20 Facts about the Classic Jeep Grand Wagoneer
In production for nearly 30 years, the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer had secured a place in the SUV pantheon, and despite its absence from the Jeep lineup for an even longer period of time, its absence was still very readily felt by fans of the original. As a new Jeep model dawns, it’s time to take a look back at the history of the original, which spanned 28 years and three corporate parents.
Jeep began designing the vehicle that would become the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer in the early 1960s, when the company was owned by Kaiser. But even before the Wagoneer began taking shape, Jeep had been working in the direction of fielding a family-friendly station wagon, as exemplified by the Jeep Model 463 Station Wagon. The Wagoneer was, in spirit, essentially a scaled up and updated post-war Jeep model with more luxury in mind.
The first-generation Wagoneer was shown in production form in October 1962, and went on sale as 1963 model. The first-gen model was designed by Brooks Stevens, and was powered by a 3.8-liter Tornado six-cylinder engine, good for 140 hp. The debut model was also offered as a panel van.
True to its aim of offering everyday driving comfort, the Wagoneer featured an independent front suspension setup — also a first for a 4×4 vehicle. The model pictured here is a 1965.
The first-generation Wagoneer was the first four-wheel drive vehicle to offer an automatic transmission, though a three-speed manual was also on the menu. The model pictured here is a 1965.
Rear-wheel drive models were offered only until 1969. All subsequent Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer models were four-wheel drive. But the independent front suspension was also discontinued after a few years. The model pictured here is a 1970.
For a time, Jeep used Buick’s 5.7-liter, 350-cu-in V8 in the Wagoneer, good for 230 hp. This engine was offered from 1968 through 1971. After that, Jeep switched to AMC 5.9- and 6.6-liter V8s. The model pictured here is a 1973.
The same year the first-generation Wagoneer was introduced, the platform and powertrain was also used for the Gladiator pickup truck, which was available with a number of bed styles in addition to a chassis cab form. With a number of changes the Gladiator trucks stayed in production until 1987, even though the Gladiator name itself was dropped in 1971.
A 5.4-liter V8 arrived late in 1965, good for 250 hp. The same year a 3.8-liter inline-six arrived, replacing the Tornado engine. The model pictured here is a 1966.
The Wagoneer was given a new, more car-like grille in 1966 and a Super Wagoneer trim name. This model introduced a number of car-like luxury features, including power brakes, tilt-adjustable steering and map lights. The Super Wagoneer name itself only lasted through the 1969 model year.
The two-door version was offered until 1968, having been dropped due to the higher popularity of the four-door model. The model pictured here is a 1974.
The 1970 model year saw a new grille design once again, trading the narrow-frame, vertical chrome slat grille of the debut model and the wide grille of the Super Wagoneer for a new egg-crate pattern, this time made out of plastic. This look lasted for quite some time. The model pictured here is a 1976.
In 1972 Quadra-Trac was introduced as a more user-friendly four-wheel drive system, replacing the locking hubs and manual transfer case of earlier Wagoneers. The model seen here is a 1976.
The two-door Wagoneer model returned under the Cherokee badge in 1974, featuring a redesigned greenhouse with longer side windows. The Cherokee was meant to be a more rugged, adventure-oriented model that the Jeep range still needed, distancing itself a bit from the four-door comforts of the Wagoneer.
The Wagoneer Limited arrived in 1978 as a luxury model, combining a number of top-tier features including power seats, air conditioning, more sound insulation, automatic transmission, cruise control, power windows and other features. The model pictured here is a 1978.
The Wagoneer was renamed the Grand Wagoneer when the XJ Cherokee was introduced in 1984, and featured a variant badged Wagoneer with woodgrain siding, as a smaller and less expensive model. The model pictured here is a 1984.
The biggest V8 ever offered in the Wagoneer was AMC’s 6.6-liter, 401-cu-in unit. But it was a pricey option in the 1970s, and a 5.9-liter AMC V8 was much more common. The model pictured here is a 1983.
A budget trim called the Wagoneer Custom was introduced in 1983 that sought to dial back some of the features, including the woodgrain vinyl exterior elements, in order to drive the price down. It proved unpopular and was dropped very quickly. The model pictured here is a regular 1983 Wagoneer.
Chrysler acquired Jeep in 1987, becoming the marque’s third corporate owner during the production of the Grand Wagoneer, which turned 25 during the same year. The year before the model was given a few updates by AMC, including yet another new grille design. Under Chrysler, Jeep kept updating the Grand Wagoneer using equipment from Chrysler’s parts bin. The model pictured here is a 1983.
During its last few years on the market sales of the Grand Wagoneer were still relatively strong. In 1984 Jeep sold 19,081 units, and sales slowly descended down to 10,715 for 1989. The model pictured here is a 1984.
1991 was the last model year for the Grand Wagoneer, concluding a remarkable 28-year run. The last few years of production are very well regarded by collectors, as they featured a number of mechanical improvements and the most lavish options.
After the Grand Wagoneer exited production after the 1991 model year, Jeep tried to offer a version of the new Grand Cherokee badged as the Grand Wagoneer for 1993 with woodgrain elements. That Grand Wagoneer lasted only one model year. The model pictured here is a 1989.
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