A bright spot for American Motors
I remember my dad, who worked at the National Parts Distribution Center in Milwaukee, came home one day in February 1970 and told me the big news that AMC had bought Jeep. I was probably just as excited as he was knowing that we would soon be having Jeeps show up in our driveway. One that I remember most is a 1980 Jeep Grand Cherokee Golden Hawk just like this one that recently sold on Bring A Trailer. Not only did this give the middle finger to Wisconsin winters, but it also looked cool. This was the 2-door SJ Cherokee introduced in 1975 and geared towards the sporty buyers. I used to have a 1974 sales brochure and remember the term “Sport Utility Vehicle” used for the first time. What separated this from the base
Cherokee was the graphics and not much else except a denim cloth interior, gold-colored wheels, and a black brush guard. This is what AMC was known for, taking a base vehicle and making it special. They also offered the package on the smaller CJ’s.
The Jeep could be ordered with one of four engines throughout its 9-year run, the base 258 cu in inline 6 with just 110 hp, a 360 cu in V8, with either a 2, (175 hp) or 4-barrel carb (195 hp), and AMC’s biggest engine ever, the 401 with 215 hp making it at the time the fastest SUV made.
It’s the bird on the hood that makes this SJ valuable
This special trim was only available from 1980 to 1983 and is different from the Golden Eagle trim. I know, hawk, eagle, hey, they’re both birds, right? Sales numbers are tough to find and impossible for SJ’s with this trim package but they rarely come up for sale. An SJ this year without the trim package and the 360 V8 according to Hemmings in fair condition goes for $6,000, Good at $10,800, Excellent $16,300, and Concours, $26,900. Prices have been slowly trending up. This survivor example blew past that selling for $29,250!
Grand Wagoneers are also increasing in popularity
When introduced in 1984 the Jeep Grand Wagoneer was way ahead of the curve as far as luxury SUVs go. Standard equipment included 15″ alloy wheels, AM/FM stereo with cassette player, four AccuSound by Jensen premium speakers, air conditioning and heater with manual controls, dual front power bucket seats, leather-wrapped two-spoke steering wheel, leather and velour seating surfaces, power windows and door locks, and let’s not forget the faux wood body side vinyl wood appliques.
It only got 11 miles per gallon but its powerful 5.9-liter V8 engine could pull a house. It was popular because it had four doors instead of two like most of its competitors. By 1991, the year Chrysler, who had bought Jeep from AMC, discontinued production. At 29 years it was the longest-running domestically produced vehicle on the same platform.
This past weekend this one-owner 1989 Grand Wagoneer went way past the typical top-end value and was sold for $110,000 at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, AZ. This was super-clean and like the Golden Hawk, a survivor with less than 8,000 miles.
But you don’t have to sell a kidney, or another body part, to buy a really nice Grand Wagoneer. There are still deals to be had for around $20,000. Values are trending up so you could drive it for a while and then a couple of years down the road sell it for a profit.
Enter the Hemi
Or, you could put a Hemi in it. Hemi’s have been installed in just about any MoPar you can imagine, including Jeeps. Black Mountain Jeep, located near Dallas, TX is an aftermarket shop that specializes in the older Jeeps. It’s owner, Dennis Collins knows Jeeps so he took
this 1989 Grand Wagoneer and gave it a lot more umph by transplanting it’s 360 with a supercharged 6.2 L Hellcat V8 crate motor making 707 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque.
In this first video, Dennis will talk about what he looks for in a conversion candidate and what he does to the Jeep besides putting the Hemi in it and why he did it.
Now hop in and go for a ride.
Grand Wagoneers like this is in a league by themselves. Not only do you have the benchmark for luxury SUVs, now you have one with tons of power and an awesome sound. I can’t wait to see when the new ones come off the assembly line later this year in Detroit.