Car Spot: It set the bar for luxo SUV

The Jeep Grand Wagoneer is still grand

I’m a huge Jeep guy. I’ve driven and/or owned them for over 30 years. My love affair began when I was fresh out of school TV news reporter in Cedar Rapids, IA and I drove was a 1977 Cherokee Chief (SJ). The other TV stations only had passenger cars so if there was any snow on the ground or any reason to go off-road (sometimes I made them up) they were left behind. My love affair was solidified because my dad worked for American Motors who bought Jeep in 1970 and besides Hornets, Javelins, Matadors, and Gremlins, there were Jeeps in the driveway. The one I remember most was a Grand Wagoneer similar to the one pictured below.

Photo: Jeep

AMC decided to take the Grand Waggy (as it’s affectionately known by fans) and open an entirely new market, luxury SUV’s. So they took this aging platform that had been around since the 60s and loaded it up. It was introduced in 1984. Most examples were powered by AMC’s 360 V-8 and later 401 a 5.9-liter V-8 good for 140 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive, power everything including the rear tailgate window, leather all around, and carpeting you could bury your toes in. The asking price for all of this was just under $19,000. Just think what that buys you now. Pretty much a tin can with wheels. Nobody in the market had anything like this and its sales were solid but all this fun came to an end after Chrysler purchased AMC in 1987 and discontinued the Grand Waggy in 1991.

This 1987 lives at the Automobile Gallery in Green Bay, WI, and is run by friend Darrel Burnett. It was purchased by founder William “Red” Lewis. It is beyond mint-like most of the cars Red bought and are displayed in the museum. There is not a spot of rust on it and the interior looks just like the day Red took delivery.

Today, even with the intro of the new Grand Wagoneer, it remains in a class of one and is being rediscovered by a new generation of fans. You can find these all over places like BaT ranging in prices from the mid-20s to 50 ish. Some are commanding crazy six-figure pricing at the auctions.

RELATED VIDEO: See my first impression of the new Grand Wagoneer.

I got the bug after seeing this example. I tried to buy it off Darrel but Darrell politely declined. He told me others have asked too. I started doing some research and found that by buying an affordable one you can later sell it without losing money.

RELATED POST: See the other classic Jeep at the museum.

Ah but found it’s probably not a good daily driver. It gets crappy gas mpg, around 10, and the carbureted engine is sometimes finicky. Because of that many are converted to fuel injection. Still, with all of its quirkiness, I want one of these badly. Dealbreaker is my wife who won’t drive a car without all the safety stuff they have on vehicles now.

The Jeep Grand Wagoneer may have demonstrated the extreme profitability of the luxo-truck concept, but with a few exceptions, it remains in a class of one. Unduplicated even decades later, it is now being rediscovered by a new generation of fans seeking a classic respite from the same/same people movers sitting on dealer lots across the country.

Be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots. Have a great weekend.

One thought on “Car Spot: It set the bar for luxo SUV”

  1. Great story thanks Paul!! I worked for Land Rover for almost 15 years and I sold Land and Range Rovers when the RR was only 3 door and V8 petrol and the fuel consumption was AWFUL, especially when the 3 speed auto was introduced. GREAT fun and very capable off road tho….

    Liked by 1 person

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