Home » I Just Sold My Beloved 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle And Now I’m Sad

I Just Sold My Beloved 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle And Now I’m Sad

Time To Say Goodbye Jeep Golden Eagle Ts
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My 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle has always been my coolest-looking vehicle, but also objectively my worst. The gorgeous SUV has a mediocre AMC 360 V8 engine that will almost certainly never pass smog, a fuel-sucking three-speed slushbox, a fuel-sucking full-time four-wheel drive system, the most rust-prone body in automotive history, and parts availability similar to that of a concept car. It has been a nightmare since day one, but also in some ways a dream. A dream that someday I’ll be cruising along in the most badass-looking SUV of all time. A dream that will now never be realized, as I have just cashed an $8000 check for my beleaguered bird. It’s time to go, Golden Eagle.

I don’t like to fail in anything. It’s why, when I set out to do seemingly impossible wrenching expeditions, I don’t let anything stop me. $500 Postal Jeep with a rotted-out frame and a cracked cylinder head? No worries, I’ll weld that up and swap the valves. 1948 Willys Jeep with a bad motor and transmission? I’ll figure that out. 1958 Willys FC-170 that probably hasn’t run in decades and that looks completely hopeless? I’ll pull that miracle right out of my hat. $600 Diesel Manual Chrysler Voyager Minivan? I’ll get that engine running, swap out the CV joints and brakes and steering parts and hoses, limp that through Germany’s rigorous TUV inspection, then drive it to Istanbul. Almost-literally-impossible Chrysler Valiant Ute in Australia? I can handle that. The list goes on and on. I don’t like to fail; I’m extremely stubborn.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Why, then, make an exception with the Golden Eagle? Well, I think the answer is simple: Back when I was doing all that heavy wrenching, I was a writer, or, in the case of Project Cactus (the Australian Valiant), I was in the early days of building hype for a fledgling automotive website. I had time to wrench, and my god did I. For 10 straight years, I wrenched almost every single day. Junkyard visits occurred at least weekly, my yard was packed full of projects, and I was just getting it done.

And I can still get it done! I just dropped the fuel tank on my Jeep Wrangler YJ and swapped out the fuel pump. I also yanked an axle out of a junkyard Jeep Grand Cherokee back in November. I’ve done some wrenching on my manual transmission ZJ, removing its cylinder head and cooling system, and I’ve done brakes on a Lexus RX and a differential fluid change on my BMW i3.

Jeep Golden Eagle Side

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Jeep Golden Eagle Side2

But that ZJ is going to take a while to finish, and it’s not a vehicle I’m willing to part ways with, because a stickshift ZJ is just a fantastic, easily-maintainable, off-road capable machine. I’ve also got to change the engine mounts on my YJ Wrangler, I’ve got to fix the Nash, I’ve got to replace my 1966 Ford Mustang’s entire suspension, I want to install PPF on my new i3, I want to do some bodywork to my Jeep J10 pickup, and I could go on. The point is, my life is different than it was back in 2017 when I bought the Golden Eagle. I run a media company now, and also, my personal life here in LA is a bit more complex than it was in Michigan.

Is the Golden Eagle a fail? I think, if I were in Michigan and still a single staff writer struggling to get this thing on the road, sure. Seriously, what the heck, David? It’s a crappy V8, but it’s not that hard to get running. But in reality, I see it more of a casualty of having co-built the large and growing automotive institution known as The Autopian. You have to make tough choices in life: Do you spend 100 hours getting a Golden Eagle running when you already have the truck version with a better engine and transmission, or do you hire writers and pay invoices and meet with freelancers and write articles and film videos with Beau and spend time with someone you want to build a future with?

Jeep Golden Eagle Underside

I’m stubborn, so I hate having to make these types of choices. “I can just do it all!” And on some level, I can. But there are 24 hours in a day, and choosing where to place those hours is the difference between success and failure. And in terms of successes, I’d rather stack those on the side of this company and my relationship, even if it means I have to assign a failure to a gorgeous brown AMC product.

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So here I am, with eight grand in my pocket, and one Golden Eagle about to get on a flatbed. I understand why this had to happen, but I still feel sad. [Ed note: click here for musical accompaniment.]

Jeep Golden Eagle Rear

Jeep Golden Eagle Grille

The Jeep, whose motor is currently locked up, is going to a gentleman named Aaron out of Texas; he tells me he has a collection of wide-track Cherokees and plans to restore this thing and drive it. He seems to be a full-size Jeep addict, which is about the only person who would buy this vehicle given its maladies.

Best of luck, Aaron. Send me some pics as you resurrect this sickly bird.

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Dudeoutwest
Dudeoutwest
18 days ago

I used to do nothing but ride motorcycles when I lived back east. If the roads were clear, I was riding, probably because it was seasonally restricted.

But then I moved to the Bay Area up here in NorCal and with nice days pretty much every day (except for maybe December/January sometimes), it seemed to take the pressure off me to ride all the time. So I started doing things like gardening, bicycling seriously, futzing around with cars, hiking and doing other things with my wife beyond going motorcycle riding.

I feel like this is a similar track to what you’re on now. You have a gf. You have a very nice business you’re operating and growing. You’ve got cars that aren’t rusty shitheaps that run reliably. You’ve got some new countryside to explore and a new life you’re building.

As I move into being an old man, rather than a middle aged man, I’m going through a transition away from motorcycles to cars as I work to fit them into my time, my life with my wife and my interest. Feels like you’re having a shift in your life that’s similar and the hardest part can be letting things go.

I felt the same way when I let my CB750F go. But I got a note from the guy I sold it to, who has turned it into a restomod beauty and given it the love I didn’t have the time, budget and room for in my life. Your Golden Eagle is likely going on a similar journey and you should feel good for helping it get the love it deserves.

I say “well done”, David.

Ixcaneco
Ixcaneco
18 days ago

I feel for you. I still miss my ’64 Jeep Wagoner with the 307 Camaro engine that took me all through Mexico and Guatemala more than once. However, life changes and embrace the one you are living!

Gregory Pizzini
Gregory Pizzini
18 days ago

You’re leaning way closer to the dark side David. The attraction to EVs and Avocado Toast is Tempting. But there is an unloved 1970s AMC Project car that is Losing hope of ever being brought back to life……. I can hear it’s lonely call from here…… Help me Tracy Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope…… and bring a few Wix Oil filters and the guts of a Dana 40 if you can.

Gregory Pizzini
Gregory Pizzini
18 days ago
Reply to  David Tracy

I can also hear the Lonely Auto Dismantlers wishing they had a visit from that Nice Young man with the unnatural ability to bring “Holy Grail” Minivans back from the brink of oblivion. They feel like they have been forgotten, left to reading Chilton Manuals for kicks, and Playing Guess the 40 Weight with the occasional Hobo……Oh the Humanity…..

Gregory Pizzini
Gregory Pizzini
18 days ago

Next step, Broadway show or Netflix miniseries….

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
18 days ago

Favorite part of this post:

“…spend time with someone you want to build a future with…”

Truly happy for you and Not Elise. Consider the Golden Eagle an investment in your future.

Shinynugget
Shinynugget
18 days ago

You should feel joy in that your puppy, er’ Jeep will live a good life on the farm.

Grey alien in a beige sedan
Grey alien in a beige sedan
18 days ago

With all that cash in hand David, it’s time to go shopping for a companion car to your two bimmers… I’d suggest a BMW Isetta. C’mon, you know you want one.

Grey alien in a beige sedan
Grey alien in a beige sedan
18 days ago
Reply to  David Tracy

I knew it… Your transformation from rusty jeep collector to indicator shunner is nearly complete! Well played, lad… well played.

Stephen White
Stephen White
18 days ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Now that you have a spare i3, it’s time to build an Isetta Restomod!

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
18 days ago

David, please do not ever make an Autopian members-only, Holy Grail classifieds. I’d be on it hourly and my brain would pop.

Jamie Palmer
Jamie Palmer
18 days ago
Reply to  MikeInTheWoods

^^^^^This!!

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
18 days ago

Sooooooooo…when are you finally gonna get an RX-7? 😉

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
18 days ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Years ago I bought a Tracy spec RX7 project with a Rover V8 and no propshaft or clutch and one of the wheels riveted on. Getting it running and moving was fun, but getting it road legal took so long I went out and bought a standard non-turbo 1986 RX7 instead.

That car was wonderful. So slow, and with such bad MPG that I genuinely think it would have been more efficient to power it by pouring premium gas through a waterwheel. But wonderful.

So many weird details: it had an aluminium scissor jack to save weight!

It eventually rusted to bits, and prices (in the UK) are more than 10 times what they were when I bought mine, so if you want an RX7 you should rush out and buy one now. There will never be a better time.

Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
18 days ago

We are upping the class factor of the website with classical-lite arias. Brava!

Mike Dris
Mike Dris
18 days ago

$8k? I think David should be writing stories about how to sell non-running cars.

I’ve got 1st-gen lifted Subaru Legacy with a seized short-block I’d love to get more than scrap money for. I’ve got lots of work receipts and a short list of repairs needed after the short block is fixed.

FleetwoodBro
FleetwoodBro
18 days ago

Long ago when I was a kid several off road vehicles did time at the farm, which was in a wet, buggy part of Texas that was nearly always muddy. Hidden underneath the friendly looking green grass was black, clay rich soil that turned to viscous mud if you looked at it wrong. A ’74 VW Thing, an FJ60 Land Cruiser, and a super cool ’79 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle all gave it a shot. The VW Thing, which is two wheel drive, would go anywhere and got stuck maybe twice in a decade. You could stick the FJ60 if you ventured too far off the rutted path, other than that it was fine. The 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle with Quadratrac, on the other hand, would repeatedly get stuck anytime, anywhere. We called it Quadra-suck. It would instantly mire itself up to the axles, requiring a mile and a half walk to the neighbor rancher’s house to ask him to get on his tractor and pull it out. The Jeep was soon relegated to pavement or gravel only.

What I’m saying is you already got the best of that particular Jeep model, which is looking at it.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
18 days ago
Reply to  FleetwoodBro

The seized engine is an upgrade on those, because anything else you drive instead will suck less.

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