1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer 2017-11-17T10:04:37+00:00

Project Description

OVERVIEW

If you grew up watching The Simpsons, you might remember a fictional SUV called “The Canyonero”. For those that don’t recall, it was the truck with four-wheel drive, smells like a steak and seats thirty-five. Twelve yards long and two lanes wide, 65 tons of American pride. You know, that one. While we’re not trying to say the Jeep Grand Wagoneer exemplifies all of those things, it’s not too far off. It doesn’t get much more classically American than this.

Driving the Grand Wagoneer, you feel as though you can go anywhere, like you’re being led down the road by a flock of bald eagles. Okay, so the experience might not be quite that majestic, but you do feel a commanding sense of confidence from behind the wheel of this tank. Everything has a solid, no-nonsense feel to it and the overall package is much better than you may initially suspect for a vehicle built in the ‘80s. The seats are plush and supportive, allowing you to relax and focus on lumbering along down the road or trail. This is what Clark Griswold should’ve been driving on all those family vacations.

The 5.9L V8 engine in the Grand Wagoneer is definitely a workhorse. Despite the large displacement however, it makes less horsepower than a modern Mazda Miata. Despite that, the Wagoneer feels plenty powerful, wafting you along in a wave of torque. And while it may offer less horsepower than the Miata, it would do a fine job of towing one just about anywhere.

OVERVIEW

If you grew up watching The Simpsons, you might remember a fictional SUV called “The Canyonero”. For those that don’t recall, it was the truck with four-wheel drive, smells like a steak and seats thirty-five. Twelve yards long and two lanes wide, 65 tons of American pride. You know, that one. While we’re not trying to say the Jeep Grand Wagoneer exemplifies all of those things, it’s not too far off. It doesn’t get much more classically American than this.

Driving the Grand Wagoneer, you feel as though you can go anywhere, like you’re being led down the road by a flock of bald eagles. Okay, so the experience might not be quite that majestic, but you do feel a commanding sense of confidence from behind the wheel of this tank. Everything has a solid, no-nonsense feel to it and the overall package is much better than you may initially suspect for a vehicle built in the ‘80s. The seats are plush and supportive, allowing you to relax and focus on lumbering along down the road or trail. This is what Clark Griswold should’ve been driving on all those family vacations.

The 5.9L V8 engine in the Grand Wagoneer is definitely a workhorse. Despite the large displacement however, it makes less horsepower than a modern Mazda Miata. Despite that, the Wagoneer feels plenty powerful, wafting you along in a wave of torque. And while it may offer less horsepower than the Miata, it would do a fine job of towing one just about anywhere.

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A LOOK IN THE REAR VIEW

In a way, the Grand Wagoneer was already vintage when the 1986 models were introduced. Designed by Brooks Stevens and engineered by A.C. Sampietro, the Wagoneer was first built by Willys Jeep in 1962 (as a 1963 model-year vehicle; the company name changed to Kaiser Jeep a few months after the Wagoneer’s introduction). Over the following few decades, the Wagoneer would continue production under AMC and give birth to the SJ Cherokee offshoot. The “Grand” in Grand Wagoneer came along in 1984, when the Cherokee moved to the downsized XJ platform, taking the regular Wagoneer name with it.

Despite the name change and the introduction of the smaller, less expensive XJ Cherokee (at about $21,000, the Grand Wagoneer cost nearly double the XJ Cherokee), sales of the Grand Wagoneer soldiered on through the late 1980s. It remained a body-on-frame four-wheel-drive vehicle (sold and classified as a station wagon) powered by the standard 115hp 258-cu.in. straight-six and optional 129hp 360-cu.in. V-8, both engines carbureted. For 1986, Jeep did freshen the Grand Wagoneer – slightly – with a new grille, stand-up hood ornament and revised dashboard and instrument cluster. Aside from the V-8 becoming the standard engine the next year that is essentially how the Grand Wagoneers would remain through the end of their run in 1991.

A LOOK IN THE REAR VIEW

In a way, the Grand Wagoneer was already vintage when the 1986 models were introduced. Designed by Brooks Stevens and engineered by A.C. Sampietro, the Wagoneer was first built by Willys Jeep in 1962 (as a 1963 model-year vehicle; the company name changed to Kaiser Jeep a few months after the Wagoneer’s introduction). Over the following few decades, the Wagoneer would continue production under AMC and give birth to the SJ Cherokee offshoot. The “Grand” in Grand Wagoneer came along in 1984, when the Cherokee moved to the downsized XJ platform, taking the regular Wagoneer name with it.

Despite the name change and the introduction of the smaller, less expensive XJ Cherokee (at about $21,000, the Grand Wagoneer cost nearly double the XJ Cherokee), sales of the Grand Wagoneer soldiered on through the late 1980s. It remained a body-on-frame four-wheel-drive vehicle (sold and classified as a station wagon) powered by the standard 115hp 258-cu.in. straight-six and optional 129hp 360-cu.in. V-8, both engines carbureted. For 1986, Jeep did freshen the Grand Wagoneer – slightly – with a new grille, stand-up hood ornament and revised dashboard and instrument cluster. Aside from the V-8 becoming the standard engine the next year that is essentially how the Grand Wagoneers would remain through the end of their run in 1991.

WORD ON THE STREET

“Just for a minute, let’s think back to 1983. A time before crossovers ruled the roads. A time before “sport utility vehicle” was a common term. Back when Jeep was owned by AMC, and the term was “four-wheel-drive station wagon.

That was the time when the Jeep Wagoneer was king. It was as big, powerful, luxurious, and expensive as you could want. As John Davis put it in his original Motorweek review, if you had a pressing social engagement at an elite resort tucked away in the woods, but the main road was washed away by an unscheduled monsoon or maybe a blitzing blizzard, nothing could deliver you there in more style than a Jeep Wagoneer.”

Colin Woodard, Road and Track

“The Jeep Grand Wagoneer was the world’s first luxury SUV. Lined with plush leather, thick carpeting, a cushy ride, a fancy stereo, and power-operated everything—doors, seats, windows, even the tailgate glass—it was capable of transforming, at the flick of a switch, from an insulated freeway cruiser to an all-wheel-drive snow- and mud-conquering monster. The stylish family car was not only a prescient innovator in the marketplace, carving out space for players such as Land Rover’s Range Rover, but it also had something for everyone.”

Brett Berk, Bloomberg

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