like get-up-and-go, buy a Corvette.
Jason, you missed the point. I was comparing the AMC 360 to the Mopar 360. They were both in full size vehicles and both had two barrel carbs. I never expected sports car type performance. I actually owned a GW for over four years.
These have always been my favorite SUV design, and I’d love to have one someday–it’s a shame that prices have gone stratospheric. This one looks iffy–obviously one would expect that it would need new floors and a decent amount of body panel work. The question, and probably the difference between “buy it, spend $10K on bodywork, and end up with a nice cruiser” and “strip it for parts” is how bad the frame is. If the frame is perforated, forget it. If not, rock on.
I agree. I’ve always liked the Cherokee and Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. I was disappointed when Chrysler discontinued both the full-sized sized Cherokee and the full-sized Grand Wagoneer.
Ran into this stunning Wagoneer in Verbier last WE. Looked to be in mint condition. What year anyone?