I have an '82 that I bought from my parents to rebuild. My folks were the original owners, I literally grew up with this Jeep, as I was born in '77.
Over the course of time my parents looked at '84 and '85 models (given the hell they put the '82 through). None of the models they looked at could out perform or be as reliable as their '82.
-At that time, Jeeps were scrounging anything and everything they could to put these rigs together. All the shop manuals in the world won't match what you will find on these models pefectly.
-It is not uncommon to find wires that go nowhere, because they used harnesses from a mix of companies (ford, dodge, chevy, etc). Wire colors don't always match the book and often change mid-run as they go from one harness to another. Causing electrical troubleshooting to be a nightmare and makes them prone to electrical related issues (keep a fire extinguisher handy). BJ's Offroading website sells a complete re-wiring kit that standardizes your rig. It will hit you for 1K (last time I checked), but well worth it.
-Like I said, jeep begged, borrowed and stole parts from just about anyone. Our rear axle eventually gave up the ghost, so we went to a junk yard and got what appeared to be the exact same axle, out of the exact same year/model Jeep. The damn thing is 1.5 inches wider than the orignal, requiring us to lift the leaf springs and do some fender bending to keep from gauging the tires. It never towed right since.
-The drive seat is notorious for the frame for the back either breaking or comming unbolted, making you look like you're trying to roll through the hood in your jeep with your seat laid back, cause only one side of the back frame is holding you up.
-Due to the environmental laws at the time, the early 80's employeed an "air-Pump" designed to decrease emissions. It's a ***** of a system and only complicates things under the hood. If your inspections don't look for it, or exempt it from emissions testing (due to age), most owners will remove it.
-Be sure to signup for the forums on Grand Wagoneer Parts and Jeep Parts
There, you will find information and parts, including the coveted Vacuum diagram.
-The vacuum system in the early 80 wagoneers was a hellish nightmare. Forutnately, the parts can still be found on the web and at Napa, getting their names right is tricky though.
So, the above statements may have scared the crap out ya about these wagoneers. Mind you, my family has had this rig for over 25 years, the motor has been rebuilt once (and a poor job at that, this is what I'm currently working on fixing). The tranny has been rebuilt once, and the rear axle replaced. Due to wiring, it has caught fire once or twice, but that was resolved with new wire of the appropriate gauge.
This truck dealt with years of scouting events, towing things it was never rated for and pulling numerous other vehicles from inhospitable terrain.
I will forever love this truck and couldn't imagine ever owning a different full size jeep.
When I bought this truck from my folks, after sitting for 10 years; it still fired right up! I **** you not! It sat for 10 years, same fuel in the tank/lines, no carb cleaner, open/broken vacuum lines, Heads with weak valve springs (as I would later find out). It didn't run very good, but I chugged around the half block, dragging the rear breaks and all.
I rebuilt all four breaks for cheap, and with lifetime replacement warranties on the Wagner rotors and drums from Oreilley's.
My head and exhaust gaskets arrive this week and my daughter and I will be installing the rebuilt heads soon.