1966 Jeep Super Wagoneer: Looking Back
Precursor to luxury.
As we look back to the 1966 Jeep Super Wagoneer, Jeep has only begun to tease us with its latest entry in the premium luxury SUV field, the Grand Wagoneer concept. While we ogled the elegance of the concept's enormous touchscreen displays, full-pane glass roof, and teak wood accents, we decided to calm our anxious nerves by delving into the Four Wheeler archives. May 1966 found us looking at Kaiser Jeep's first wholehearted attempt to attract a higher-class buyer to the Wagoneer platform with its Super Wagoneer.
The Wagoneer followed in the steps of the Willys Jeep Station Wagon and was already known for pioneering four-wheel drive in a truly passenger-friendly platform. It accomplished that task using an independent front suspension setup with a Dana 27 centersection, a rear Dana 44 axle, and also derived 140 horsepower from its 3.8L Tornado inline-six. Although some customers griped about the engine's tendency to burn or leak oil and the IFS option didn't sell quite as well as the manufacturer planned, the Wagoneer attracted buyers with its comparatively low-slung stance, sedanlike handling, and towing capabilities.
Introduced in the 1966 model year, the Super Wagoneer was intended for customers seeking all the above qualities, but with more luxury. When we first laid eyes on the Super Wagoneer in the spring of 1966, we noticed its full-width grille, roof rack system, and body panels decked in aluminum and gold tones. Inside, accessories that were normally considered extra-cost items were included as standard equipment, like power brakes and steering, air conditioning, a push-button radio, a seven-position tilting steering wheel, and a console shifter for the TH400 automatic transmission (the first combination of an automatic trans and a full-time four-wheel drive system). Power came from the Super Wagoneer's Vigilante V-8, which was fed by a four-barrel carb and produced 270 horses, an improvement over the outgoing Tornado.
In its day, the Super Wagoneer was one of the first Jeep vehicles that enticed families looking to stay classy while chugging up snowy mountains and down slippery mud roads, and the Grand Wagoneer concept appears to follow along the same rugged and distinguished path, some 54 years later. Although our prospective powertrains include plug-in hybrid options alongside V-6 and V-8 engines and the suspension design is independent at each corner, the vehicle is slated to maintain the air of sophistication created by its ancestors.
Would you consider buying a new-age Grand Wagoneer? What are your thoughts on the availability of luxury features in 4x4s? Is there an older FSJ in your garage right now? We'd love to hear your thoughts (and see any high-resolution pictures you might have of your fullsize Jeep), so feel free to peck out a note and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.