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Your definitive 1984–91 Jeep Grand Wagoneer buyer’s guide

One of the last wood-paneled (OK, vinyl-enabled) vehicles sold in America, the Jeep Grand Wagoneer was a living fossil. As late as the 1990s it served as a link to the rugged off-road brand’s original 1960s Kaiser roots. Riding on a platform that was essentially unchanged for decades, the Brooks Stevens-penned sport-utility nevertheless offered many modern luxuries and became the favorite family hauler for billionaires on the Vineyard seeking less-than-ostentatious transportation.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/10/10/before-buying-1984-1991-jeep-grand-wagoneer

Glad I read this! Now I know how bad they really are.

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I had one in the mid 90’s before anyone gave them a second look. I loved the rugged appearance and size of it, but gawd, it was a piece of junk that sucked gas like a motorhome. I was fortunate that it didn’t have any of the electric gremlins, nor rust, but keeping fluids in it was a nightmare as it leaked from basically anyplace one piece of metal was bolted to another, through the entire driveline. Everything inside it felt cheap, despite being supposedly a luxury vehicle. Even with the 360 it felt abysmally slow and ponderous, especially off road. One day I was stopped at a light and a kid rear ended me, totally folding in the front end of the new Toyota he was transporting for the dealership he worked at. Didn’t even dent my bumper. Bet that kid was looking for a new job that day.
I still like the design and if I had kept that truck it would be worth plenty now, but that would have meant hanging onto a piece of junk for 25 years, and I’m just not that strong.

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wk or 2 ago they just over took the Bronco ('66-'77) on used car sales figures.

Even when new, they would rust just sitting on our new car lot.

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Long time Jeep guy here … rust is always an issue on these… But there are patch panels and floor pans available… There are a couple of full size web sites with LOTS of good tech info. Search for them ( use “Full Size Jeep” in the search description.

Fun vehicles to do a Sat cruise in. I personally like the 2 door versions of this body style better.

I worked in Jeep Engineering back then … AMC = “All Makes Combined” GM and Ford parts were common.

Worked at AMC AMTEK on Plymouth road 1977-1985. These were notorious for having factory, pre-rusted tailgates. They were well liked, but considered rather expensive, compared to the Eagles. They were mainly bought in areas for use as a Gentleman’s Truck, such as local horse country locales. The XJ was somewhat meant to replace it, but was too far off in size and status to do that, and as long as they were selling…
Chrysler even recognized they were more than average Jeep cash cows, until they took up too many resources…

This article just made the price of Land Cruisers rise.

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I have a 1989 wagoneer limited which is the smaller version on the charokee platform with all the wagoneer features. It is a 4x4 with the six fuel injected engine and now has 258,000 miles on it with no major problems in the10 years that I owned it. It is all original and is my daily driver in Canada where I have a summer cottage. They are hard to find but you get all the wagoneer looks without the headaches.

We bought a Grand Wagoneer brand new back in '89; the local Cadillac dealer also sold Grand Wagoneers and they were priced higher than the Caddys at $33,000. We didn’t have many problems but the build quality was awful; wind noise around the doors from ill-fitting seals and it never did track straight even after several 4-wheel alignments. It was rated for but did not pull our 5,000 lb boat well and would run low on gas after only around 100 miles; got abysmal gas mileage (7-8 mpg towing; 10-11 unladen). We finally fitted a large 50+ gallon gas tank and modified the engine (torque cam, headers, 600cfm Edelbrock, aluminum intake) - it still didn’t pull well but now got even worse gas mileage. The brakes were marginal and would not stop going down a grade with the boat out back. We finally dumped the damn thing for next to nothing (2 years old, 32k miles, excellent condition, got $7000 trade-in) and bought a 454 Chevy dually - it did the job.

Some of us just never learn. I’ve owned 3 of these beasts over the years plus two Eagles. A sucker for the offbeat I guess. I am now wondering why I currently own a 1986 Jag XJ6. Thank God none of these were daily drivers. My wife says I need help, so do my kids. I say I’m having fun. This is my weird & twisted - at least it’s legal.

I had two when they were new, the last one an '87. Capable drivers, VERY thirsty without much range and tended to rust, but never had them long enough to experience some of the technical gremlins described here. We’ve had numerous SUV’s since, from Suburbans to Tuareg’s to Land Rover NAS Defender and Range Rover, and even two (!) of the only 50-made Shelby 4x4 Durango’s, but the favorite to date is my current 2015 Mercedes GL350 BlueTec, averaging 20+ mpg and solid as a rock, with more interior space than anything but a Suburban. It’s a shame that Mercedes is no longer offering diesels in the US (CURSE YOU, Volkswagen!).

Like the previous owner, I had three GWs after a Cherokee Chief. I also never learned. After a few years of not having a Jeep I would buy another one for the romance. Shortly thereafter I would remember why I got rid of the last one. I still miss the devil and would try another one if I had the space.

Had an 84, what a tank 10 mpg around town 14 on the highway. Would go anywhere though when it didn’t vapor lock and die on hot days. Tried all the usual fixes for vapor lock including an inline electric fuel pump, but never completely solved the issue.

Continuing the discussion from Your definitive 1984–91 Jeep Grand Wagoneer buyer’s guide:

I noticed you had some production figures are there any for the Cherokee. I have a 78 Cherokee S wide wheel model 17. It has a 360 ci engine with the granny 4 speed and lock out hubs. We had to special order it to get the transmission and lock out hubs. It is yellow like the one on the sales brosure for 78. Since it was a special order I am curious how unusual that combination was.
We have enjoyed it still runs good last long haul was from Texas to New York in 94. But it loves gas it will run as fast as you can afford the fuel for.

Worked at a AMC /Jeep dealer back in the day, these were absolute crap, it would take us 6-8hours to do a pre-delivery and fix things that were never installed properly, wiring, water leaks, electrical parts like rear window wiring catching on window tracks from new
Body quality was even worse, doors never fit or closed properly even had a one they welded the opening too small, off to the bodyshop.
In service they were un reliable and always leaked oil and coolant, quadratrack chains streached regularly and jumped the sprockets.
Can’t see why anyone would want one.

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I had always figured these were crappy vehicles but I wondered why they bring so much money these days. After reading these comments, I REALLY can’t understand why they do!

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I have a 1991 Spinnaker Blue with the light sand interior and the “Final Edition” badge on the dash. As I understand it, they only made 27 of these in this special-order color. No rust - nice original paint and paneling, also new leather seats. Really a great looking Wagoneer. I’ve been on the fence about selling it now or waiting. Any ideas on what would be my best option?

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We must have been very lucky with ours.

I doubt the dealer did much prep on it. I do not recall any problems other than the grill was bent, it was missing one of the 4 wheel drive emblems, and one of the tires was damaged. It took some bickering with the AMC dealer to get a tire. They let me remove a grill from another Cherokee on the lot. They used a press on my grill and I put it on the Cherokee on the lot. I could not keep a boot on the old Chrysler style joint on the drive shaft but it lasted for quite some time then I had a had a drive shaft made with regular u joints. We did not have the $ for air conditioning when we ordered it but it took so long to come in I bought the air conditioning kit from AMC and installed it my self. Same with the Radio. It does like to leak oil but as they say it’s when it quits that is when there is a problem.

Happy Connecting. Sent from my Sprint Samsung Galaxy S® 5

“Mechanically, the Grand Wagoneer was a hodgepodge of different OEM systems scrounged from wherever AMC could find affordable parts.”

That is so untrue, but oft repeated about AMC!! Yes, they bought A FEW items from other manufacturers, but you can count them on one hand. The only big item they purchased was the transmission. Carbs and electrical systems (starter/alternator) were purchased, so was the steering box and column. Other than things like switches that was about it, and all the manufacturers bought small items from outside sources. The general criteria for “build it or buy it” was if they could buy it cheaper than develop and build their own, they did. Half the components of a car are bought from outside sources now (might have been designed in house though, then sent out for bid with those specs). AMC pioneered that! The big three sold to other manufacturers as well, such as GM selling auto trannys to Rolls Royce. Jaguar used Borg Warner autos for the longest time.

The interesting thing about the FSJ Jeeps is that the body is essentially the same from 1963-1991. If you pull the plastic grille off you will find the exact same sheet metal underneath as the 1963 “Rhino” grille models. In fact, you can cut the tabs off AMC added to install the plastic grille and put an old Rhino grille and rounds headlights in (change the headlight buckets)!! Except for some trim and maybe mounting holes, body panels interchange 63-91. One of the longest runs of a body design in history! The Volvo 2xx and VW Beetle have it beat though… but definitely longest SUV design! I briefly thought about building one for a camper tow vehicle. It really needs a modern engine and 4-6 speed auto trans though. The three speed and smog era engine really hurt it. It’s easy enough to improve engine efficiency and power – it’s the same old AMC 360 many AMCers race with – but harder to mate a modern trans. I’d have wanted reliable EFI too, which as noted is around $3K to add. So I’d have bought a salvage yard Ford/Chevy/Chrysler EFI engine and trans from a late model truck or SUV. If I REALLY loved the big Wagoneer I’d have spent the $10K or so to build it (I’m a decent fabricator and hot rodder), but I don’t love it that much. Bought a good late model SUV (Expedition) for about the same price instead, and don’t have to wait a year or more to drive it.