Home » How Do I Sell A Super Rare Car That’s Broken Without Regretting It?

How Do I Sell A Super Rare Car That’s Broken Without Regretting It?

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After owning my 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle for over six years – replacing its engine, trying to diagnose oil pump issues, towing it from Detroit to LA — I’m finally selling it. But I’m trying to figure out how. I know I want it gone, but I don’t want to regret selling it for too low of a price, especially knowing how valuable it could be. But it doesn’t run. Should I get it to run before I sell it? Should I have a shop just fix the engine, and then I sell it for a bundle more? Or do I just let it go as-is, and move on with my life? This is my dilemma.

I think letting go of the Golden Eagle is going to be hard no matter what I do. While it is my least favorite car to drive and work on thanks to its big, gutless motor (which is attached to a slushbox that eats what little power that motor makes), it’s undoubtedly my most beautiful one. Between that, and the fact that I don’t like giving up on projects, this is just a tough call to make. But, as I mentioned in my “How I Knew It Was Time To Give Up On Some Of My Car Projects” article a few days back, in the last 18 months my life has changed in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined. And those changes have pushed my 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle out of the picture. It must go, but I want to be smart about it.

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What is a Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle going for these days, anyway? Well, a mint one can go for six figures, but a normal-ish one? This one on Bring a Trailer went for $22 grand:

1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle
Image: Bring a Trailer
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Image: Bring a Trailer

It looks significantly nicer than mine, though mine, with a bit of polish, a little welding, and of course some engine work, could get pretty close. I don’t have the bird on the hood, and my hood paint is fading, and it needs a few patches, but I think six or seven G’s could get mine looking similar. Add time in there, and I should probably lop 10 grand off that $22,000 asking price. Hell, maybe I’ll knock 14 off.

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So I’ve got the Golden Eagle listed at $8000. I’ve received some interest already; two folks seem to want it at that price. They may restore it and turn it around for $50,000. Would I be OK with that? I think so; if it’s a thorough fix. If they just get it running and sell it for $15, would I be OK with that? Should I just get the motor running?

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It’s tricky selling a car with so much potential. But I’m inclined to just take the money and run. And just stop thinking about it. It’s these lines of thought that have led me to hold onto it for too long in the first place. But I’m ears if you, dear reader, have any thoughts on the topic.

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Jeffrey Antman
Jeffrey Antman
7 days ago

How much time have you donated to this vehicle? Sell the pos. Its taking space and time. Worst case, you get $8K. That’s 8,000 American dollars David. You can dream about it later while you drive your electric beemer.

Jatkat
Jatkat
8 days ago

I always think about this with my ’77 Cherokee. Imagine what it COULD be worth! But, alas, I don’t have the time, nor am I willing to put the effort into making it a 50k rig, so I’ll keep it a decent looking runaround. Also David, I still don’t understand your hatred for the 360. Mine didn’t run for about 8 years, I drained about a quart of water out of the crankcase, slapped a new intake and carb on, primed the oil pump with a hand built tool and a drill, and she fired right up.

The Car Accumulator
The Car Accumulator
8 days ago

Get it running and driving, then sell it.

Caraholic.
Caraholic.
9 days ago

I’d call Stacey David and see if he can do a media bit piece and rescue for the love and profiteering aspect it might garner…
But why’d you buy it? If you love it- then keep it. If life is complicated, your out of time and other things have your eye- simplify cut your loses

Danger Ranger
Danger Ranger
9 days ago

I’m in a somewhat similar boat. My 77 Salon developed a power steering leak over the storage season. I was going to fix the leak, detail it, give it a tune up and list it. However, we had a tornado Tuesday night, a tree fell on the carport, carport landed on the car. Doesn’t look like there is any damage other than a dent in the roof. T-top glass and all windows are in tact. Can’t give it a full inspection because the fucking carport is still on it as of 6:30 pm. So, do I inspect the damage, pay the deductible and sell the car for more? Or do I fix the power steering leak, clean it up, and sell as is?

Virgil R Pool
Virgil R Pool
9 days ago

Sell it. Let go. Spend the energy other places. It’s a cool Jeep and it will delight someone else who also sees the potential.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
9 days ago

The way to sell something like that without regret is to either sell it to someone who will restore it, sell it to an enthusiast who will at least fix it up or someone who is a combo of these two.

What you don’t want is to sell it to a hoarder who will leave it parked on grass or in a forest.

Clueless_jalop
Clueless_jalop
8 days ago

What you don’t want is to sell it to a hoarder who will leave it parked on grass

So, David? 😉

Myk El
Myk El
9 days ago

When I gave up on my project 1996 Plymouth Sport Fury before I moved (bonus points to me for realizing my folly BEFORE moving), I didn’t sell it for as much as I could have, but it was more important to me to get it to someone who would bring it back. I succeeded. I found a buyer who already had a 4 door and wanted the two door as he and his wife wanted his and hers. They had kids. So spin ahead a couple of years, I see a car a lot like my Plymouth, only much nicer parked where people were taking photos. It WAS my old car. They’d gotten it back on the road. This was the photo shoot for the couple’s oldest child’s HS graduation photos. I was so happy.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 days ago

BAT Bring A Trailer auction it off using the owned by David Tracy. It’s worth what you will get.

Juan Butera
Juan Butera
9 days ago

I owned two Wagoneers ca. 1975 – 1985. Both had lots of problems. My K2500 Suburban and my Isuzu Trooper II were bullet proof. If you got your Cherokee anywhere near “showroom” condition with OEM (NOS) parts you would still have a truck that would cause you problems. You will not have much of a collector if you do not use OEM (NOS) parts if available at almost any price. You do not have a Delahaye. You have Jeep Cherokee that you will want to drive and it will want to break down. Just sell it, it has no promise.

Jatkat
Jatkat
8 days ago
Reply to  Juan Butera

Booo, bad take! Constant, irritating issues are part of the SJ experience.

Tim Connors
Tim Connors
9 days ago

I think the only remaining work you should do is just to assemble the parts you have so that you can communicate exactly what they are buying.

In terms of price, go a little lower than you think you should. You goal is just to let go of it. I’m not saying to put it up for $50 or something, but price it to move.

In terms of feeling good about it, focus on posting in places where Jeep lovers will see it. Your goal is simply to get it into the hands of someone who will finish the project. If it really seems like the right person, maybe even knock $500 off.

My dad went through this many years ago. He had bought a ’56 Chevy Nomad when I was in high school. It was drivable with a small block chevy in place. But it was also in primer with some random old bucket seats installed. We worked on it together a bit for a few years before I went to college, he had a mechanic work on the engine and a body shop give it a beautiful coat of paint–two tone blue and silver. But then he hit some health issues and it just never was a priority again. He recognized that, posted it in Hemmings, and found a buying who drove up from Texas to haul it home.

Mike B
Mike B
9 days ago

It’s a super cool car, but unless you are going to go COMPLETELY through it, it’s not worth the hassle. A Jeep youtuber I follow (TrailRecon) has one of these that’s WAY nicer, and he’s always having some sort of issue with it. In one of his more recent videos on it, he basically says he enjoys looking at it more than driving it, that it’s entirely too needy and even though it’s pretty much dialed, he still doesn’t trust taking it far from home.

This is not something you’re going to resto in a parking lot, time to let it go to a good home, and unless you can get it running yourself in an afternoon, in its current condition.

Focus on getting one of those damn ZJ’s built.

Stephen White
Stephen White
9 days ago

No matter what you end up doing, my one and only hope for the Golden Eagle, is that you sell it on to someone who actually has a solid plan to get it back on the road; rather than someone with grand ambitions and no follow-through, who ends up parking it and leaving it to rot. To this day, the one vehicle I regret selling the most was my ’83 Cherokee, which I loved but didn’t have the skills (at the time) or money to repair its rusty frame after a failed VA inspection.

86-GL
86-GL
9 days ago

I think it’s worth fixing it up to some degree, but only the stuff that you can afford to just get someone else to do.

A mobile detailer could polish it for what, $150? If that drives up interest and sells a buyer on ‘the vision’, I’d say that’s money well spent.

Running cars are obviously 10x easier to sell, if somebody can get it running for a reasonable price, I vote do it. That said, if the cost to pay someone else to get it running is prohibitive, I’d say that’s also an indication that it isn’t worth your time either, and don’t bother.

The engine + transmission in these are nothing special, right? IMO the appeal is all in the paint and the styling. Seems like a good candidate for an LS swap or something and be done with it. Maybe save the cash and time in the engine rebuild and let the next owner decide? Ultimately you can’t control what happens to the car after you sell it.

Rust repair NEVER pays, unless you intend to keep the car for yourself, or take it to 100% finished, turn-key, concourse level.

Mike B
Mike B
9 days ago
Reply to  86-GL

This! All the cool versions I see of these FSJ’s have some sort of modern engine/trans swapped in and are higher dollar retromods. Having it running may help getting it on the trailer, but that’s about as useful the stock drivetrain is going to be.

Pneumatic Tool
Pneumatic Tool
9 days ago

Doing more to it will make it emotionally harder to part with. Turn the page, let it go the way it stands.

86-GL
86-GL
9 days ago
Reply to  Pneumatic Tool

Yeah I see the value in that too.

Matt
Matt
9 days ago

A new monthly Autopian Auction feature where one of the writers sells off one of their cars? We all get to bid on it?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 days ago
Reply to  Matt

This is a bad idea. Anything goes wrong they will hear about it. It’s like selling to a sibling.

Matt
Matt
9 days ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Counterpoint- Enough ink has been spilled about these basketcases that it’s not like you haven’t been warned. It would certainly be the most transparent used car transaction around.

Also, endless content.

Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
9 days ago

Pricing old cars for what they could become is how one never sells a them.

It sounds like this is a nuisance to you. Just let it go. Is the $5000 or $8000 going to significantly impact your bottom line? Probably not. Yes, it’s $3000 difference, but how much is it costing in terms of being a nuisance for you?

Sklooner
Sklooner
9 days ago

I love when they are selling a car and comparing it to the same car same model but completely different, saw a Chevelle being sold and they compared it to Reggie Jackson’s sold at auction for 130000$ or something for an SS they had a 4 door six cylinder rusted POS and wanted 12500$ for it

LX Arlo
LX Arlo
9 days ago

David, you and I are in the same boat. I also don’t have the time like I used to for wrenching (on cars), and I have a broken Jeep I need to sell. It’s a 1989 Wrangler 2.5 with hard top, full doors and 50% lower compression on cylinder 4. I bought this thing in 2020 and the convertible helped my wife and I get through the madness that was 2020. She’s a nice jeep, original shiney paint less than 90k miles and now low compression.

It pains me to sell something in worse running condition than when I bought it. As an avid wrench, I strangely pride myself in losing money/breaking even on every build by fixing details that any used car dealer would not take a second glance at.

David, remember the wrenching doesn’t end here though. There is always something to do around the house. I am looking forward to your vacuum cleaner belt interchangeability and tube up articles. When the time comes, remember that platinum makes nice rings just as it helps to reduce HC, CO, and Nox.

Farty McSprinkles
Farty McSprinkles
9 days ago

Let it go. You don’t have time to fix it, and if you pay some one else to fix it, you will have a stroke when you find out what it cost. Also who knows what demons will be found once you get started? Sell it for a fair price, and move on with your life.

Marty
Marty
9 days ago

You’re not starting a museum…

CarlosMachina
CarlosMachina
9 days ago

David, you’re a media mogul now, like Chip and Joanna on Fixer Upper.

So, you should do what they would do. Start a tv show in which you restore the Grail, but, like they do, you leave nearly all of the work to the behind-the-scenes work crew, and show up on set once a week or so to take out a seat or whatever on camera.

Have you seen some of the shows that Motortrend shows? Can’t be worse than some of those.

Isis
Isis
9 days ago

Take that money and don’t look back.

DEcarTrouble
DEcarTrouble
9 days ago

I saw potential in ex-girlfriends as well, but where do you draw the line of negatives out weighing the positives (or potential).

Besides at least you are getting money for it. I had to give my CJ2A away because there just isn’t a market for it near me.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 days ago
Reply to  DEcarTrouble

So did you sell your ex girlfriend or did you fix her up for the next partner?

DEcarTrouble
DEcarTrouble
9 days ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Sadly she was to far gone and sent her to be scraped.

MikuhlBrian
MikuhlBrian
9 days ago

To quote one of my niece’s favorite movies…. “Let it goooo, Let it gooo!”

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