Watch My $800 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Triumph Against All Odds

When my 1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer overheated after spewing all of its coolant from a broken hose, I worried that the 1,700 mile journey from Michigan to Utah had reached its end. But those concerns quickly disappeared, because the Jeep’s AMC 360 V8 just kept beasting on.

In this third and final part of our video series about Project Redwood—the Jeep Grand Wagoneer that I bought out of a yard for $800, and that hadn’t been driven in over 12 years—Andrew Collins and I fall deeply in love with the woodie. (Watch parts one and two via those links.)


The cooling system was no longer an issue after we fixed the broken heater hose, and the Jeep cruised on to Moab at 65 mph like a champ, even if it burned holes into our wallets with its pathetic 12 MPG.

We were in a race against time, as we tried to make it to the Jeep concept drive, which took place in a relatively remote part of Utah, and which ended at 4 P.M. This was the deadline we’d been trying to make since brake issues delayed our start by two days, but in the end—after breaking our backs along a rocky trail thanks to the Jeep’s tires being inflated at far too high of a pressure—we were a few minutes late.

Still, we got to take a few pictures of Project Redwood next to Jeep’s Wagoneer Road Trip concept, and we later got to drive the resto-mod SUV. So it all worked out.

We even got to take my Jeep on a light off-road trail, Fins & Things, after I used a wrench and a screwdriver to get the four-wheel drive system working. As you can see in the video, off-roading this boat wasn’t easy. But my god was it fun.

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About the author

David Tracy

Writer, Jalopnik. 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, 1985 Jeep J10, 1948 Willys CJ-2A, 1995 Jeep Cherokee, 1992 Jeep Cherokee auto, 1991 Jeep Cherokee 5spd, 1976 Jeep DJ-5D, totaled 2003 Kia Rio