Kerrville, Texas is home to the top restoration specialists for Jeep Grand Wagoneers. Meet the family who loves them, renews them, and ships them around the world.
Even Grander the Second Time Around
It’s been nearly 25 years since the last brand new Jeep Grand Wagoneer rolled off the Chrysler factory floor in Toledo, Ohio. But today, in an unassuming garage in the quiet retirement town of Kerrville, Texas, the old Woody’s roll out again, renewed and ready for a second life.
The gentlemen behind the operation are Leon Miller, aka The Wagonmaster, and his son Chip.
As with many great companies, their business of restoring Jeep Grand Wagoneers began with a passion more than a profit motive. For years, Leon ran a successful agribusiness near Eagle Pass, Texas. When it came time to retire, he decided to go right back to work, restoring the cars that had served him so well in the harsh South Texas conditions. Leon loves everything about these Wagoneers, and was determined to keep them on the road, even if Chrysler would not.
After his first year in business, Leon had restored 12 Wagoneers; that was in 1994. In 2014, the twenty year count is approaching 1,700 restorations. They haven't managed this alone: Leon and Chip have a first-class staff of mechanics and restoration specialists who know these cars better than anyone, anywhere.
Their restorations have been shipped all over the world: to architects and athletes, billionaires and soccer moms, and just recently to a royal family near the south of France.
We spent some time photographing Unit No. 1683, a '91 Bright White beauty (shown, top photo) and No. 1646, an '85 Charcoal Grey (below, among the pecan trees).
We’re not the first to remark that it’s as if these Wagoneers have been preserved in a time capsule. No detail is overlooked in the restoration. The paint, the interior, and all the mechanical components are attended to. The Wagonmaster’s policy is to only buy and restore low-mileage, rust-free vehicles, giving them an extra clean foundation to build upon.
The year 2014 marks an important milestone in the life of The Wagonmaster: Leon is finally retiring for good, and in September, he’ll pass the keys to the operation over to his son Chip. We don’t expect much to change. With Chip, Leon leaves a legacy of standards that, just like the thousands of Wagoneers he’s restored, will be appreciated on roads everywhere for years to come.