Designed by Brooks Stevens, Jeep’s all-new trucks for 1963 were offered as both a pickup and a wagon. Called the Wagoneer, it featured either a traditional two-door or a new-for-Jeep four-door body style. For 1969, the two-door body style took a five year leave of absence before returning in 1974 as a new model for the same old platform called the Cherokee.
Since the Wagoneer was becoming something of an all-wheel drive four-door only luxury car, the Cherokee was a more affordable version aimed at the sporty off-road market. While the Wagoneer had become a V-8-only model, the base engine for the Cherokee was AMC’s robust 258 cubic inch straight-six. While not a powerhouse at 110 hp, it was durable and had plenty of low-end grunt. Since it was introduced during the Arab oil embargo, it was easier on fuel as well. Those desiring a V-8 could get AMC’s 360 cubic inch unit as an option. By 1977, sales were respectable enough that the Cherokee was also offered with the four-door body. A new top-line Laredo was also added in 1980 with more amenities.
By the early 1980s, the Cherokee had weathered two gas shortages and was starting to become quite dated. Sales were dropping since customers wanted a smaller, more fuel efficient yet better built Multi-Purpose Vehicle (the term SUV wasn’t popular yet yet). That truck came in 1984 with the introduction of a new downsized Cherokee. Fans of the big 1963-era body could still get a 1984 Grand Wagoneer, but only for $8,674 more than the four-door 1983 Cherokee cost.