XJ Excellence! 1988 Jeep Wagoneer Limited

Disclosure: This site may receive compensation from some link clicks and purchases.

Some cars make a much more memorable impression on you than others. For me, it was a 1991 Jeep Cherokee that I bought in December of ’90, and drove regularly until September of 2015. It sat for a year and I finally sold it to a friend of my son’s about a year later. All told it saw 325K miles that were mostly trouble-free. I had a bit of a wondering Jones going on during that time and the Jeep was always with me – sort of like a faithful dog. With that fond memory still in place, I thought it would be a pleasant trip down memory lane to review this 1988 Jeep XJ Wagoneer Limited. It’s located in Ashland, Mississippi, is essentially in survivor condition, and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $7,100 with the reserve not yet met.

The year 1984 was a big one for Jeep. The brand-new XJ platform, a compact SUV, was introduced and offered in both Cherokee and Wagoneer models. They are essentially the same with the differences being the Wagoneer’s faux wood flanks and over/under headlights. There was also a “Commanche” pickup truck version added to the lineup too. As for the old SJ Wagoneer, it was rechristened as the Grand Wagoneer. Due to Chrysler Corporation’s 1987 acquisition of American Motors, generally speaking, the ’84 through ’87 examples were made by AMC with the ’88 and going forward vehicles being products of ChryCo.

This Wagoneer presents quite well and with 124K miles on its clock, it should have quite a bit of life still to go. The original white finish and Dinoc transfers present well. The seller claims no rust issues and there is no evidence of crash damage. I would imagine that this Jeep has seen a lot of garage time as the finish isn’t showing any signs of fade – something that my Spinnaker Blue Cherokee had not been able to escape in spite of a good deal of indoor time.

One of Jeep’s best engineering feats was the 1987 introduction of their 4.0 liter, in-line six-cylinder engine – in this case, a 177 net HP variant. Mine was bulletproof and I imagine this example probably is too though the seller makes no mention of operating or driving characteristics. The drive train includes an Aisin-Warner automatic transmission (another durable, high-mileage piece) and Command-Trac four-wheel drive components.

As for the interior, the seller mentions that the headliner is in sound shape – good to know, mine gave it up at about the thirteen-year mark and needed to be replaced. The rest of the leather (this car is a Limited edition) and cloth upholstery show well with little indication of age or hard usage degradation. The seller mentions that the speedometer is shaky up to 40 MPH (sounds like a cable problem though mine was fully electronic), the power radio antenna is stuck in the up position but the A/C is still cold. There are no included images of the cargo area but considering this Jeep’s overall condition, it’s logical to assume that there are no worries with the way back.

I definitely don’t want to go home again so I haven’t shopped for another Cherokee since mine departed home in 2016. And if I were to do so, I’d look for a Cherokee and not a Wagoneer – I’m not a fan of the cellulose look. That said, this is an excellent example, one that I imagine has a lot of life still to live. Rare? Nah, there were something like 2.8 M XJ’s produced, domestically, from ’84 into ’01 but finding a top-line model in this condition is unusual and I imagine, it will find a new home soon. So, tell me, are there any current or former XJ owners out there that have a story to share?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Scrapyard John

    I’m not far from Ashland. Ehh…I like it, but I don’t think these are $7k vehicles in places like Ashland, MS. Probably why it’s on EBay to capture a broader market. I’d be a buyer for around $5k, although $6 is probably fair. It’s cool, though. Good luck to the seller and the new owner.

    Like 4
  2. Cold Bob

    I have a 92 with 260k miles. Family keeps trying to convince me to sell it and buy something new. Just something about it that’s hard to explain but I smile everytime I drove it.

    Like 8
  3. Darren Rapp

    I have an 89 xj 4.0 5 speed that i bought in 2007. It was my daily driver for about ten years. By that time it was needing the brakes and front suspension rebuilt, and I ended up just parking it. I thought about selling it a few times, but it always fired right up, and would get you where you needed to go if needed. A couple of years ago idecided to get it back on the road, and went through it, freshened up all its worn mechanical parts, and have been using it as my winter/backup driver vehicle. I’m thankful that i never followed through with selling it.

    Like 12
  4. RJ

    I had a 1998 Cherokee Sport. That Jeep was so nimble. Even in the deepest snow I rarely had to engage four wheel drive.

    Like 7
    • John Ouellette

      I just drove by one for sale and thinking it might be a good backup vehicle

      Like 1
    • Bamapoppy

      In the 80’s I looked at one of these but when I got in my head was rubbing the headliner even with the seat in the lowest position. Hated that because I was really impressed with vehicle.

      Like 0
      • Cooper

        You know, a person shrinks with age. You’d probably fit now. 🤣

        Like 1
  5. Joe M

    I had a blue 1986 model with tan leather exactly like this. Took on kayaking trips in the mountains regularly. Never had any major issues. I was lucky at the time to have a mechanic that kept it running like a top. What I remember most that it was perfectly proportioned and was a ton of fun in the deep snow. Unfortunately it was sandwiched in an accident and held up remarkably well. I was the only one to drive home from the accident. Just bumpers pushed in a little. I had to unwillingly give it up to auction to collect the insurance. This one brings back great memories. If it was blue I would lad be buying it.

    Like 5
  6. GasGas318

    I’ve had 3 of them. An 88, 96, and 01. All of them were bullet proof. Unfortunately I can’t say the same thing for the 2016 Cherokee Trailhawk I had. Jeep lost a lifetime customer over that one.

    Like 6
  7. JustPassinThru

    Some more Jeep history:

    The insertion of the Rambler six…not yet reborn as the Jeep 4.0 six…was a complete accident. AMC was in transition. Renault had taken a major stake in the company; had lent it significant cash; had agreed to license a Renault to be manufactured by AMC.

    The takeover wasn’t complete but Renault lieutenants were calling the shots.

    Veteran AMC engineers were put to the legacy lines; and also, the new Jeep project, the XJ. I don’t know how far along that was before the Renault takeover – Dick Teague had gotten design money for it about 1975. It was not a Renault program – the French Connection didn’t get SUVs at all.

    AMC guys did what they did best. Parts-bin engineering; seat-of-the-pants development. They discarded all conventional rules – they went with coil springs with a solid-beam front axle, with the theory, later proven, that it was BETTER handling in adverse weather situations.

    But, when it came to planned engines, Renault people stepped in. The AMC four was well along in development. Good. They approved. There was no V6 (ironic since nine years earlier they sold the Buick/Kaiser V6 tooling back to GM) so they contracted with GM for the Chevrolet V6. Obviously, GM played them for fools. The engine they got was the worst imaginable – Jeep would almost have been better buying the PRC V6.

    No WAY was that horrid in-line six to EVER be used! The engine bay was designed specifically to prevent it!

    Meantime, there was VAM. Down in Mexico. State-owned, but with an agreement to manufacture AMC products under license. They evolved from Kaiser’s Mexican operations, which had been nationalized…Kaiser was pulling back anyway, and AMC saw licensing revenue. So over the years, AMC cars, as well as Jeep CJs and later the full Jeep lines, were made by VAM in Mexico.

    The engines, too. Mexico had local-content laws. So AMC had licensed the obsolete Willys/Kaiser F-head, and then, later, the Rambler Six.

    Given Mexico’s primitive environs, VAM engineers modified it for a longer stroke, more torque.

    Prior to general release, AMC sent some XJs to VAM to test locally. They had the V6s…and the Mexican engineers gave it the thumbs down.

    Never underestimate the ingenuity of second- or third-world car guys. Someone at VAM did the field engineering, how to shoehorn in their VAM six…it involved moving the fan and radiator to one side, and other not-elegant adaptions. But they got it in, and tested it, and found it good.

    And called AMC’s people down to see their work…and after seeing how the Chevrolet V6 was working, THEY pronounced it good.

    Probably the fuel-injection was being developed at the same time – for the YJ and SJ six-cylinders. But this gave it added potential. Renault masters relented – they had little choice – and the XJ with the six, was a legend born.

    Icing on the cake was that Chrysler got involved a year later, with a much-more-resourceful engineering team. The Chrysler FI replacing the REMCO system, unleashed the engine’s potential.

    Had VAM not done what it done…it could have been, the XJ might have faded off as one more dud, like the SJ Blazer.

    Like 6
  8. Pierre Piffarerio

    I have a 1990 Jeep Cherokee Laredo 2Dr that I bought new. New engine at 245K. Everything else is original. cars rust in Florida so after moving to NC, I had the body restored. Currently, I’m doing some front end work, but at 332k it runs great. After 33 years it’s become part of the family. Sorry, you can’t buy it at any price.

    Like 3
  9. jim

    They are nice vehicles for winter and dependable I had a 99 for many years it served well but opted for a vehicle with better fuel mileage I put it out front for sale and it went in a couple days it served its purpose for the time but would not buy one today for a daily driver with the fuel prices

    Like 0
  10. Car Nut Seattle

    Sweet looking Jeep. I remember when this version of the Wagoneer premiered. At the time I found the front end more attractive than the XJ Cherokee. It’s too bad the Wagoneer didn’t last as long as the Cherokee. It would’ve given Jeep buyers something different. Given its condition, I’d pay around the asking price.

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

Barn Finds