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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Theotherotter
Theotherotter
1 month ago

I feel you, brother. OK, I don’t have the media company thing and my job is pretty low-stress and very 9-5, but I’ve got is cars and more projects than time, other things I enjoy spending my time on (travel, biking, friends, cooking, etc) and a partner i love very much and love spending time with (and who is very accepting of my nuttiness about cars). Some things have to go. It’s not a failure – just a success you had to pass on to someone else to finish.

Last edited 1 month ago by Theotherotter
Kaiser 75
Kaiser 75
1 month ago

Sold to a guy down south to be rebuilt sounds like the automotive equivalent to when you get rid of a pet , ” they are down south living on a farm”????

Space
Space
1 month ago

Maybe you can get Aaron from Texas to write a whole article about the restoration process and final result.
But that might be weird to ask.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
1 month ago

Was it a failure? In a sense, yes. HOWEVER, you just turned a profit on a vehicle you made worse. I could think of worse ways to fail.

They can’t all be winners my man!

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago

> I was just getting it done.

… Yes and no. Your wrenching output was prodigious, but your appetite for shitboxes was even greater, hence a citation from the city of Troy and a non running Golden Eagle and an ancient non running van filled with mouse droppings.

Congrats on selling off the Golden Eagle.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
1 month ago

$8000 is $8000
And for a locked up motor?
Yeah- you made a good deal on a big brown bird

Bracq P
Bracq P
1 month ago

Congratulations. You will come back to this model (a long way) down the road. We addicts have a tendency to favour searches on cars we already had at some point in time, a mix of “devil you know” and “this time I know what to be on the lookout for”.
Here are mine,
Mercedes 300 SEL 6.3, W113 “Pagoda”, Audi 80 (4000) B2; VW Golf MkII, Porsche 931, Ferrari 412 (manual), Mercedes W111 (convertible), R129 600SL, Citroen DS.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  Bracq P

I want almost all your cars

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
1 month ago

Wait, what, David actually SOLD A CAR !??!! The last time he did that he moved across the country on top of the other huge change of starting a business. What’s next?

Coming soon – BMW i3: Will it Baby?

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
1 month ago

Aww, a bittersweet update. Still, it sounds like the Golden Eagle has gone to a good home. And I’m always happy to be reassured that there are other full-size Jeep enthusiasts out there.

Tbird
Tbird
1 month ago

I think the stumbling block was you actually want this one to be a NICE, possibly restored vehicle, not just a runner. Let it go to a good home that will give it the attention it deserves. Focus on your manual ZJ trail machine, this site and that deserving, tolerant girl of yours.

John Beef
John Beef
1 month ago

You should hire Aaron from Texas to photo/video/write up the restoration for all of us to enjoy!

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
1 month ago
Reply to  John Beef

After the trauma of working on an abandoned DT project Jeep, he might want to be paid more than $8k to write the article…

Gubbin
Gubbin
1 month ago

WELL DONE! You’ve found the best possible home for it, you should feel like someone who fostered a stray kitty and found a perfect family for it to live with.

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

DT, my man, don’t give it another thought. You’ve got other things to do and other places to be. Don’t waste time on what will eventually be a trivial footnote 🙂 I’m gonna drop a quote here, maybe it helps you re-frame the “loss” of the Eagle, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it helps another reader, maybe it doesn’t.

Either way, it’s worth considering for a moment at least once…:

“Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don’t know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It’s that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don’t know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”
― Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky

86-GL
86-GL
1 month ago

Damn that quote hits home.

The Artist Formerly Known as the Uncouth Sloth
The Artist Formerly Known as the Uncouth Sloth
1 month ago

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.

Not to mention the old i3, and the Leaf with the battery life measured in yards. This many projects is insurmountably complex. You may consider yourself a multi-tasker par excellence, and you very well might not be too bad. But now that you are involving real live human beings into your sphere of influence, you’re gonna have to be bettah in what you do. Project Cactus ran, but just so. Relationships require a more robust standard

LTDScott
LTDScott
1 month ago

I applaud you for being pragmatic about this. Sounds like your Jeep will be going into good hands and will likely end up with a better future than inevitably sitting in the back lot of Galpin baking in the sun for years.

I’ve had to make some hard decisions like this recently (I turned down a couple of interesting projects, including a completely free ’76 280SL Benz) but I’m ultimately happy with my decisions.

JumboG
JumboG
1 month ago

Wait, the J10 has a 401? Because you said a better engine than the 360!

Viking Longcar
Viking Longcar
1 month ago

Pick your battles- this one was done.

There are other Jeeps in the barn.

/mmmmm mixed metaphors

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 month ago

Growing up means less time for Golden Eagles and shower spaghetti. They’re tough adjustments, but I’m sure they’ll be rewarding ones.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
1 month ago

There’s always time for shower spaghetti. It’s the combination of both dinner and showering so it actually takes LESS time by combining 2 necessary tasks.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 month ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

I assume he’s eating less meals alone. But who knows, maybe he met the girlfriend at a shower spaghetti convention. I hear LA is pretty weird.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
1 month ago

Who says you have to eat shower spaghetti alone?

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
1 month ago

Maybe Elise prefers bathtub pizza…

Dr Buford
Dr Buford
1 month ago

Growing up sucks, doesn’t it?

Good move and the pressure off of your psyche will amplify the $8k exponentially.

And now you can buy 9 more sets of tires for the i3 *and* get the PPF :).

Parsko
Parsko
1 month ago

Dude, we all change. You didn’t fail at all, you just ran out of time and priorities. Welcome to getting older. Just wait till you have kids and that time shrinks yet again.

Data
Data
1 month ago
Reply to  Parsko

Kids are a black hole warping time and space around them sucking up all available time toward infinity. Then they move out or at least into your basement.

Bram Oude Elberink
Bram Oude Elberink
1 month ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Yes they can. And with their small hands they are very usefull, reaching places which we can only reach with lots of swearing and scratches and bruises on our hands.

Gee See
Gee See
1 month ago

or assembling electronic devices.. mind as well get them to work early these days,

Richard O
Richard O
1 month ago

This made me LOL. When I was 12, my dad had me put in the starter bolts on the old Ford wagon. He couldn’t get his hands in there.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
1 month ago
Reply to  David Tracy

You can teach them. That’s part of parenting!

V8 Fairmont Longroof
V8 Fairmont Longroof
1 month ago

And they also learn all kinds of new swear words! Win win!

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
1 month ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Give them a bit to stop using a wrench as a teething toy, and, yeah, they make decent helpers

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
1 month ago
Reply to  David Tracy

I changed drum brakes at 10. My daughter started “helping” at 6 and now at 9 she’s actually helping occasionally. My sons show less interest but the 12 year old is very helpful when I make him be

Der Foo
Der Foo
1 month ago
Reply to  David Tracy

They can wrench better than holding the gosh darn flashlight in most cases. Trick is to teach them “Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey” especially before handing over the impact wrench.

Hondaimpbmw 12
Hondaimpbmw 12
1 month ago
Reply to  Der Foo

My oldest granddaughter literally used an1/4” drive ratchet as a teething tool (she was endlessly fascinated by grandpa’s “silvers”). When she was about 9 or 10 she wanted to help me check the brakes on Grandma’s Ranger. She wasn’t heavy enough to get the tire actually off the ground w/ the hydraulic jack, so I had to assist as she was suspended over the handle. When I handed her the pneumatic gun, she pressed the trigger and gave out w/ a low “heh heh” as her eyes lit up.

The Artist Formerly Known as the Uncouth Sloth
The Artist Formerly Known as the Uncouth Sloth
1 month ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Depends. I never did

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
1 month ago
Reply to  David Tracy

My kid can! He’s replacing the AC blower motor on his Sonic as we speak!

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
1 month ago
Reply to  David Tracy

He is!!

Hondaimpbmw 12
Hondaimpbmw 12
1 month ago
Reply to  David Tracy

If you are lucky. While my daughter changed the oil on her Novarolla (one time) and now takes her car to ?, my son regularly does stuff on his Jeep (he still hasn’t wired the air compressor on his Jeep that would activate the lockers).

Radiant13
Radiant13
1 month ago
Reply to  David Tracy

I have been helping teach my sons (only have boys) how to. My oldest (now 20) has replaced the brake pads and discs, O2 sensor, and alternator on the 99 Park avenue he drives. Knows how to check the fluid levels and top off if anything is low. And we have done a bunch of work trying to sort out some issues with the doors, but the GM electronics gremlins haven’t been sorted there yet.

Parsko
Parsko
1 month ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Of course, but mine have not taken a fancy to cars all that much. At some point, I can imagine the bug may hit. I fall into the camp of not forcing people to do things, but rather show them the water and let them find out as needed. I am always available to teach and mentor when the time comes.

Parsko
Parsko
1 month ago
Reply to  Data

I didn’t believe it till I lived it myself. It’s amazing how life changes, and it’s OKAY.

SNL-LOL Jr
SNL-LOL Jr
1 month ago
Reply to  Data

Not to mention moolah.
I just walked by the Ferrari showroom on Park Avenue in Manhattan. I suddenly realized that I could buy up all the cars in the showroom for less than what I’d spend for my two kids in college.
Granted it’s a small showroom, but still.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 month ago

You could always invest that $8K in a diamond ring …

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
1 month ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

A diamond ring on those oil-soaked wrenching hands? /s/

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 month ago

I think they’re doing more wenching these days.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
1 month ago

He should just choose an o-ring. To compliment the oil!

Davedave
Davedave
1 month ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

“invest” 🙂

Something tells me the kinds of partners who value wasting money on diamond rings aren’t the preferred option for people round here.

Totally not a robot
Totally not a robot
1 month ago
Reply to  Davedave

My wife and I have matching tattoos instead of rings. Neither of us likes wearing jewelry of any sort, and rings are a safety hazard at my work. Bonus points: it’s *a lot* harder to misplace a tattoo than a ring.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Diamond rings depreciate faster than a Maserati.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
1 month ago
Uberscrub
Uberscrub
1 month ago
Reply to  Vic Vinegar

Doug says it has the cooler!

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
1 month ago

Plan:

1. Drive Wrangler to Vegas. OFF ROAD. All the way. Write about it.

2. Put all $8k on black. Or red. Whatever creates the most drama. Just gamble for, say, 3 hours. “Elise” can be your good luck charm.

3. After the arbitrary time limit, “Elise” takes the Wrangler back to LA, and you have to buy a vehicle of some sort to get back to LA. If you win, you get something cool! If you lose, you get to ride a bicycle back home. Maybe wait until winter to try this…

Think of the content you could generate!

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
1 month ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

I would read your book on life advice.

The Artist Formerly Known as the Uncouth Sloth
The Artist Formerly Known as the Uncouth Sloth
1 month ago

which is why you doubtlessly have no regerts.

Data
Data
1 month ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

As Wesley Snipes says, always bet on black.

SolamenteDave
SolamenteDave
1 month ago
Reply to  Data

It’s moments like this, I really wish we could post GIFs.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

> “Elise” takes the Wrangler back to LA

Not if he wants to keep seeing Elise

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
1 month ago

Sometimes doing the best thing hurts. Your life has changed for the better, but you’ve had to make sacrifices along the way. That beautiful but broken Golden Eagle is one of those sacrifices. I won’t tell you to not feel bad about it since that shit never works. Instead, I’ll say you should look at where you are in life and think about all of the good things you have going on for you. One of those things is time freed up and funds collected to focus on your Holy Grail ZJ.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
1 month ago

You have every right to be sad and feel beaten, but ut sounds like you did a grown-up thing, and that is nice sometimes also. As you say,there are only so many hours in a day.

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