Welcome to wheels Rick! It isn’t often we see one of these Wagoneers — even though it enjoyed one of the longest production runs of any Jeep product. How did you come across it?
Thanks for featuring me in the mag, it’s a really good read.
Indeed, these Jeeps were made from 1962 to 1991 and were the first luxury SUV predating even the Range Rover by seven years. My wife and I knew we were coming to the UAE permanently and would need a second car after my 2014 Ford Focus ST and wanted something bigger that could be used for camping. We were in the US in the summer of 2016 and she saw a Grand Wagoneer and that was it. We spent about six months looking for one in New England generally over the East coast. Then we took a quick trip to Las Vegas and I found a couple there but when I saw mine, a Final Edition in gleaming black, at a dealer in Phoenix I knew I had to have it despite it breaking down on the test drive!
That would have made the haggling process a little easier. Tell us more…
It arrived in Dubai in October 2016 but proved so unreliable that after having it for a month we bought a 2016 Ford Escape. I thought the Jeep might not be the best for a daily driver but fortunately, there are a couple of very active Jeep clubs in the US and after posting my symptoms online I found that it was simply the ignition module kit which I have replaced and the Wagoneer has been very reliable since then.
That’s good to hear. These were money spinners for Chrysler back in the day weren’t they…
Absolutely — Chrysler, the third owner of the Jeep brand, was making over $6,000 (Dh22,000) profit per car which was way over the norm. The models from 1987 — 1991 are considered the best.
My 1991 model cost $30,000 (Dh110,000) new and is one of only 1,560 made as is signified by a plaque on the dash. It has leather seats, power brakes, windows, mirrors, central locking, excellent air-conditioning and on-the-fly 4WD which can be engaged at any speed. I have always liked these SUVs, they’re great beach cars in the US and it seemed ideal for the UAE.
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How much fun is to drive?
Fun, hmmm . . . it’s so different from new cars, it’s heavy and the controls are not ergonomically designed. It doesn’t have air bags or ABS and it uses a lot of fuel (about 20 litres per 100km) but whenever I drive it there’s a permanent smile on my face — along with white knuckles!
I try to take it out at least once a week, I love taking it to the beach and camping. It is 4WD with high and low range and I have only managed to get it stuck once but that was because of my inexperience. It has a 5.9-litre V8 but because of all the emission control stuff it’s nothing like a modern V8. It has a lot of low end torque and is a very comfortable ride, kind of like riding on your favourite couch. Moreover, everything is stock and that is very important if I ever want to resell it in the US.
How proud do you feel to own this classic SUV?
I love it — it’s really cool driving it around and ever since I replaced that ignition module it seems pretty solid, let’s hope it stays that way.
Fingers crossed. What sort of reaction does it get from people?
People love the car and are constantly beeping me and giving me the thumbs up. What’s really great is when I valet park it usually goes in a position of prominence, the last time the line of cars outside was a Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, my Grand Wagoneer, a Lamborghini and Bentley. I have also met some really great people from car enthusiast groups like Vintage Power UAE.
We wish you years of happy motoring with it. Tell us about your very first car, a 1931 Austin 7…
I bought that with the proceeds from my paper round for £5 (Dh25) when I was 13! I messed around with it a bit, took the seats out, put them back and managed to get the car started. I drove it around the corner on my quiet little cul-de-sac towards the woods and when I put the brakes on to stop I ended up, inexplicably, in the back of the car; I had forgotten to bolt the seats back in and the car and was stopped by a small tree!
When I could actually legally drive I bought a 1961 Sunbeam Rapier Convertible which I blew up trying to race a Lotus Cortina. The interesting thing about that car was that it took about 45 minutes to put the roof up or down which was not great in English weather…
I can imagine! What else have you owned in the past?
I have owned about 40 cars in my life so far and some of my favorites would be a MGB Roadster, a 1971 Jaguar E-Type V12 which was fabulous when it worked (which was rarely) and I also had a custom series I Range Rover in the Seventies which was really cool.
Another favorite would have to be a 69 Buick LeSabre Convertible (thankfully its roof went up and down in less than a minute!) which was stock and beaten up and that’s how I drove it. It proved to be reliable, fun and quite fast too, but the less said about its cornering abilities the better. For sheer craziness I had a 40’s Willy’s Jeep. It was slow and scary to drive but huge fun and very trendy for a moment in time.
What a fascinating bunch! Finally, what is your dream car?
An original Ford GT40 would be up there but also a Jaguar XK 150. I also like the new Range Rover SVR, that’d be a nice daily driver.
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