Jeep Wrangler: an affordable and historic 4X4

They can be cheap, and come with a heritage richer even than a Land Rover Defender

Rob Adams
Thursday 27 April 2017 08:45
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The Jeep Wrangler has been around since World War II. Indeed, it was the machine that helped the allies win the war. Its heritage thus betters almost anything on the road – so it may be a surprise to discover just how cheap it also is.

Don’t worry. We’re not recommending you go buy one all decked out with jerry cans and army livery. Here, we’re looking at cars from 1993-on – that’s when Wrangler imports officially started in the UK. It was a rudimentary sort of right-hand drive conversion, carried out here in the UK, but it still sort of worked.

These early cars have square headlights and are known as YJ versions. They have a short wheelbase, light weight… and a gigantic 4.0-litre straight-six engine up front. There’s a lot to like, even if they are far happier off road than on it. How much? From just £2000 for a muddy field hack, or £5000 for something worthy of a modern classic car show.

Things got more professional by 1997 with the launch of the TJ model. There was even a range-topping 4.0-litre Limited model, along with a new 2.5-litre that didn’t sound as good but chewed through less fuel. Pay from £3000, or £5000 for a decent one, and £7000 for the most pristine examples.

The latest Wrangler is known as the JK, and was launched in 2007. This was a much bigger step on – indeed, it was a fair bit bigger in width overall, although off-roaders didn’t mind so much as both length plus approach and departure angles were reduced. It was thus better than ever off road.

By now, you could get a diesel-engined Wrangler, a 200bhp 2.8-litre engine. Despite being pretty loud, it’s the engine of choice, not least because it’s punchy and probably easier to drive than the old 4.0-litre in everyday conditions. Speaking of petrol, Jeep now offered a 280hp 3.6-litre V6, but it was so thirsty, it’s a real rarity.

Pay from £10,000 for a diesel JK Wrangler, or from £13,000 with a more sensible mileage. Fancy one of those rare V6s? Get your wallet out: you won’t easily find one for less than £20,000. And don’t forget to factor in the fuel bills on top.

Rob Adams is a writer for PistonHeads.

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