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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Cayde-6
Cayde-6
1 month ago

Not having clicked on the link in the Editor’s Note, what are the odds that is:

  1. Con te partirò
  2. Never gonna give you up
IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
1 month ago
Reply to  Cayde-6

Unfortunately we did not get Rickrolled.

Other good choices include Time for Me to Fly (REO Speedwagon), Hurt (NIN), and I’m gonna say Big Balls (AC/DC) for reasons that aren’t clear to me right now.

DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
1 month ago

“Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister would be a good one. Wistful but optimistic and vaguely eagle-related.

Rob Schneider
Rob Schneider
1 month ago
Reply to  DialMforMiata

Maybe more like U2’s With or Without You, the way he’s feeling.

Weddings/Birthdays/Whale Breachings
Weddings/Birthdays/Whale Breachings
1 month ago

How Can I Live Without You – Leann Rimes? DT seems to be a wedding kinda guy…

My 0.02 Cents
My 0.02 Cents
1 month ago
Reply to  Cayde-6

Missed opportunity for #2
Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli, will caress your aural senses or sound awful, if that’s not your cup ‘o tea.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
1 month ago

No! It’s sad but I’m glad it’s at least going to an owner who will do it well

Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
1 month ago

I feel your pain. I just sold one of mine – I haven’t told anyone about it yet. I also have money burning a hole in my pocket from the sale and hope to erase any nagging regret with a new project car in about a week if the stars align. Can’t wait to share it.

Rob Schneider
Rob Schneider
1 month ago

I learned to drive in a mid 70’s Cherokee like this one – though not a Golden Eagle, but a more pedestrian trim. It was a silver automatic with the Quadra Trac four wheel drive system. In the winter of ’77, it pulled several school busses out of snow drifts. That thing was a beast.

Some days I think I’d like to get one for nostalgia sake, but then I remember the near single digit gas mileage and constant mechanical issues, like the unending trouble with the power window in the tailgate (eventually swapped out for a manual crank), and the nostalgia factor quickly fades.

Yeah, no. Time to let bygones be bygones, and make good use of the eight grand. As Dodsworth said, it just made your i3 much cheaper.

Frankencamry
Frankencamry
1 month ago

Does the girlfriend that is definitely not named Elise know the seriousness of these future-building intentions?

On some level I like to think your German side is keeping you very tight lipped about your emotions with her while you’re pouring out your desires in print.

“Maybe I’ll see what David was writing about this morning” not Elise thinks to herself. She peruses for a few moments. “Shit, he’s going to take me on a picnic at a junkyard and propose. I have to get DEET.”

Frankencamry
Frankencamry
1 month ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Absolutely infested with tin-worms around here, but I hear that’s a regional thing.

As far as actual bugs they’re always a great place to find standing water and the mosquitos that go with it, but I guess that requires rain. Wrenching really is easier out there, huh?

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago
Reply to  Frankencamry

“they’re always a great place to find standing water and the mosquitos that go with it”

Is that really a problem given all the grease and oil there too?

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 month ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Beetles

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
1 month ago
Reply to  Frankencamry

Oh, she has Plans for him. Healthy foods and exercise are important for long life and performance. Ask anyone who raises stud horses.

Piston Slap Yo Mama
Piston Slap Yo Mama
1 month ago

Additionally, she’s probably not a fan of trenchfoot.

MiniDave
MiniDave
1 month ago

You got $8K for that? Sheeesh…….I can understand your reluctance to part with it and all, but in the end they’re all just cars, aren’t they? I just traded a 2009 MINI that I ordered new specc’d exactly as I wanted it – 15 years I’ve done trips all over the US, countless MINI/Mini meetups. It’s been a trouble free partner in all sorts of adventures, but it was right at the tipping point where it was going to need significant investment to continue long term with it.

This Jeep didn’t even run.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
1 month ago
Reply to  MiniDave

Total drag owning some smog dog malaise era vehicle in Los Angeles. My OB1 car costs $150+ now if I can even find a place that will do it.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
1 month ago
Reply to  MiniDave

My 2014 Hyundai Elantra GT with 90k miles, fully loaded(leather seats, panoramic sunroof), 6MT with a remanufactured engine with only a couple thousand miles on it is only worth $6k apparently. Really kicking myself for not selling it when it was worth $12-13k two years ago as a heavy oil drinker.

MegaVan
MegaVan
1 month ago

It’s not a failure. Getting in too deep is always a concern.

Better halves or significant others can help pull us out – but sometimes that means making sacrifices.

That’s why I only have 2 Jeeps that don’t work instead of 8. Without my wife. I’d have 8. Or more.

Uninformed Fucknugget
Uninformed Fucknugget
1 month ago
Reply to  MegaVan

That is what my 1st wife did.
And also why she’s not my current wife.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
1 month ago

You made a smart and mature decision and the Golden Eagle is going to a good home. Our boy is (sniffles, wipes away a single tear) growing up!

John E runberg
John E runberg
1 month ago

It’s not a failure at all. It’s prioritization instead of hoarding and a) you’ll be happier, and b) you’ll be more likely to get the pile of other stuff done.

Leon Muks
Leon Muks
1 month ago

Your Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle is a . . . Free Bird!

Spikersaurusrex
Spikersaurusrex
1 month ago

After all the times I’ve shaken my head at you over the years, I can finally say “Bravo!” You’re making the hard choices and doing it right!

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
1 month ago

It sounds like the therapy is working DT.
Change is hard but good in the long run.

Continue your therapy, and continue to grow weed hopper.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
1 month ago

Your $30,000 i3 just became a $22,000 i3. Perspective. Don’t spend that money on anything silly like food or rent.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 month ago
Reply to  Dodsworth

You can live in a car but you can’t drive a house!

Swedish Jeep
Swedish Jeep
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

Mercedes (Streeter) would like a word…

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

Two words:

Motor Home.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
1 month ago
Reply to  Dodsworth

“Boy math.”

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
1 month ago

Tell me you’re showing the good side of the Golden Eagle’s underside, because from a fellow Rust Belt (Michigan and New Hampshire) dweller, that’s really not bad at all.

If your buyer specializes in restoring these big old Jeeps, he’s probably seen worse and figures that yes, this one is indeed worth saving.

It’s sad to let a good project car go, but there’s still a good feeling when the buyer loves it too and is dedicated to continuing the work to bring it back to life.

Jatkat
Jatkat
1 month ago

Dang, if you got 8k out of that one, maybe mine is worth something!

Curtis Loew
Curtis Loew
1 month ago

Probably should have listened to all the people telling you not to drag it halfway across the country. Oh well lesson learned.

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 month ago

If you love something, let it go.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
1 month ago

As much as it’s sad to see it go, it’s for the best. Priorities change. Seeing how you already have a better example of the type, putting in time you can’t get back when you want to spend it on other activities doesn’t make sense anymore. Besides, Aaron will inevitably need some coin to get the Golden Eagle flying down the road again. Have him document the build and write an article about it.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 month ago

Given your new, busier life, you’d have never got this thing looking like Mrs. Kim’s.

TheDrunkenWrench
TheDrunkenWrench
1 month ago

The pang of regret is always there. But we’re not here to look back, the way is forward!

Harvey Firebirdman
Harvey Firebirdman
1 month ago

You could use that 8k towards another jeep or what ever fancies your interest now. Now that you are out that Californy way you could get something much cleaner also so much less of a hassle to deal with. One reason the Midwest sucks is trying to find clean classic cars locally they are normally way over priced so you have to look down south or out west. But yeah hopefully you find something that you can get/do with that money will bring you enjoyment and the memory of the golden eagle will live on with what ever that money is used for. When I sold the 73 Javelin it was sad but that money was needed elsewhere and made life much easier with less vehicles to deal with.

Beasy Mist
Beasy Mist
1 month ago

It’s probably going to someone with the time to make something of it though, right? So it’s really doing what’s best for the car as much as it may sting.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
1 month ago

<music> sad violin </music>

You’re better off down sizing you Jeep fleet. You won’t miss it after a few months.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 month ago

I know it’s slightly impolitic on this site, but I still love ’em even if they are common (or maybe even b/c) so…how’s the Mustang? We never hear much about her living her best life in LA!

sentinelTk
sentinelTk
1 month ago

But that means more room for another i3…..just saying….

Alexk98
Alexk98
1 month ago
Reply to  sentinelTk

Or like 3 more Leafs (Leaves?)!

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
1 month ago
Reply to  sentinelTk

I’m pretty sure if you parked them sideways, that jeep is the size of THREE i3s…. just saying….

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