Introduced by Kaiser in 1963 as the first comfortable utility vehicle, the Jeep Wagoneer was perfected and styled by AMC from 1972 until Chrysler took over the Jeep badge in 1987.
After a 29-year run and slumping sales due mostly to a sharp early 1990s rise in oil prices, the last old generation Wagoneer came off the assembly line in 1991. And while Fiat is bringing back the badge in 2022, it will be on a $90,000+ luxury SUV.
Fortunately there are still plenty of vintage Wagoneers and Grand Wagoneers on the road today. They stand out visually among other SUVs from their era with their deeply cut lines, signature wooden paneling and perfect amount of chrome.
Wagoneers are among the most photogenic vehicles ever made, so it’s no surprise that Hollywood creators make use of them in movies and on television programs on a regular basis. The model’s look remained fairly unchanged throughout its run, and the near three-decade lifespan makes it fit into many potential timelines.
The Internet Movie Cars Database lists nearly 400 film and TV appearances for Wagoneers and Grand Wagoneers. And no, I will not apologize for the amazing rabbit hole I just sent you down with that link. Sorry not sorry.
A pristine red 1991 Grand Wagoneer was Skylar White’s daily driver during most of AMC’s megahit Breaking Bad. It appears in every season three episode, and makes marvelous set dressing for the famous pizza-on-the-roof mini-plot.
Amazingly, Skylar’s very Wago could have been yours in 2013 for less than $12,000, pizza not included.
Dawson’s Creek‘s Pacey drove a blue Grand Wagoneer, and an early 80s Wagoneer Limited hauled Knots Landing attorney Mac McKenzie around for the show’s entire 14-year run. The Hawaii-set Magnum, P.I. featured no fewer than fifteen different Jeeps, including two Wagoneers.
American made movies have also featured their share of Wagos. Main characters in The Philadelphia Experiment and Escape From Planet of the Apes both drive late 70s models throughout the films.
The iconic family vehicle serves in that role for Cape Fear‘s Bowdens (Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, and Juliette Lewis) and What About Bob‘s Marvins (Richard Dreyfuss, Julie Hagerty, Charlie Korsmo, and Kathryn Erbe).
And for anyone who has seen the 1986 Disney comedy Howard the Duck, it is likely impossible they will ever forget the chase scene where Jeffrey Jones’ Dr. Walter Jenning drives a 1984 Wagoneer through a locked gate, a construction site, city traffic, and over curbs and embankments before braking just inches from the glass front of Joe Roma’s Cajun Sushi.
Somehow the Wagoneer comes out without an apparent scratch as Jenning, Beverly (Lea Thompson), and Howard himself (Ed Gale) calmly head inside although something is clearly wrong with the Doc.
At least he can take comfort knowing that when they’re all done with their heaping plates of crawfish nigiri and jambalaya sashimi, they can head home in a durable, beautiful, classic Jeep.