Jeep Wagoneer (SJ)

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Jeep Wagoneer
Jeep Grand Wagoneer 001.JPG
Also called
  • Jeep Grand Wagoneer (1984–1991)
  • Jeep Simorgh (Iran, 1963–1967)
  • Jeep Ahoo (Iran, 1967–1974)[1]
Production 1962–June 1991
Model years 1963-1991
Designer Brooks Stevens
Body and chassis
Class Full-size SUV (1963–1991)
Body style
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
Platform Full size (SJ) Jeep platform
Wheelbase 110 in (2,794 mm)[3]
Length 186.4 in (4,735 mm)
Width 74.8 in (1,900 mm)
Height 66.4 in (1,687 mm)
Curb weight 4,514 lb (2,048 kg)
Predecessor Willys Jeep Station Wagon
Successor Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Jeep Wagoneer is the first luxury 4x4, sold and produced for Jeep through numerous marques from 1963 to 1991.[4] 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.[5]

Introduced in November 1962 (1963 model year) 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.[6] 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,[7] power steering, and automatic transmission.[8][9]

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 replaced by the smaller Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The Arnolds and Kaiser years[edit]

With competition from the "big three" advancing on Jeep's four-wheel-drive market, Willys management decided that a new and more advanced vehicle was needed. Conceived in the early 1960s while Willys-Overland Motors was owned by Kaiser Jeep Corporation, the Wagoneer replaced the original Willys Jeep Station Wagon, which dated to 1946 and remained in production until 1965.

Like its long-lived predecessor, the new 1963 Wagoneer took shape under industrial designer Brooks Stevens. Willys' engineering staff handled the technical development. The cost of development was around US$20 million.[10]

1967 Jeep Wagoneer

The original Wagoneer was a full-size body-on-frame vehicle which shared its architecture with the Jeep Gladiator pickup truck. It was originally available in two- and four-door body styles, with the two-door wagon available as a "Panel Delivery" model with windowless sides behind the doors and double "barn doors" in the rear instead of the usual tailgate and roll-down rear window.

Early Wagoneers were powered by Willys' new "Tornado" SOHC 230 cu in (3.8 L) six-cylinder engine, which had debuted in 1962 as an option for Jeep's older-style station wagons. The engine developed 140 hp (104 kW; 142 PS) and was noted for being quite fuel-efficient for its day. However, it was known for cooling issues and "pinging" at altitude, leading the company to introduce a lower-compression 133 hp (99 kW; 135 PS) Tornado in 1964.


In early 1963, Willys Motors changed its name to "Kaiser Jeep Corporation".

A compass was standard equipment on all Wagoneers while seat belts were optional.[2][11] Warn hubs were utilized to engage or disengage front wheels and drive train while in two-wheel drive mode. A four-wheel-drive independent front suspension was $135 extra replacing the standard Dana 27AF solid front axle, and this option was supposed to offer the Wagoneer more car-like handling and ride.[12] This was a single pivot front axle design that allowed the differential to swing with curb-side half while short upper A-arms tie into torsion bars at their inner pivot points and the axles are located fore and aft by control links.[11]

There were few other changes for 1964, except for optional factory-installed air conditioning.


Super Wagoneer interior

Late-year 1965 Wagoneers and Gladiator pickup trucks were available with the 250 hp (186 kW; 253 PS) 327 cu in (5.4 L) AMC V8 engine, which proved to be a popular option. Additionally, the Tornado engine was replaced by American Motors' 232 cu in (3.8 L) OHV inline six. According to the automotive press this engine was smooth, powerful, reliable and easily maintained.[citation needed]

The independent front suspension option was not popular and was deleted for 1965.[12] Brakes were 11-inch drums on the front and rear axles.[13]

Wagoneers received a new front end (with eggcrate grille) for 1966. The 1966 model year also saw the introduction of the more luxurious Super Wagoneer, initially with a higher-performance 270 hp (201 kW; 274 PS) version of the AMC V8, fitted with a four-barrel carburetor. With comfort and convenience features not standard on other vehicles of its type at the time - e.g. push-button radio, seven-position tilt steering wheel, ceiling courtesy lights, air conditioning, power tailgate, power brakes, power steering, and console-shifted TH400 automatic transmission – the Super Wagoneer is now widely regarded as the precursor of today's luxury SUVs. Production of the Super Wagoneer ended in 1969. As few as 1,200 Super Wagoneers were produced.


Two-wheel drive models, which the four-wheel drives had outsold from the beginning, were discontinued after the 1967 model year, and at the end of 1968, the slow-selling two-door versions were also discontinued.

For 1968 through 1971, Wagoneers were powered by Buick’s 350 cu in (5.7 L) 230 hp (172 kW; 233 PS) Dauntless V8. The Dauntless made less horsepower than the previous AMC V8 (230 hp vs. 250), but more torque at lower rpm (350 ft·lbf (475 N·m) at 2400 rpm versus 340 ft·lbf (461 N·m) at 2600).

After the 1971 model year, Wagoneers were exclusively AMC powered.

The AMC years[edit]

1970s Jeep Wagoneer

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.[14]

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,[15] 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.[16] 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.

Jeep Grand Wagoneer, post-1988 model with rear wiper
1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer
1986 standard leather and corduroy upholstery

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.

Jeep Wagoneer (Ahoo), Iran, Persian assembled

The last model year developed under AMC, 1987, was also the 25th anniversary of the Wagoneer design. Standard equipment included the 360 cu in (5.9 L) V8 engine and self-sealing Michelin "Tru Seal" P235/75R 15 radial tires. The sound system included a new AM/FM electronically tuned stereo with Dolby cassette and four Jensen speakers. The exterior featured revised woodgrained sides in "marine teak" with new nameplates and V8 badges. On the inside were new tan or cordovan trims that replaced the honey and garnet colors, while the interior assist pulls on the door panels were removed. A combined 14,265 units were built by AMC and Chrysler for 1987.

Standard equipment for late Grand Wagoneers included:

  • -15" all-season radial tires
  • -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 steering wheel
  • -Leather and velour seating surfaces
  • -Digital quartz dashboard clock
  • -Full-size glove box
  • -Roof rack with roof rails
  • -Chrome front grille with hood ornament
  • -Front fog driving lamps
  • -Power windows and power door locks
  • -Adjustable tilt steering column
  • -Dual-note high-low-pitch horn
  • -Power rear hatch window
  • -Tinted windows
  • -Faux wood body side vinyl wood appliques

The final years under AMC[edit]

In 1984, AMC replaced the SJ-body Cherokee with the new, smaller and more fuel-efficient unibody Jeep Cherokee (XJ), but high demand prompted the company to keep the old SJ-body Wagoneer in production. The Wagoneer Limited was renamed the "Grand Wagoneer" and, in mid-1984, Jeep introduced a less expensive version of the Grand Wagoneer named the Wagoneer Custom without the simulated woodgrain exterior. Wheels were steel with hubcaps, and standard equipment was pared down. It had part-time four-wheel drive. Despite its lower price (US$15,995, about $3,000 less than the "Grand"), sales were poor.

The Grand Wagoneer remained "the gold standard of the SUV market" and it would continue in one version using the old SJ-body for 1985 and beyond.[16]

The Chrysler years[edit]

1991 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

Chrysler bought out American Motors on March 2, 1987. Despite its advancing age the Grand Wagoneer remained popular. Chrysler largely left it untouched over its few years overseeing Grand Wagoneer production from the final setup under AMC's watch, and even continued to build the Grand Wagoneer with the carbureted AMC V8 instead of its own (and, arguably, more modern) fuel-injected V8. Year-to-year changes were minimal. At the time of Chrysler's purchase, customer demand for the Grand Wagoneers continued to be steady, and it was a very profitable model generating approximately five to six thousand dollars on each unit.[17]

The 1987–1991 model years are considered the "best of the breed" due to a number of upgrades. These include upgraded wood siding and modernized aluminum wheels that lost their gold colored inlays in favor of gunmetal grey metallic. All exterior colors were now applied in a two-stage base-clearcoat system.

Finally, a number of further improvements were made for the 1989–1991 model year series including a quality replacement for the earlier, leak-prone air conditioning compressor, the addition of the visually identifiable rear wiper assembly, as well as a general improvement in fit and finish. An interior overhead console, taken from Chrysler's popular minivans, was also added. This functional console featured much brighter map lights, an outside temperature sensor and compass, and an infrared remote-controlled key-less entry system.

The last model years also featured new paint colors. These "new" colors included the rare hunter green metallic that was only available in the 1991 model year and is the paint color of the 1991 Grand Wagoneer in the Chrysler museum, as well as the color of the very last Grand Wagoneer ever made, which was a significant part of the historic collection at the National Automobile Museum.

End of the line[edit]

Late 80s Grand Wagoneer seen in 2014

The Grand Wagoneer enjoyed one of the longest production runs of any vehicle.[18] The powerful V8 engine and high towing capacity made the Grand Wagoneer popular among its many repeat buyers, and by 1991, it was the longest domestically produced vehicle (29 years) on the same platform.[5] The 1987–1991 models years are considered "the best of the breed and still have a loyal following among a select group".[19] Late model low mileage Grand Wagoneers have become highly collectable with some vehicles selling for more than their original sticker price over two decades after they rolled off the assembly line.

A total of 1,560 SJ Grand Wagoneers were produced in the 1991 model year. Owners had the option of having a "Final Edition Jeep Grand Wagoneer" badge on the dashboard.[19]

The last Grand Wagoneer produced rolled out of Chrysler's Toledo Assembly Plant on June 21, 1991.[20][21][22]


The Wagoneer was occasionally used in rallying, mainly in the United States. Wagoneers placed first and second in the first-ever running of the Sno*Drift rally in 1973.[23]

The Jeep Cherokee XJ 1984–2001 models have their own mild modification desert racing class "Jeepspeed 1". The "Jeepspeed 2" desert racing class includes the ZJ and WJ Grand Cherokees.

A Grand Wagoneer also competed in the 9,000-mile 1988 Trans-Amazon Rally.[24]


Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne announced at the January 2011 North American International Auto Show held in Detroit, that the Grand Wagoneer name was to be revived for an "upper-scale" seven-seat SUV, which he said would be introduced in 2013.[25] In February 2013, the Jeep product planning team took a research trip to Wagonmaster, a company dedicated to restoring and reselling classic Grand Wagoneers.[26] On September 2, 2013, Chrysler announced that they would delay production until 2015 to allow the Dodge Durango to find an audience, but at the same time would use the Grand Wagoneer concept as a basis for a full-size luxury SUV that would compete against the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator, whose redesigns went on sale in 2014.[27]

In May 2014, Chrysler Corporation's "Five-Year Plan" was unveiled, and the plan noted that Chrysler Corporation is planning to release a flagship vehicle called the Grand Wagoneer that would share a platform with the Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee by the 2018 model year. Originally planned to replace the Dodge Durango, the Grand Wagoneer will be sold alongside that vehicle, as well as the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The new vehicle will be built at Chrysler Corporation's Jefferson North Assembly Plant (JNAP), where the Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee are currently being produced. The new vehicle will replace and fill the vacant spot of the Jeep Commander, which ceased production in 2010 due to low demand.

On June 9, 2015, Fiat Chrysler announced that it will unveil a new version of the full sized Grand Wagoneer at its dealers convention on August 25, 2015.[28] In August 2015, however, Fiat announced that the production of the upcoming Grand Cherokee replacement will be delayed into 2018.[29] It is scheduled to be built at Warren Truck Assembly when the next generation Ram 1500 is to be built at Sterling Heights Assembly.[30] On October 18, 2016, Jeep released teaser photos of the Grand Wagoneer, which indicates that it will be based on the Durango as evidenced by the design and details, and is targeted to be introduced as a 2019 model.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pars Khodro in history" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "1962 Jeep Wagoneer brochure". Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "1962 Jeep Wagoneer brochure". Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Truesdell, Richard (31 August 2004). "Move Over, Range Rover" (PDF). Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Grand Wagoneer". Road & Track. 43: 214. 1992. 
  6. ^ Lewin, Tony; Borroff, Ryan (2003). How to Design Cars Like a Pro: A Comprehensive Guide to Car Design from the Top Professionals. MotorBooks/MBI Publishing. p. 191. ISBN 978-0-7603-1641-2. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "Detail of the independent front suspension axle on a Jeep Wagoneer 4x4". Archived from the original on 10 August 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "The Icon: Jeep Wagoneer". Allpar. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  9. ^ Foster, Patrick (1 January 2008). "1963 Jeep Wagoneer - Landmark Vehicle". Four Wheeler. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "History of the Wagoneer (source: Just 4x4s Magazine)". Archived from the original on 27 January 2010. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Wright, Jim (March 1963). "First Test: Willys Jeep Wagoneer - The Jeep Becomes A Gentleman: New Turnpike Engine and Country Club Look -- Same Old Backroad Dependability". Motor Trend. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Allen, Jim (9 January 2015). "1963 Jeep Wagoneer Custom - Backward Glances". Four Wheeler. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  13. ^ "1966 Jeep Wagoneer brochure". Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  14. ^ Allen, Jim (2004). Jeep: Collector's Library. MBI Publishing. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-7603-1979-6. 
  15. ^ Flory, Jr., J. Kelly (2012). American Cars, 1973–1980: Every Model, Year by Year. McFarland. ISBN 9780786443529. 
  16. ^ a b Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (29 August 2007). "1980-1989 Jeep Wagoneer". Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  17. ^ Dunne, Jim (October 1987). "What will Chrysler Do With All Those Chips?". Popular Mechanics. 164 (10): 54. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  18. ^ Statham, Steve (2001). Jeep. MotorBooks International. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-7603-1006-9. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  19. ^ a b Allen, Jim (2004). Jeep. MotorBooks International. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-7603-1979-6. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  20. ^ "Museum gets last Grand Wagoneer". Toledo Blade. 24 July 1991. p. 32. 
  21. ^ Christenson, Wayne (December 1991). "The Last Wagoneer". Four Wheeler: 62–66. 
  22. ^ Ford, Vikki (November 1991). "The Last Grand Wagoneer Marks the End of an Era". Journal of the National Automotive Museum: 1–2. 
  23. ^ "Sno*Drift Results Through the Years: 1973–1978". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  24. ^ Jensen, Cheryl; Jensen, Christopher (27 November 1988). "The Road Through Paved With Auto Parts And Human Sanity As Two Midwesterners Learned In The Transamazon Marathon Rally". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  25. ^ Wernle, Bradford (10 January 2011). "Jeep to dust off Grand Wagoneer name for 7-seat SUV". Automotive News. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  26. ^ Bowman, Zach (1 February 2013). "Jeep team takes a field trip to Wagonmaster; researching next Grand Wagoneer?". Autoblog. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  27. ^ Vellequette, Larry P. (2 September 2013). "Jeep plans baby Wrangler, big SUV". Automotive News. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  28. ^ "Jeep will show new Grand Wagoneer to dealers this summer" from Autoblog (June 8, 2015)
  29. ^
  30. ^ New Jeep Wagoneer at Warren Assembly
  31. ^ "2019 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Spied: Its Grand Alright" from Car and Driver (October 20, 2016)

External links[edit]