by Mike Albright
The Sahara Wrangler was introduced as a variant on the YJ in 1988, following the 1987 reintroduction of the Laredo. The Sahara was available in two colors only... khaki metallic or coffee. The Sahara continued right on through in the TJ line. The later Sahara YJs added more color options, and the 1994 Sahara YJ was available in Hunter Green.
The most popular and possibly the best YJ casting is the 1/43 scale Road Champs series. The most notable is the 1994 Hunter Green Sahara version, with the Sahara logo on the sides and on the spare tire (see a rear view photo, 60K JPEG). The model has opening doors and folding plastic seats.
An infrared remote controller black Sahara TJ from Road Champs was released in 2003 from Jakks Pacific. It is approximately 7 inches long, and has a horn, alarm, engine sounds, and a go function that causes the Sahara to race forward, then stop with a screeching sound as the brake lights go on! The alarm function beeps to let you know that it is set. Moving the Jeep triggers the alarm, and the lights flash.
The small Maisto Sahara TJ is a 1/64 scale casting that is available in metallic maroon and black (30K JPEG). It has the newer Sahara emblem on the side. It is available in single card packs (as both Speed Wheels and Maisto), and in double card packs with either a Grand Cherokee or a Liberty. The black version comes in 10 packs.
The 1/18 scale Maisto Sahara TJ has opening rear door, hood and front doors. It apparently comes in black 31662B, metallic maroon 31662M, white 31662W (below), light khaki 31662LK, and silver (50K JPEG's).
The interior and undercarriage details of the big Maisto are very good, including workable steering and independent spring suspension for the wheels.
Maisto also has a 1/18 infrared-controlled maroon Sahara Jeep (56662). The Sahara will go forward, reverse, and turn in reverse. The headlights and taillights turn on and off also. It can operate on smooth surfaces and short pile carpeting (not a rock crawler...). It has opening doors, hood and liftgate; independent spring suspension for wheels; and adjustable front wheels with quick forward and reverse motion. The Sahara comes with an authentic keychain infrared remote control.
The New Ray 1/32 scale Sahara TJ is a R/C model based on the new New Ray TJ casting (see The New Ray CJ7 page). The Sahara emblem on the side is the more traditional one. I am not sure there was ever a 'yellow' factory color, however. The roof rack with the kayak, oars and surf board is a very nice touch. There is also a tow bar on the front bumper. The copyright is 2005 on the box (80K JPEG) and it also says "Shop at Walmart.com"!
The original New Ray 1/32 scale Sahara TJ is a Hunter Green version (50K JPEG) like the 1994 Sahara. A Black version of the New Ray 1/32 scale Sahara TJ was issued later.
Thanks to Mike Albright for much of the material on this page inspired by his own 1994 Sahara YJ (see Little Jeeps and Big Jeeps), and thanks to Paul Provencher for pictures from his Jeep Toys Index. -- Derek Redmond
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