Junkyard Find: 1989 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1989 jeep grand wagoneer

Back when I wrote the Automotive Survivors series ( Part I and Part II), I specified that I was only considering cars built for 20 or more years, and I included boldface text stating NO TRUCKS! NO TRUCKS! Naturally, I got barraged with weeks of hate mail from the Land Rover Jihad (because Land Rovers were being slapped together out of mud and sticks by Celtic tribesman circa 600 BC and thus my cars-only restriction was fatwa-worthy), but that was nothing next to what I heard from the Wagoneer Jihad. Legendary industrial designer Brooks Stevens drew up the original SJ platform-based Wagoneer for Willys-Overland in the year 1905 (OK, the early 1960s), and Kaiser-Jeep, AMC, and Chrysler kept building great big SJ Cherokees and Grand Cherokees until the sun collapsed and became a red giant (OK, until 1991). That meant that Chrysler was building AMC 360s in addition to Franco-Swedish PRV V6s into the 1990s. And, just as you could buy Super 8 movie film at ordinary stores until the early 1990s, so could you buy Jeep SJs with Simu-Wood™ plastic woodie siding. Here’s an example I found last week in a Denver self-serve yard.

Would you believe that this truck was built only 23 years ago?

The “wood” trim looks fairly convincing from 100 feet away. Up close, not so much.

These things rode like early-60s trucks, and they drank gas like early-60s trucks. Still, they were competent and generally reliable machines, and there was no reason for anybody to stop building them as long as customers craved the SJ.

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  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Aug 16, 2012

    I had a bunch of friends whose parents had them. Some were crude strippers and a couple were loaded. Most of these people worked at Jeep, or had family that did, so it made sense. They rusted pretty quickly, but one hung around, having been rustproofed for over 20 years. It was a stripper with an AM radio and an auto and that was it.

  • And003 And003 on Jan 20, 2013

    If I could, I'd buy this Wagoneer, upgrade the suspension and install a 3G Hemi for more power. :)

  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂
  • ToolGuy The dealer knows best. 🙂
  • ToolGuy Cool.
  • ToolGuy This truck is the perfect size, and the fuel economy is very impressive.-This post sponsored by ExxonMobil
  • ToolGuy If I were Jeep, I would offer a version with better NVH and charge more for it.And then I would offer a version with worse NVH, and charge more for it. (There is an audience for both.)