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The $250.00 Wagoneer: An Exercise in Restraint

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The $250.00 Wagoneer: An Exercise in Restraint

Old 01-29-2016, 06:20 AM
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Default The $250.00 Wagoneer: An Exercise in Restraint

Keeping another one out of the junk yard...

So it's two weeks before Christmas and I'm cruising Craigslist looking for nothing in particular when I find it; an ad for a 1988 Wagoneer Limited with a bad engine for $500.00. My initial response was "Parts Jeep!" Twelve hours later and a buddy and I are dragging a dead jeep out of a sketchy neighborhood, title in hand for the princely sum of $250.00. The seller was a female in her early to mid twenties and it was her daily driver until the engine went. It was easy to tell that she was just completely done with fixing this jeep... I feel like I could have offered her a crisp fifty and she'd have taken it, but oh well.

Here it is as-bought, after dragging to the parking lot at my office just to get it out of the east side of town:



So it was at this point I started really looking this thing over... I looked at the usual stuff when at her house, mainly looking for catastrophic body rust. The more I looked the more I was amazed at the completeness and originality of the Jeep. All of the Wagoneer-specific interior trim is there, nothing's busted, missing or destroyed inside beyond expected levels of wear & tear for a 225K mile car. There's only two or three little issues that are easily fixed. An added bonus; the front tires are brand-new and the rears have maybe 10k on them.



Dragging yet another jeep in with one of my other "back from the brink of death" projects, (also inline six-powered). My blue '96 XJ arrived in precisely the same fashion.



Rear seat is near-mint... looks basically unused.



Missing one cargo rail and a cap, easily found at the salvage yard. Even the original donut cover is in place and un-shredded.



It's all here... just dirty!

So at this point I've come to the realization that I have to fix this thing... I don't know if I could live with myself if I took this thing apart. I've been thinking about getting back into fixing and flipping cars as a side business again, so I guess here's my first flip. I have a budget, a plan, and hopefully at some point the right buyer.

The plan: Keep it as original as possible... here's the "restraint" part. No, I'm not going to modify it, I'm already doing that to the blue Jeep.
1. Engine replacement... pretty self-explanatory. Early 4.0 shortblocks with lower mileage being rare, I'm likely going to use a later 4.0... there are many on Ebay from well-reviewed suppliers that even offer warranties.
2. Body reconditioning... I'm even planning to put the wood grain back down the sides, but still researching a more cost-effective method beside the restoration places ($500 to $700 just for the materials!) The front end has some light damage, so I'll need a new bumper, ends, and grille... thankfully the header panel was not seriously damaged. The reveal moldings for the side windows will also need replacement as they are crumbling.
3. Interior... The front seats will need reworking since the leather has long ago split and separated, I need a couple of pieces to complete the rear cargo area and some other small odds and ends. Also the dash pad and glove box door is split from sun... may get fixed, may not. The glove box door is easy enough. Outside of that it just needs a good cleaning.
4: Remaining mechanical... It was definitely a daily driver before the engine went, so I'm assuming for the moment there are no other major problems. The transfer case shifts as it should and the brakes work, but I guess I'll find out more once I have the engine swapped.

So that's the plan. I have conservatively set the budget at $1500.00 including the purchase price, so I guess we'll see how close I can get.

1,500.00
- 250.00 One busted jeep
1,250.00

Last edited by Crash_Course; 01-31-2016 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 01-29-2016, 07:45 AM
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Old 01-29-2016, 08:04 AM
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^^ What Nick said!! So...that thing is pretty clean. Still "parts Jeep", or new build platform??
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Old 01-29-2016, 08:36 AM
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nice. i would find out what is going on with the motor, 4 litres don't usually just fail. probably something simple. there's not much there with those renix models.
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Old 01-29-2016, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by jay_sco View Post
^^ What Nick said!! So...that thing is pretty clean. Still "parts Jeep", or new build platform??
Oh no, this thing is getting put back on the road, it's too good and too complete, I don't want to be the one to take it apart.

Originally Posted by caged View Post
nice. i would find out what is going on with the motor, 4 litres don't usually just fail. probably something simple. there's not much there with those renix models.
Total lack of maintenance... It was run hot at some point, probably repeatedly... there were some too little-too late cooling system fixes done and she basically drove it until it spit a rod through the oil pan and block. I'd planned on this going into the deal though, so nothing I wasn't already prepared for. Long blocks are plentiful.

Last edited by Crash_Course; 01-29-2016 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 01-29-2016, 06:15 PM
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Fast-forward one week...

So I really love working in higher education, really can't beat three weeks off for Christmas/New Years.

Started off with replacing the broken rear quarter window with one from my leftovers from my factory tint glass swap on the '96. Saving money already.

I began disassembly on my new toy... carefully cataloging and bagging screws, bolts and other fasteners to save future-me some headache. Yes, I am working in the field since I currently have no shop or garage... nothing new.



Oil pan... peek-a-boo...



It definitely wanted out of there



Here it is... I pulled it the rest of the way out of the hole in the pan... I cant wait to get this thing out and see what else is in there.



The good parts pile... including the brand-new radiator and cooling hoses.



And the garbage pile. Not pictured is the AC condenser that was falling apart in my hands. I heard that cash register sound-effect in my head when that happened.





Everything has come apart surprisingly well... So far I haven't broken any bolts and only found a small rusty area under the battery tray.

So basically where I am at this point is looking for a good long block, which is probably going to come from Ebay if I don't pull one from a yard. The rest of the money for the project budget doesnt arrive until the end of January so for the moment it sits. Anyhow, I had a lift to install on the blue jeep and I wanted to get that done before I go back to work on the 4th.

1,250.00
- 49.00 Title transfer
1,201.00

Last edited by Crash_Course; 01-29-2016 at 11:32 PM.
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Old 01-29-2016, 06:59 PM
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nice score.
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Old 01-29-2016, 10:43 PM
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Nice. I wish I could find one that cheap!
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Old 01-30-2016, 11:13 PM
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good save! That will be a cool old DD when its back up and running. What are you planning on doing with the old grill?
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Old 01-31-2016, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by That Jeep Guy XJMJ View Post
good save! That will be a cool old DD when its back up and running. What are you planning on doing with the old grill?
Thanks. The old grille is broken and basically trash.
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Old 01-31-2016, 10:12 AM
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Nice find! I think you're budget is a little ambitious, but good luck on the build. I really like Wagoneers. I can't wait to see it brought back to glory.
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Old 02-01-2016, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by cbs_24 View Post
Nice find! I think you're budget is a little ambitious, but good luck on the build. I really like Wagoneers. I can't wait to see it brought back to glory.
You're likely correct, I'm foolishly banking on the possibility that the engine was the only major issue, but in the back of my mind I know there's going to be more.

Speaking of which.... here goes a chunk of the ol' budget...




$ 1201.00
- 425.00 Long Block! (Shipping is a B****, but its been run-tested and compression-tested and stuff.)
776.00
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Old 02-02-2016, 10:21 AM
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awesome, cant wait to see it up and mobile.
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Old 02-02-2016, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Crash_Course View Post
Thanks. The old grille is broken and basically trash.
Hey nice find!

I'm currently building a Wagoneer myself. I'm in Dallas. Let me know if you get a line on the springs that hold the headlights in place. Mine have finally given out. Also, check out walmart. They have our headlight sizes on clearance right now. I got all four for about $18...prob while supplies last!

S/F,

-Matt
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Old 02-02-2016, 09:58 PM
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Originally Posted by MayerMR View Post
Hey nice find!

I'm currently building a Wagoneer myself. I'm in Dallas. Let me know if you get a line on the springs that hold the headlights in place. Mine have finally given out. Also, check out walmart. They have our headlight sizes on clearance right now. I got all four for about $18...prob while supplies last!

S/F,

-Matt
Interesting, I hadn't thought about that... but I haven't really taken the header panel apart yet beyond removing the grille and removing the panel itself from the front of the jeep. I learned real quick about the availability of replacement grilles so now I stay on the lookout for "target of opportunity" parts purchases. Surely that springs gotta cross with something... I'll keep my eyes peeled though, as I'm a regular at the local pick n' pulls.
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