In the Garage: Introducing Amanda’s Wagoneer


When my wife was a teenager, her grandmother gave her some money to put aside until she needed to buy her first car. Well, when that time came, her parents bought a ’97 Jeep Grand Cherokee for her to use. When we got married, they gave us their 2000 Impala as a wedding gift, so Amanda has never had a reason to use the money from her grandma…until now!

What: 1973 Jeep Wagoneer

  • 360 AMC V8, Motorcraft 2bbl carburetor
  • TH400 Automatic Transmission
  • Dana 20 Transfer Case
  • Dana 27 closed-knuckle front axle with Warn Premium Hubs
  • Dana 44 rear axle

These big, heavy full-size Jeeps are just plain cool. They kept the same basic body style from 1963 through the end of their production in 1991 and were always at the front of the pack in the luxury SUV market.

This example is pretty well preserved and has a few cool upgrades. The gentleman who owned the Jeep bought it from it’s original owner in the ’80s and used it to pull a welding trailer and plow the narrow backroads in the winter.

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If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll know that I often write up Craigslist fantasy builds. I was looking for my next “project” when I came across this beauty.

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I grabbed Amanda and said “Hey, look at this!” and her response was something along the lines of “Oooooooooohhhh, I want it!” This was about 10:30 Wednesday night, so I emailed the owner, called him the next morning, and set up a time to look at it after I got off work Thursday night.

We made it to Newport, TN around 8 p.m. and met just about the sweetest couple you’d ever meet. The man was a former Iroquois Indian chief named Eagle, and he was selling the Jeep to pay for his wife Dove’s medical bills. They brought us in the house, chatted a while, and gave Amanda a beaded necklace Dove had made. They were concerned about us driving back in the dark, so we promised to call when we made it back to Knoxville. This Wagoneer is pretty sound; I drove it the whole way with no major hiccups. That’s the way I like it! The Jeep was pretty special to Eagle and Dove, and she said “how wonderful that the Jeep introduced us to two really wonderful people!” We feel the same way about them!

The next day after work, I changed the fuel filter and belts. On Saturday, we took it down to Oliver Springs to change the oil and get it up on the lift. One big, fluffy reason Amanda wanted a station wagon? The Service Station Dog!

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Leia LOVED the Wagoneer! She didn’t stop wagging the whole way. We haven’t had a vehicle she could ride in since 2014, and she’s really missed going on drives.

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One of the first things I do when I buy a used vehicle is inspect and/or change all the fluids, starting with the oil. We didn’t have time to change all the fluids this trip, but I wanted to get the oil out of the way, anyhow. Since this is Amanda’s first car, she asked to change the oil herself; of course, I obliged! Her first oil change went without a hitch, and I didn’t do a thing. She did everything, including lifting the vehicle. A little instruction and a final torque check on the filter and the drain plug was all I contributed to the job. She didn’t spill a drop, by the way! I’m really proud of her for being so personally invested in this project that she wants to get her hands dirty. Looks like we may have another mechanic in the family!

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Yesterday, Amanda worked on getting the Wagoneer cleaned up a bit. The decals were peeling off a bit, and the seat cover was coming apart, so she pulled all of that off with a little help from the resident shop cat, Luna.

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The Wagoneer used to be about Henry’s shade of blue.

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Amanda is so excited to have her first vehicle, and she’s got big plans for this ol’ girl! I think it’s safe to say it also has the pet stamp of approval. We’re headed back to Oliver Springs today to do some more work on it, so we’ll keep you updated on our progress. Happy Wrenching!

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