Adios Wagoneer!

I sold my 1969 Wagoneer last weekend. In contrast to my ’67 Country Sedan or ’00 Wrangler, the heavy sigh I let out as it drove away wasn’t one of regret or resignation but relief. Maybe even celebration or victory. I’d been out of love with it since about 2013, but like a failed marriage stuck with it through a kitchen remodel in 2014 and rather than clean it up and unload it, chose to build and race the Ranchero in 2015. After our incident on Valentine’s weekend, I vowed to finish the last few odds-and-ends on it and unload it before rebooting LeMons activities.
I don’t mind crappy, broken, semi-functional vehicles. My frustration with the Wagoneer came from the mismatch between what I thought I was buying (and thus, what I paid) and what it actually was. I fell for the “this one has everything already done” trap. Most shamefully, for the second time. Had I paid $3k for it, the oil and water leaks wouldn’t have bugged me as much. The prospect of buying it for $8k (really closer to $10k by the time it was delivered), pouring a few grand into it over the years and selling for like $6500 had me stressing like crazy. I was afraid buyers would be in full Bring a Trailer commenter mode and nitpick the bodywork, paint flaws and numerous leaks to declare it “needing” $10k worth or work to “be right”. Luckily, that didn’t happen and my first would-be buyer said it was in way better shape than any others he’d looked at.
Out the door? $9,200 total.
Now it’s time to go Suburban and Excursion shopping…

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  1. Alff Avatar

    Suburban or Excursion? Bah, far too proletariat for the proprietor of a leading automotive fringe publication. You NEED this:

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      Those are rather mainstream. This, on the other hand, is only about 40 miles away if Tim wants me to have a look for him:
      Or, if he wants something a bit closer to a Suburban’s form factor, there’s a bright yellow fourth-generation Travelall in poor condition just a couple of miles from my place, too.

      1. dukeisduke Avatar

        Neat, how they recycled the cab from the B-Van.

      2. Sjalabais Avatar

        You’re spitting in an actual BaT-featured vehicle? I thought this was the classic game of boxy oddlings thrown at a lost car buyer? This should do the trick:

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          Ah, the RB44 is on BaT. Well, I’ve purchased two vehicles thanks to them, so I suppose I can’t be too upset about them scooping me.

      3. Alff Avatar

        I like that … but not $19K of like.

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          Same here. I’d have a hard time coming up with more than about $2500 worth of like, but that’s mostly because (1) I’m a cheapskate and (2) it wouldn’t be easy to convince myself I’d need it, even by my own generous standards of “need.”

  2. fede Avatar

    congrats on the sell! I hope your next buy turns out better!

  3. dukeisduke Avatar

    Excursion? With a Power Stroke, or Triton V8 or V10?

    1. mad_science Avatar

      Can’t find a PowerStroke in my price range, so V10. No faith in a 5.4’s ability to move that much mass.

      1. dukeisduke Avatar

        Some friends of ours recently sold their ’00 Excursion Limited with a V10, to a woman who wanted it for pulling a horse trailer. It was white, in decent shape, with the typical problems they have – had to replace the headlight switch, and the power lock actuators that crap out, like a lot of the Ford trucks of that era, and the paint on the roof failed, causing it to surface rust.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          In my neck of the woods, buying spark plugs for one of these would make the guy behind the counter look up, for a change.

          1. nanoop Avatar

            “You sure not four?”

  4. 0A5599 Avatar

    People with Suburbans don’t have the same attachment to them as people with Excursions have with their vehicles. After all, you can still buy a new Suburban, and Excursions haven’t been made for more than a decade.
    Consequently, Excursion owners tend to hold onto them until the wheels are ready to fall off. Unless you happen to find an elderly owner giving up the keys for good, or someone about to move out of the country, a Suburban will give you more for the same money.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        No, you’d be much better off with a Suburban.

        1. Alff Avatar

          I’d like this on a Blazer chassis.

  5. Sjalabais Avatar

    …full Bring a Trailer commenter mode…
    Oh, this is spot on!
    Congrats anyway! What is the Exburban going to be able to do? Why these behemoths?

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      I’ve heard tell that some people prefer towing with enormous vehicles.

      1. CruisinTime Avatar


        1. CruisinTime Avatar

          We don’t know why.

        2. Van_Sarockin Avatar

          It’s so big, you can bring the whole family!

    2. mad_science Avatar

      4 people + dog + camping gear for a week.
      Tow an enclosed ~28ft trailer with car + tools + spares
      Tow an open trailer with 2 LeMons cars on it
      4wd for snow and dirt trips

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Oh, that’s big trailers, yes. Do these haul?:
        Not a 4×4, but it is 10×10 cooler than most other business vehicles that might qualify.
        @mdharrell, I have been conditioned to see THE IMAGE just reading your words about trailers. Well done.

    1. oocman Avatar

      Don’t those have a reputation for flipping on their sides?

      1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

        If you drive like a ham-fisted pillock and try to do a high speed emergency lane change, then yes. You can always do a dually conversion kit to help prevent that.

    2. mad_science Avatar

      Want/need 4×4.
      4×4 Van would be the best option in a lot of ways, but they’re INSANELY expensive for what they are. $5k van becomes a $25k van if 4×4.
      Also, I grew up with a 91 or 92 Ford van. That thing was wobbly, rattle-y and generally unpleasant to drive above 35 mph. The Suburban that replaced it was orders of magnitude better to drive or ride in.

  6. Ross Ballot Avatar
    Ross Ballot

    Love me a good ‘Burban. Tim, what gen are you looking at? You can easily find a GMT800 in good shape under $10k, and then there’s the 2500…”passes everything but a gas station,” if you will. Can’t go wrong with any Suburban though, they can be kinda unreliable once the OEM parts go but otherwise they’re great trucks

    1. mad_science Avatar

      Price is ~$5k.
      All 2500 or 3/4 ton
      One option is to go old w/a box-body in the name of simplicity and cheapness. The other option is to go GMT800 for either the 6.0 or 8.1 and 25+ years engineering advancement. The GMT400s strike me as an unhappy middle.
      I’ve got my eye on a really nice ’91, which is the magic year for the box-bodies. Has EFI + 4l80e overdrive.
      Have a couple of early GMT800s that I’m lining up seat time in.
      Also, have a V10 Excursion lined up as well.
      Want to really get a feel for what each of those is like in this price range. While the GMT800s are ostensibly better vehicles than the box-body, most of what I see are at like ~180k miles and no major rebuilds. I’m afraid of failing $400 “modules” or eating a rebuild on the trans/engine.

      1. gerberbaby Avatar

        Last year I sold my 03 Avalanche. Essentially a chopped off Suburban. I bought it new and drove it for 270k. Engine/trans never needed to be opened in 12 years. It was only the 5.3 however. Other than wheel bearings, brakes, and pittman arms, everything else was rock solid.