While the Jeep CJ may have died out in the mid-1980s, its spirit lived on in the form of the 1987 Jeep Wrangler and its YJ-series, built not in Toledo but at AMC's Canadian plant in Brampton, Ontario.
The product of a five-year, 600,000-mile development program, it retained the beloved CJ look on a slightly smaller scale, but was somewhat lighter and strode a wider track.
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The Jeep CJ's successor was the 1987 YJ-series Jeep Wrangler.
The Jeep Wrangler retained body-on-frame construction per CJ tradition, but its chassis was a new perimeter design with four crossmembers and rectangular-section tubular siderails. Major chassis components were borrowed from the XJ-series Cherokee/Wagoneer.
Included were front and rear axles (supplied by Dana), recirculating-ball steering (from GM's Saginaw Division), front-disc/rear-drum brakes (with standard vacuum assist), manual transmission, and part-time Command-Trac 4WD with "shift-on-the-fly" transfer case (from New Process Gear).
The suspension comprised longitudinal semi-elliptic leaf springs all-round, track bars at each end, a front stabilizer bar, and wheels adapted from the Cherokee's. Standard power was provided by AMC's 2.5-liter (150-cid) four with throttle-body fuel injection, packing 117 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 135 lbs/ft peak torque at 3,500 rpm.
Optional was the company's venerable 4.2-liter (258-cid) inline six with two-barrel carburetor, 112 horsepower at 3,000 rpm, and 210 lbs/ft torque peaking at 3,000 rpm. Chrysler's three-speed TorqueFlite automatic was optional for the six only. The standard five-speed manual on four-cylinder models came from Aisin of Japan, from Peugeot of France for the six.
For the record, the Wrangler earned EPA city/highway fuel economy ratings of 18/20 mpg for the base power-train, 17/21 for the five-speed six, and 16/18 for the automatic six. Curiously, those were about the same as for the 1986 CJ-7, though it was typically thirstier than the government suggested.
Consumer Guide, for instance, averaged a bit under 14 mpg overall with their last six-cylinder/automatic CJ-7.
Jeep fans were excited by the Jeep Wrangler's promise to be much livelier on the road. AMC claimed the four-cylinder/five-speed version could run 0-60 mph in about 14 seconds, with the manual six about two seconds quicker.
Durability was also supposed to be improved. Every Wrangler underbody received a full anti-corrosion spray treatment, two-sided galvanized steel was used for major body panels, and the bolt-on front sheetmetal (including windshield) was cathodic electro-coated.
It wasn't the Jeep CJ, but for Jeep lovers, the 1987 Jeep Wrangler was a welcome continuation of the Jeep tradition.
Learn more about 1987 Jeep Wrangler design on the next page.
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