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Jeep Wagoneer
SJ Jeep Wagoneer
Manufacturer Jeep
Parent company Kaiser-Jeep (1963-1970)
American Motors (1970-1987)
Chrysler (1987-1993)
Production 1963–1993
Predecessor Willys Jeep Wagon
Successor Jeep Grand Cherokee
Class Full-size SUV (1963-1991)
mid-size SUV (1993)
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel drive / four-wheel drive

The Jeep Wagoneer was an early sport utility vehicle (SUV) and the first luxury 4x4, produced under varying marques from 1963 to 1991. It was noteworthy for being in production for more than 28 years with only minor mechanical changes. This amounted to the longest continuous automotive production run, on the same platform, in US automotive history.[1]

The Jeep Wagoneer "created a whole new category of so-called sports-utility vehicles" and its "massive estate car design was the most car-like 4x4" that "defined the boxy, macho shape" copied by others.[2] An overhead cam engine, along with independent front suspension (both later discontinued), supplemented with features unheard of in any other 4WD vehicle (including power steering and automatic transmission), made it revolutionary at the time. A solid front axle was available as well. Compared with offerings from International Harvester and Land Rover — which were producing utilitarian work-oriented vehicles that were quite spartan and truck-like on the inside — the Wagoneer was the first true luxury 4x4.[3] The Wagoneer is based on the Jeep SJ platform and debuted seven years (24 years in the United States) before Land Rover's Range Rover. It was also one of the last few vehicles sold in the United States (and the final SUV) whose engine still used a carburetor for fuel delivery, well after most other vehicles had switched to fuel injection. Only Isuzu with its base-model pickup truck would hold out longer, selling its last carbureted vehicle in 1993.

Its successor is the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The Willys and Kaiser years

Jeep Grand Wagoneer (SJ)
Also called Jeep Grand Wagoneer (1984-1991)
Jeep Aho (Iran, '67-'74)
Jeep Simorgh (Iran, '63-'67)[4]
Production 1963-1991
Assembly Toledo, Ohio
Tehran, Iran (Pars Khodro)
Body style(s) 2-door truck
2-door SUV
4-door SUV
Platform Jeep SJ platform
Engine(s) 230 cu in (3.8 L) Tornado I6
258 cu in (4.2 L) AMC I6
327 cu in (5.4 L) Vigilante V8
350 cu in (5.7 L) Buick Dauntless V8
360 cu in (5.9 L) AMC V8
401 cu in (6.6 L) AMC V8
Transmission(s) 3-speed manual
4-speed manual
3-speed GM THM400 automatic
3-speed Chrysler A727 automatic
Wheelbase 108.7 in (2,760 mm)
Length 186.4 in (4,730 mm)
Width 74.8 in (1,900 mm)
Height 66.4 in (1,690 mm)
Curb weight 4,514 lb (2,048 kg)
Related Jeep Gladiator
Jeep Honcho
Jeep Cherokee
Designer Brooks Stevens

Conceived in the early 1960s while Willys Motors was owned by Kaiser Industries, the Wagoneer replaced the original Jeep station wagon, which dated to 1946. With competition from the Big Three advancing on Jeep's four-wheel-drive market, Willys management decided that a new and more advanced vehicle was needed.

The new 1963 Wagoneer, like its long-lived predecessor (which would, in fact, be sold alongside its replacement in the U.S. until 1965), was designed by industrial designer Brooks Stevens. Willys' engineering staff, under the direction of A.C. Sampietro, handled the technical development. The cost of development was around US$20 million.[5]

The original Wagoneer was a full-size, body-on-frame vehicle which shared its architecture with the Jeep Gladiator pickup truck. It was originally available in two and four-door body styles, with the two-door also available as a panel truck with windowless sides behind the doors and double "barn doors" in the rear instead of the usual tailgate and roll-down rear window.

Early Wagoneers were powered by Willys' new "Tornado" SOHC 230 cu in (3.8 L) six-cylinder engine, which had debuted in 1962 as an option for Jeep's older-style station wagons. The engine developed 140 hp (104 kW) and was noted for being quite fuel-efficient for its day. However, the engine was not without its problems; cooling issues were fairly common. And, in higher-altitude locales, "pinging" was a problem, leading the company to introduce a lower-compression version of the Tornado that developed 133 hp (99 kW) for 1964.


In early 1963, Willys Motors changed its name to Kaiser Jeep Corporation. This was to associate Jeep in the public consciousness with Kaiser's family of companies, said company president Steven Girard.

There were few other changes for 1964, except for the option of factory-installed air conditioning.


Super Wagoneer

Late-year 1965 Wagoneers and Gladiator pickup trucks were available with the 250 hp (186 kW) 327 cu in (5.4 L) AMC V8 engine, which proved to be a popular option. Additionally, the Tornado engine was replaced by American Motors' 232 cu in (3.8 L) OHV inline six. According to the automotive press this engine was smooth, powerful, reliable and easily-maintained.[citation needed]

The 1966 model year also saw the introduction of the more luxurious Super Wagoneer, initially with a higher-performance 270 hp (201 kW) version of the AMC V8, fitted with a four-barrel carburetor. With comfort and convenience features not found on other vehicles of its type at the time - e.g. push-button radio, seven-position tilt steering wheel, ceiling courtesy lights, air conditioning, power tailgate, power brakes, power steering, and console-shifted TH400 automatic transmission – the Super Wagoneer is now widely regarded as the precursor of today's luxury SUVs. Production of the Super Wagoneer ended in 1969.


Two-wheel drive models, which the four-wheel-drives had outsold from the beginning, were discontinued after the 1967 model year, and at the end of 1968 the slow-selling two-door versions were also discontinued. For 1968 through 1971 Wagoneers were powered by Buick’s 350 cu in (5.7 L) 230 hp (172 kW) Dauntless V8. The Buick made less horsepower than the previous AMC V8 (230 hp vs. 250), but more torque at lower rpm (350 foot-pounds force (470 N·m) at 2400 rpm vs. 340 ft·lbf (460 N·m) at 2600), and it had 5 main bearings instead of the AMC’s 4.

After the 1971 model year, Wagoneers were exclusively AMC powered.

The AMC years

Jeep Grand Wagoneer

In early 1970 American Motors acquired Jeep and set about refining and upgrading the range. AMC also improved manufacturing efficiency and lowered costs by incorporating shared components such as engines. Reducing noise, vibration and harshness improved the Wagoneer driving experience.

The 1971 model year included a special "X-coded" model finished in Golden Lime with unique wood-grain side panels, numerous convenience features and power assists, that was priced $1,000 than the deluxe "Custom" model.[6]

After 1971, the outsourced Buick 350 was replaced by the 360 cu in (5.9 L) AMC V8, and later the 401 cu in (6.6 L) was made available. The innovative Quadra-Trac full-time four-wheel-drive system, which broadened the appeal of Jeep products to people who wanted four-wheel-drive traction without the inconvenience of a manual-shift transfer case and manual locking hubs, was introduced in 1973.

In 1974 AMC resurrected the two-door Wagoneer as the Cherokee. This replaced the Jeepster Commando, whose sales had not met expectations despite an extensive 1972 revamp. The Cherokee appealed to a younger market than the Wagoneer, which was regarded more as a family SUV.

There were few styling changes during this time. However after introducing the Cherokee, AMC began to move the Wagoneer upmarket, culminating in the 1978 Wagoneer Limited, which brought critical acclaim[citation needed] and high demand from a new market segment. The Limited, more luxuriously equipped than the earlier Super Wagoneer, offered Quadra-Trac, power disk brakes, air conditioning, power-adjustable bucket seats, power door locks, power windows, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, leather upholstery, plush carpeting, AM/FM/CB radio, leather-wrapped steering wheel, roof rack, forged aluminum wheels, and “wood grain” trim on the body sides. The 2-barrel, 360 cu in (5.9 L) AMC V8 engine was standard with a 4-barrel, 401 cu in (6.6 L) available at extra cost. Even though the US$10,500 suggested retail price was in luxury Cadillac territory,[citation needed] the Limited’s high-level specification attracted buyers and sales were strong with a total of 28,871 Wagoneers produced in 1978, and 27,437 in 1979.

With the V8s the primary choice among Wagoneer buyers, the 258 cu in (4.2 L) six-cylinder engine was dropped in the 1970s, only to return as an option when Jeep sales – particularly of the high-volume Cherokee – were hit by the 1979 fuel crisis. (The Wagoneer continued to sell relatively well after production dropped to 10,481 in 1980, but increased to 13,741 in 1981, 18,709 in 1982, and 18,478 in 1983.) When reintroduced, the engine came with manual transmission as standard equipment, but in 1983 automatic transmission with “Selec-Trac” four-wheel drive became standard. With this combination the Wagoneer achieved EPA fuel-consumption estimates of 18 mpg-US (13 L/100 km/22 mpg-imp) city and 25 mpg-US (9.4 L/100 km/30 mpg-imp) highway – outstanding for a full-size SUV.[7] This allowed the company to advertise good fuel mileage, although the more powerful 360 V8 remained popular with certain buyers despite its greater thirst for fuel.

In 1981, the Wagoneer line was expanded to three models. The Custom Wagoneer was the basic model, yet it included a 4-speed transmission, free-wheeling hubs, power steering and power front disc brakes, as well as passenger area carpeting. A new Brougham model added an upgraded interior trim that included woodgrain for the instrument cluster and horn cover, floor mats, power tailgate window, as well as the "Convenience" and "Light" Packages. The Brougham's exterior included a thin side body scuff moulding with a narrow woodgrain insert, roof rack, as well as bright door and quarter window frames, and a lower tailgate moulding. The Limited Wagoneer was the top-of-the line with standard Quadra-Trac, automatic transmission, air conditioning, tinted glass, power windows and door locks, cruise control, AM/FM stereo radio, extra quiet insulation, power six-way driver and passenger bucket seats with center armrest, upgraded door panels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, extra thick carpeting, and retractable cargo cover.

The basic "Custom" model was eliminated for 1983, and a new Select-Trac system became standard equipment. A dash-mounted control allowed the driver to change between two or four wheel drive. The switch activated a vacuum-activated spline clutch that was built into the front axle assembly.

The 1984 saw consolidation with the end of the Brougham model, while the Limited became the Grand Wagoneer. Thus, starting in 1984, only one fully-equipped version was available, and this would remain until the end of the Grand Wagoneer production under Chrysler. Production reached 20,019 in 1984 with just one version available.

An improved handling package was introduced in 1985 that incorporated a revised front sway bar, gas filled shock absorbers, and lower friction rear springs. A total of 17,814 Grand Wagoneers were built for 1985.

Starting in the 1986 model year, the Grand Wagoneer received a new four part front grill and a stand-up hood ornament. An updated audio system became a standard feature and a power sunroof installed by the now defunct American Sunroof Company, became a factory option. However, the most significant change was the installation of a fully revamped interior including a new dashpad, new instrumentation, new door panel design, a decorative tailgate "cap", shorter nap cut-pile carpeting, more modern headliner and visors, new leather seat cover designs and front seats that now featured adjustable headrests. Changes were made to the instrument panel that now featured square gauges, featured woodgrain overlays and contained an improved climate control system. A new two spoke steering wheel also included new stalks for the lights and wiper/washer controls on the column. The Select-Trac driveline gained a new Trac-Lok limited slip differential to send power to the wheel with the best traction. There were 17,254 Grand Wagoneers built in 1986.

The last model year developed under AMC, 1987, was also the 25th anniversary of the Wagoneer design. Standard equipment included the 360 cu in (5.9 L) V8 engine and self-sealing Michelin "Tru Seal" P235/75R 15 radial tires. The sound system included a new AM/FM electronically-tuned stereo with Dolby cassette and four Jensen speakers. The exterior featured revised woodgrained sides in English Walnut with new nameplates and V8 badges. On the inside were new tan or cordovan trims that replaced the honey and garnet colors, while the interior assist pulls on the door panels were removed. A combined 14,265 units were built by AMC and Chrysler for 1987.

XJ Wagoneer/Cherokee and the final years under AMC

Main article: Jeep Cherokee (XJ)

Jeep Wagoneer (XJ model)

The Wagoneer and Cherokee names were applied to the new, much-smaller and more fuel-efficient unibody XJ platform in 1984, but high demand prompted the company to keep the old SJ-body Wagoneer in production.

The full-sized Wagoneer Limited was renamed the Grand Wagoneer.

The XJ Wagoneer and Cherokee were basically identical, except that the Wagoneer had vertically stacked low and high beam headights with front turn signals moved behind the grille, and the woodgrain side panels of SJ tradition. In mid-1984, Jeep introduced a less expensive version of the Grand Wagoneer named the Wagoneer Custom without the simulated woodgrain exterior. Wheels were steel with hubcaps, and standard equipment was pared down. It had part-time four-wheel drive. Despite its lower price (US$15,995, about $3,000 less than the "Grand"), sales were poor.

The Grand Wagoneer remained "the gold standard of the SUV market" and it would continue in one version using the old SJ-body "for 1985 and beyond".[7]

The Chrysler years

1991 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

Chrysler bought out AMC on March 2, 1987. Despite its advancing age the Grand Wagoneer remained popular. Chrysler largely left it untouched over its few years overseeing Grand Wagoneer production from the final setup under AMC's watch, and even continued to build the Grand Wagoneer with the carbureted AMC V8 instead of its own (and, arguably, more modern) fuel-injected V8s. Year-to-year changes were minimal. At the time of Chrysler's purchase, customer demand for the Grand Wagoneers continued to be steady, and it was a very profitable model generating approximately five to six thousand dollars on each unit.[8]

The 1987-1991 model years "are considered the best of the breed" due to a number of upgrades. These include upgraded wood siding and modernized aluminum wheels that lost their gold colored inlays in favor of gunmetal grey metallic. All exterior colors were now applied in a two stage base/clearcoat system.

Finally, a number of further improvements were made for the 1989-1991 model year series including a quality replacement for the earlier, leak-prone air conditioning compressor, the addition of the visually identifiable rear wiper assembly, as well as a general improvement in fit and finish. An interior overhead console, taken from Chrysler's popular minivans, was also added. This functional console featured much brighter map lights, an outside temperature sensor and compass, and an infrared remote-controlled key-less entry system.

The last model years also featured new paint colors. These "new" colors included the rare Hunter Green metallic that was only available in the 1991 model year and is the paint color of the 91 Grand Wagoneer in the Chrysler museum, as well as the color of the very last Grand Wagoneer ever made, which was a significant part of the historic collection at the National Automobile museum.

End of the line

The Grand Wagoneer enjoyed one of the longest production runs of any Jeep vehicle.[9] The powerful V8 engine and high towing capacity made the Grand Wagoneer popular among its many repeat buyers, and as of 1991, it was the longest domestically produced vehicle (29 years) on the same platform.[1]

A total of 1,560 SJ Grand Wagoneers were produced in the 1991 model year. Owners had the option of having a "Final Edition Jeep Grand Wagoneer" badge on the dashboard.[10]

The very last Grand Wagoneer ever produced rolled off of Chrysler's Toledo assembly line on June 21, 1991,[11][12][13] as documented in official correspondence between the general manager of Chrysler's Jeep division with the National Automobile Museum, where this very special Jeep was displayed until 2004[14] before being purchased by a private collector. This Hunter Green metallic with Dark Sand tan leather Jeep's status as the official "last Grand Wagoneer" can also be verified by the fact that it bears the last (highest) Vehicle Identification Number (serial number) in the series. It was used for several Jeep and Chrysler promotional events in the second half of 1991 culminating in an honorary parade in Reno, Nevada, on November 14 of that year, that commemorated the Chrysler corporation's transfer to the museum collection. Larry Baker, general manager of the Jeep/Eagle Division of Chrysler Corporation observed "Jeep celebrates its 50th anniversary in 1991 and the Grand Wagoneer has been the flagship of the Jeep brand for much of that history".

The 1987-1991 models years "are considered the best of the breed and still have a loyal following among a select group".[10]

ZJ Grand Wagoneer

Jeep Grand Wagoneer (ZJ model)

For 1993 Chrysler prepared the Jeep Grand Cherokee (originally designed by AMC) to replace both the discontinued flagship model and the smaller Cherokee. The completely new design had been delayed following Chrysler's purchase of AMC so Chrysler could redesign its hot-selling minivans for 1991.[15]

However, the Cherokee and Grand Wagoneer were still popular. Chrysler decided that the compact Cherokee could be kept viable with minor updates, whereas the cost of updating the full-sized Grand Wagoneer would be too great.

Replacing the traditional Grand Wagoneer with a modern vehicle that was intended to retain the model's loyal buyers, Chrysler introduced the compact Grand Wagoneer ZJ in 1993. It was based on the new Grand Cherokee.

Powered by Chrysler's 220 hp (164 kW) 318 cu in (5.2 L) "Magnum" V8 engine, the ZJ had model-specific woodgrain trim, model-specific, extra-padded leather seating and extra sound-deadening all standard. Jeep's 4WD "Quadra-trac" system was also standard. But it was smaller, offered less interior space, and lacked the familiar road presence of the original. Despite excellent reviews from many publications, sales did not warrant a return of the Grand Wagoneer for the 1994 model year, and thus the ZJ Grand Wagoneer was a one-year only offering.


The Wagoneer was occasionally used in rallying, mainly in the United States. Wagoneers placed first and second in the first-ever running of the Sno*Drift rally in 1973.Sno*Drift Results 1973-1978

The Jeep Cherokee XJ 84-01 models have their own mild modification desert racing class "Jeepspeed 1". The "Jeepspeed 2" desert racing class includes the ZJ and WJ Grand Cherokees. For race schedules see

A Grand Wagoneer also competed in the 9,000-mile 1988 Trans-Amazon Rally.

Around the world

In Finland, starting in the late-1970s, Wagoneers were usually sold with a Valmet 411 Diesel engine (4.4 Litres Max. power 82 hp (61 kW) DIN at 2200 rpm, torque 306 N·m (226 ft·lbf) DIN at 1460 rpm). Typical mileage with this engine was around 29 mpg-US (8.11 L/100 km/34.83 mpg-imp), and if a turbo was installed by the owner, mileage improved even more to 8 L/100 km (35.31 mpg-imp/29.40 mpg-US).

Possible revival

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne announced at the January 2011 North American International Auto Show held in Detroit, that the Grand Wagoneer name will be revived for an "upper-scale" 7-seat SUV to be introduced January 2013.[16]

See also


Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses some content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Jeep Wagoneer. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons by Attribution License and/or GNU Free Documentation License. Please check page history for when the original article was copied to Wikia

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Grand Wagoneer", Road & Track 43: 214. 1992. 
  2. Lewin, Tony (2003). How to Design Cars Like a Pro: A Comprehensive Guide to Car Design from the Top Professionals. MotorBooks/MBI Publishing Company, 191. ISBN 9780760316412. Retrieved on 2010-01-13. 
  3. Truesdell, Richard "Move Over, Range Rover", 2004-08-31, retrieved on 2009-08-14.
  5. History of the Wagoneer[dead link]
  6. Allen, Jim (2004). Jeep: Collector's Library. MBI Publishing Company, 155. ISBN 9780760319796. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "1980-1989 Jeep Wagoneer" the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, 2007-08-29, retrieved on 2009-08-14.
  8. Dunne, Jim (October 1987), "What will Chrysler Do With All Those Chips?", Popular Mechanics 164(10): 54, Retrieved on . 
  9. Statham, Steve (2001). Jeep. MotorBooks International, 76. ISBN 9780760310069. Retrieved on 9 September 2010. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Allen, Jim (2004). Jeep. MotorBooks International, 166. ISBN 9780760319796. Retrieved on 9 September 2010. 
  11. "Museum gets last Grand Wagoneer" (July 24, 1991), p. 32. 
  12. Christenson, Wayne (December 1991), "The Last Wagoneer", Four Wheeler: 62–66. 
  13. Ford, Vikki (November 1991), "The Last Grand Wagoneer Marks the End of an Era", Journal of the National Automotive Museum: 1–2. 
  14. "Last Jeep Grand Wagoneer will Reside at the National Automobile Museum", Journal of the National Automobile Museum: 2. November 14, 1991. 
  15. Foster, Patrick R. (2004). The Story of Jeep. Krause Publications, 221. ISBN 9780873497350. Retrieved on 28 July 2010. 
  16. Wernle, Bradford (10 January 2011). "Jeep to dust off Grand Wagoneer name for 7-seat SUV". Retrieved on 10 January 2011. 

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