Rare Rides: The 1991 Jeep Wrangler Renegade, Fancy With Square Headlamps

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1991 jeep wrangler renegade fancy with square headlamps

It’s an interesting coincidence that every Jeep vehicle we’ve featured so far in Rare Rides has been white. The white streak continues today with an absolutely pristine 1991 Wrangler Renegade, but here’s a picture of a red one.

The Wrangler was a new model at Jeep in 1987, as the YJ replaced a long history of CJ Jeeps that dated back to 1944. The last of them, the CJ-7, reached the end of its life in 1986 after an 11-year run. With this new Wrangler, AMC intended to keep the go-anywhere nature of the Jeep CJ intact while offering better comfort, livability, and features. Development of the CJ replacement began in 1982, and the Wranglers styling was finalized in late 1983. Wrangler entered production in March 1986 after a February reveal, and went on sale in May that year.

Wrangler used the same 93.4-inch wheelbase as the outgoing CJ and used evolutionary styling to differentiate itself from CJ. The most notable stylistic change was the square headlamps, a stark contrast to the round lamps Jeep had always used in prior vehicles. Jeep fans were not pleased in 1987, and many continue to have those feelings today.

Unlike modern Wranglers, the YJ was sold only as a two-door, with either standard convertible roof or optional hardtop. Engines on offer were all AMC designs: A 2.5-liter inline-four, 4.2-liter inline-six, or the (most famous) 4.0-liter inline-six. The latter was the latest engine added to the YJ and did not appear until 1991. Transmissions across the line were five-speed manuals or three-speed automatics.

North American Wranglers were built in Brampton, Ontario, and Toledo, Ohio, though there was additional international production in Iran and Venezuela. In North America the Wrangler was offered in seven different trims, a few of them a bit more special than others. Of interest today is the Renegade package, or as your dealer might’ve said, Renegade Decor Group.

Available from 1991 through 1994, high-spec Wranglers were sent by Jeep to Detroit, where they were modified by Autostyle. Limited to white, black, and red from 1990, Renegade’s colors expanded to blue in 1992 and bronze in ’93. Standard on Renegade Wranglers was the 4.0-liter engine, A/T tires, unique wheels, off-road shocks, power steering, fog lamps, a leather wheel, tape stripes unique to Renegade, full interior carpets, and additional monochromatic trim not available on other Wranglers. Most were equipped with manual transmissions, though an automatic was optional.

Completed Renegades were shipped back to Jeep, who then sent them out to dealers. The ask was $4,266 ($8,650 adj.) over a base Wrangler and was definitely a specific look. For another $923 a hardtop was offered on Renegade, which forced the customer to pay for rear window defrost as well, at $164. Other options included a pricy AM/FM cassette stereo, full-frame doors with glass windows, and air conditioning.

The Wrangler continued for two years after the demise of Renegade, and for the ’97 model year was replaced by the TJ Wrangler which thankfully had round headlamps. I know I was certainly relieved.

Today’s Rare Ride is a manual-equipped Renegade, in white, with just 28,000 miles. It’s yours for just $24,000 in Detroit, the city which screwed on all its trim all those years ago.

[Images: Chrysler]

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3 of 17 comments
  • Crashdaddy430 Crashdaddy430 on Aug 27, 2021

    After watching MacGyver growing up I always loved this generation wrangler. So early 90s, screams baywatch and melrose place and silk stockings. It’s jeeps Splash, I love it.

    • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Aug 29, 2021

      Mel Horowitz purchased a 1994 model for his daughter Cher. (I never heard her complain about the shape of the headlamps.)

  • SilverCoupe SilverCoupe on Aug 27, 2021

    Squares have four equal sides. The Jeep had rectangular headlights.

  • Dukeisduke Years ago, I was driving southbound along North Central Expressway (south of Mockingbird Lane, for locals), and watched a tire and wheel fall out of the bed of a pickup (no tailgate), bounce along, then centerpunch the front end of a Honda Accord. It wasn't pretty.
  • Dukeisduke If these were built in the US, they'd probably be plagued with recalls, like everything else they make now. It's just as well they don't bring them here.I've owned one Ford, a '95 F-150 (drove it for 17 years and 214k miles) and it was fantastic. But you couldn't run fast enough to buy another Ford. Quality used to be Job 1; now it's an afterthought.
  • Dukeisduke "side-to-side taillights""Across-the-border" is the phrase you're looking for - it's what Ford called the taillights on the '67-'68 and '70-'71 Thunderbirds.
  • 28-Cars-Later Pretty sure its the next gen Fusion, which did manage 110K sales in 2020 USDM but that was roughly 66% less than 306K it sold in 2013. If 100K units is the expected high water mark I can understand why resources went elsewhere... though Mach-E can't even do half that and its hyped like the Second Coming so maybe there was a missed opportunity after all?
  • Kcflyer Laughing inside at the "300 mile range when it's warm" line. Can you imagine if ICE vehicles were this comprised? What a sick joke the green agenda is.