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Chasing Snowflakes: 1982 Jeep Wagoneer


Obviously, I’m a bit of a car guy. Specifically, I like vehicles with a low center of gravity and excellent handling characteristics. But every now and again, I wonder if I’m missing out. Coming from a long line of cars not designed for winter use (at least not since my Subaru Legacy which had a manual transmission and snow tires, making it quite the foul-weather beast), I’ve yet to fill my enthusiast cup with a burly off-roader that has “Go anywhere” capabilities ingrained in its DNA. That’s why this 1982 Jeep Wagoneer here on eBay caught my eye – lots of potential for winter-time shenanigans like only a Jeep can offer. It’s located in Atkins, Virginia for $2,000 or best offer.


In my parents’ neighborhood, there was a house that for years kept a rusty ’72 Toyota FJ40 Landcruiser next to the garage in the woods. At the time, I was far less adventurous as it related to asking if a vehicle was for sale, or at least giving it a closer look. A few months later, it was gone, with a run-down boat on a trailer taking its place. My high-school self daydreamed about summertime cruising with the roof off and girls in the backseat; in reality, it was probably rusted beyond repair and nothing a student could come close to affording the upkeep of. But still, the appeal of a 4×4 was strong, and the guys with Wranglers seemed to always have good company!


The problem with being a “summer driver” is that you spend 6 months of the year hating driving (well, if you’re as lucky as I am to live in New England). The roads and weather beat up your car, creaking over every road abrasion and forcing you to live your life dreading periods of rapid freezing and thawing. That alone pushes me towards investing in a truck like this 4 wheel drive Wagoneer. I’d be isolated from bone-jarring road surfaces while still plowing through the white stuff – although I will say, my M3 on snow tires is pretty darn capable! That said, this Wagoneer is a project and will need some work to run because it has been sitting for 6 years, but my guess is parts are cheap and plentiful.


Finding a cool winter ride like this is out of the picture for me (as mentioned in another post, I am on the hunt for a clean BMW E28 5-Series, preferably a 535is!), but I’m sure some of you have some very solid rigs for hauling through winter’s worst. What do you turn to when the weather turns foul? Let us know in the comments below, and if you don’t have a dedicated ride for winter, we’d love to hear your thoughts on whether or not this Wagoneer with a bad lifter is a good buy.


  1. Mike D

    Looks may be deceiving , but it looks too nice to ” fix up” and then use it for a winter rat. I too am from the North east, and you never see a truck of this vintage . Personally, I would do what I could to bring it up to standard, and, it would enjoy ” retirement” as a summer vehicle

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  2. BB

    The “bad lifter” is likely a bad camshaft, which frequently has taken out the cam bearings as well. Still, a decent price these days for one of the best vehicles ever in the snow.

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  3. MH

    I’m in minnesota. Winters here are brutal! -20 isn’t un common. When I can’t ride my motorcycle my winter beater is a 96 suburban. Always liked the wagoneers.

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  4. Robert Thompson Member

    I am presently using a 1989 Grand Wagoneer as a daily driver. It is FANTASTIC other than the fact that I can not pass a gas station! Keep in mind that these are a very heavy vehicle with a large, gas consuming engine!! Otherwise they are great!!


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  5. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    I’ve only driven one of these, and it had one of the vaguest steering feels I’ve ever experienced. That being said, it was an awful example…I’m hoping they aren’t all like that?

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    • Brian

      Must have been worn out. The steering should feel light, almost effortless, but not vague, with little wandering and surprisingly little body roll in a healthy Wagoneer.

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      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Thanks, Brian. I could barely keep this one between the lines, so there must have been something wrong :-)

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  6. Brian

    Having owned two of these, an ’84 and ’88 – both Grand Wagoneers, I can report that these are really great, fun to drive trucks. They have two negatives – rust and gas mileage. They are shockingly fun to drive, with select trac, the old 727 transmission always make it feel like your just coasting along. Plenty of room inside, plenty of torque for towing (both of mine were 360s). I’d prefer the Grands for the upgraded, bucket-ish seat interior. The AMC built models were alittle more lost in the 1970s, with the shag carpets, but since the newest ones are over 20 years old now, it’s a good chance that most will need new carpets anyway, so just swap them for cut-pile rugs. Even the newest models were 1970s technology, so things like cruise control and air conditioning usually fail, other electrical grimlins can creep up as well, just to annoy you now and again. I’ve even heard a rumor that there is a Wagoneer out there that still has a working key operated electric gate window switch!

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  7. John A

    I’m surprised no one said anything about the shag carpet??

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  8. Dave Wright

    I have owned and driven many of these vehicles of varying years. Every time I get involved with one (with the exception of the military M715 trucks) I wonder why. A Suburban has more room, cheeper parts and gets much better fuel economy. They are a good vehicle but are not competitive with similar vehicles of other makes. Like a CJ, a small light vehicle that is a fun toy but in practicle use…….no room and worse fuel economey than a good K1500.

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  9. jim s

    this might be in the right price range for a winter/all year round daily driver if the cost to fix the motor is not too great. do a PI, then make an offer, match the wheel/tires and have fun. great find.

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  10. Gary Fogg

    I blew up the picture, that sure looks like a state of MAINE orange inspection sticker on the windshield from 06 07.

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  11. Jim

    I have a ’92 Cherokee (XJ) – the boxy ones – but it’s a Briarwood which gives me the swanky wood trim!! I had an ’89 Grand Wagoneer, white with wood trim, tan interior.. it was really a nice truck but holy cow did it suck gas. 8 MPG on a good day.. I couldn’t sustain it as a daily and it had to go, but I miss it to this day.

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  12. Chuck

    Here is my winter truck when I lived in the mountains of Big Bear, CA. Now that I am in Lake Havasu Arizona, we don’t get snow, so now it is my “dump run” truck.
    How do you like all that great patina ?

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    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Love it! Looks like heaps of fun, and very stylish for dump runs. ;-)

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  13. sir mike

    it’s in Virginia…where it does snow…watch out for serious rust issues.rockers and around t/gate hinges and inner rear wheel wells….i’ve had a 74 and 78 in s/east PA and both had serious rust problems.other than that a nice looking 82.

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  14. Katie S.

    I can’t imagine my life without my ’88 Grand Wagoneer!

    I’ve shared a link to this page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wagoneers-in-the-Spotlight/315634821831250

    All Wagoneer enthusiasts are welcome!


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  15. Chebby Staff

    It’s clean and has classic lines, but as you bid, don’t lose sight of the fact this is 1960s technology with 1982 AMC build quality. I test-drove a 5-year old loaded GW in the early 90s and was shocked at how primitive it felt under all the glued-on “luxury”. And this doesn’t even have that going for it.

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  16. cory

    they are kinda cool. seems like everyone had one when i was a kid. this one doesnt look too bad. personally i torture myself with a first gen land rover discovery in the winters

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  17. John

    I owned a 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited and they’re great vehicles, tough, well built, great to drive in all road conditions BUT when they need major service/parts then they live up to their reputation
    “Just Expect Expensive Parts”

    Traded it on a Toyota..

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    • MDchanic

      I just sold a 2000 Grand Cherokee. I put 300,000 miles on it with only “routine” wear-out parts replaced (starters, alternators, front wheel bearings, etc), and never an engine, transmission, or driveline problem. The A/C still blew cold.

      That car didn’t owe me a penny, though I shudder to think of how much gas it sucked through the fuel filter at 15-16mpg x 300,000.

      A roommate back in school had a Grand Wagoneer that he bought cheap – it kept eating one of its non-adjustable rocker arms. They were cheap down at NAPA, but he never did figure out why.

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  18. DT

    Just empty every pocket,The roof doesnt come off,you arent gonna get a bunch of girls in the backseat,that was a Toyota you were dreaming of

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