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Nantucket Cruiser: 1987 Jeep Wagoneer XJ Limited

Despite New England having a well-deserved reputation for being incredibly harsh on vehicles, some vintage cars and trucks emerge unscathed if appropriated a certain lifestyle. In the case of this gorgeous 1987 Jeep Wagoneer Limited, it has lived on the island of Nantucket off and on for 33 years and remains in rust-free condition. The Wagoneer trim did extend down to the XJ line, but note it was not a Grand Wagoneer; that label still applied only to the top-dog Jeep 4×4. This Wagoneer Limited has 147,400 miles and a variety of tasteful upgrades and maintenance work already completed. Find it here on craigslist in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts for $10,750.

Between visiting Cape Cod and the surrounding islands throughout the year and also frequenting the many junkyards scattered around the south coast of Massachusetts, I can attest that older vehicles do surprisingly well there. Credit the very scaled-back snowfalls the island communities receive versus those of us on the mainland and it begins to make sense. Also, many of the vintage 4x4s were used for beach vehicles and not cast out into the slop of winter and its salt-caked roads. That alone helps to ensure a high rate of survival. This Wagoneer Limited comes with a full assortment of factory upgrades, including leather seats and fake wood trim on the sides of the body.

The trim itself looks to be in fine shape, but I’m more drawn in by those rust-free fenders. The seller notes the undersides are just as spotless with no holes in the floors or frame. The Wagoneer has been upgraded with an adjustable track bar, upgraded shocks and a three-inch lift, and 755 lb. capacity rear leaf springs. The Wagoneer rides on upsized 31×10.5 R15 Michelin XC LT4 tires but the original wheels and tires are included. Some proactive maintenance performed by the seller includes installing a new fuel tank and sending unit; fresh serpentine belt, spark plugs, and air filter; replaced the front main seal, tail shaft seal, front axle U-joints, and valve cover gasket; and replaced the front wheel bearing hubs.

The Wagoneer Limited looks tough on its upgraded suspension and modern wheels, but I’d like to see a more classic design choice for the rollers. The Wagoneer retains its original stacked headlights, blacked-out grille treatment, bumper-mounted fog lights (and the impossible-to-find covers), and factory roof rack. The seller notes the original R12 A/C system still blows cold and that the factory headliner is not sagging, two extremely hard to find original details in a vehicle of this vintage. I have little doubt the seller will have any trouble finding a buyer at his asking price, especially as vacationers and islanders alike hope for a do-over of the 2020 summer season.


  1. Avatar photo Rich

    Yeah guess I could see that price, but only if George Costanza let me keep it at his place in the Hamptons…

    Like 7
    • Avatar photo 370zpp Member

      *Prickly Pete* Wasn’t that the name of one of George’s horses he also kept at his place in the Hamptons?

      Like 5
  2. Avatar photo mike

    No mention of the engine??? Well one bad pic on craigslist fortunately shows the indestructible straight six. Despite the mods and being the top of the line model this is only a $5,000 vehicle at best.

    Like 9
    • Avatar photo Eric B

      It’s worth whatever someone will pay, which will without a doubt be more than $5g

      Like 4
  3. Avatar photo David Z.

    Hard to find in the first place, even harder to find in this condition. I find it impossible to justify the asking price with 147,000 miles on it.
    If it wasn’t a thousand miles away, I would check it out.

    Like 1
  4. Avatar photo Bob_in_TN Member

    With the maroon paint and the woodgrain and the brown interior, this Jeep gives off a classy vibe. Which makes the oversized tire/wheel package look out of place. I’m with Jeff, I’d go back to the stock look.

    I think clean, low-mileage examples of these Jeeps, and (especially) 1991-1994 Ford Explorers, are future collectibles. Stylish, popular, trend-setting vehicles.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo M_Wolf

      I had a 94 Explorer XLT, red, with tan leather and interesting options for the time. It had auto headlights, diming rear view, inflatable lumbar and bolsters, and keyless entry. Sharp looking SUV if in good shape. But the 1st gen Explorers had some problems. Before 93, the heads warped or cracked easily (they changed the cast in 93), the A4LD transmission was all but promised to develop an issue, especially if previous owners didn’t maintain it to spec. In mine, the poston rings gave, and at that point, it already forgot it had 2nd gear. In its last year of life, I spent $5k limping it along before the engine went kaput. Body was still pretty good, but the drivetrain was shot at 175,000 miles. Who knows what the previous owners did for maintenance? Dad had a 92 tvat went 500k before the transmission became senile and started forgetting a gear. He bought the 94 a few years before it was given to me.

      I’d pick this Jeep or a Grand Wagoneer to satisfy my old SUV cravings over a 1st-3rd gen Explorer. Unless it was a 1st gen, nicely optioned, with the rare 5 speed stick, or a 2nd gen with the 5.0. Other configurations are too problematic.

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo unclemymy Member

      Yeah, the silly-a**ed balloon tires make me believe this thing spent part of it’s life full of drunken teenagers, windows-deep in a backwoods mud-hole. Ruins any chance of achieving the price that a dignified example might deserve.

      Like 1
  5. Avatar photo Joe M

    I had the 1986 version of this Jeep in blue with the wood grain sides, and the same interior in tan. Was a great vehicle, I was lucky to have a mechanic that kept the slant 6 running smooth like a top. The original wheels were aluminum and very 80’s modular discs. These wheels are a nice upgrade. Unfortunately mine was sandwiched between a Toyota Corolla and an impala on the interstate. It held up well with minimal damage, pushed in bumpers. I regret not buying it back at the insurance auction.

    Like 0
  6. Avatar photo Alan Robbins

    Sold one of these – 2 years older – in minty condition with the V6 and a stick, 80,000 miles, $5K. After bringing it. back to life (It had sat in the garage at my parent’s condo for 20 years) was my daily driver for a year. Had the Jeep Death Wobble, bad, I spent $4K trying to fix it, gave up and let it go.

    Ease off the Interstate onto the ramp, touch the brakes, wonder if you’re going to die THIS TIME…

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo M.C.S.

    This is an awesome vehicle, in excellent condition. Very rarely have I ever seen one on the road, and even then, they are often in very rough shape.

    However, the lifted suspension and oversized wheels on this example look terrible. If I owned it, I would immediately put the stock wheels and tires back on, and lower it to the original ride height.

    Like 2
  8. Avatar photo #69pacecar

    I had the jeep cherokee bought new in 87 with the straight six and manual transmission and loved it. Even my wife loved driving it. The only thing I found wrong was it would lose all the clutch fluid whenever the temp here would go below -20c, only to find out that it was gradually filling up the bellhousing. After several years I had the tranny pulled and had warned the mechanic of the possibility of getting wet and sure enough he got a shower as he pulled it. He replaced the slave cylinder which was in side the bellhousing and had no trouble after that.

    Like 0

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