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1963-1981Jeep Wagoneer - Jeep Autopsy:Fullsize Wagoneer And Cherokee

Front View
Tori Tellem | Writer
Posted October 1, 2007
Photographers: Courtesy of the DaimlerChrysler corporate historical collection

"A Totally New Station Wagon"

Jeep likes to say the Wagoneer was used as inspiration for the Commander. You know, when those people aren't saying the XJ was. Also, the Wagoneer was the first 4x4 with IFS. Sorry for all the negatives here.

Your beloved Wagoneer-it was simply a station wagon in Jeep engineers' eyes. Brochures touted it as "not a converted passenger car with a tailgate thrown in, nor a modified truck with windows-the all-new Jeep Wagoneer was conceived and designed as a wagon, built as a wagon from its wheels to its reinforced roof." An ad from 1966, the days before hyper political-correctness, said, "Your wife will be twice as safe this winter with 'Jeep' four-wheel drive." So a station wagon your wife will love? Cut to Jeep's '07 models: full circle.

The History
The J-series line of "station wagons" started in October 1962 with the Wagoneer under the Kaiser banner, which hung in there until 1991, even getting spun off into the original Cherokee in 1974 during the AMC reign (and killed off by 1991 to make way for the newer models. In the Sept. '69 issue of Popular Mechanics, there was a report called Summary of '69 Jeep Wagoneer Owners, which revealed that gas mileage was the number-one dislike of the vehicle and oil leaks were the main complaint; hunting and fishing were its main journeys. Almost 95 percent of those questioned had the 350ci Buick V-8 and TH400 automatic combo, and power steering/brakes were the most-ordered options by a long shot.

The Model/The Body
At launch, the Wagoneer could be bought as a two- or four-door or two-door panel and in two- (J-162) or four-wheel (J-164) drive. It "represented the first from-the-ground-up civilian sport/utilities," according to its maker. The upscale Custom trim level hit in 1963 and lasted about seven years and was a best seller. With 1965 came the Super Wagoneer, an even more luxurious version for more well-to-do buyers, but by 1971, it was back to Standard and Custom levels. In 1974, there was a front-end redesign and the wheelbase got an inch shorter (109, same as the future Cherokee). Six years later, only the Custom was offered, although it was simply called Wagoneer-and two more doors were added-and then by 1978, the Wagoneer brought fancy back with the Limited, which featured leather, air conditioning, and an eight-track. In 1981, the Brougham trim was introduced-it was basically a cheaper wood model.

For the next part of the timeline, we'll let then-VP of the Marketing Group, Joseph E. Cappy, explain: "It became evident very quickly that we would have to have two names instead of one. The people who leaned toward the sporty models favored the name Cherokee, and the people who liked the more formal four-door wagons favored the Wagoneer name. So we will offer Wagoneer as a four-door only, and Cherokee in both two-door and four-door sport versions. The larger '83 Jeep Wagoneer will continue to be offered in its present configuration and will be renamed the Grand Wagoneer for 1984." The senior J-series Wagoneer's towing capabilities were heavily pushed by way of two trailering packages, A (Class I and II trailers) and B (Class III).

In terms of the J-version Cherokee, it started as a two-door model with Cherokee and Cherokee Chief names. The four-door came three years later-the same year there was an S Package with a two-tone vinyl or Levi's interior. Wondering where the bird graphics are? That would be the Golden Eagle package for 1979, although you could still get an S and Chief. A year later, the top dog was the Laredo, and the year after that, the S and Eagle were killed. In 1983, there was a four-door Pioneer, and then the next year the two-door was gone.

The Engine
The Wagoneer began with the 230ci Tornado OHC six-cylinder engine, then in late 1965 changed to the "great-new" 145hp, 232ci Hi-Torque six-cylinder from AMC, which made 145 hp at 4,400 rpm and 215 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 rpm with an 8.5:1 compression ratio and 3.75x3.50 bore-and-stroke. The optional 327ci two-barrel-carb Vigilante V-8 was also born, rated at 250 hp at 4,700 rpm and 340 lb-ft of torque at 2,400 rpm with 4.00x3.25 bore-and-stroke. The Super Wagoneer had a 270hp version of the 327. The 327 lasted until 1968, when the optional 230hp, 350ci Dauntless V-8 two-barrel came, worth 350 lb-ft of torque at 2,400 rpm and having 9.0:1 compression. It left in 1971. By 1972, all Jeep vehicles-from the Universals to the Wagoneers-had AMC-built engines. For the Wagoneer, the 258ci straight six was standard, with the 304 and 360 V-8s as options, but by 1974, the 258 was dropped from the Wagoneer (standard in the Cherokee), making the two-barrel-carb 360 standard. The options were a four-barrel 360 and a new 401 four-barrel V-8. The engine figures broke down as:

258 ci:
110 hp at 3,500 rpm, 195 lb-ft at 2,000 rpm
360 ci:
175 hp at 4,000 rpm, 285 lb-ft at 2,400 rpm
360 ci with four-barrel:
195 hp at 4,400 rpm, 295 lb-ft at 2,900 rpm
401 ci:
215 hp at 4,200 rpm, 320 lb-ft at 2,800 rpm
*Note: horsepower figures are rated as net, not gross, as '72-and-earlier figures were.

By 1979, the 360 two-barrel was the only engine in the Wagoneer lineup. Missing the six-cylinder? Two years later, the 258 was back as the base engine, and by 1987, it was dropped again, with the 360 finishing up the Wagoneer's run. Starting about 1980, you could only get a six-cylinder engine in non-California models. The Cherokee had a similar lineup at launch: 258 was standard with available 360s and 401. By 1979, the standard for the S was the 258, while the two-barrel 360 was that for the others.

Nothing like poseur 'wheeling. We recognize where they shot this '63 from back in the day-Angeles Crest Highway outside of Los Angeles (where people like to bury bodies). Yes, that's a guardrail directly behind the "trail head."

The Transmission
The Wagoneer was the first "station wagon" to offer an automatic transmission and an auto/full-time four-wheel-drive combo. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. In the beginning, the standard trans was a three-speed manual BorgWarner T-90 (the V-8 got the T-85) and an optional B-W AS-8W automatic, until 1965 when it switched to the auto GM Turbo Hydra-Matic (TH400). Meanwhile, a BorgWarner T-14 manual trans was used for inline-six engines starting that same year while V-8s went with a Warner T-15A in 1968.

In 1974, the Wagoneer had only the TH400 to offer, until 1980, when the automatic 727 Torqueflite was standard; the B-W T-18 four-speed manual was optional for all engines. A year later, the B-W T-5 five-speed was used, with the Torqueflite and Tremec T-176 as options. The Cherokee ran a T-18 standard, while the TH400 was optional until 1979 when the Torqueflite was the alternative.The Transfer Case

The Dana 20 T-case had 2.03 low range. Early autos were backed with a single-speed Dana 21. In 1980, the standard T-case was an NP208 with 2.61 gearing. For 1971, a B-W 1339 was used with the auto/V-8 combo. With the Torqueflite came the NP219 Quadra-Trac; the manual-trans T-case was an NP208 Command-Trac. Starting three years later, the stick trans had options: part-time NP208, full-time NP228 Quadra-Trac in 1985, and full-time NP229/NP242 two years later. The Cherokee had a standard Dana 20 with the three-speed; the four-speed could get Quadra-Trac, which was standard with the four-barrels and optional with the two-barrel 360.

An '81 Brougham. Speaking of 1981, Jeep said that Wagoneer sales jumped 24 percent in 1982 over the previous year.

The Suspension/Axles
It's all about the leaves, front and rear. Unless you ordered the optional short-lived IFS/torsion-bar version. A Dana 27 started in the front; for 1971, it switched to a full-floating Dana 44. Three years later, it would become an open knuckle. In 1963, the standard axle ratio with the manual was 4.09; with the automatic it was 3.73. The rear axle was a semifloating 44 with 4.09 gearing with the manual and 3.73 with the automatic, plus optional Powr-Lok. In terms of optional ratios, with the Hi-Torque three-speed, 4.27 and 4.88. With the TH400, 4.09. The Dauntless V-8, 3.31 and 3.73. When the switch was made to an AMC 20 in 1976, getting a six-cylinder equaled 3.73 with optional gearing of 4.09, 4.27, and 4.88. The V-8's standard was 3.31, or 3.73 and 4.09. With the 44, gearing was 3.07 standard and 3.31 optional. The Cherokee Chief debuted with wide-track axles for a 78.9-inch overall width and 66.8-inch height.

The Fact:
In 1974, the Quadra-Trac nameplate was moved to the lower-right side of the tailgate. The Wagoneer one ended up at the front fender.

The Worthless Fact:
Paint colors included Tree Bark Brown and Parkway Green.

Corporate Historical Collection

SPEED READING
'63 WAGONEERENGINE
Wheelbase: 110 in3.8L Tornado
Overall length: 183.66 in.Displacement: 230.5 ci.
Overall width: 75.6 in.Bore x stroke: 3.34x4.38 in.
Overall height: 64.2 in.Compression ratio: 8.5:1
Curb weight: 3,731 lbs. (two-door)Horsepower: 140 at 4,000 rpm
Transmission:
BorgWarner T-90A
Torque:
210 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm
Transfer case:
Spicer 20
Induction:
1-barrel Holley carburetor

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