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I bought a 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, and now I’m in love

Some vehicles enter your mind like a virus, wrapping themselves around your cerebral cortex, where they every-so-often put a gentle squeeze on your cognitive processes.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/06/13/1987-jeep-grand-wagoneer-purchase

I can’t recall driving one in the past quarter of a century, but when I drove a big Jeep I was impressed by the steering. I’m not sure it is supposed to behave as you describe. Have you checked the integrity of every related component? Driven another example? I also don’t remember the engine being particularly underpowered, but that is definitely a shifting context. I will say that some of the cars I drove in '80s and '90s are ones that still have better steering and primary controls than the products sold by their makers today. If a Jeep SJ didn’t have bad steering compared to a manual or hydraulic power steering equipped Porsche or hydraulic power steering BMW, I don’t see how it could be as nautical as you describe by design. Yours does look like a very nice Wagoneer.

Pretty slick GW!

What’s the yellow box screwed on the floor do?

  • Jim

Had a friend back in the day who plowed snow with one of these. It was unstoppable in the winter. Full time four wheel drive is incredible. A nice inexpensive alternative is the '05 to '10 Hemi Grand Cherokee. To me, they are a bargain and do everything better, but certainly don’t have the cool factor that the Wagoneers have.

That yellow box is the speed control module! IIRC from my 18 years as a Jeep dealership mechanic, it was originally either duct taped or screwed to the top of the under dash A/C unit!

For a lack of power and poor economy, try checking the vacuum advance in the distributor. Replace it if it’s inop. Also, they are often de-tuned! On the original Motorcraft electronic distributors, the vacuum advance is adjustable. An 1/8" allen wrench into the vacuum port will allow adjustment on how quickly and how far it will vacuum advance. Try turning it 1 turn at a time to see how it reacts. If it now pings, back it off. IIRC, counter-clockwise will allow a faster advance and more of it, to a max of +10 degrees.

Also, for poor economy, test the power valve in the carb. Some have a vacuum line running off the housing back to the rear cylinders. If the valve is bad, it will leak gas through the vacuum line into two of the rear cylinders. The engine will run rough and you will find raw fuel in the line. Some have internal passages for the vacuum to the power valve, all cylinders will run rich with these if the valve is bad. The carb is really easy to overhaul, the kits come with new valves.

Hope this helps!

I had 2 FSJs- first a '74, then an '88. The Motorcraft carbs on those were garbage, and 9mpg is typical. I put GM Quadrajets on my jeeps, which got me 17 mpg on the 74 and 15 on the 88. If you want to go that route, start with a factory 4bbl intake. Do some grinding on the secondary side of the manifold, and fab an adapter from 1/4" aluminum plate for the mounting hardware. The 1/4" thick plate will keep the carb low enough that you can retain the stock air cleaner and not have to mutilate the hood :slight_smile: you might also find a bunch more torque/hp by checking your rocker arms. Higher mileage AMC 360s are known for wearing the rocker fulcrum enough to drastically reduce air into the cylinder. A cheap fix. My jeeps had plenty of power

I’ve heard people say that they love their car but does it love you back?

Been there done that. Mine was a 1981, loved it hated the fuel. So I replaced the manifold, cam and carburetor and went all Edelbrock. Oh, my god what a difference. I’ve never experience such a change like that, before or after. Fuel mileage went way up, power was like I was in another vehicle. Then I opened up the exhaust and turned it into a growling hellofaride.

Great fun reasonable price. Try it you will love it.

Had an 80’s era 4 cylinder Buick Century with the same passing issue - when I floored it the transmission would downshift and the engine roar like the car was going to launch into orbit. Then a few seconds later I would realize that the car wasn’t going any faster.

We ordered a 78 Cherokee had an AMC 360 with the Ford 2 bbl a granny 4 speed and lock out hubs. The fuel milage is tolerable to 60 mph after that its pay to play. It was dated but proven technology at the time we purchased it. Still is dependable. Our last vacation in it was in 94 drove it from Texas to New York. It still gets out and runs with the best of them on the freeway. Its definitely a case of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
No nonsense good vehicle. The 2 bbl is simple to pop a new power valve or accelerator diaphragm in. If we could just get rid of the alcohol in gas life would be great.

My wife and I really like them and have been considering buying one. I’m always trolling the local marketplaces to see what’s out there. Some really nice ones do pop up but I haven’t pulled the trigger yet.

I’m one of the very few who still own a 1970 (actually 1969.5) Jeep Wagoneer Classic and am getting it ready to finally sell from our one-owner family. It’s an all original, stock, beauty that looks like it just came off the showroom floor! What’s neat about the earlier models is that “Jeep/Kaiser” only made them from 1963 till 1970. In 1971 “Jeep/Kaiser” was purchased by AMC and they became the “AMC/Jeep” Wagoneer with a totally different drive train, color scheme on their logo, etc. My gramps bought it originally, ordered it as a custom from the local Jeep dealership for shipment to him once built, and then my dad bought it from him, then I bought it from my dad in 1984 and have delicately and diligently maintained it since. What an amazing journey for us and this exceptional vehicle, but it’s time to move it on to its retirement with a collector. It will be a sad day, losing a piece of family history, when it eventually finds the collector that can appreciate it, and pay market price for it in such great shape.

Thank you so much for all of the advice, personal stories, and comments! I am definitely going to look into everything that’s been suggested for power and fuel :slight_smile:

I have my sister’s husband’s parent’s original 1988 GW bought new in Texas She dropped it off here at my ranch several years ago to get it out of their driveway and make room for a Prius. It has sat under trees and tarp for all this time and I recently decided to get it going again and see what it is like. It has 130K miles, plenty of sun-fade on paint and wood trim, but no obvious rust and most stuff seems to work. I had a bunch of electrical gremlins untilI tracked down a cheesy homemade chassis ground wire made out of speaker wire. A proper ground strap and everything is working right.
The leather has suffered, looks like a cat used it for claw maintenance. I am wondering what to do about that.
Also, I can’t find a good parts specialist or owner’s group - any suggestions?
You are right about the ride, it still feels “Grand”