Before the Renegade there was the Jeep Wrangler Renegade. This visual oddity existed thanks to an option package that added a boatload of equipment to a standard Wrangler. Jeep offered the trim package from 1991-1994. It was an expensive package too. That’s because Jeep didn’t actually install the extra goodies. They hired an outside company to do it for them. And they charged customers roughly $4,000 to make it possible. That’s an absurd figure that represented almost 30% of the Jeep’s base MSRP. Obviously, at least one person paid for it. They also seem to have taken great care to preserve it too.
In an alternative universe Jeep built vehicles primarily designed for driving over sand dunes at speed and this Renegade was the norm instead of a notable outlier.. Even a story that involves said Jeep making its way to our reality via a wormhole or some kind of experimental technology sounds a bit more believable than what actually happened.
To recap: For several years, Jeep offered a cosmetic focused option package that added inflated the price of a Wrangler by about 30 percent. Adjusted for inflation, the “Renegade Decor Group” cost about $7,500. I cannot think of any mainstream vehicle on the market today that offers a similar package at that price. Automakers charge about $10,000 to put a diesel engine in their heavy duty trucks, but that’s a bit of an apples to oranges comparison. Generally, an appearance packages adds about $2,000 to $3,000 more to the price.
But that’s not how Jeep rolled in the 90s. You want a Wrangler uniquely unsuited to off-roading? Well here you go! Fender flares from front to back! A useless side step! This is one strange Jeep.
But you know what? This package isn’t nearly that ridiculous once you discover what Jeep included. Fender flares aside, many of these options are quite useful. Power steering, a leather wrapped steering wheel, carpeted floors, and a center console with cupholders? Those are options most Jeep owners would probably want in their vehicles. Jeep also bundled the 4.0 liter I-6 with every Renegade, which increased the value proposition by quite a bit.
That window sticker does not belong to our featured Jeep. Fortunately, the ad details what other options are on this Renegade. This is a five speed manual Renegade with the optional “full” doors and factory hard top.
Given the low miles, it’s not surprising that the cabin is just as spotless as the exterior. This Jeep definitely called a garage home for the vast majority of its life.
When I watched Doug DeMuro cover the Renegade nearly two years ago, I wondered why anyone would order such an oddly optioned Wrangler. I get it now. This was a surprisingly well equipped model for buyers who knew their Wrangler would never leave the pavement, an admission that allowed them to order something with a bit more visual flair.
At $22,500, this Renegade isn’t cheap. But it’s rare. And that has value. Beyond that, it’s clearly in showroom condition. There can’t be many of these things left. Here’s to hoping its next owner keeps that in mind.
Source: HV cragislist
Maybe I have to drive one, but wouldn’t most people be better served by a convertible? I guess I just don’t get the appeal of the wrangler.
I had two of them and loved both of them. One was a soft top and the other was a hard top with full hard doors. The hard top was so much quieter and didn’t leak when it rained. I wish I had another one right now.
Wow someone forked over all that extra coin then hated the results so much they rarely drove it, but now think its worth moonbeams.
Yep, that $4000 premium in 1991 has just become a $10K premium in 2020 or so they think.
I’m not sure why you say this is unsuited for off-road driving nor why the step is useless. Yes the flares look like they were inspired by an IMSA car but they don’t stick out any further or lower than the factory stuff seen on the Sahara and Islander packages. It just looks lower thanks to the way it flares into the body instead.
If I remember correctly, these Jeeps were usually painted in colors meant for extroverts, like chrome yellow, bright orange, and lipstick red. You didn’t see this package added to a green, brown, or even black Wrangler.
I also thought that this was somehow supposed to be Jeeps belated answer to that fad of the late 70s and 80s…areo packages. Apparently not?
Considering what is currently being charged for a new Wrangler, is this price really so “out there”? Seems to me like a bargain.
They were offered in many different colors. I had a red one. And yes I had a solid black one. I’ve seen them in brown also.
I think you could deliver the mail with this one…lol
Funny that you’d mention that because left hand drive with a stick shift means that mail delivery is the one thing that it won’t be doing.
I agree. Not a Jeep.
These rectangular headlight Wranglers are a perfect example of how a fad can be quite inappropriate on some vehicles. IIRC, Wrangler sales dived with these headlights, but perked right back up when they brought back the round ones.
Many of the Jeep cognoscenti don’t consider the rectangular headlight versions to be “real” Jeeps. I don’t know about now but in the past the rectangular headlight Jeeps sold for less on the used market than the round eye models. Of course some people might find them to be more attractive, as always, YMMV.
I never got the hubbub over them, YJs look fine to me, but these were the Jeeps of my childhood.
These aren’t any less “real” than modern wranglers, and if they were I’d hope there was a more substantive reason than the stupid headlight shape. Oh well, I kind of want a Jeep and whatever keeps the values low on this generation is A-ok with me
It’s funny because my YJ friends didn’t like the restyled round headlight Jeeps when they came out. To them, the new model looked a bit tinny..almost like a larger scale Suzuki Samarai. Their assumption was that they didn’t look built for off-road. I thought that perhaps the new softer styling was to appeal more to female consumers. A lady that I worked with went out and bought one right away.
I feel like I’d need to sport a circa 1991 Vanilla Ice hairdo in order to drive this thing.
I saw one of these in Newberg, Oregon the other day that looks just like this one and it still looks kind of tacky nearly 30 years later. I’m glad this Jeep exists though, since it adds variety to the landscape.
In 1991 I lived in a mountainside condo near a ski resort in Northwestern New Jersey. My next door neighbor drove one of these in white, but for some reason my memory tells me it actually had a bright red interior (I can’t find any reference to that color as an option on these though). It had the column shifted automatic and A/C, hard top with full doors, and it was always spotless. It was the subject of much derision by the rest of the neighbors and visitors. This was in the days of “Real Jeeps have Round Headlights”, etc. I had a friend who owned a Wrangler Islander (remember that one?) who also got a lot of grief for her “Chick Jeep”.
I’m never one for stereotyping vehicles any more than I care to stereotype people, but in this case the tacky Jeep suited its tacky owner perfectly. After having one or two minor altercations with the neighbor over some nonsense like a visitor parking in the wrong spot or trash cans not being brought in quickly enough after pickup, I just looked at that thing with scorn and pity every time I walked to my car.
Mind you, in those days my daily driver was a white-over white 1982 VW Rabbit convertible, which I took some ribbing for as well. I remember thinking, “Well, this might thing might be a rolling powder puff, but at least it’s not as ridiculous as THAT thing.”
The bizarre memories that come up here sometimes….
It’s garish, but those flared wheel arches would save someone the trouble of adding them if they wanted to make a monster truck out of it.
Why? They sucked when they were brand new
I’m with everyone else on the rectangular headlight Jeeps as just looking off. The fender flairs don’t help. But when I got to the 4.0 inline six mated to the stick shift, I was hooked. Not hooked enough to pay $22,500, although I have to admit that nobody can possibly get into a used 17k mile Wrangler/CJ of any other generation in this condition for anywhere near that price.
Don’t be so sure – We paid $24k for our 2015 JK Sport S two years ago when it had 19,000 miles, and was/is pretty much loaded (for a Sport S). I’d take that any day over this thing and twice on Sunday. Coming up on 45k miles soon and no issues whatsoever.
The Renegade upcharge isn’t really just for the “Decor”, the sticker seems to show that the 4liter is included in that price, the base engine was a 2.5liter inline-4, so there’s more than just a bodykit and some stripes.
Buy this and every mile you put on it the value goes down significantly assuming it was ever worth that much. Maybe the upcoming Jeep museum wants it for their collection…
My step father owned a red 1991 Jeep Wrangler YJ and loved it to pieces. Sadly it was from up north and the frame had rot. “Jeepy” as it was known, was quite a pile of trouble for my father in the long run, but it was nice to see him working so hard on it for the time he had it. He said driving it was like being on a motorcycle, it could be opened up with wind all around with the stability of four wheels.
Looks like a mail truck from the front. Looks like the 80s from everywhere else.
Not the most brilliant generation of Wrangler. Every time I see one of these (rare, now) the theme song from MacGyver starts playing in my head. I loved that show as a kid!
Cheap Mangler Downagrade.
Worth every penny of that $22.5K. If I had the nut, I’d buy it right now.
16 grand rn 153,000 miles on it lol I got one
Thinking about this further, this is exactly as dorky as modern SUVs and crossovers. This kit is 80s in its blocky design of course, but the result is the same – streamline out all the rugged aspects that defined “real” SUVs, and paint everything one color so as to instill fear in scratches and scuffs that the normally black textured plastic would take the brunt of off road.
This makes me cringe. Just to drive the this buggy any distance it’s going to need hoses, belts, tires (most likely), and all fluids changed. They you’ll still over look something like a plugged heater core, dry rotted seals on the suspension bits. I agree with Jim Klein – I’d drive his all day and twice on Sunday before I would consider this.
But Jeeps aren’t my sugar stick – for likely a lot less coin in 1991 one could have purchased a 1/2 ton Dodge 4×4 with a 318. Much better suited for my purposes.
It’s a homeboy Jeep thing, you wouldn’t understand…
One of the four wheel drive magazines, a few years ago, did a long term comparison between a used YJ and a newer JK, both in their fleet. The YJ was far more reliable over 2-3x the mileage. Yeah, I’m not a fan of the rectangular lights and the “Yuppie Jeep” moniker seemed appropriate in the day. But although I don’t like this trim package, the YJ itself is a pretty decent vehicle.
Did these Wranglers not have “frame flex”? I’d be worrying about those fiberglass flares cracking if you actually took the sucker off road.
The frame flex wasn’t that bad until the transfer-case skid plate bolts rusted out of the frame. At that point, any paint damage to the body is almost an asset. You’d be amazed how many people have bought shiny used Wrangler TJs that were at risk of breaking in half when we put them on the lift for a pointless-post-purchase-inspection. As for YJs like this, few of them survived in Virginia long enough for me to ever get a look underneath one.
Jeep is now a master of style and marketing. It seems safe to say that in 1991 they still hadn’t figured out exactly what people wanted from them. The Wrangler Sahara was an object of desire for many. The Wrangler Laredo has heavy-handed in its exterior trim, but had a level of equipment that many wanted. Then Jeep brought back the Renegade name and slapped it on this body-kitted faux pas.
Reading the window sticker makes it clear that the Renegade included all sorts of real upgrades, almost like today’s Wrangler Rubicon. Style wise though, this poor Jeep had limited appeal and dated instantly. It reminds me of the Lotus 7 S4 as much as anything. It was the highest development of the Lotus 7 before the rights and tooling were sold to Caterham, but people who wanted a Lotus 7 didn’t want it to look like a dune buggy. Caterham reverted to the earlier styling and had a business for years. Jeep, or Daimler, or Cerberus, or Fiat figured out what buttons Jeeps need to push and they’re Subaru’s only rivals for the US marketing championship today.
As luck would have it, I saw one of these on my way to work this morning. It even seemed to be the same color. Though it is not very attractive, it is a nice break from the army of modern Jeeps with all of their baroque ornamentation. It is a survivor and useful vehicle to get its owner around, unencumbered by the affectations of its modern brethren.
Not a rock climber but not everybody want to climb rocks. There is several available on the web but, red,blk, blue, higher miles. The 4.0 is a great motor, upgraded cloth interior, larger gas tank, sound bar, i guess you get extras for the $6k, but this one i would like for $12k but $22k is way too much for mr
I have one for sale if anyone wants to buy it. Contact me at 254-444-6280 it has 153,000 miles on it.
I had the black soft top Renegade. Lived in Northwest NM on the CO border. This Jeep performed like a beast in snow, mud and in the alpine.
I have this exact same Jeep with a soft top on a 2inch lift sitting on 33’s. I’m going into the navy possibly looking into selling it. Mines black and it’s the automatic 3 speed transmission with 4 wheel drive. Amazing vehicle for the right buyer. If someone is interested comment below.
I have a 1991 Renegade soft top, perfect condition w/53.000miles same exterior as this one. I love it but don’t drive it much anymore. People always stopped me when it was out asking if i would sell it. Maybe that time has come.
If anyone selling one would love to have one.. was first car rusted through.. ready to have a show piece for a weekender. Plankanater at gmail dot com. Email me if your selling!
Do you still have your Renegade?
I had an ’89 Wrangler Laredo, bought it new. Spinnaker blue with gold stripes, i believe it was the 40th anniversary edition. One summer day I rolled up to the 7-11 with the top down, and my black Lab riding shotgun. A gang of boys on their bikes crowded around it, “what a cool Jeep!” ” What a nice dog!” and finally, as I dismounted “Are those Reebok Pumps?”…lol The King of Cool had arrived!
Is this thing still available? If so, where?