She invariably makes folks break into a smile. A young man with his son in tow tapped on the window. "My grandparents had this same car."
There's mostly happy memories associated with this early 4 x 4 sport utility vehicle. Filled with family, headed for the lake.
Steve, who worked for AMC back in the day, calls her the "Palm Beach Wagon."
To us she's the "Woody."
I've loved this car forever. But there's few left on the road. Corrosion issues sent most of these gentle giants to the scrap yard. Restored versions are the price of a college education.
So when my husband saw the Woody for sale roadside in the upper peninsula, he insisted his colleague turn the car around. Few lucky wives get keys to a rusty wagon for Christmas.
Same kind colleague towed her south along the Mackinac Bridge that spring.
Three years, and a bare-metal restoration later, the old girl's nearly as good as new. But she still smells like 1986--and so does the garage.
The Grand Wagoneer was built by Willys/Kaiser Jeep, American Motors Corporation, and then Jeep from 1963 to 1991. Standard luxury appointments like leather power seats, power side and rear windows, air conditioning, custom wheels, independent front suspension and automatic transmission set it apart from other wagons at the time. As did the price.
On June 21, 1990 the last Grand Wagoneer rolled off the line at the Toledo Assembly Plant with a "Final Edition" Badge on the dash.
The story doesn't end there. Chrysler LLC promises to unveil the new Grand Wagoneer and smaller Wagoneer in 2019 or 2020.
Alleged prototype sightings bear little resemblance to the iconic Woody. But it looks hot. Like a Grand Cherokee and a Range Rover had a child together.
With a rumored price tag of over $100,000, she'll legitimately remain the Palm Beach Wagon.
Hope wood side panels remain an option.