By on November 12, 2013

01 - 1976 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSince Willys/Kaiser/Jeep/AMC/Chrysler built the Wagoneer from Biblical times until ten minutes ago (actually 1963 through 1991), and I live in Jeep-centric Colorado, I see these things just about every time I visit a wrecking yard. Mostly, I don’t photograph them (unless I see an unusually late example, such as this ’89, or one resplendent in purple paint and tape stripes, like this ’81), but today’s Junkyard Find— spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-serve yard a few weeks ago— was just so incredibly Malaise-y that I felt compelled to document it in its final parking space.
13 - 1976 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinImagine having the guts to buy something this thirsty just a few years after the 1973 energy crisis, and the sinking feeling that the owner must have experienced when the 1979 energy crisis hit!
07 - 1976 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStill, if you need a work truck you have to be willing to pay the fuel bills.
04 - 1976 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFake woodgrain, refreshingly uncomplicated HVAC controls. Some things about the middle 1970s were pretty good.
15 - 1976 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe AMC 360-cubic-inch V8 stayed in production all the way through 1991, thanks to Chrysler’s absorption of AMC in 1987.
06 - 1976 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStill some good parts left on this one.

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29 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1976 Jeep Wagoneer...”

  • avatar

    I used to have one of those.

    It was a tank. and by tank, I mean 74% Sherman and 26% septic.
    Men drooled over it in parking lots, women marvelled at the full matress size cargo area, all feared it’s bellowing 38″ mudders on the garden state parkway. It’s mighty 4 speed transmission respected no knee cartilege and it’s 360 v8 (which returned a reliable 3 gallons per mile) respected no wallet.

    It was a manly wagon rusting elegantly into an age increasingly dominated by emascualted japaneese minivans. It was so manly, that testosterone actively accumulated on the floor under the cardboard glovebox liner (might have been antifreeze from the heater core)

    • 0 avatar

      My family had an ’82 Grand Wagoneer and I took an ’85 GW to CU-Boulder in 1991. Talk about a skier/mtn biker’s dream — until you pulled up to the pump! I must say that 26% septic is about right. More farm implement than SUV.

      I was romanticizing about my adventures in my ’85 GW but realize it couldn’t do what my ’05 Expedition did last weekend: Transported a driver +7 boy scouts, a Yakima Space Case up top — all loaded to the gills with gear — while cruising comfortably at 80 mph for 3+ hours and returning 13.8 mpg’s in the Kansas wind. Playing Apollo 13 on DVD in surround-sound was icing on the cake.

      I think the most under-appreciated feature of the GW’s was the HVAC design that would let a person run the heat AND a/c (which could cool a small apartment) simultaneously. That, and a greenhouse that remain to this day unequalled…

    • 0 avatar

      And Sunoco attendants praised the deity of their origin at your presence.

      Though as a GSP frequent flyer, I doubt the Ninjas and crotch rockets of the 90’s feared anything on the Parkway: Jeeps, buses, trailers, the physics of momentum during sudden deceleration.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    My father also had one of these, built during the AMC era. It had the 230 six inline engine.
    The electrical system was an incredible piece of crap. The headlights failed one moonless night in the trail. We had to stay right there until dawn.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Ah, I remember when dad brought one’a these home. A 1977 Grand Wagoneer. 401 cubes and Quadratrac. Mom’s daily driver, except during hunting season when the guys would swipe it and head for the mountains. Fire and logging trails, deep snow and mud, and long stretches of highway – the big Wagoneer excelled at everything (if you’re not keep score by MPGs). It ran circles around the 4×4 pickups of the day, and even did anything a Scout or CJ or first-gen Bronco could do (while providing greater comfort and room).

    By 1981, gas prices forced Dad to trade the white Wagoneer in for (gasp) a Toyota for Mom. For his hunting vehicle, he found an uncut (everyone cut out the rear wheel-wells to fit bigger tires) 1967 Bronco with the 200 cu straight six and three on the tree. Baby blue, of course. Rugged little trucklet with better economy than the Wagoneer, but we sure missed the ride and room of the big Jeep.

  • avatar

    I think I might get one of these to replace my Liberty as my tow vehicle and going-out-of-town vehicle. But, the gas mileage is a frightening thought, especially for the latter.

  • avatar

    Sweet! My first car was one of these in 1998 in Denver. A 360 QuadraTrac TH350; mine was a barn queen from Kansas and rode on pizza cutters; I didn’t think it was that special off road or in snow.
    It got hit and the Dodge Shadow I ended up with to replace it was better in snow. My cool factor at school however suffered about 130 points and could’ve been the reason I retained my virginity through the end of school.

    • 0 avatar

      You must have had terrible tires. I learned to drive in a ’80 and that thing seemed as fast as anything on the road during winter in the early nineties when few people had AWD. On slippery days – every day for about four months of the year here – I could just pull out into the curb lane and blow by everyone at every light, even if there was a car parked in the curb lane right at the start of the next block. Crossing or merging onto busy streets required minimal traffic gaps. All winter, everything without AWD/4WD seemed absurdly slow compared to it and I had no patience to wait. I’d use any unoccupied space of road to drive around them. I seriously didn’t know what it was like to have to accelerate slowly on winter roads for the first couple years that I had my license. It was in 4HI for pretty much any city driving that occurred between mid-November and mid-March.

  • avatar

    The front Dana 44 off this is desirable for it’s flat top knuckles. The more desirable full size jeep dana 44 would be the wide track axle from a Cherokee Chief of the same year.

  • avatar

    Don’t recall the year it was the year before the first grand wagoneer and my folks got it for cost as it was in fact what became the GW the next year every option box ticked from AC to cruse control, electric windows and seats, leather and fake wood decals it was on the dealers lot for 8 months and they traded a 69 blazer ( serial number 75 test production that went through 4 Fiberglas roofs till GM figured out how to mold them. We had it till 81 when we traded it for a turbo Volvo wagon. The wagoners were notorious for rusting tailgates at our ocean side town but other than that if you greased them every 1500 miles they kept on trucking , and a good half of the miles we put on it were in low range in soft sand with tire pressure at about 7psi we also used it to tow 8,000 pounds of boat about twice a year for 200 miles to and from our summer home on the island. By the 70s every last tiny problem had been engineered out of the suspension and drive train which is where the Sherman tank rep came from.. The one I pictured here must never have been in either a seaside or road salt area for the the tailgate to have been in such good shape….
    It was amazing the number of parts that were interchangeable from 60s vintage ones to the end of production. That length of production meant that there was a good supply of parts from wrecking yards till just a few years ago. I know of a late 60s one near me that has been cut into a semi pickup and with a snow plow. It is out working after every winter storm and just keeps trucking with a load of sand in the back.

  • avatar

    Holy crap! This was in my driveway just a few weeks ago. I sent it there!

    I still have the roof rack, steering box and AC compressor if anyone wants them…

    • 0 avatar

      What a weird, small internet we live in.

      Just read your post, do you have a list of what parts you kept and sold? I’d be interested in hearing what that front axle ended up costing you after all was said and done.

      And kudos on flipping it in under a month. I picked up a basketcase for parts needed by my ’78 Wagoneer and I sat on it for over 6 months.

    • 0 avatar

      I actually could use the ac compressor and possibly the gearbox. I just began restoration on (get this, a 76 wagoneer with 87,000 miles on it). I would also be very grateful to know how to get in touch with the junkyard that has your wagoneer as I could use a number of things from it . My direct email is [email protected] and phone is 501-951-0287. I am serious and plan to make thus a nice truck. I am in Arkansas. Thanks

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    After doing a quick search
    Question: What was the last year you could order a Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer without faux wood on the sides?

    • 0 avatar

      Paraphrased from the mighty Wikipedia:
      When the Limited package became the Grand Wagoneer in 1984, Jeep introduced a Wagoneer Custom model, without wood paneling. But it doesn’t say when the model was discontinued (probably the next year; sales were pretty slow).

  • avatar

    I remember the gas crisis of 1979 very well. The local Mobil station only allowed up to $5 purchase a day. We would ride our bikes about four miles into town and go up and down the blocks long line asking people sitting if they wanted us to run errands, pick them up drinks, newspapers, groceries, etc. My friend and I brought out paper delivery bags to carry the “cargo.”

    Drivers would give us money and ask for pop, papers, give us a short grocery list, ask us to swing by the local pharmacy, etc. We would ride off, do our task, and worked only for tips. We made great money. Tried to convince the local T&G office to give us extra papers for us to try and sell to the cars in line to no avail. Guess we were a bit more forward looking than our newspaper overlords.

    Makes me a bit nostalgic today. I just don’t see in our modern society someone handing money to a random kid asking them to stop at the Holden Pharmacy to pick up their drugs, and the pharmacist handing it over to us with out asking any questions!

  • avatar
    slow kills

    Why the heck is that sticker set up so that a word has to bend around the corner? If you can’t lay type out better than that, I’d be really leery of actual engineering.

  • avatar

    Quite a few of my formative years were spent in my friend’s 77 Wagoneer. The reputation for durability and longevity was justified. Loved the “Emergency 4WD” knob in the trunk and the corresponding light on the dash. If that truck could talk, well, some of us might not be where we are today.

  • avatar

    One thing is for sure about the Wagoneer is how we look back at them with good memories.

    Me too. It was the first Jeep I drove when I was 14 around my grandfather’s ranch after he passed away. It might have also been a ’76? I had earlier learned to drive some other ranch trucks, and this was the first automatic 4×4 that I drove. And wow, I could just drop the peddle and that thing cruised through the dirt, mud and snow. I recall having to ask mom several times over a week for some gas money so that I could keep driving it around before an aunt who inherited it drove it away.

    This was my grandpa and his Wagoneer. He was proud of it as if it was a Cadillac.

  • avatar

    Seriously, what was the fuel economy on these things? I always hear how bad they are…

    • 0 avatar

      I can get 12mpg with the cruise set to 65 with my ’78 but average 9-10 around town. The 4bbl 401 drinks a bit more than the 360 and the AWD QuadraTrac + TH400 don’t help matters. Some guys with well maintained 360s with a 4 speed can eke out 18mpg after ditching the carb for TBI. But you can’t break into the 20s without a LS or diesel swap.

      • 0 avatar

        …and that was just fine when gas was 30 cents per gallon. We need to bring these trucks back – and the 30 cents per gallon. vUntil then, you can drop a modern fuel injected Chrysler 5.7 into it, and get 18 mpg yourself. Maybe.

  • avatar

    My family had a 79 followed by an 84. The 84 was full of problems. The nylon track for the power windows would break and you walk out to a down driver side window in the morning. The A/C would freeze the interior or it would be off. No middle ground. I drove it for seven years of taking myself to school and it lasted my family for total of 15 years. Great leather/cordoroy seats that were comfortable as hell. Dad sold it after she was pretty well used up for a grand to a friend of a friend and six months later it had an electrical short and burned up. It was a total loss. Insurance company paid them 2 grand. It was a great gas guzzling vehicle.

  • avatar

    I would love this.

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