Wyoming Roadside Find: 1979 Jeep Wagoneer

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As I was buzzing across Wyoming this morning, at legal highway speeds, of course, I spied this 1979 Jeep Wagoneer parked in someone’s driveway near the side of the road. After deploying the parachute.. I slowed down enough to turn around and check it out. It was somewhere on the north side of US Highway 26 (20) in Wyoming between Shoshoni and Casper, I think this may be the spot. The seller is asking $2,000 for this solid Wyoming Wagoneer.

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This Morocco Buff-colored Wagoneer is in pretty nice shape, body-wise. Well, other than, as you noticed in the first photo the entire grille assembly is missing! I got super excited when I saw it thinking that it was a 1963/4/5 Wagoneer! But, alas, apparently Jeep just kept changing the grille assembly without changing the hood or much else about the design of the Wagoneer over it’s 28-year run. Production ended in 1991 for what some folks have called the first, or one of the first, SUVs. 1979 was the first year for square headlights and this new front end design was affectionately known as the pig-nose grille. Ouch. Or, the BBQ grille, which is a little nicer. You can buy an aftermarket replacement grille for less than $300 and bolt it on. I kind of like it without a grille, but that’s just me. I’d put a couple of round headlights on it and drive it as is. This would be a fantastic, inexpensive winter vehicle for those of us in the upper-Midwest who have to deal with snow for 3-4-5-6 months out of every year.

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There’s that missing grille! Or, where the missing grille would be attached. Here’s what it should look like up there, it’s not my favorite grille treatment but the ’63/4/5 models are uber-expensive and out of reach for anyone who would actually drive one of these in the winter (snow) and risk any rust damage.

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Speaking of rust, this is the only rust-through that I saw on this Wagoneer; not bad at all for a 37-year old vehicle! It wouldn’t take much to restore the body on this one at all if that’s what a person wanted to do. The “for sale” sign lists that it runs great but it needs to have a replacement transfer case put in, which comes with the sale. So, this one isn’t a drive-it-home vehicle, unfortunately. I’m guessing that it wouldn’t be worth spending $1,000 to ship this Wagoneer to your garage so it’ll have to be someone in the local area that’ll nab this one up. NADA low-retail is around $3,600 for a ’79 Wagoneer and $9,000 for an average-retail, so if you’re a vehicle-flipper, this one isn’t going to work out.

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There’s a missing trim piece there, but the doors were unlocked, and as you can tell, the rear window is open! That can’t be good. I looked in there and I could see it behind the removed panel on the tailgate, along with a driveshaft on the floor in the back. The doors were rock solid and closed great and all lined up perfectly.

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The seats were perfect, other than being dirty. The top of the dash has swallowed the rear view mirror which is a little strange. I’m not sure what engine is in this one, I regret not opening the hood now. I felt weird even opening the doors to take the interior photos, but they were unlocked and it was sitting out by the road so I took a chance. Luckily a rattlesnake didn’t jump out.

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The rear passenger area looks like it’s pretty much perfect other than needing a thorough cleaning and a new rubber floor mat; the front could use one of those, too. I couldn’t stop thinking about this Wagoneer all day and I’m still thinking about it. It was so solid and other than that one small rust area this thing would look great with a good compound/buff job, a new trim piece for the LR door, and maybe even a $300 replacement grille. I most likely couldn’t do the transfer case on my own, but maybe with a friend or two we could figure it out. For $2,000 what do you think about this roadside Wagoneer? I think it would be a great, inexpensive winter/snow vehicle. The phone number of the seller is available for anyone who is genuinely interested!

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Run Scotty, RUN!!! I know, we go back and forth whether these were good trucks, some say yes, I say no. I had a ’78 like this, and was one of the worst vehicles I ever owned. Great concept, although some say the IH Scout was the 1st SUV, the Kaiser Wagoneer’s were much better. Just looking at this, I see so many of the things that broke on mine, are here as well. Back window quit ( usually in the down position) window cranks broke off, tail gate doesn’t close properly and that’s just we can see.( other things on mine, gauge’s quit, wiper motor, driver’s side window fell into the door, and so on. Finally junked it when the rear leaf spring broke through the floor, (again, not the Jeep’s fault) Went through the snow great, but I’d stay clear of something like this. The “Quadra-Trac” button in the glovebox made a hissing sound, but didn’t seem to make any difference, and whatever you do, don’t put lockouts on the front. I tried that ( in an effort to increase the awful gas mileage, even with a 6) and it wouldn’t move. I’d take a Scout anyday over this.

    • JCW Jr.

      If it was hissing get then it had a bad vacuum line. I got on from. A dealer cheap cause 4×4 did not work. A line was of at the switch. Had it fixed before we left the lot.

  2. wuzjeepnowsaab

    79 was the first year for the “pignose” grille…arguably the worst of all of the different fronts treatments for these. Unlike Howard, I think these are great trucks…on paper at least. The execution was bad because these wonderful and capable vehicles were caught between the rock of the EPA dn the hard place of a company that was bleeding money. Poor workmanship and quality control. Miles of vacuum hoses with CTO valves to handle the emissions requirements, carbureted right through to the very last GW that came off the line…Chrysler couldn’t dump the truck soon enough.

    That said, I challenge you to find a better, more comfortable off-road, snow crushing vehicle. A better turning circle than most cars on the road, a few great transfer cases throughout its run with first the Dana20 then the QuadraTrac and finally the NP cases.

    10mpg sucks…and that’s the mileage you’ll get rain, snow, sun, city and highway. I used to joke that I never passed a gas station ;) Also, to own one of these you better know how to turn a wrench because taking these to mechanic for every little thing…and there will be lots of ‘every little things’ will bleed you dry.

    Love them; hate them; often many times in the same day haha, these get in your blood…and under your skin. Which is good because you’re bound to leave some on them as well

    • Howard A Member

      Hi wuz, to be clear, I thought they were good trucks too. I’ve had several flat fendered Willy’s and knew people with the “J” series Kaiser’s, and was disappointed when I got the AMC Cherokee, thinking it would be the same. And for the record, Dave, I now know it was the transfer case on Quarda-Trac’s that prevented lock-outs from working. I replaced the Cherokee with a full size Bronco, and that truck was a much nicer unit.

  3. Dave Wright

    I don’t think these were a particularly bad vehicle, we never liked the full time four wheel drive……..but knew better than trying to put free wheeling Hubs on them (what was that about?) They are not a fair comparison to a Scout, this is a larger 4 door vehicle closer to. Travelall. They were a little more civilized than the Travelalls that I love but the same fuel economy for a smaller less capeable vehicle was the rub with us at the time. If I wanted one, I would look for a nicely equipped one that had seen service more on the city streets than the back country of Wyoming, there were lots of them that never were off the pavement. They were a favorite of suburban soccer moms of the time and many were very plush. They were very expensive new.

  4. leo judice

    I wish I could see the for sale sign really good so I can get this fellow info

  5. guggie

    Had a 79 one of the best vehicles I ever had , traded it for a Bronco , one of the worst vehicles I ever had , traded the Bronco for a Ramcharger had that for 9 years except for poor gas mileage 10 on average couldn’t kill it , plowed snow and towed just about any thing never let me down !! Wagoneer was not great on gas either but it never let me down . By the way I was the guy that drove the snow plow and all of these vehicles got me to work on some really crappy nights !

    • Howard A Member

      Hi guggie, proof positive, there are good units and bad units with no matter what you buy. I just had a bad unit, but would never condemn all of these because of that (like some people do) Now, for me, the full size Bronco did a great job.( one of the few units my ex couldn’t kill, and she ruined every vehicle I had) Comfy, roomy, dynamite heater ( can’t say the same for the Cherokee) and aside from the dismal mileage, even WITH lockouts, the Bronco only let me down once, ( distributor gear pin on the 300, which I heard was a standard thing). And I’m confused, didn’t the snowplow person drive a VW??? :)

      • guggie

        actually had several , but when you get a call at3am and there is already 18 inches of in plowed snow on the road a VW stays in the garage. time for a real 4×4 !! LOL !

  6. CountryJoe

    My wife had a 1984 Grand Wagoneer when we lived in Buffalo, Wyo. It was not exactly your run of the mill AMC family truckster. I built the 360 with .030 over pistons, a little bit hotter cam than stock, an Edelbrock intake and 4 barrel carb and a set of mid length Hedman hedders. As usual, the leaf springs were flat and headed for negative arch, so I installed a 4″ Skyjacker Softride suspension, which wound up giving it a 5 1/2″ lift. After all that, I bought a 29 gallon Aerotank to bolt to the frame behind the rear axle. The body was actually in very good condition, besides the sun peeled wood grain vinyl on the passenger side of the truck. I had replaced every nylon power window drive track at least once and was starting the cycle over. The icing on that turd was the perfect condition Gladiator grill, medallions and round headlights that I found on a 1964 Jeep truck in the only auto salvage yard in Buffalo. I think they only wanted $35.00 for those parts. I found it pretty amusing that the radiator support on the 1984 was virtually identical to the 1964. I still can’t believe I sold that Wagoneer. It was a beast in deep Wyoming snow.

    • leo martin judice

      Wow Joe, I’ve wish I could of seen the beast you had. Sound like what I need. I’m looking for a wildlife hunting vehicle, it’s bad in the woods so the body don’t have to be perfect. It has to be a4x4. Keep a eye out for me
      Thanks Joe
      Leo Judice

    • leo martin judice

      Do you still have the jeep that is for sale I will love to get it. I’ve been trying to get rid of this 427 chevy engine, but the check the fellow sent me was no good. I think the fellow was trying to get over me. But I would love to purchase the jeep from you if you still have it, my cell number is 504-905-1151and my name is Leo

      • Country Joe

        Sorry Leo, that Wagoneer is long gone. I sold it to my pastor in Buffalo in probably 2004. We replaced it with a 1994 full size Blazer. Absolutely loved that truck as well, we explored the Forest Service roads in the Big Horn Mountains for 3 more years in that rig, before we moved to Arkansas.

  7. mike

    is that 79 waggoneer worth $400.

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