Jeep Wagoneer was ahead of its time

Before there was a Range Rover. Long before Lexus was even an idea. In the past, the only competition for the industrial-class Chevrolet Suburban was the international-class International Travelall. Jeep invented the kind of luxurious, four-wheel drive, oversized station wagon. Nobody called it an SUV. It was the Wagoner.

There was nothing big about it. Well, not yet.

Glenn Evans, a Mass Mutual Investment Advisor in Los Alamitos, California has owned this 1977 Wagoneer since 1995. “Guess how much I paid for it,” he mocked in a phone call. “I do not know,” I replied, calculating the value of then-18-year-old jeeps in the mid-1990s in my mind. “No,” he said. “Half it. $ 1200.”

Even then, it was rock cheap. “An older guy on the street from me owned it. And he had a sign on it that said ‘Make an offer.’ Evans explains. ” Tell me what, ‘I said. ‘I pay $ 1200 and give you the right to visit. You can come and drive it whenever you want. That closed the deal. “Good deal.

If Evans’ office had not been behind a Starbucks in Los Alamitos, it would never have been discovered.

Willys Jeep had been building “Utility Wagons” since the Model 463 in 1946 and it has been claimed that it is the first SUV. There was benefit, but no one thought of “sport” then. Versions of the 463 remained in production until 1964, a few months after it was replaced by this substance, Wagoneer.

The 1963 Wagoneer (“SJ” in the Jeep-ese) was significantly larger than the Willys Jeep Utility Wagon and much more usable thanks to the availability of a four-door body. Two-door and two-door panel versions were also offered, but it was four-door that brought families in need of four-wheel drive to Jeep’s showrooms.

Built as a vehicle with a body on a frame, the first Wagoneer used either an independent flywheel front suspension on most models (two- or four-wheel drive) with a solid axle on heavier versions. The four-wheel drive system was built around manual Spicer two-speed gearboxes.

There was only one engine offered in the first Wagoneer, a 230 cubic inch (3.8-liter), overhead cam, straight six with a capacity of 140 horsepower. Not so much dunk to pull around six people and their stuff, but there was nothing else really like it on the market. So it was a hit.

Wagoneer got V-8 power as an option for the 1965 model when the 327 cubic inch (5.3-liter) AMC V8 was dumped in the engine compartment. It had a gross power of 250 horsepower.

Exactly a dozen years after that, Evans Wagoneer was built. The standard engine was now a 360 cubic inch (5.9 liter) version of the AMC V-8 with the 401 cubic inch (6.6 liter) version of the same engine as an option. Evans’ Wagoneer has the 401 with 215 horsepower.

Glenn Evans

Evans Wagoneer also uses the Borg-Warner “Quadra-Trac” full-time with four-wheel drive. Quadra-Trac was introduced for the 1973 model year 77 and was standard on Wagoneers with V-8 engines and automatic transmission.

“This thing is a tank,” says Evans, who uses it in his fly fishing adventures. “It loves gravel roads. I do not drive it every day but about every other week. I have had it for so long and it has become such a head turner.” His daily newspaper is a 2009 Audi A8.

Wagoneer became Grand Wagoneer in 1984 when it was joined in the Jeep line by the smaller XJ vehicles that included a model named Wagoneer. And SJ would not leave production until after 29 year models. When it was finally sacrificed by Jeep owner Chrysler in 1991, it was the last new vehicle still using a carburetor.

Although Evans Wagoneer shows 146,000 miles on its odometer, the values ​​of old SUVs, and especially old Wagoneers, have skyrocketed. “A guy drove past my home recently and stopped when he saw it,” Evans says. “He asked me, ‘What’s your stupid high price on that?’ I thought for a moment and came back, “$ 30,000.” He thought for a moment. ‘I know it’s too much. Maybe $ 12,000 too much. Or $ 15,000. But I want it. But I said no to him. .

According to any analysis, $ 30,000 is a good return on a vehicle that only cost $ 1,200 to buy and has provided 25 years of service. “Yes,” explains financial planner Evans. “It’s a great return on money. But since I’ve planned well enough, I did not have to take it.”

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