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Rant Editorial - 1986 Jeep Wagoneer

Posted in Features on May 1, 2013
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Not long ago my friend purchased an '86 Wagoneer as a parts truck without a title and with the intention of parting it out. He specifically called me twice after buying it to tell me what great condition it was in, and how "it's almost a shame to do." He was right; it's always a shame to dismantle a cool vehicle if it has a solid body and runs well. But, without a title and needing some major interior work, I (with the help of his wife who firmly believed that he did not need two 4x4s) was able to convince him to continue on with his original intentions of poaching the axles and getting rid of the rest of the vehicle.

He had searched for a year before he finally found one cheap enough to use. Available 1980s Grand Wagoneers have been increasing in value and scarcity because they're cool and classic four-door "family trucksters" while at the same time having nice half-ton axles that people (like my friend) search for to recycle under IFS 4x4 vehicles.

A couple months went by and I had been asked to help pull the axles but had been too busy, and we just hadn't gotten around to tackling the project. There was also the question of what to do with the Wagoneer after it was axle-less. After calling around, the discovery was made that a wrecker would come from a local auto parts yard and get the Jeep, no matter what the condition-even without axles-and pay him $300 for it. So last week, my friend and his brother-in-law spent the better part of a day-with little experience and only a few tips that I relayed over the phone-yanking out the axles. They had limited tools, a cheap floor jack, and some decent jackstands. I admired their determination and willingness to dive straight in.

The rear axle came out with limited effort due to its spring-over design. But the front end, with its spring-under-axle suspension and steering draglink, had stopped them short of complete removal.

I got the call while installing a lift kit on an old GMC, and I told him I'd be over later that night. I showed up well after dark and we had the front axle disconnected in less than 30 seconds using a pickle fork. I felt bad for my friend who had tried numerous methods over a period of hours without the tie rod end budging from the pitman arm.

After helping drag the front axle into his garage, I went to take a better look at the Waggy. It really was in great condition-even the paint looked pretty good. The interior needed new everything to be perfect, but it was a solid truck for sure.

Apparently, someone else thought so, too. Between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., the night before the auto wrecker was to come for it, the Wagoneer disappeared. And less than 30 feet from my friend's bedroom.

The crooks! The nerve of someone stealing his property, even if he did want to get rid of it. Adding insult to injury, they stole the jackstands, too. Though I have to give them a little golf clap for stealing it so silently, especially without the axles!

I got a text the next morning from my friend, letting me know what happened. While I was immediately annoyed that someone took my buddy's stuff, my friend called shortly after laughing about it. They had done him a favor and removed the carcass. He may have been out $300, but there's also a chance that the auto wrecker would have decided that his Waggy wasn't worth the work.

Again, I admired his attitude and optimism.

So, for my friend, to the Waggy thieves I say: May you trip and fall face-first into a fresh cow patty. But also, thank you; your underhanded deeds ended up doing us a favor. Lastly, next time, just ask-he probably would have just given it to you.

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