The Problem with Wagoneers, As Illustrated by Two eBay Examples

Classic 4×4 continue to rise in value. Boomers with money bought up all the mainstream muscle cars and the metrojack movement is nearing its zenith, meaning those withing to co-opt some classic style are looking to Land Rovers, Land Cruiser Wagons and Wagoneers to match their overpriced under-muddied boots. Blazers, Broncos and CJs are just too accessible and everyone forgets Scouts exist. Land Rovers and Cruisers were made in few enough numbers and were genuinely crappy enough to make ownership challenging enough to feel special. Ambitious sellers are attempting to move top-condition Wagoneers in that over $20k (and up) market, but how can that work when they’re still thick on the ground under five grand?
I’ll admit in advance that this comparison is unfair. Exhibit A may well be the best-kept early Wagoneer in the country, a ’66 with 327ci V8, automatic and vinyl interior. The condition’s damn near perfect and nearly as original. The odometer reads 17,000 miles, which aligns with the condition (or a 6th-digit rollover and a massive restoration). Notable visible flaws include hacked-in extra gauges cut into the dash, a rattle-canned (?) instrument cluster and a giant CB antenna attached to nothing. There are no pictures of the undercarriage, which is concerning on a midwestern example. Speaking from my own example, the clean metal dash and instrument cluster are major aesthetic selling points, which are screwed up in nontrivial ways here. And yet: $60k Buy-It-Now.
1966 wagoneer for sale (4)1966 wagoneer for sale (6)
Meanwhile, this ’66 in Riverside is selling with a $3,600 opening bid and no reserve, meaning the seller’s willing to take $3,601. Obviously it’s several condition notches down, but certainly not $56,000 worth of work away from Exhibit A. It’s got the same V8, a preferable manual transmission, a better/more intact dash and the seller’s actually included pictures of the undercarriage. Compared to the wannabe museum piece, this one’s driven regularly and isn’t sitting on unusable antique bias ply whitewalls.
1966 jeep wagoneer project (1)1966 jeep wagoneer project (3)
While this is an intentionally extreme example, it seems the same story plays out through the middle of the spectrum as well. For every example that some dude’s trying to sell for $20k, there’s a slightly scruffier, functionally equivalent example for less than half-price. Hell, I could’ve met my needs for half the $8k I paid for mine. Given how most of these will be used (beach cruiser, hauling, camping, etc), the last 20% of the aesthetics aren’t all that critical.
I suppose I could conclude by congratulating myself on for constructing a nice “Don’t Buy and Expensive Wagoneer” PSA (again), but maybe there’s something I’m missing. Is there some confirmation bias that the buyer of a super-expensive vehicle adopts? “It’s good because it’s expensive”, rather than the other way around? Obviously Wagoneers are in my wheelhouse, but maybe you know of other vehicles where some examples pull ridiculous sale prices for no good reason?

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  1. Tanshanomi Avatar

    That’s the trouble with nearly every vehicle…including Honda SL175s. Don’t ask me why I have these ads readily available.
    1971 Honda SL175 K1 Restoration – $7500
    1971 Honda SL175- 836 miles – $2250

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      That’s a model I didn’t know existed.
      One of my first bikes was the nearly identical XL175 and I well remember…
      “Also the seat has a crack in the underside metal.”
      Yes, they all did. I ended up putting a new seat base on mine as the old one rusted on the cracking.

      1. Tanshanomi Avatar

        The XL175 had a single-cylinder engine, the SL175 used the twin from the CB175 street bike.

        1. Rover 1 Avatar
          Rover 1

          Sorry. You are, of course correct. But they do seem to share the same forks, swingarm,lights,instruments, brakes and wheels. Maybe even the same frame? Definitely the same seat.

  2. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

    I’ve been running into this with even 80s-90s Broncos. Some guys want $4k for a clean driver that is in decent shape, or $25k for ones that are showroom clean.
    I can do a lot with a clean truck and $21k.

  3. mr smee Avatar
    mr smee

    Like trying to buy a 4Runner in Edmonton. I can buy a Lexus LS with half the mileage for the same price as a rusted out ‘Runner.

    1. mad_science Avatar

      Honestly, a road trip down to the US southwest would probably put you out ahead, money-wise.

      1. mr smee Avatar
        mr smee

        Thanks for the tip!

    2. Citric Avatar

      Is this why people are importing HiLux Surfs all the time?

  4. neight428 Avatar

    Yep, same with second gen F-bodies. Full out restorations want $40k for the early models. Functionally equivalent later model versions that look really good with a few decent upgrades are $8k. Pre-smog nostalgia carries a hell of a premium.

  5. Krautwursten Avatar

    The left one is a typical case of “low miles numbers matching no lowballers i know hwut i gut”.

  6. mallthus Avatar

    I’ve owned two Wagoneers and can tell you that, between these two, I’d take the cheap one in a New York minute.
    Mind you, it’s not going to be cheap to bring it up to a standard you’d be happy to live with, but when you’re done, you’re not going to have a $60,000 boat anchor. Truth is, the expensive one is expensive precisely because it’s too nice to enjoy.
    Put $5 in the runner and it’ll be decent. $10k will make it as visually nice as the expensive one. $15k will give you an awesome restomod.

  7. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    It’s like the difference between asking price and selling price. And an asking price forced by a spouse saying “Sell that thing now!”
    Put a high price on it and you can always say “I tried, honey, no-one wants them anymore”
    And you still have your toy.

  8. CanAmChad Avatar

    I think it depends on the area of the country you live in. You wont find a good Wagoneer in Wisconsin for $5k. Im more partial to the special edition types like Super Wagoneers, Golden Eagles, Honcho FSJs etc… As mentioned even once you have a serviceable one, you are going to spend some $$ getting into a condition you want for usability sake. I don’t understand the prices some of these bring, but I’ve probably got over 10K in mine after I did the LS swap and paint.