Jeep: The First 70 Years Part 3
Bobtails, And Others, In The Modern Era
By Jim Allen, Photography by Courtesy Chrysler Group LLC, Jim Allen
Jeep Saviors: 1984-1998
You could reasonably state that the World War II MB saved Willys-Overland. You could also say the Cherokee XJ saved AMC Jeep. The move towards smaller, more fuel-efficient SUVs was inevitable as gas prices increased in the late '70s. Development started on a new vehicle then but was stymied by AMC's impending bankruptcy. Renault came to the rescue in 1979 with a badly need loan. When 1980 rolled around, AMC was closer to the edge and Renault stepped up again, this time taking a 47.5 percent share of AMC for its trouble. The alliance wasn't always a happy one, but the XJ benefitted from some of Renault's small car engineering. New engines also debuted, the 2.5L Four and the GM-sourced 2.8L V6. The 2.8L is not remembered fondly in the Jeep world, but it was a last-minute stopgap until the engineers finished developing the now legendary 4.0L EFI engine, itself a refined 258ci AMC six.
Faced with an army of foreign and domestic competition in the SUV market, with the help of the Chrysler infusion, Jeep introduced the Grand Cherokee ZJ in 1992 as a '93 model. Once again, a stylish and practical new vehicle cranked up the sales numbers, and there have been three more generations since that year. Ironically, the Grand Cherokee was planned to replace the Cherokee, but the popularity of both models, plus nice separation in their respective market segments, kept them side by side in the Jeep lineup. To double the irony, the XJ outlasted the first-gen ZJ. Both the XJ and the ZJ revitalized Jeep by providing popular, high sales-volume products at the times they were needed most.
1984 Cherokee Chief XJ
It's no exaggeration that the XJ saved Jeep. We take the little X
1986 Wagoneer Limited XJ
The Wagoneer name was purloined for a luxo-rig on the XJ chassi
1988 Comanche Chief MJ
Midsize pickups were all the rage in the '80s, and Jeep responded
1993 Grand Cherokee Laredo ZJ
The Grand Cherokee began development in the '80s as an eve
1998 Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited
When the Grand Cherokee line faced a big upgrade for 199
2001 Cherokee Limited XJ
You know the end is near when they start calling you "Classic."
By Jim Allen
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