Nantucket Special: 1990 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

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In December of 1990, I walked into this small, old-school Jeep-Eagle dealership and bought a new, 1991 Jeep Cherokee, a car that I owned for 325K miles and twenty-five years. But that’s not today’s subject, what caught my attention that day was a new 1991 Jeep Grand Wagoneer which was occupying one of the four available display areas for featuring new cars – yes a very small and well-worn dealership, replete with knotty-pine paneling! I knew nothing about Grand Wagoneers other than they looked like a 1963 vintage GM station wagon of some sort. I also didn’t know that ’91 would be its swan song so I was likely viewing one of the last GWs produced. If we back that up by a year, we’d have today’s 1990 Grand Wagoneer discovery to consider and it appears to be in pretty nice condition in spite of 91K miles of use and 33 years on this earth.  Let’s look more closely, this Jeep is located in Seattle, Washington and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $11,500 with the reserve not yet met.

Another thing that I later learned about Grand Wagoneers is that they haven’t all disappeared, they’ve just migrated to Nantucket, Massachusetts – the last time that I was up there, they were everywhere! And that’s not surprising, they possess certain chic for a particular demographic. Now – some clarity around the name. The Grand Wagoneer was originally just the “Wagoneer” at its 1963 introduction. Known as an “SJ” for its platform designation, it was rechristened as the “Grand Wagoneer” in 1984 when the new, down-sized XJ Cherokee came along with a trim level known as the “Wagoneer”. The Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer lasted through three overlords, Kaiser-Jeep at first, then American Motors (1970-1987), and finally Chrysler Corporation (1987-1991). By the time our subject wagon was assembled, the production numbers were down with only 6,400 rolling off of the Toledo, Ohio line.

There are no details, or engine images (well, there’s a sorta one of the underside), included in the listing – a really poor approach to marketing a car. That leaves us with only images to assist in making an initial assessment – of course, I guess you could contact the seller and he invites that action. The only power plant available in ’90 was a 144 net HP, 360 CI V8 engine connected to an automatic transmission/transfer case arrangement to facilitate four-wheel drive. As stated earlier, this is a 91K mile example so if it has been maintained, and not abused, it should be good to go for some time still.

Externally, no worries, the fake wood veneer is not showing signs of fading or peeling, just a minor, small bubble here or there – normal wear The white finish is still true and there are no observed signs of rust or crash damage though the included images are just awful – there’s only one of the entire vehicle and the rest are snippets – hard to make any determination as to this SUV’s true exterior condition.

The interior images aren’t much better. The upholstery is a burgundy leather and cloth arrangement and what can be seen looks OK, just normal leather creasing. The dash, with its fake wood trim, presents well too – the pad doesn’t appear to be split. The HVAC control head is the same one that my Cherokee possessed and the radio/CD player is a DIN aftermarket replacement.

Final assessment? There’s not enough presented here to make an objective assessment. But any way you cut it, this vintage of the Grand Wagoneer has its fans, in spite of its aged design and fuel-consuming propensity. Of course, if this isn’t the Jeep for you, you could always consider a new, hugely outsized Grand Wagoneer at $100K plus, right?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Big C

    Aren’t there folks out there that are paying close to $100k for these weezy 1990 things, too? I wish I could get the “speculators” hyped up on late 1980’s Ford Tempo’s. So far? No luck…

    Like 10
  2. Shingo
    • Big C

      I’ve seen their ads in Hemmings. Totally amazing money.

      Like 0
      • Bryn Jones

        These things are hardly wheezy! They’re not powerful or fast, but have plenty of torque, which is what counts in this context.

        Like 0
  3. BFrench

    We enjoyed a ‘79 Wagoneer which stayed in the family to over 300,000 miles…and it still sold-on to another owner. Big relaxed cruiser that you and two kids can sleep in.

    Like 4
  4. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac DivaMember

    Hubby (now ex) had a 1972 Wagoneer in a sort of gold color. Best vehicle we ever owned. It was your basic model, very few options, but ran really well. Was a blast to drive. With a V8 (not sure of the displacement) p/s & p/b, am/fm radio, and a power rear window, I think it was an automatic, can’t really remember, it was the mid 90s.
    There was a lot of rust around the rear wheel wells. What do you expect for N.J?
    We put a late 80s GM roof rack on it with the air defuser for the back window. The 4×4 really helped with N.J. winters.
    When we sold it, the guy said he was going to restore it and paint it a metallic green.
    God have mercy on that car!

    Like 3
  5. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Back when you could buy nice ones for a coupe grand and under 1000 for ones that needed a tweak or two, I owned more than a dozen of them in all the flavors…Grand Waggys, J Trucks, a couple Cherokees. Beasts in the snow and quirky as all get out.

    They are for sure a love/hate relationship…and I would go through that a few times a day some days lol.

    One observation is that the GW burgundy interiors always seemed to hold up better than the sand beige for some reason. Never could figure out the reason why.

    Like 3
  6. Bob Weinzierl

    A similar Wagoneer was featured for years on the TV show This Is Us. One of the characters, Chris Sullivan who played Toby bought that beauty from the shows producers. He said they were just gonna sell it off and he said I’ll take it.

    Like 1
  7. JustPassinThru

    I know the history of the J-Series (later relabeled SJ) Wagoneers, intimately. We had one in the family, a 1968. That was under Kaiser, with thicker body sheetmetal; thinner paint; many painted surfaces inside. With thin upholstry in the seats, and plenty of noise.

    The engine was spectacular, but smog laws and use of AMC, not Buick, power would change that.

    What puzzles me is how people came to think of this thing as a road car. Ours saw a fair amount of interstate travel; but even with Warn hubs (optional, back then; many were sold without them) that thing had a practical speed limit of about 60 mph. Oh, the engine was hardly breathing hard; but at about 65, the body would lift off the springs; and start slowly leaning, side to side, as an odd air-disturbances would actually create under-car lift.

    I understand the appeal. I learned to drive on ours. You sat up high; the tactile sensations, engine tone, and the great visibility for the driver, gave an excellent man-machine feel (the Kaiser-era oval steering wheel, less so). But it was no road car. Nor was it especially adept off-road – too wide, too heavy, and in stock form, too low.

    Good to see a few surviving, though. The last year they were made, was 33 years ago. It’s been gone even longer than its 28-year production run.

    Like 0

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