Grand Wagoneer: A tribute to the best, and worst vehicle ever.

A photochopped Waggy, an interesting idea, but probably not likely to look anything like this in its final form.

This week Chrysler’s CEO Sergio Marchionne said in passing that they plan to resurrect the Grand Wagoneer in 2013, I’m not sure I can wait that long.

In my world this is BIG news, HUGE news, earth shattering, stop the presses, HOLY crap news.

And not because the best band I ever played in was named for the venerable vehicle. No, this is big news because I proudly owned two Wagoneers. I’ve wanted to have another since we last departed company when I left her saggin-ass at the scrap yard to rust into oblivion.

I’ve had an eye for anachronisms since my youth. I don’t know how it happened (probably a product of a youth spent in the basement at my dad’s workbench with a chunk of wood and chisel, safe no, fun yes) but I’ve always been fond of old crap. Wagoneers are essentially old crap.

In the time of the Wagoneer the Jeep brand was owned by AMC, perhaps the worst car company ever. In the 30 odd years the Wagoneer was produced AMC took a powerful, useful, Kaiser design and managed to bastardize it in every tiny way possible and yet somehow leve the aesthetic of the thing alone, which is why most of us anachronistic idiots find them so appealing.

Wagoneers are a cult, and are worn like a badge of honor. A way for our members to say to the world, we don’t care that you are moving forward, we like things the old way, and we are sticking to it. My car has wood on it, SO THERE! (even if it just a sticker of faux wood grain)

Like old hand planes, bamboo rods, wooden boats, mandolins, banjos, dobros, scotch, whatever, its all outdated, but we don’t care.

Granted, a 360 cubic inch engine with 125 base horse power from the factory is like the fat guy taking last place at the eating contest. It just doesn’t make sense but there it is. In plain sight, dripping with sad irony, and unapologetically impractical, but there she sits.

My first love was a Navy Blue 1987 model year. I paid some dumb-ass $250 cash for it. He was asking $750 but had let a bag of spilled dog food get moldy in the back so it harbored a distinctly foul odor. Who else did he have lined up to buy the poor old thing?  We cleaned her up, put a new headliner and a new distributor in it. She ran well for a few years. She started running rough and spitting and sputtering, so I swapped out the original carb for a nice 550 CFM Holley. After that she ran strong as an ox, and with gusto. Her back springs sagged a bit, and body rolled a little when we turned sharp. The steering wheel had some play in it, and throttle was more like an on-off switch than a progressive linkage. But hey, go, stop, what more do you want. Once on the interstate, going about 70 miles an hour which was like putting a quarter in the hotel bed, she just crapped out a muffler, right there. That muffler skated along side of us for a bit and then kicked up some dust on the shoulder as if to wave by as it settled in to take its place along side the roadkill. Without the muffler, her voice was a little louder but we kept right on going like nothing happened.

Then one day when my wife was driving her, she got rear ended in a bad way. The insurance man said it didn’t look good, totaled was the word he used. So I took the check and ran out and paid asking price for a replacement. Bad idea. Six months later the new (older 1984) one threw a rod. It sat in my back yard so long that I got a ticket from the city for having an “inoperable vehicle.” We towed her over to special place in the country where she can live out her days in peace as she donates her usable parts to more serviceable vehicles and sends her iron oxide back to the earth in microscopic deposits.

On that note I decided to upgrade to a “modern style” vehicle, a 1999 Cherokee. You can’t fit a washer and dryer in the back, at the same time, like you could in the Saggin Wagon. It doesn’t get much attention in the way of waving, smiling or thumbs up department like we did in the Shaggin Wagon. It doesn’t get 8 MPG, like the old Woody. It doesn’t smell like moldy dog food on rainy days like the Wag did. It doesn’t ride like you’re in bed. It doesn’t have the feel of a broken-in old catcher’s mitt, and it never will. It will never be half the vehicle that my old Grand Wagoneers were.

But it’ll do, until 2013, when my membership into the cult of FSJ is renewed!

Long live the Wagoneer! The best and worst vehicle ever.


4 thoughts on “Grand Wagoneer: A tribute to the best, and worst vehicle ever.

  1. Tears Of Joy… Nou!!! Tears of laughter runs through my face to fall in the new Jeep branded vinyl floor mats of ‘The Frappuccina’.
    I’ve had a blast of joy reading your post. I’ve finally found that I’m not alone in this cult of the Wags, in wich I’m a begginer.
    Past february and after 5 years Of driving-suffering German Design and technology added to Mexican style post purchase service, I found my 82 Grand Wagoneer. I fell in love at the fisrt sight.
    This spirited Of exquisite geometric Design in Starbuck’s frappuccino colour came to substitute my 2006 wrecked 6 manual gear hatchback blue coloured Audi A3.
    What would be a tragedy turned out to be a ever gas smelling 30 day. odissey.
    And your words just Made total sense to my last 30 days driving and dreaming of my beloved mexican crafted Frapp’s.
    The worst and the BEST kind beast ever.
    The Shrek of cars.

    From the land of tequila.

  2. I was 16 years that summer of 85 in Guaymas Mexico (San Carlos Bay) for the white man outhere. That summer my uncle had the opportunity to upgrade his 1979 Datsun pickup for an 84 brown beast Yes! A Wagoneer this one could actually took all of us to the beach and I mean inside the “Playa” this means inside the water and all the white sand you can imagine. Just like you I can’t wait for the comeback of the beast! And I’ll make sure mine is that metallic brown just like the one I learn to 4×4!!

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