Live Auctions

Grandpa’s 4X4: 1987 Jeep Wrangler

This original-appearing, almost-survivor 1987 Jeep Wrangler was only pulled from storage last week in Fremont, California, but the seller tells us it fired right up on new gasoline! It’s listed for sale here on craigslist with an asking price of $10,500. Check out those stock stripes!

The 1987 Jeep Wrangler was the first model year of the “YJ” generation. It was also introduced right in the middle of the transition from AMC owning Jeep to Chrysler owning what was left of AMC. Combine that with the controversial switch to square headlights (oh, what a crime!) and this 1987 Jeep would certainly have been a hot topic of conversation when Grandpa purchased it! This Jeep has the optional factory air conditioning which was pretty unusual for the time, even in California.

And there they are in all their square glory! Most folks were happy that Jeep returned to round headlights with the next generation of Wrangler, but you have to admit, there’s no mistaking a YJ from the front. This jeep seems to be in pretty nice shape apart from that bent front bumper; thankfully replacement bumpers are available for around $100. I think that’s a block heater sticking out the front?

The seller makes a big deal about the interior of the Jeep; honestly, it’s in okay shape for a driver, but the seat covers, steering wheel cover and cracked armrest don’t help matters, especially at the asking price. I think there’s a cracked dash top as well, but it’s hard to tell conclusively from the pictures.

If you’ve read any of the AMC or Jeep posts I’ve written in the past, you’ll know that the 232/258/4.0 straight-six is one of my favorite engines of all time. The seven (!) main bearing design and robust components make for a very reliable and long-lived engine. When new, this 4.2 liter engine (note, the 4.0 Power-Tech was not available yet in the Wrangler) was good for 112 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque. The 1987 Wrangler would do 0-60 in 11.1 seconds; not exactly a screamer, but that’s not why you’d buy a Wrangler–and not why you would buy this one now. Does the originality and lack of apparent rust outweigh the potential issues from storage and interior wear? Can you get past the Beige (hey, don’t complain at me, no fancy paint names for AMC in 1987)? Let us know what you think, and thank you to T. J. for the tip!

Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Well, I’m no grandpa, although my views certainly reflect that moniker( pull up your pants, you punk) and ALWAYS refreshing to see your vehicle commanding 3 times what one paid, old story with shades of “squarebody” behind it. I simply must disagree with the author, the “square” headlights are NOT a crime, in fact, it was considered a breath of fresh air. At the time,( 80s) square headlights were all the rage, and the Jeep needed a refreshening. Round headlights just looked old, and I was disappointed when they went back to round. Despite your headlight views, the YJ was much more than that. A wider stance, and lower, better heat, new dash, better gearing, “on the fly” 4wd( no lockouts) it was a much improved unit. I happen to have the 2.5, 4 cylinder, while Jim offers the rightful praise of the 6 cylinder, the only way to get any kind of decent mileage, was to go with the 2.5. It’s a 6 with 2 cylinders lopped off, and still has all the dependability of the 6, just a bit “hill shy”, but can deliver over 20mpg on a flat, and for a Jeep, it’s good enough for me.
    Now, would I spend $10gs on one? When pigs fly ( oh look, there goes one now) I’m not sure why you’d need a engine heater in Cal., but I love mine, I’m glad I waited for one instead of “settling” for a CJ. Nothing wrong with a CJ, if you like glorified military Jeeps, the YJ “civilized” the Wrangler, and a great find,,,for half the asking price.

    Like 12
    • Eric B

      I think the square headlight being a crime comment was sarcasm, since so many people whine about them for some weird reason. But, that’s just a guess, maybe they’re also sincerely whining.

      Would it have looked better with rounds? Yes, but it’s not a big deal and easy for me to look past since the YJ is by far the best Jeep ever with only the final iteration of the CJ as maybe being better only aesthetically. The TJ’s sloped the hood down and opened up the wheels, making the proportions look all off and eliminating sheet metal on a vehicle that already doesn’t have much. Anything after the TJ we don’t need to bother mentioning. Jeep died.

      Like 7
      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

        Thank you for recognizing the sarcasm, Eric.

        Like 2
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Howard, the line about square headlights was sarcasm…you know me better than that!

      Like 3
      • Howard A Member

        Hi Jamie, it’s cool, but there really is a rift about the headlights. I used to be the “king” of sarcasm, as you can probably tell. However, with as bad as things are today, I’m finding sarcasm isn’t so funny anymore. People actually take offense, when it’s supposed to be just fun. Eric says “Jeep died”,,,well, yes and no. Jeeps as we know them may have died, but my son-in-law just bought a new Rubicon Gladiator 4 door pickup, and bought it for many of the same reasons people buy Jeeps. Even with the heated gas pedals and ride control( or whatever) there still is nothing like it, style and function-wise. It still looks like a Jeep( kind of) and can go anywhere these go, just a bit cushier.
        Thanks for all your work, Jamie,, :)

        Like 6
      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

        No offense taken, Howard, I always enjoy your comments. As someone who was crazy enough to race (and win!) with an Austin (Morris) Marina, I really can’t afford to throw ANY stones at vehicles, because I surely have a “glass garage”! 😁

        Like 4
    • Lothar... of the Hill People

      Howard:

      EPA says you get about the same mpg (average of 17) w/ the 6-cylinder engine as compared to the 4, at least in 1987:

      https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=4082&id=4081&id=4083

      I’m not sure if it’s accurate but that’s the government’s take on it. Just FYI.

      ~Lothar

      Like 4
      • Howard A Member

        Hi Lothar, that’s true, and one is much better off with the 6. Simply, the 4 cylinder works too hard. Plus, being as aerodynamic as a brick, it’s not supposed to be a mileage champ. My SILs new Jeep gets about 18 right off the lot. The thing is, I’m used to underpowered vehicles, and if driven gingerly, ( downwind, down hill helps greatly) I can get over 20, and for the pretty much “local” driving, or back roads, it’s good enough for me. If the 4cylinder pukes, a 6/automatic( automatic not offered on the 4 cyl. for good reason) will take it’s place. Aside from “lapse of reason” buying, my Jeep should be the last vehicle I will ever buy.

        Like 1
  2. Rw

    People who whine about rectangular headlights need to get a life.have a 91 4.0 HO first year for 4.0 in YJ also my wife has 94 4.0,both have close to 300k, some of the Jeep,or any other vehicles built.

    Like 6
    • Eric B

      It’s such a stupid thing to complain about and focus on. No matter what you think of their headlights, the YJ is by far the best looking and overall Jeep of all time. I had a green 94 Sahara that I foolishly sold, but now have a 93 XJ. Not the same, but you can fit a lot more and same great engine.

      Like 4
  3. Rw

    Best

  4. Big C

    The black sheep of the Wrangler family. There’s a reason Chrysler went back to round headlights. My nephew owned a YJ, what a heap. But, it was a $1000 Jeep, held together with diamond plate and fiberglass mesh.

    Like 2
  5. NHDave

    I’m thinking this Wrangler originally may have been a soft-top vehicle, with the hard-top and full doors added later. There’s only one outside rear-view mirror that is cowl-mounted on the driver’s side. That was the standard base model setup. The optional full metal doors had rear view mirrors mounted to the doors. And, the interior metal surfaces of the doors are not body color here. It appears they were originally a dark (black or blue, possibly) color and the door’s exterior surfaces were painted to match the body color (perhaps that’s when the door-mounted mirrors were lost).

    Jamie is right to mention the very real controversy that greeted the square headlights of the YJ when it launched. The round headlights and turn signals/parking lights were just as much a part of the Jeep face as the iconic grille from the WWII jeeps through the CJ series. It may seem silly now, but the change to square lights was a big deal to those who valued the tradition and history. And, it’s only been in recent years that Jeep purists have relaxed a bit and embraced the YJ, despite its headlight “non-conformity.” I say this as the caretaker of a WWII GPW and the original owner of a ‘87 Wrangler. And, I cherish both.

    Like 6
    • Howard A Member

      Hi Dave, thanks for that. The hardtop was meant to be removed, but dropping the windshield ( it’s still on hinges) requires removal from the rollbar. The “half doors” were included in mine, but were never used. Like many of these “updated” versions of old designs, let’s face it, the CJ was old fashioned, and a poor seller, I think it was the YJ that literally saved Jeep from extinction, like the Mustang ll or AMF with Harley.

      Like 2
  6. Craig

    a bargain price!

  7. Bob McK Member

    I recently sold my 92 with square headlights to someone for $20K. It was a loaded Sahar edition with 53K miles on it. I was truly amazed!

    Like 4
  8. richard thomas

    i have an 87 yj jeep i just bought it. it’s in the shop going thru a complete tune up, oil change and anything else it might need. a new clutch kit and fly wheel has a 4-inch lift can hardly wait to use it

    Like 3
  9. Elroythekid

    Jeeps have round headlights, and Corvettes ha e round taillights.
    My 02c.
    Flame shields to full….

    Like 3
  10. Carbob Member

    I’ve had my 1993 six cylinder manual transmission YJ for six years now. It’s just a fun cruiser so I’ve only added a few thousand miles. But its closing in on 190K and still runs like a champ. Doesn’t burn a drop of oil; leak any fluids and starts right up every time. And tell me what other vehicle you can drive either the doors off. I was going to sell it last year but I changed my mind. I’m glad I did! The Jeep for sale is a decent deal if there is no rust. That’s hard to find here in the Mid Atlantic. Plus this appears to be a unmolested stock Jeep. That’s hard to find too. GLWTS!

    Like 3
    • Howard A Member

      It’s amazing the miles these things accrue. I looked at one YJ, it had 325K, cripes, he had 140K on the replacement motor! Rust is unavoidable. My nephew had one in Wisconsin, the frame rusted. Mine, even as a “Colorado” truck, has some rust on the drivers floor, common, not from salt, but from leaking rain water, and collecting there. I AM a bit concerned about a clutch replacement soon, but well worth the investment,,apparently.

  11. Chris

    If this was in the midwest, I’d be seriously interested for that price. Of course, if it was in the midwest, it also would be unlikely to look like that. They’re almost all rust buckets here.

    Like 3
  12. bikefixr

    If I could have 100% confidence in the deal being real and going through, I’s jump on this right now. But, I’m in NJ and I find non-dealer long-distance deals are a big pain in the ass when sellers start making demands and lack patience to get the car picked up and transported, or they don’t understand wire transfers….so I have to pass.

    Like 1
    • Howard A Member

      Transportation is a nightmare these days, I’d never do it again. You are better off renting a UHaul and dolly, cost be darned. Besides, there are so many of these, you should be able to find one sparingly used on the east coast. For a while, it was “hip” to pull these behind motor homes. Friend of mine, her boss had a motorhome and pulled a Wrangler behind, JUST TO LOOK COOL,,,I know, but he never actually drove the Jeep, so they are out there. I would be leery of a far away purchase as well.After an exhaustive search spanning all of Colorado, I found mine 15 miles away. Go figure,,,,

  13. Bunky

    I have a ‘94 YJ 4 cylinder/5 speed. It’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys. YJs are a good entry level Jeep. The shortcomings of the early models were dealt with by ‘94. Y not J ?

    Like 1

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