With Jeep about to introduce a brand new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, my thoughts turn back to the now–classic eighties Wagoneers.
In addition to my historical interest, there’s a personal reason for these thoughts. Back in the eighties, I walked to my local high school almost every day. On cold winter mornings, I’d be trudging alone toward school, and sometimes I’d hear the quiet rumble of a Wagoneer’s V8 behind me along with a female voice. “Get in, John,” she’d say—and I would, grateful for the Wagoneer’s warmth and the lady’s company. I remember you, Patricia, and I hope you are doing well.
“The Ultimate Wagon.”
For 1983, Jeep’s Wagoneer gained a new Selec-Trac four-wheel-drive system, which replaced the decade-old Quadra-Trac system. Jeep also changed the Wagoneer’s trims. 1982’s base Custom trim was no longer available, with what had been the Brougham package now marking the base trim. The loaded Limited trim continued as the top of the Wagoneer line.
The standard engine for the Brougham was a 115 bhp 4.2 liter/258 ci inline six with a two-barrel carburetor. Optional on the Brougham and standard on the Limited was a 175 bhp 5.9 liter/360 ci V8 with a two-barrel carburetor. Mileage was, of course, awful, especially with the V8—the Limited got 12 city/16 highway by the standards of the day (10/12 by 2020 standards). With a 20.3-gallon fuel tank, a Limited owner could expect a range of 200 to 255 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. Wagoneers could go just about anywhere, but they couldn’t go that far. They also wouldn’t get there that fast: 0-60 mph took about 16 seconds.
The $13,173 1983 Wagoneer Brougham was about $34,800 in today’s dollars—almost exactly what a base 2020 Grand Cherokee goes for. Standard mechanical equipment included power variable-ratio steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and P225/75R15 white sidewall tires (a size still readily available) on 15-inch wheels with full wheel covers. Inside, Coventry checked cloth or Deluxe grain vinyl front and rear bench seats, Custom interior trim, Light Group, and an AM/FM stereo radio were included.
Moving to the upscale Wagoneer Limited added tinted glass, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, power windows, power door locks, air conditioning, and a premium audio system with electronic tuning. Limited trim and upholstery included leather bucket seats up front, power seats for the driver and front passenger, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and extra-thick 22-ounce carpeting in the seating area. All of this equipment raised the Limited‘s price to 44% to $16,889—$44,600 in today’s dollars, which is 2020 Grand Cherokee Limited X money.
Options for the Limited included halogen fog lamps ($82), a power sun roof ($1,637), an electric rear window defroster ($184), and a cassette tape player ($300).
Sales of the SJ Wagoneer were up by almost 28% in the 1983 model year, with the 18,478 produced marking 21% of overall Jeep production. Today, Wagoneers of this era have many adherents—in fact, there’s a company that makes its entire business restoring them. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1983 Wagoneer Limited in #1/Concours condition is an astounding $40,600, with a more normal #3/Good condition car going for $20,800.
SJ Jeep Wagoneers are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, on eBay Motors, and at auction. As I write this post, a Deep Night Blue with woodgrain sides 1983 Wagoneer Limited with nutmeg leather bucket seats and 115,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $42,500.
Make mine Deep Maroon Metallic, please.