LS Swapped: 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer – Sold?
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May 2, 2022, Update – We just confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found we’re assuming this ride “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.
The Jeep Grand Wagoneer predominantly lives in two arenas: completely restored or completely trashed. You can find them on craigslist for $50,000 or better, or in wasted shape for $5,000. This example lives pleasingly in the middle, ignoring its roughshod cosmetics in favor of a 5.3 LS-series engine swap. This is where I wish more vintage SUV owners would end up, be it a Grand Wagoneer or a Land Cruiser, as this is a truck that has actual value and enhanced usability that you’re not afraid to use as nature intended. The Grand Wagoneer was originally listed in April 2022 on Craigslist in Palm Beach, Florida with upgraded wheels and tires along with Corbeau bucket seats for $15,000. Comparing that price against the Hagerty Price Guide shows us that the seller is likely asking reasonable money for a truck that’s somewhere in the middle in terms of condition, as a “Fair” condition example is worth $11,600 while a “Good” condition truck jumps to $26,700.
At some point, the question has to be asked as to whether these old square bodies are worth the dough people are throwing at them. To some extent, yes, they don’t make trucks quite like these anymore and the style factor is very hard to replicate. No matter how hard the major brands try to revive classic nameplates, nothing beats the original when it comes to a modern classic like the Grand Wagoneer. The trouble is, we make a lot of exceptions for trucks like these in the spirit of honoring their incredible aura in terms of capturing an era of automotive style so perfectly. The 1980s still associated wealth and high society with fake woodgrain paneling and overstuffed leather seats features the Grand Wagoneer possessed in spades. It also reflected the relationship with AMC perfectly in the form of an engine and transmission combination that was near impossible to kill. Throw in the fact that every family in upper-class suburbia wanted to be seen in a Wagoneer and it’s not all that different from the housewives of the present-day wanting to drive around in an empty Cadillac Escalade.
The MotorWeek Retro Review Channel features this vintage road test of a 1983 version of Jeep’s Grand Wagoneer:
Now, when you’re presented with a driver-quality Grand Wagoneer, the temptation can often be to follow the crowd and restore it back to perfect condition. This is an expensive exercise, as a Grand Wagoneer was a top-of-the-line model when new, filled to the brim with luxury features. To restore the leather, wood trim, original audio equipment, and not to mention basic mechanical servicing can easily outpace the value of the truck. The seller of this Grand Wagoneer, in my opinion, took a much smarter approach and opted to make it into a much more entertaining daily driver rather than obsessing over getting every last detail factory correct. The 5.3-liter engine with the venerable 4L60 transmission will likely outlive the next few sets of owners and will be very cheap to service for the foreseeable future. The Corbeau seats are an interesting upgrade, but they look surprisingly awesome in the truck. Throw in the meaty wheel and tire combination and you have a rig that is classic and modern at the same time – and that’s pretty hard to beat.
Here’s the seller’s description:
“1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer. 5.3 LS swap with 4l60 transmission.
New Corbeau bucket seats in front done in matching merlot color.
18” Method wheels and BFG A/T tires.
The vehicle drives daily and can go anywhere.
Unfortunately, I have to let this gem go as I have no time for it with a growing family.“
Purists be damned: would you rock a swapped Grand Wagoneer like this or stick to the original script?