Every gearhead knows the Jeep Grand Wagoneer on sight—after all, its iconic 1960s-era styling barely changed during its 30-year production run, this despite Jeep having three different corporate owners (Kaiser, American Motors, and Chrysler) during its tenure.
Except it’s likely that the Grand Wagoneer you’re looking at isn’t actually a Grand Wagoneer, as that name was used for less than a third of the SJ-body‘s epic production run. Now that we’ve seen reveal of the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer concept, here are the other monikers that graced this big, beautiful SUV across its history.
Jeep Wagoneer, 1963-1983
The Grand Wagoneer nameplate didn’t appear until 1984, well more than 20 years after the SJ went into production. Originally, the full-size Jeep was marketed simply as the Wagoneer.
The Wagoneer made its debut in 1962 as a 1963 model, and it was intended as a modern replacement for the Jeep Wagon introduced by Willys-Overland shortly after the end of World War II. Like the Willys wagon, the Wagoneer was originally designed as a utilitarian, go-anywhere family hauler. Jeep started experimenting with more upscale Wagoneers in the mid-’60s (see Super Wagoneer below), though the buying public didn’t really embrace the high-end Wagoneer until the late 1970s. AMC introduced the wood-grain-sided Wagoneer Limited in 1978, which led directly to the Jeep Grand Wagoneer we’ve come to know and love.
Why did the Wagoneer get a grand new name? Blame Jeep’s new XJ-body Cherokee of 1984, which usurped the Wagoneer name for a more upscale model. Demand for the SJ grew steadily while the XJ was in development, so AMC decided to keep the old full-size model in production for a while longer. The posh Limited model became the Grand Wagoneer, while the lower-trim SJ became the Wagoneer Custom, which sold poorly and only lasted a year. The SJ would retain the Grand Wagoneer name through the end of production in 1991.
Jeep Super Wagoneer, 1966-1969
Jeep’s first historical attempt at an upscale Wagoneer was the Super Wagoneer, shown in concept form in 1965, and as a production model for 1966. The Super had a 270-horsepower, AMC-designed 327-cubic-inch (5.4-liter) V-8 with a four-barrel carburetor backed by a General Motors TH400 automatic with a console shifter. (The engine would be swapped for a Buick-sourced engine in 1968.) The standard equipment list was rather posh for the time: Power steering and brakes, air conditioning, a power tailgate, tilt steering wheel, mag wheels, and gold anodized basket-weave trim. It was priced at $5,943.
Unfortunately, the public wasn’t quite ready for a Jeep with a price tag higher than a contemporary Cadillac Sedan de Ville. The Super Wagoneer became a trim level rather than a separate model for 1969, and by 1970 it was gone. Over its four-year run, Jeep sold fewer than 4,000, making it one of the most rare and valuable SJ variants today.
Jeep Cherokee, 1974-1983
The original 1963 Wagoneer was introduced in both two- and four-door body styles, but the two-door only lasted until 1968. The two-door returned in 1974 as the Cherokee, but with a twist: While the original two-door Wagoneer had the same windowline as the four-door, the Cherokee had a single side-window aft of the front doors, giving it a sportier look.
AMC introduced a four-door Cherokee in 1977, and it became the entry-level full-size Jeep, with six-cylinder power instead of the Wagoneer’s standard V-8. The Cherokee and Wagoneer comprised Jeep’s family-car lineup until the new XJ-body Cherokee (and Wagoneer) made its debut in 1984.
Jeep Gladiator/ Pickup, 1963-1988
The SJ also spawned a pickup truck, which was the original Jeep Gladiator. Introduced alongside the 1963 Wagoneer, the Gladiator could be had with rear- or four-wheel-drive. Early half-ton 4WD models had an independent front suspension, a novelty at the time. Along with pickup beds, Jeep originally offered a factory-fitted platform stake bed with optional dual rear wheels. Unlike the wagons, the Gladiator kept its original 1963 front-end styling until the 1970 model year.
The Gladiator name was dropped in 1971, and the truck became known simply as the Jeep Pickup, or the J-series. It is sometimes referred to as the Honcho, though this was actually an option package consisting primarily of tape stripes and available on 1976-1983 half-ton J10s. Chrysler bought Jeep from AMC in 1987, and since it already had a full-size pickup in the lineup, the Jeep pickup got the axe in 1988. Thirty years later, the Gladiator name would make a triumphant return.
Jeep Grand Wagoneer Names Throughout the Years
- Jeep Wagoneer, 1963-1983
- Jeep Super Wagoneer, 1966-1969
- Jeep Cherokee, 1974-1983
- Jeep Gladiator/ Pickup, 1963-1988
1963 Jeep Wagoneer specs
|PRICE||$3,526 (original base)|
|ENGINE||3.8L SOHC 12-valve I-6/140 hp @ 4,000 rpm, 210 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 6-passenger, front-engine, 4WD SUV|
|L x W x H||186.4 x 74.8 x 66.4 in|
|0-60 MPH||16.1 sec|
|TOP SPEED||90 mph|