05 Aug The Jeep Grand Wagoneer: A Future Classic?
I talk a lot about SUVs these days because it seems everyone is asking me which one they should buy. You may have noticed that’s why I’ve been featuring so many of them on the show, as of late. This got me thinking about what SUVs were like in the late 80s and early 90s when everyone became obsessed with having a minivan. We are now seeing an increase in the number of 80s and early 90s SUVs showing up in listings and auctions around the country. All of this brings me to the Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
The Grand Wagoneer actually debuted in the 1960s but for this article I’m purely focusing on the end of the line Grand Wagoneers, after Chrysler purchased Jeep from American Motors. This took place in March of 1987. I’m focusing on this particular body style, which was sold from 1987 to 1991, because of the unique and luxurious features that were part of the Grand Wagoneer lineup. Specifically, I’m talking about the upgraded wood “siding” and the aluminum wheels that had done away with the gold colored inlays in favor of a gunmetal color.
It’s funny how cars change to fit peoples’ tastes in a relatively short amount of time. This was the most luxurious SUV on the market after the Range Rover. Back then it was much easier to find a Jeep dealer in the U.S. than a Land Rover dealer. The Grand Wagoneer started around $23,000 in 1987, whereas the Range Rover started at $30,825. So why didn’t more people choose the Grand Wagoneer instead of a minivan for their family? Well, for one thing, a Dodge Caravan had a base price of $10,333 in 1987, so the Grand Wagoneer really was more upmarket. Jeep really was marketing it as a sophisticated off-road vehicle. It was really the first luxury SUV from America. Here’s a few old ads that emphasize this point.
I’m going to go out on a limb now and claim the Grand Wagoneer is a future classic, and here’s why: it has such a unique look and evokes sentimental feelings for the past. I’m sure many kids of the 80s and 90s remember riding around in one of these. It’s luxurious and a little rough around the edges, at the same time. With all the SUVs on the market today, this “diamond in the rough” combo is becoming increasingly rare and their values are starting to go up. I’ve seen plenty for sale for right at, or just above their original price. This means it’s a good time to buy one.
Honestly, can you think of a better SUV for your family right now? On the pros list, it’s very unlikely you will find someone in the school drop off line with the same vehicle. It’s luxurious for its time, has a ton of space and it’s continuing to go up in value. You could drive it for 5-10 years and most likely make money on the deal. Of course, the biggest con I see is gas mileage The V8 models get 10 mpg city and about 12 mpg on the highway. That’s enough for me to call it abysmal, but it’s really the only con on the list. I would recommend getting a 1989 to 1991 model because they made several improvements that will help keep the maintenance costs low.
Here’s a couple of high quality examples listed for sale.
1990 Jeep Grand Wagoneer
This dealership in Scottsdale, Arizona, has quite a few to choose from, like this fine example.
1988 Jeep Grand Wagoneer
According to the car value experts at Hagerty, a 1990 Jeep Grand Wagoneer in excellent condition was worth about $17,500 in 2012. It’s now worth just over $25,000. In fact, the majority of that increase has occured since January 2017.
Photos/Video Courtesy: Jeep/Pinterest