Low-Mile Nantucket Special: 1977 Jeep Wagoneer

For today’s find, we are going to examine what I call a “Nantucket Special” which is better known as a Jeep Wagoneer. Why a Nantucket Special? Because they are all over that island, very popular indeed. I figured that maybe that’s where they all went to die but many examples that I have observed there look far from death; they have either been well maintained or restored. This 1977 example, which resides in Succasunna, New Jersey, is available here on craigslist for $10,900. Thanks to FordGuy 1972 for the tip.

The Jeep Wagoneer, also known as an SJ platform, was in production between 1963 and 1991. I bought a new 1991 Jeep Cherokee (XJ) in December of 1990 from a very small dealership in Jacksonville, Florida and sitting on the showroom floor was a brand new, full tilt Jeep Grand Wagoneer, probably one of the last examples produced. While I was waiting for forms to be signed, I checked out the Grand Wagoneer closely and marveled at what a throw-back it seemed to be, even by late 1990 standards. The roofline and “D” pillars look like they were lifted from a circa 1961 Fisher body station wagon design and they probably were.

These Jeep Wagoneers (or Grand Wagoneers from 1984 forward) were generally powered by Willys or American Motors engines but there were some outside suppliers in the mix as well. Case in point, a good friend of mine had a ’69 and I believe his had a Buick V8 under the hood. Anyway, in 1977, the power plant would be either an AMC 360 CI or a 401 CI V8 – the seller is silent regarding the engine other than to state that it is a V8 and I can’t discern from the accompanying image the engine’s identity. A single transmission was used in ’77 for the Wagoneer and it is a GM sourced Turbo-Hydramatic three-speed automatic. Oh, did I mention, this 42-year-old SUV only has 35,000 miles on its odometer? That being the case, this Jeep should still have a lot of get-up-and-go and the seller states that he used it as a daily driver for the last six months so I’ll assume that it runs well. No mention is made regarding the operational aspect of the four-wheel-drive power train.

The interior belies its age but lines up well with its low mileage, it is really clean and original. There is some noted discoloration in the carpeting but again, totally expected. The original floor mats are also present and included. The only modification that I spied inside is what appears to be aftermarket speakers cut into the front door cards.

Being a northern California vehicle, I would expect that the body and frame would be pretty fit. The accompanying images don’t indicate any rust or corrosion problems and the seller is mute in this regard. The finish appears to be a wee bit faded but I would expect that at the least – all in all, it looks pretty good.

I have kiddingly said before that Jeep is like the Hope Diamond of auto brands, everyone who has owned it ends up taking a knee while Jeep continues to shoulder on. When the SJ was originally conceived, it was manufactured by Willys-Overland; later in the inaugural year of 1963, it became Kaiser-Jeep. In early 1970, the caretaker was American Motors and then in 1987, it came under the custody of Chrysler Corporation. Long after the Wagoneer was discontinued, Jeep’s overlord was Daimler-Chrysler (1998-2007) followed by Cerberus (2007-2009) and then Fiat/FCA 2009 to present. Now it looks like France’s PSA is going to get in on the action. And just to add to the excitement, FCA has given indications that the Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer will be returning in 2022- stay tuned! I like this one, I think it’s a good buy, I’m trying to convince myself to buy it and head to Nantucket – prices are a lot better there! How about you, any interest in a real deal, low mileage American classic?


  1. Howard A. Member

    Going from the sublime ( Diamond T) to the ridiculous (this). I know, many loved their Wagoneers, my ’78 was the absolute worst vehicle, and I’ve had a few. ( I bet the wiper motor is fried in that position) Aside from something breaking everyday, I could have kept up with it, but as mentioned, rust eventually killed it altogether. The big V8 will consume gallons per mile, not that my 6 was any bargain. It did go through the snow great,( even though the “Quadratrac” switch in the glove box did apparently nothing) when it wasn’t broke, that is. Since it’s not a BF’s sale, I’d run away from this.

    Like 4
    • Robert L Roberge

      I wish you’d really tell us how you really feel. Dad had one, was a great s/w.

      Like 1
      • Howard A. Member

        It was a good concept, my particular experience was poor. I liked the Kaiser Wagoneer, was almost military grade, it’s when AMC took them over, they cheapened up many of the components. Plastic window gears, where Kaiser had metal, crummy electrics, poor metal, and you’d think a vehicle designed for winter, would have had better corrosion treatment, but AMC wanted to sell Wagoneers, and there’s no money in trucks that lasted forever, like the Kaisers.

        Like 1
    • Michael

      Why’d you buy such a POS.

      • Howard A. Member

        That’s an excellent question. I suppose the best answer is, it wasn’t a POS when I bought it. It literally fell apart as I drove it, like a Chinese motorcycle, :)

        Like 2
      • Mike H. Mike H.

        Ha! Like a Chinese motorcycle. . . You SLAY me, Howard.

        I’ve missed seeing you around here lately and I’m glad to see you’re here.

        Like 1
  2. KevinLee

    I had a ’77 Cherokee Chief that was my DD for 3 years. Howard has some valid points, but I didn’t seem to mind the Jeep’s shortcomings. Up to that point, all my vehicles were old trucks. Now I have a late model Murano and while it’s a very good car, it lacks any of the character an old truck or car has. It would for me, be fun to have this as an occasional driver, bring back memories of wallowing in curves, gas fumes, and wondering if the mystery switch in the glove box did indeed, engage.

    Like 4
  3. That AMC Guy

    Lots of Hornet interior pieces to be found here, such as instruments, steering wheel, switchgear, door arm rests, interior door handles, and rear door ashtrays. AMC’s standard operating procedure was to wring as much value out of their parts bin as possible.

    Like 2
  4. TimM

    I’ve had quite a few Jeep’s but mostly CJ’s and YJ’s and my old bronco’s could take them to the cleaners!! I did have a 67 Cherokee and a 68 as well!! One had a V-8 the other a Straight 6 they didn’t get good fuel economy but I didn’t buy them for that!! They were roomy and the three speed standard transmission let you have a little fun too!! They were good trucks but before the days of computerization!!!

    Like 1
  5. John

    And because some BaT folks cant stand red heater hoses we have opted for blue. Hardly noticable on a blue vehicle…

  6. La Riviera

    Oh long lost friend! How could I have forgotten all of the fun and surprises you gave me and my family growing up in Northern California! I remember a 10 year old version of me going with my dad to pick up the brand new ‘77 Wagoneer at the AMC dealership in Concord, CA. Ours was orange – brown metallic and loaded with every option.
    Initially, we loved it! The space of a large wagon with the capacity to change to 4 week drive for winter trips to the Sierra Nevada mountains without having to go outside to change the hubs. How quickly our enthusiasm changed to concern, then doubt, then anger, then disgust as this Jeep proved itself to be the absolute nadir of build quality of the 70s decade.
    How can I forget going to soccer practice when both dome lights came loose and dangled like Christmas ornaments on the same day when the Jeep was 2 months old? Or when the Jeep was 4 months old and leaked most of its antifreeze in a shopping mall parking lot? Or when the heater stopped working while on a Christmas trip to Yosemite? Or when the driveshaft failed on the same Yosemite trip requiring a detour to Fresno to fix it & the heater? Or the night driving home at night when the headlights inexplicably stopped working? I guess we were fortunate to have a lightening storm to provide some light. Or when the rear window power motor quit in the full down position after loading the Jeep in Los Angeles for a trip back home? Or the fun of getting wet whenever it rained if you sat too close to the door in the rain or car wash?
    Seriously folks, I would think twice before giving this to my worst enemy. The engine and transmission of the Wagoneer are likely the best parts of it. The rest is complete garbage and should be disposed of like radioactive waste.
    Thanks however for the trip down memory lane.

    Like 1
  7. PatrickM

    I had one of these in maroon with a 360 auto. It was pretty good. A little much on gas… but, not bad. Couldn’t afford anything newer on with better mpg, so,… well, you know.

  8. David Ulrey

    Does it belong to a man from Nantucket? I’ll back quietly out the door now.

    Like 1

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