In the 1960s, the Jeep Wagoneer came onto the market and surprised with its equipment and technical advances. This was what could be considered the first premium SUV.
Everyone knows Jeep and iconic models like the Wrangler. However, there was another that arrived on the market in the 60s and that was a revolution in the United States, thanks to all the elements it incorporated. This was the Jeep Wagoneer.
In 1963, the off-road firm thought of launching something new. It had to maintain the off-road qualities that defined the company, but it also had to add a luxurious touch that was not found in this type of vehicle. The only reference in the brand was the Jeep Willys Station Wagon 1946, so you could practically work in any direction.
Even so, the same designer who was in charge of that car, Brooks-Stevens, was chosen to devise the look of this new model. In addition to having already demonstrated his qualities to the North American manufacturer, he was one of the most acclaimed industrial designers in the country at the time, so he was best suited for the job.
In this way, from his pencil came the First Jeep Wagoneer, which had the aesthetics of a familiar, but had the ability to circulate without problems on almost any terrain. This was possible in part because it was built on the chassis of a pick-up, so it had certain characteristics typical of this type of vehicle.
Even so, a differentiating feature was still missing to make this SUV special. It had to be advanced and that should be noticed in every way. Mechanically, a novel 6 cylinder engine It sends the power to all four wheels. In addition, elements such as an independent front suspension were included to improve behavior.
Thanks to this suspension and the limited slip differentials placed front and rear the traction of the car was clearly improved. In this way, its off-road performance was highly applauded by the media who tested the Wagoneer at the time.
The equipment, one of its great assets
However, this was only the beginning. Items like the power steering were also included, something that was really surprising in the 1960s. Also, the radio and the air conditioning system was something optionalas well as something very rare in the cars of those years.
That yes, was not perfect, evidently. In that first generation there was complaints about lack of stability in certain situations while driving and by the effectiveness of the brakes. In any case, it was an applauded model upon its arrival and in subsequent years it evolved remarkably.
There are many moments to highlight. In 1965 the possibility of riding front and rear seat belts. In 1973, the Quadra-Trac 4×4 system was trying to improve off-road capabilities and front disc brakes were a big help from 1974. The changes kept coming and so on. Jeep Wagoneer remained for sale until 1991.
Without a doubt, it was a very special car for the brand and therefore was resurrected in 2021. Currently, it is still on sale in two versions and intends to compete with other premium SUVs on the US market. And it is that now this type of SUV is extremely common, but we must not forget that they would not be possible without models like the original from almost 60 years ago.
This article was published in Top Gear by Sergio Ríos.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism