By on June 23, 2013

09 - 1981 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Jeep Wagoneer was made for about 180 years (OK, actually just 28 years), going through three corporate owners during that period. This is only our second Wagoneer Junkyard Find (after this late-in-the-game ’89), though I walk past many more every time I hit my favorite Denver wrecking yard. This ’81 grabbed my attention with its super-Malaise-y purple paint, so here we go!
11 - 1981 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinGas prices doubled again? Emission-control regulations got your big-displacement V8 making 130 horses? Add more tape stripes!
06 - 1981 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’m not even going to look up the power figures for this AMC 360 V8, because they would just get us all depressed.
01 - 1981 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis could be a genuine Wagoneer Brougham, but the distinguishing Broughamic features are no longer present.
13 - 1981 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinUnder Chrysler, these trucks were built into the 1990s, stretching from JFK’s presidency to the dawn of the World Wide Web.
04 - 1981 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinShielded by THE PROTECTOR!

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19 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1981 Jeep Wagoneer...”

  • avatar

    A close friend bought a brand-new 1980 Jeep pickup. He still has it, but far, far from its original form. I couldn’t begin to tell you everything he has done to that thing, but at present, it’s now a stake-bed, as the box disappeared in a cloud of rust many moons ago, like most of the rest of the vehicle.

    I may get a chance to see it the following week! If I do, I’ll shoot some photos and post them over on Curbside Classic at an appropriate time.

    It’s amazing this junkyard find is in such good shape, considering the abysmal sheet metal quality, meaning rust-proofing common to AMC.

  • avatar

    I’d love one…

    The first Jeep I drove was a ’78 Wagoneer on muddy roads that had the warning to “pick your rut carefully, you’ll be in it for the next mile.” It was my grandpa’s retirement SUV of the day. That 4×4 would go about anywhere it was pointed.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Look at that EGR plumbing!

    • 0 avatar

      If you’re referring to the metal lines going into the exhaust manifolds, that’s for the Thermactor AIR (Air Injection Reaction) Control system plumbing that was common on cars from the 1970’s and 80’s. Thermactor AIR Control systems (also known as a “smog” pump) actually started showing up as early as 1968 to comply with California emissions standards.

      • 0 avatar
        Athos Nobile

        Exactly those. Emission controls and after treatment have come a long way.

        IIRC my dad’s Caprice had an air pump. It was seized solid. And in Venezuela you don’t really care about that so it was “eliminated”.

        • 0 avatar

          Those pumps used very fine ceramic bearings and if they sat unused for any length of time they would sieze up. Many people took the belt off when these vehicles were new thinking that the pump stole horsepower from the engine (which was of course absurd) and the pump would eventually sieze up.

          On a new pump you could give the pulley a good spin with your hand and it would still be spinning several minutes later, so the amount of power it took to turn it was infinitesimal.

          The Thermactor AIR system, beyond the hoses and general clutter, was as close to benign as an emissions system for the malaise era could get when operating properly. Like anything, when not operating properly it could be a nuisance.

          • 0 avatar

            even better were the ’80s GM cars where the pumps would seize no matter what. I initially wondered why they had such thin V-belts driving them, then I came to the conclusion that such a thin belt wouldn’t make any noticeable fuss when it snapped as the pump seized.

            talk about a half-ass implementation.

        • 0 avatar

          My parents had a ’75 Caprice Classic with that pump. When it was maybe 6 months old my brother broke his arm – our Dad ran the Caprice full throttle for 60 miles to get to the nearest hospital. The AIR pump seized from that incident. I remember the serviceman at the dealer saying AIR was a POS and simply left the belt off it.

          This was back in the days of CB radios. My Dad got on channel 9 (the one copes used) and broadcast his high-speed trek to them. They let him fly all the way the hospital. The 400 cubic inch, 4 bbl motor in that car was amazing.

  • avatar

    Coolest thing is the rotating knob in the glovebox labeled “emergency” four wheel drive, which we had to engage on occasion when we decided that driving on the rocky beach was a good ides at low tide…a little orange telltail illuminated in the speedo IIRC…on dry pavement there was an odd noise if emergency was left on. Either it was that or the clink of spent whippets on the floorboards…

  • avatar

    I have wanted one of these for ages, preferably in navy with paneling, Grand Wagoneer format. One of the later ones, maybe get away from some of the emissions mess.

    Just seems like it would be a sturdy friend for cargo, people, towing, etc., like it’d say “Don’t worry, I can do it.”

  • avatar

    I’ve always had a soft spot for these, as there were lots of them in Venezuela in the ’70s when I was a kid. They make me think of the beach.

  • avatar

    I yanked a 360ci out of a Grand Wagoneer for my ’79 CJ7 Renegade. I have a ‘glass body and tilt ‘glass nose. About a thousand pounds lighter. I went NUTS w/the 360. Forged pistons, roller rockers, ported heads etc..It did 416 HP on the dyno w/106 octane. I screwed up any chance of gently creeping along trails w/a huge Comp 292 cam. Like I could w/the 304V8 it had. Keep in mind AMC parts are 2x the price of small block Chevs. I’m updating the T-150 3 speed stick to a 4 speed. I guess I’m gonna wind up w/a 4wd, “Fuel Altered” for the street and trails!

  • avatar
    Andy D

    I got rid of my last wag in ’11 . They were perfect until gas rose above a buck a gallon. The 88 had about 30′ of vacuum hose interconnecting all the smog widgets. The smogged 360 was rated around 145 hp , IIRC .

  • avatar

    Would a modern Mopar Hemi fit into that engine bay?

    If I ever find a Jeep J truck that’s not rotted into oblivion, I plan to give it a new Hemi heart.

    • 0 avatar
      Andy D

      Just about any V8 will fit . It all depends upon your budget. I would be very content with a Mid-70s J 10 with a 258 I 6 and a 3 speed trans. A 350 SBC fits better’n the 360. The engines werent that bad if you had them sorted. The frames just rotted away along with the floors.

      • 0 avatar

        A very big budget for the swap is needed to SBC. But I would do it if going from a 4 or 6 cylinder. But swapping a good J-yard engine that checks out or has a warranty is a 2 man weekend project. All jeep V8s share every component except the flywheel/flexplate and harmonic balancer. Granted a nice SBC crate engine is indeed cheaper, although old AMCs are catching up. However the parts list starts at the radiator ($300) to the engine mounts, exhaust manis/headers ($200 min), adapter to tranny or transfer case. Adapters run $400-$600. None of these parts can be scrounged unless you get lucky on a jeep board. The 360 has 5.8″ rods vs a 350s 5.7″ which give more low end TQ. 4x4s want nice idle (or 1500 rpm) to 5k RPM cams. Which is what most cam makers suggest (market). All serious off road capable machines are heavy. Some just crazy heavy.

    • 0 avatar

      NoYoGo, congrats on having 1 of 5 non mineral deposit J trucks!
      Check this out and look up American Expedition Vehicles. They put hemis in Wranglers, so they might be able to hook you up w/a simplified harness & mounts. Good luck!

  • avatar

    I don’t recall seeing any of these in person. I do remember the Tonka Wagoneer toys; saw several of them over the years.

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