Vintage SUVs like the original Bronco have started shooting up in value these last few years. And classic Jeeps are no exception. That especially goes for the original Jeep Grand Wagoneer, the ancestor of the newly relaunched model. But as with any vehicle, sometimes great deals sneak through the cracks. That’s the case with this week’s Bring a Trailer bargain vehicle: a 1991 Grand Wagoneer.
By 1991 the Jeep Grand Wagoneer was something of a luxury SUV dinosaur
Before it became ‘Grand,’ the Jeep Wagoneer was something of a new direction for the company, Automobile reports. In the early ‘60s, there wasn’t really such a thing as an SUV: the term didn’t exist. But Jeep, along with several other OEMs, wanted to cash in on the growing demand for body-on-frame 4WD vehicles. The result was the 1963 Jeep Wagoneer, Autoweek reports.
The Wagoneer evolved over time, gaining new powertrains and grilles. But it wasn’t until the late ‘70s that the idea of a more luxurious model was proposed. This was the 1978 ‘SJ’ Wagoneer Limited. Which, in 1984, became the last SJ-platform vehicle in production: the Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
By the time of the Grand Wagoneer’s release, Jeep had already been through two ownership changes, Hagerty reports. But despite that, the SUV was seemingly frozen in time. The body and platform didn’t really change. Many early-model trim pieces can be installed on late-model cars, Autoweek reports. And even the late-80s interiors “scream 1960s style,” Road & Track reports. Plus, there’s the powertrain issue.
Although earlier Wagoneers offered a range of engines, by 1987 the Jeep Grand Wagoneer was only available with a 5.9-liter V8, Hagerty reports. Which, in 1991, only had 160 hp and came with carburetors. In fact, the Grand Wagoneer was one of the last, if not the last vehicle sold new in the US with a carburetor, R&T reports. Between that, the 3-speed automatic, and its general design, by 1990 it was really showing its age, Car and Driver reports.
Nevertheless, thanks to standard full-time 4WD with a 2-speed transfer case, the Jeep Grand Wagoneer can “literally run through anything,” R&T reports. And their old-school design means visibility is excellent.
The 1991 Jeep Grand Wagoneer on Bring a Trailer
Naturally, the 1991 Jeep Grand Wagoneer currently listed on Bring a Trailer doesn’t have all of the technology a modern luxury SUV does. But this model year is the most desirable, due to the improvements and features Jeep added, Hagerty and Autoweek report.
This 1991 Jeep Grand Wagoneer has power windows, power locks, a power rear window, leather upholstery, fog lights, and a roof rack. Plus, compared to earlier models, it has an upgraded HVAC system. And, crucially, unlike the new Grand Wagoneer, it has faux-wood exterior trim.
However, this 1991 Jeep Grand Wagoneer also has some decidedly non-standard parts. It has an aftermarket Alpine touchscreen audio system, Rancho shocks, Dakota Digital instruments, and the A/C has modern refrigerant. But the biggest changes are under the hood.
Unlike the standard SUV, this 1991 Jeep Grand Wagoneer has fuel injection. A Phoenix, Oregon shop installed it and rebuilt the entire engine. Now V8 has forged pistons, a high-pressure oil pump, a new camshaft and intake manifold, new lifters, and an upgraded timing chain. Bring a Trailer notes that the shop also installed a new alternator, a new distributor and ignition coil, a new radiator, a new battery, and a new air cleaner.
Along with the engine upgrades, the current owner of this 1991 Grand Wagoneer also had the transfer case and 3-speed automatic refurbished. The SUV also has a new steering box, new headers, a Magnaflow exhaust, a new headliner, new upholstery, and tinted windows. And when it was resprayed into its current shade, the hood was also replaced.
Admittedly, this 1991 Grand Wagoneer isn’t perfect. For one, the rear window doesn’t operate from the outside. And there was some rear damage in 2003. Plus, Bring a Trailer notes the odometer may have been rolled back in 2011. But despite its age, it’s in very good shape.
What makes this an SUV bargain?
As of this writing, this 1991 Grand Wagoneer is listed on Bring a Trailer at $17,500 with three days left in the auction. Given its extensive modifications and condition, that’s a very good price.
As we noted earlier, classic SUV prices have been rising, and the Grand Wagoneer is no exception. A good-condition 1991 model goes for almost $25k, Hagerty reports. And on Bring a Trailer, $20,000 is practically a bare-minimum price these days.
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