With the Jeep YJ came the new modern era of the "universal" style Jeep known simply as the "Wrangler".
The CJ Jeep models had an amazing and successful run for many years, but then there came a time for a change.
And a change it was. American Motors Corporation (AMC) had seen a need to ditch the aging CJ line and build a new Jeep Universal almost from the ground up.
This came about primarily due to more and more CJ Jeep owners using their rigs as daily drivers and less often for off roading. However, due to the more spartan design of the CJ and its relatively crude ride for street use the CJ became less appealing to the "commuter" crowd from a comfort standpoint.
Chad's 1986 CJ7 (Click Photo)...Last Year of the Jeep CJ's
AMC proceeded to create a compromise vehicle which would offer the traditional off road prowess of previous Jeeps, yet have a more civilized ride and better creature comforts.
Thus the Jeep Wrangler YJ was born and first became available to the public in 1987.
1988 Jeep Wrangler YJ
There were mixed reactions from the public...especially from the traditional Jeep CJ crowd who had trouble with the YJ's definite visual departure from the time tested and familiar CJ lines.
The most striking differences were in the angled grille, lower stance and the most controversial..."rectangular" headlights.
Ouch! To the Jeep traditionalist this was heresy. How could they put some "Yuppie", modernistic, "sissy" rectangular (often called square) headlights on a Jeep? Quite the uproar!
On the surface AMC/Jeep had done the unthinkable by seemingly taking the "macho" out of the Jeep and replacing it with "whimpy"...not to mention the Ugh!...plastic ground effects and excess plastic trim pieces on some models.
Even the "YJ" name, which was actually nothing more than a factory designation, took on some public scorn. The YJ letters were said to stand for "Yuppie Jeep" or "Young Jeep"...which was not too far from AMC/Jeep's goal.
The Jeep YJ was being marketed to the younger potential Jeep buyer who was not interested so much in the off road abilities, or the rugged work horse history of the Jeep. This target group wanted a "daily driver", convertible topped, fun vehicle that ...oh by the way...could go off road and do 4x4 duty in inclement weather conditions if needed.
Owning a Jeep Wrangler was fast becoming a status symbol for a broader range of the buying public including students, young executives and yes...women. The new YJ Wrangler was also selling like hot cakes with record sales throughout its 9-year model run.
And, as to the question of whether or not the YJ could hold its own off road...this new design was great right out of the box...but more impressive was the almost unlimited (and easy) modifications that could be done by the enthusiast to make it even better.
Although the die-hard enthusiasts of the CJ era took a while to warm up a little...the new Jeep YJ was to prove itself more than worthy of the Jeep moniker...especially on the trails.
Steve's '94 Jeep YJ Set-up for Off Road (Click Photo)
The 1987 through 1990 Jeep Wrangler YJ came with the 2.5L EFI (Fuel Injected) 4-cylinder, or the carbureted 4.2L 6-cylinder engines. The 5-speed manual or the 3-speed automatic transmissions were available depending on model, engine and option package. The Dana 30 front axle and the Dana 35C rear axles were standard and remained the stock axles throughout the YJ run.
From 1990 through 1995 the YJ Wrangler retained the 2.5L 4-cylinder, although with a number of technical improvements added. Then, the Wrangler finally got the engine which would prove to be one of the most durable and long lasting engines ever built...the straight 6-cylinder fuel injected 4.0L workhorse.
Also, during its production the YJ had some pretty cool trim packages and options such as the Sahara, Renegade, Laredo and Islander Editions.
Jame's 1989 Wrangler YJ Islander (Click Photo)
The Wrangler YJ ended production with the 1995 models. There were officially no new Wranglers produced in 1996 (while the TJ was being prepared), although some of the 1995 YJ's were still sold in 1996 (but as '95 not '96 models).
All in all, the Jeep YJ has slowly earned its stripes among even some hardcore old-timers. Even though the headlight thing still strikes a cord in some folks, most of us deep down inside have come to respect...if not really like this Jeep model.
I know that I now like the YJ...a lot, and it took some time to grow on me as well. So, would I consider owning one?
Y the heck not? (See mine in the photos below.)
The Last Year of the Wrangler YJ...This is My '95
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