Saturday 25 July 2015
The Jeep Wagoneer is the first luxury 4x4, sold and produced through numerous marques from 1963 to 1991. A "sport utility vehicle" (SUV) for decades before the term was even coined, the 4WD Wagoneer saw only minor mechanical changes during its 28-year plus production run, the third longest in U.S. automotive history.
Introduced as a successor to the Willys Jeep Station Wagon that had been built since the end of World War II, the Wagoneer pioneered the sport utility vehicle concept. In spite of its pickup truck chassis and boxy shape it was more carlike than any 4x4 on the market. Compared with offerings from General Motors, International Harvester, and Land Rover — which were producing utilitarian work-oriented vehicles with spartan truck-like interiors — the Wagoneer's luxury set it apart. Based on the Jeep SJ platform, the revolutionary Wagoneer sported an advanced overhead cam straight-six engine, and offered features unheard of at the time in any other mainstream 4WD vehicle, such as an independent front suspension, power steering, and automatic transmission.
The Wagoneer made its debut seven years before Land Rover launched its Range Rover in Great Britain, and 24 years before that upscale marque appeared in the United States. It was succeeded by the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
In early 1970 AMC acquired Kaiser Jeep Corporation and set about refining and upgrading the range. American Motors 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 more than the deluxe "custom" model.
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 other than a new one piece plastic grill and one piece aluminum bumpers introduced in 1979, design changes that were also shared with the Cherokee. After the introduction of the Cherokee, AMC began to move the Wagoneer upmarket, and that brought 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 two-barrel, 360 cu in (5.9 L) AMC V8 engine was standard with a four-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, 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 energy 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 a manual transmission as standard equipment, but in 1983, automatic transmissions 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. 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 four-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 Wagoneer Limited 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- and 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 grille and a stand-up hood ornament. An updated audio system became a standard feature and a power sunroof installed by American Sunroof Corporation, 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, shorter nap cut-pile carpeting, 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 and 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.
- engine: V8
- capacity: 5400 cc
- horsepower: 230 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 160 km/h