Today’s Post by Joe Farace
Jeep has certainly had an interesting ownership path and is currently a division of FCA US LLC, a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Jeep became a part of Chrysler in 1987, when they acquired the brand along with all the remaining assets from American Motors Corporation who made all of the Jeeps that I’ve owned, starting with a 1970’s era CJ-5.
Fiat Chrysler/Peugeot Merger Will Conclude in the first quarter of 2021 with a new name: FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) and Peugeot have announced that Stellantis will be the new name of its combined automotive group. The word has a Latin root which means “to brighten with stars.” This merger is part of Peugeot’s plan to return to the U.S. market
History lesson: Prior to 1940 the term “jeep” was U.S. Army slang for new recruits or vehicles but when the original World War II Jeep went into production in 1941, first by Willys and then later from Ford, it became the name of this light military 4×4, making it arguably the oldest four-wheel drive mass-production vehicles.
Fast forward to 1978 when a team of AMC and Renault engineers designed the compact XJ Cherokee. Initially, clay models were based on the then-current SJ Cherokee. Early sketches of the XJ Cherokee had a European influence with most of the styling cues created by AMC engineers under the direction of Richard A. Teague, AMC’s vice president of design.
The XJ Wagoneer was not related to the similarly named full-sized models that previously carried the Wagoneer name and have gone on to become collectable classics. The new model was available in two trim levels: Wagoneer and Wagoneer Limited, which mine was. The Limited came with vinyl wood trim on the sides and leather seats embossed with “Limited” lettering. My one-owner Jeep originally had the same kind of wheels that are shown in the above photo but were in bad shape; I replaced them with lightly used Jeep gold mesh wheels that were OEM from 87-96 and thought it made the vehicle look even better. No whitewalls, though but I wish I had thought of that. It dresses up the Jeep nicely.
My Jeep was powered by the problematical Chevrolet 2.8 L engine that was produced from 1980 through 1986 for GM’s A and X-body cars along with my Wagoneer and other Jeeps. It was not as good as the 4.0 liter straight six that came later but was “better than nothing.” My Jeep had a 5-speed manual and was as pleasant to drive as any modern SUV or crossover. Ultimately it was transmission problems that did it in with the estimated cost of repairs exceeding the value of the Wagoneer at that time.
I don’t get sentimental about my cars and miss very few of them. There are two exceptions to this rule: My 1968 Porsche 912 and the 1984 Jeep Wagoneer Limited that I miss to this day. It was a competent off-roader, great in the Colorado snow and had style to spare. I wish I’d the foresight to suck it up and fixe the transmission because, to me, this is what a real Jeep looks like. Such are the regrets of a motoring life.
Photo: The above image is not my actual Jeep but looks just like it. Image is from The Jeep Blog and may be an American Motors promo shot. If not I will be glad to properly credit the photographer or remove the image. No attempt has been made to represent image ownership.