Posted by: Jerry Garrett | September 9, 2015

Jeep’s Wagoneer Making Fake Wood Grain Fashionable Again?

Fake wood grain! Stylish again? (Jeep archives)

Fake wood grain! Stylish again? (Jeep archives)

Did you ever think fake-wood grain paneling would be a must-have adornment for one of the hottest models in today’s collectible car market? It seems tacky is back.

Hagerty, the classic vehicle insurance and valuation experts, report a 164 percent increase in the past five years of the classic Jeep Wagoneer, arguably the world’s first luxury sports utility vehicle. Hagerty also says beyond the increase of the number of people insuring Wagoneers as collectibles, the average prices for these vehicles have also increased during the same period by 35 percent.

The average prices are pushing $20,000 now, with extreme valuations two to three times that not uncommon. Some pristine examples have reportedly turned up at fancy collectible car auctions, where they’ve fetched more than $65,000. Those are, generally speaking, low-mileage, in showroom condition (or better), and extensively reworked under the hood. A shop in Texas that specializes in Wagoneer restorations claims it can make them run better than new. (Not hard to believe, as the original vehicles had a pretty atrocious reliablity record.)

The Wagoneer was, in some form or other, in production from 1963 to 1991. It was largely unchanged during that time, except for modest refinements and heaps of options and luxury features piled on. Unbelievably (for me), the fake-wood paneling along the sides of the later models is the hottest option (and probably hardest to restore).

I had a Wagoneer, but it was a rare two-door model – a 1982 Laredo – that eschewed the wood-grain option. I thought it was the Jeep equivalent of a Chevy Nomad wagon. I thought it looked great then, and still does now. Probably just my taste! I sold it after blowing up the transmission, the radiator, several tires (off-roading with it) and a few other major components.

Hmmm, there’s a used one on eBay right now for $6,000! No, I learned my lesson on that one.

Maybe I’ll wait for the rumored Wagoneer revival for the 2018 model year!

Jerry Garrett
September 9, 2015

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