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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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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.

  • JK I grew up with Dodge trucks in the US, and now live in Turin, Italy, the home of Fiat. I don't think Italians view this as an Italian company either. There are constant news articles and protests about how stalantis is moving operations out of Italy. Jeep is strangely popular here though. I think last time I looked at stelantis's numbers, Jeep was the only thing saving them from big big problems.
  • Bd2 Oh yeah, funny how Trumpers (much less the Orange Con, himself) are perfectly willing to throw away the Constitution...
  • Bd2 Geeze, Anal sure likes to spread his drivelA huge problem was Fisher and his wife - who overspent when they were flush with cash and repeatedly did things ad hoc and didn't listen to their employees (who had more experience when it came to auto manufacturing, engineering, etc).
  • Tassos My Colleague Mike B bought one of these (the 300 SEL, same champagne color) new around June 1990. I thought he paid $50k originally but recently he told me it was $62k. At that time my Accord 1990 Coupe LX cost new, all included, $15k. So today the same car means $150k for the S class and $35k-40k for the Accord. So those %0 or 62k , these were NOT worthless, Idiot Joe Biden devalued dollars, so he paid AN ARM AND A LEG. And he babied the car, he really loved it, despite its very weak I6 engine with a mere 177 HP and 188 LBFT, and kept it forever. By the time he asked me to drive it (to take him to the dealer because his worthless POS Buick Rainier "SUV" needed expensive repairs (yes, it was a cheap Buick but he had to shell out thousands), the car needed a lot of suspension work, it drove like an awful clunker. He ended up donating it after 30 years or so. THIS POS is no different, and much older. Its CHEAPSKATE owner should ALSO donate it to charity instead of trying to make a few measly bucks off its CARCASS. Pathetic!
  • RHD The re-paint looks like it was done with a four-inch paintbrush. As far as VWs go, it's a rebadged Seat... which is still kind of a VW, made in Mexico from a Complete Knock-Down kit. 28 years in Mexico being driven like a flogged mule while wearing that ridiculous rear spoiler is a tough life, but it has actually survived... It's unique (to us), weird, funky (very funky), and certainly not worth over five grand plus the headaches of trying to get it across the border and registered at the local DMV.