The Wagoneer got the SUV on the radar of buyers looking for something capable, comfortable and rugged.
The Jeep Wagoneer was introduced 50 years ago, and it's that vehicle we have to thank for the herds of excellent crossovers and SUVs that make up our current automotive landscape. On a personal level, I have always loved the full-size Jeeps and their crisp Brooks Stevens styling, which aged well over their long tenure on the market. The SJs, as they're known among enthusiasts, were the Wagoneer and its two-door counterpart, the original Cherokee. The Wagoneers had become true luxury vehicles by the end of their run, which stretched form late 1962 as a '63 model all the way to 1991, when they were offered exclusively under the Grand Wagoneer nameplate.
At the end of the line in 1991, The New York Times called the Grand Wagoneer "one of the last true gas guzzlers" as it eulogized the vehicle. It deserves more respect than that; the Wagoneer got the SUV on the radar of buyers looking for something capable, comfortable and rugged. People who could afford such luxuries seemed to understand its purpose. At the end of production, the average Grand Wagoneer buyer pulled in over $100,000 a year, and the Jeep often served as a second or third car. There is no denying that the Wagoneer invented the luxury SUV, years before the Range Rover was ever offered for sale.
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Jeep Wagoneer through the years - Click above for high-res image gallery
Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler, has reportedly just announced his plans to bring an old American nameplate back to life. According to Automotive News, in two years time, Jeep will roll out a seven-seat SUV and its badge will read: Grand Wagoneer. According to Marchionne, it will be an upscale, seven-seat sport utility vehicle built on the same platform as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango.
The Jeep Grand Wagoneer is slated to make its first appearance in January 2013, though whether that will be in conceptual or production form, we're not yet sure.
Somewhat lost in yesterday's Jeep press conference was news the off-road brand will, in two years, resurrect the Grand Wagoneer nameplate — the vehicle with the second longest continuous automotive production run in U.S. history. More »