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History of the Jeep Wrangler YJ 1987-1995

Posted by Jeep Federation Team on Oct 23rd 2017

History of the Jeep Wrangler YJ 1987-1995

The Wrangler YJ was made from 1987 up until 1985. The engine of this model became more productive and the U-joints were broader. This jeep has some differences from other models, which we will discuss later, but the most outstanding of them is the shape of the headlights. The Wrangler YJ featured square headlights which makes it very easy to spot anywhere. Many criticized this bold design move but owners of this model like to defend themselves from being unique people. If you dare to be different, going for this obvious Jeep model makes sense. The Wrangler YJ featured a slightly different grille from previous models. The grille was slightly rounded at mid-point. This design was still reflected in the TJ version later on. This model looked a lot like the CJ model but had more in common with the XJ model regarding design.

The year

  • YJ Wrangler Islander (1988-1993): the islander options package was available between 1988 and 1993. Different colors ranging from sunset yellow, bright red, teal, pacific blue and white were available. The islander package included:
    • hood and lower body had sunset graphics
    • it had floor carpeting and Wrangler embossments
    • islander logo on the spare tire cover and front fenders
    • side steps
    • wheel flares of the body color
    • half or full door option
    • 20gallon fuel tank option
    • 5 spoke alloy wheel option,
    • high back seats and gray interior
    • a center console with cup holders.
  • YJ Wrangler renegade (1990-1994): the ‘Renegade Décor Group’ option was available for, 1990-1994. For this package, the vehicle had to be installed in American Specialty Cars after purchase. This visit to the ASC was indicated by a little sticker just above the latch of the drivers’ side door. N the beginning, every Wrangler YJ Renegade was black, white or red. The blue color was introduced in 1992 and bronze in 1993. This package cost well over $4000 and came with fashionable body flares, remarkable alloy wheels and many other features. The décor package included:
    • a spare tire of full size
    • exclusive 8inch width 5hole aluminum wheels
    • steering wheel wrapped in leather
    • engine and courtesy compartment lights
    • fog lamps merged in the front fenders
    • power steering
    • interval wipers
    • trail cloth fabric seats with high back
    • floor mats in front
    • floor carpets
    • 4.0L I-6 engine
    • gas shock absorbers for off-road
    • lock on glove box
    • Renegade stripping
    • 20gallons extra capacity fuel tank
    • 15 LT 30x9.5R A/T OWL Wrangler Tires
    • merged bodyside steps and color based fender flares
    • middle console with cup holders
    • plastic bumperettes at the front and back

The difference

If ever there was a different jeep model it would be the YJ. This is the one and only model with square headlights which a lot of Jeep customers seemed to dislike. These different headlights caused a lot of insults to this model than any other Jeep ever built but it also made the Wrangler YJ very easy to spot. Apart from the headlights, the YJ is not so different from the CJ model. Bot Jeeps were made for civilians and the former was a successor of the latter. The leaf springs for suspension on the YJ were broader than the CJ and the front grille was different as it featured a bend almost halfway. The body of both models was, however, almost indistinguishable.

The Wrangler YJ featured a broader windshield and the wipers rested on the windshield positioned in an arc to clean the wider frame. This was changed from the Wrangler TJ version.

Even though the Wrangler YJ looked so much like the Wrangler CJ, every part of the design was unique and it was more similar to the Cherokee XJ in this aspect.

The steering knuckles differed on the Wrangler YJ and the Wrangler CJ.

What happened

Development for the Wrangler YJ began in 1982 as a possible replacement for the Wrangler C7. Design went on in 1983 and by 1984, first models for testing were finished. The evolution finished at the end of 1985 when the first steps advanced into production. In the start of 1986, the 1987 Wrangler YJ was revealed. Production began shortly after and the vehicle was available before the middle of the same year.

Designed by American Motors, this new Jeep was made to have more comfort to draw a crowd of everyday drivers. The Wrangler YJ featured added comfort, wider track and a little less ground clearance. They had wider leaf suspensions than the CJ model but also had sway bars and track bars for better handling. This model also featured a new grille that was slightly rounded and bent at the middle but still resembled the Wrangler CJ a lot. The rectangular headlights make them easy to recognize anywhere. The Wrangler YJ also had a wider windshield than the Wrangler C7 and the wipers rested on a windshield giving it an even more distinct loo.

What changed

  • Until 1991, the Wrangler YJ featured 2.5L AMC150 or 4.2L AMC258 engines. The 112hp 4.2L 258 CID straight 6 was replaced by the 180hp 4.0L AMC242 variation.
  • In 1992, the roll cage was increased for shoulder belts at the back. Cable speedos were also replaced with an electronic speedometer.
  • In 1993, the anti-lock brake option was added.
  • In 1994, the 4cylinder Wrangler YJs received an automatic transmission variation and central high mounted brake lights. That same year, the manual transmissions slave cylinder changed its position to outside the bell housing of the transmission so that substitutes could be made more easily.
  • In 1995, the larger Dana 30 U-joints were used and the frame and body of the Wrangler YJ were fully galvanized.
  • Apart from the Wrangler YJ Renegade and Islander packages, other existed through the years. They include Base, Laredo, Sport (from 1991), Sahara and Rio Grande (only1995).