Jeep® Heritage | 1986-1995 Jeep Wrangler (YJ)

Jeep® Heritage | 1986-1995 Jeep Wrangler (YJ)


Each Friday on the Jeep® Blog, we explore the Jeep brand’s iconic heritage by highlighting a different historical vehicle. This week’s vehicle is the 1986–1995 Jeep Wrangler (YJ).


Jeep® Heritage | 1986-1995 Jeep Wrangler (YJ)


Every legend has a beginning. In 1986, the Jeep brand first began manufacturing a vehicle that would forever change not only off-roading, but the automotive world, forever. While the beloved CJ series had its admirers (and still does, to this day), the Jeep brand needed a vehicle to shake things up – both from an on- and off-road perspective. Enter Wrangler YJ.


Jeep® Heritage | 1986-1995 Jeep Wrangler (YJ)


The Wrangler featured a wider track, angled grille, and a modernized interior compared to the CJ series. While it did share the open-body profile of the CJs, it shared few parts with its predecessor. That includes the headlamps.


 Jeep® Heritage | 1986-1995 Jeep Wrangler (YJ)


Oh, the headlamps. The introduction of square headlamps, replacing the familiar round headlamps of CJs, was a very controversial decision. While the storm has long since blown over, and YJs are a part of Jeep brand lore, there was a lot of negativity towards the vehicle for its perceived repudiation of Jeep brand styling. What the naysayers might not have realized is that the Wrangler, square headlamps or not, was the modern embodiment of classic Jeep brand style and capability.


Jeep® Heritage | 1986-1995 Jeep Wrangler (YJ)

Trim levels through the YJ’s reign included Base (“S” or “SE”), Laredo, Islander, Sport, Sahara, Renegade and Rio Grande.


The YJ endured a somewhat tumultuous era, and one year after its introduction, American Motors Corporation was sold to the Chrysler Corporation. The Jeep brand then became a part of Chrysler’s Jeep/Eagle division.


Although there was never any question, the Wrangler re-cemented the Jeep brand’s position as maker of the most capable vehicles on- or off-road.

  • Julianne

    That’s my baby right there! I have a 1990, was unaware of the square headlight controversy when I purchased it, but didn’t care anyway. What was cool back then was all Jeep owners would nod or wave at each other, made me feel like I joined a club! I still have it, my son wants it to be his car when he gets old enough!

    • Jeep

      Great to hear you still have your classic YJ! Thanks for sharing, Julianne.

  • http://facebook ben bailey

    although i never cared for the square headlights , i still wanted one . a buddy of mine bought a brand spankin new 92 and i was green with envy . it was every bit as capable as earlier models with just a little more comfort . i had to wait until 2 years ago to get my first jeep , a brand new natural green jk , and oddly enough the jk was kinda controversial for its nice interior and the restyling . i love mine and credit the yj for getting me started on the path to jeep ownership .

  • Kelly

    I’ve only ever wanted a YJ, since I was 8 years old, because I thought the square headlights were the coolest! I get a lot of hate still but I don’t care, my ’94 S and I are inseparable, especially after she saved me from any severe injury in a bad crash at the beginning of this year… just after passing 250,000.

    Now she’s got new seats, doors, and bumperettes from a ’95 Sahara so she’s a bit of a hybrid. xD I just love those little seat saddlebags!

  • Rich

    Im proud of my little YJ (92) shes got about 80k on the little inline 4 but still going strong. I still get waves from and wave back at every wrangler i see. “Its a Jeep thing”

  • Brian

    My first Jeep was a YJ. I didn’t know about the square controversy either. I loved that Jeep…I now have a JK and still give an extra effort when “jeep waving” at a YJ. It’s hip to be square.

  • Gary

    I have an 89 YJ, its a great vehicle, but I could not stand the square headlights. I hated them so much, I cut them out of the grille and welded CJ headamp assemblies in their place. It is now perfect.

  • Bill

    I had a 1993 Wrangler (new) and years later I got a 1999 Wrangler (Used). I am currently looking to get a Rubicon sometime in the very near future. And I will again wave at other Jeep owners, regardless of the year!

  • Katie S.

    My first Jeep was a 94′ YJ.. although now I own a 03′ TJ the YJ is still in the family. I gave it to my father who got me into Jeeps at such a young age. He will be 72 in 4 days and loves driving the red beast around town.

    As for the waves from other Jeepers.. I tend to not see any of the people that drive JKs wave :(

  • m.rivers

    I am missing my ’90 so much. I had it for several years and had to sell it go back to school. Now that I am out and working I am looking for a 91 (or 90)

  • Jeff

    I rescued my little ’92 YJ from certain destruction. It’s square headlights called to me from the back of a small used car dealership in south Texas, where it had been repo’d twice and left to rot on the banks of the Rio Grande river. After a lot of love, I couldn’t imagine getting rid of my faithful YJ. It’s a great Jeep, and I for one like the square headlights :)

    • Jerry

      Okay, let’s get this straight. The headlamps are rectangles NOT square!
      They measure 6x7in if they were square they would be 6×6 or 7×7 duh!

  • James

    I weel an 87 yj. I love it! It was my first, and will be my last tub jeep, if my wife dosn’t make me trade her for her cj7

  • Andres

    I have a 1991 Jeep Renegade, I really love my baby because you don’t really see these Renegades on the road, besides I love the additional fog lights it has in the front which makes it look even better. JEEP YJ FOREVER

  • eric faley

    I just bought a 95 yj. im having fun with. plan on lifting with 33,s and a locker but that’s in due time

  • Jerry

    Okay, let’s get this straight. The headlamps are rectangles NOT square!
    They measure 6x7in if they were square they would be 6×6 or 7×7 duh!

  • harry

    i have a 95 and love it i will never get rid ave her

  • http://Jeepblog Mitchell

    I’ve owned 6 Jeeps and i’m only 19 there the best 4 Wheeler you could ask for and sooo much fun to drive I have my 83′ cj7 that I’ve had since I was 16 and my 95′ yj both I love and for response to the whole no wave thing with jk’s there to comfortable and a minivan motor…. 2.5 4.0 4.2 real motors

  • Earl

    I have owned 1 CJ 5 and 3 CJ 7s I now own a 92 YJ with a 4 cylinder 5 speed I would still love to own a restored CJ the YJ is much more comfortable to drive and ride in I love it.

  • Rick S.

    I bought a 1995 Rio Grande towards end of 95 and a few months later someone wanted it more than me (it was stolen). I went back to where I bought it and test drove a 97 but didn’t like it because the interior was too car like and the dash seemed higher than my 95. They had 2 95 Rio Grande’s left and one went home with me. I still have her with 115000+ on the clock, we have helped a number of people out during the winter (Chicagoland area) and even have ‘towed’ various cars including a full size station wagon without problem. She is now my winter vehicle and I don’t see her leaving our family at any point. I agree with Katie S., people in newer Jeeps just don’t seem to get the idea of us being one big happy 4WD family!

  • Jake

    We’ve got YJ fever in my family… I own a ’91 Sahara, and my dad has a ’91 Renegade and a ’94 S. I bought my Sahara when I turned 18, and we’ve been through quite a lot together these past 10 years. May not be our daily drivers anymore, but we’re keeping all of these YJ’s in the family – they’re just too much fun!

  • Dan

    I have a 95 YJ with just over 68,000 miles on it. It had six miles on the odometer when I took it on the test drive. It has spent a total of 9 years in my parents garage while I’ve been on a few overseas assignments. I took it with me during my assignment to Australia, it was the perfect vehicle for the outback.


    hey every body

    i have an iranian 1990 made jeep (sahra)
    cause we have no choise to buy original american jeep…
    .so company make this jeep with 4g54 mitsubishi engine
    but i swap diffs by nissan and coil spring suspention
    i love my jeep

    • gary

      would like to see a picture of this jeep

  • devon tomkinson

    I’ve had 3 jeep YJ’s in my life and i know these babies inside and out, gotta love their ruggedness and strength, although i have got them stuck many times but oh well always good excuses to do more mods 😉

  • JoeB

    My very first new vehicle was a ’93 YJ. I loved that jeep.I thought the square headlights were cool. Since then I have had a 2010 JK Unilimited and now I roll in a ’12 Rubicon. :)

  • gary

    I don’t care if they are square or rectangular, they offend me.


    you can see my jeep on my page in facebook
    we have an offroad team and go out to offroading
    parviz gilasi

  • Jack Malone

    My Dad used to drive us to school in a CJ. It took me some years to realize how cool that was. I like the “square” headlights on the YJ! :)

  • YJ Bob

    Ordered/bought my red 95 base YJ new. My “teenager” turns 18 this year. 128,000 miles. A little worn but still reliable, and confident in the snow. Love to prop my arm on the half door with the upper door skin off in the summer. There’s nothing like it.

  • Josh

    I love the square headlamps. That’s one of the reasons I look for the early-ninetys jeeps.

  • Aaron

    My dad replaced our 76 CJ-5 with a brand new 87 AMC Wrangler with the inline 258 and 5-speed. He even let me drive it to school (it was my senior year). 26 years later, and he still has it, and it even still has the original Peugeot transmission. I have helped him find various parts on eBay. He just put a new radio in it (and had fun getting those replacement front speakers in). It just keeps going and going.

  • Rey Rasco

    My first Jeep was a 91 Jeep Cherokee Briarwood, then a 1998 XJ Sport. So, when I decided to buy a Wrangler, it HAD to be a YJ to continue MY square light tradition. I’ve got a 1993 YJ Sport with 6″ lift on 35’s :)…

    Definitely unique in a Jeep World of coil springs, long arms and round headlights!

  • Dave

    My 1988 YJ is my daily driver. Bought it new in Huntington Beach, CA.

  • Frank

    I’m new to the jeep wrangler, I bought a 1990 YJ, 4 cylinder, bought it last year 126k miles i replaced the stock square head lights w/ HID square head lights. love it don’t think ill ever sell it…

  • /// henry

    first jeep know mopar,looking forward to working onthis mopar90yj///////planningon reardisk//

  • /// henry

    no 0fffoad/all street 5spd 4×4 to date

  • Jim

    Glad to see they got it right, albeit the year. The wrangler was born a NEW vehicle in 1987 (not 86). It was not a Jeep. AMC ended production of the Jeep in early 1986 with the official announcement on Nov.29th, 1985. The only shared part was the leftover 258 engines.
    The sad part is that a couple years later Chrysler needed to ride the coat tails of the iconic Jeep in order to make the wrangler the popular seller it is today. Why couldn’t the wrangler stand on it’s own?

  • ross

    I bought my 95 stock jeep from my son who couldn’t take care of it anymore. too much TLC needed. It has 230k on it but I love it. I always wanted a jeep and now at 59 I decided it was time. Incidentally, I like the rectangle head lights.

  • Terry

    I have a ’87 YJ produced by AMC (I’m the 3rd owner). I’ve made some upgrades here and there since I bought it back in ’99, but plan to keep it forever.

  • ross

    I have a 95 yj, stock and I love it.

  • Iv007

    Jeep Yj is estan for ?

  • rasimi

    gl gll l l b880

    kjn bj… jl .l,.jh loyhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhj,m ,jl;t;p

  • rasimi