Home / Car News / Someone Is Offering Me The Perfect Jeep Cherokee XJ Two-Door Manual But I Don’t Know If I Can Buy It

Someone Is Offering Me The Perfect Jeep Cherokee XJ Two-Door Manual But I Don’t Know If I Can Buy It

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The Jeep Cherokee XJ is arguably the best all-around Jeep of all time; its versatility is a big part of the reason why it has garnered such a cult following since its debut for the 1984 model year. Of the 2.8 million-ish XJs built up to 2001, there’s one combination that has always been considered the most desirable: two-door, five-speed, 4×4, green-on-tan. Somehow I have just been offered an XJ specced exactly like this, and I’d been an absolute fool to turn it down. But I’m conflicted; here’s why.

I could quite easily convince you, and myself, that this Jeep Cherokee XJ in the picture is the greatest one ever built. It’s a two-door, which most people think looks nicer than the four-door (it’s technically a shooting brake), it’s green like all Jeeps since WWII should be, it has a tan interior which matches best with the green paint, it has the wonderful AX-15 five-speed manual, it’s got four-wheel drive, and under the hood is the beloved 4.0-liter straight six. On top of that, this Jeep has the best axles you could get: The beefy Chrysler 8.25 in the rear and the capable Dana 30 up front. Because this is a post-1994(ish), the clutch slave cylinder is external meaning it’s easy to replace (doesn’t require dropping the transmission), and because it’s post-1995(ish) the rear Chrysler 8.25 axle has 29 splines instead of 27.

In other words, from a powertrain and drivetrain standpoint, this is the best Jeep XJ money can buy. (Okay, you XJ nerds out there will point out that some XJs came with Dana 44s, but those are basically hens’ teeth. Also, 2000 and 2001s came with NV3550 manuals, which were a bit stronger than the AX-15s, but those also had low-pinion front axles, cylinder head problems, coil-on-plug ignition and other less than ideal bits that I won’t get into).

Some folks may prefer the 1997 and up post-refresh XJs, but I prefer the older, boxier look of this 1996. Plus, the 1997+ Cherokees have fuel pumps and filters that are not serviceable without dropping the tank, and that’s a big liability in my view.

Anyway, the point is that this green Jeep is absolute perfection. It’s been owned by just one family, based in Virginia, and the current owner, Alex, wants to sell it to me. I am genuinely honored.

Alex, who is roughly my age (I’m 30),  is going through school, building a family, and doing all the grownup things that I’m not doing, so naturally, he figured he doesn’t have time to deal with his old XJ and I do. He reached out to me offering me his family’s beloved machine, figuring I’d take good care of it.  We haven’t discussed pricing, but I get the impression that it will be a manageable figure.

Left rear three-quarter view of the green Cherokee

Sitting on a three-inch lift and 31-inch tires, the Jeep is modified tastefully. No fender flares have been removed, no metal has been cut. This two-door XJ still looks like the Jeep gods intend it to:The right side of the green Cherokee

“It was my brother’s first car. Bought it new in ’96 from Williamsburg Jeep Dodge,” Alex told me about his Jeep. “He took it to college and then my dad traded him for his Wrangler…I kinda took it over, tinkered with it and stuff, and I’m kind of between ‘Do I want to restore it or is it better off going to someone who is going to appreciate it?'” Alex told me over the phone.

He gave me a bit more in on the Jeep’s condition. “If you want it to be show quality, you gotta repaint it…the clear coat is pulling up on the hood a little bit…and roof.” He said he replaced the Jeep’s injectors when he noticed the vehicle running rough, but the Jeep still doesn’t quite run right. It has a new crankshaft position sensor, and yet: “After a heat soak it would run like crap, but when you’d first start it up it would run great.”

With only 134,010, it’s a fairly low-mileage, beautiful Jeep. Though to be fair, it’s got some rust issues — nothing major, but definitely some rocker and floor holes:

A bubbling rocker on the green Cherokee

A little bit of rocker panel rust on the green Jeep Cherokee

 

Here’s a walkaround video from Alex showing the rust and the interior, which is a little rough, too. The seats and carpets need some repair:

Getting this thing running properly and mending the minor rust could result in The Ultimate XJ — a beautiful green two-door. But for me to take that on, I’d have to sell my first Jeep — my O.G. The one that started it all back when I was a 19 year-old college student:

David's first Jeep Cherokee back when it was in surprisingly good condition

Right now, it’s sitting in my backyard, its rear left tire flat and sunken into the ground. The cylinder head is cracked, the radiator is filled with sludge, and the rear differential is toast. It needs some serious help; for me to even think about taking on this beautiful two-door while trying to mend my own XJ — and the one I almost just sold to a nice lady the other day — would be delusional.

David's burgundy Jeep Cherokee as it sits today

So that leads me to the question: Would you sell your first car for a nicer version of it? This green two-door is truly the grail, but can I sell my burgundy bestie? Or do I just keep both somehow?

Images from Alex or David Tracy
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85 Responses

  1. Or… Now hear me out… You link me up with Alex, and I buy it. My first vehicle was a 88 2-door Pioneer. This XJ would look great next to my 87 Grand Wagoneer, 2000 TJ, my wife’s JL, and my daily JT. Oh, and I’m in Virginia.

  2. My first car was scrapped over 30 years, due to terminal rust and having a better one. This two door is worth shedding the past. Alternatively if the price is right I can sell my son the mechanical engineer on downsizing from a Suburban with a road trip bonus.

  3. That two door is gorgeous.

    I hope you know you’re surrounded by enablers here, asking us if you should buy more Jeeps is the most chaotic approach. How could we say no?

    The burgundy XJ looks awful sad there, maybe it really is just time to let it go, or time to knuckle down and do something with it.

    My approach would be to accept that the burgundy 4 door has had its run, go tear off whatever is in better condition and fit it to the 2 door, so that a little bit lives on. It’s what I did when I wrote off my first MX-5.

  4. You haven’t restored the burgundy one yet, and you keep taking on new projects—what makes you think you ever will? Time to fish or cut bait. Hanging onto junk just because you’re emotionally attached and you “might do something with it someday” is hoarder thinking. I know you like to joke about that stuff, but in this case it’s true, and hoarding ain’t a pretty sight once it gets going.

    You may feel some momentary guilt when you part with your first car, but it’ll soon be replaced by a feeling of deep relief at having freed yourself from the mental burden of having to think about it just sitting there, getting gradually worse and worse due to your neglect. I like to call it, “The Life-Changing Magic of Throwing Shit Out.”

    1. I know this one.
      I spent the bulk of my adult life – particularly when I was around David’s age – acquiring a lot of whatever thing it was that had my attention at the time. I’d rather have a dozen of something than one or two nice examples.
      It was a rush..the thrill of the hunt. I’d get another (thing) and dive into it. Get the original brochures, plan how it was going to be..then another (thing) would pop up and off I’d go.
      Fortunately I’d binge and purge so I’m not now drowning in crap.
      What I came to grips with is, the finding and getting and initial infatuation was some kind of dopamine thing. Having one or two really nice things didn’t do that.
      I’m better now, and in time hopefully David will be as well. It’s a different kind of satisfaction and you have to work to get there.

  5. I recall reading about you selling the too-nice white XJ years ago, and I wonder if the same fate would befall the green one. I sort of feel like to truly have soul, a car has to be a little, well, shitty.

    I also have 10 cars laying around, and the newest and nicest (2013 Mustang GT vert) gets driven the least (of the running cars) so grain of salt and all that.

  6. What is the status of the blue FC? I remember plans to work with Ford on electrification at your old job. When do we get a status update article on the FC?

    Jeep made over 2.8 million XJs, fix the FC.

  7. The real answer is you should only own ONE XJ. The only thing your first one has going for it, is that it’s your first. It is mechanically beat, the body is in terrible shape, and it is sitting neglected by a well meaning guy who simply owns too much stuff. Are you really going to restore it? I don’t think you are, because at the end of the day, it still has an automatic transmission, and you’re just not an automatic kinda guy. Don’t wrap so much value in the actual shell. You have untold amounts of memories, tons of pictures, videos, and multiple published articles featuring your first Jeep. You’re never going to forget it. You don’t need the actual vehicle around to have the memories and the experiences.

    It’s time to start selling my friend. As-is, where is. There’s an ass for every seat, and a trailer for every project. Somebody will do something with that red XJ. Somebody will figure out what is up with that Golden Eagle’s engine and get it on the road, but it isn’t going to be you. If you were going to do it, you already would have. Nobody can stop you when you’re bound and determined to figure something out, but when you walk away from a project it sits FOR-EV-ER.

    Pick your best/favorite three, and sell everything else. Clear your slate. You can always buy more junk another day!

    1. I agree. This is how you know you are successful as a collector. Can you emotionally deal with losing a potential restoration in order to focus on things that you are more likely to complete? If yes, you are. If no, you are descending into a hoarder purgatory. Don’t be that guy. Be the guy that get huge personal satisfaction from resurrecting hopeless causes, that are in some way unique or cool. That’s what we’ve seen you excel at. Be that David. We’re counting on you.

      1. I agree with both of these comments. Fix the FC, it’s way too cool. Although, IIRC you have 2 of those as well? Pick one, fix it, ship it to Australia and go run over some spiders (let the little 8-legged bastards scream their silent screams!) Fix the watchacallit you bought there and then sell it, using that money to ship the FC somewhere else in the world to run over new & interesting spiders. Write, rinse, repeat.

        And we the readers reap the rewards!

  8. David – you have to buy it. The Autopian needs content. This Jeep is an investment in the future of this website. You will write several interesting articles about it. No need to worry about cost. The purchase price can be written off as a business expensive (maybe even legally?). You don’t need to sell the OG to buy this one. You have plenty of room for both in your backyard. Keep both.

    As for the question at hand, I did sell my first car for a better version of it.

    My first car was an ’84 Eldorado I bought for $1000 in high school (I overpaid by $1100). I loved that car, but it was terrible. In the two years I owned it, it went through 3 head gaskets, 2 alternators, and 5 batteries, it was towed 11 times, the steering wheel locked up at 55 mph (its top speed), it leaked like a sieve (transmission fluid, oil, coolant, and some fluids that remain a mystery), the rear air suspension catastrophically failed (this gave it a cool lowrider appearance, but cost my teeth a few fillings), it ran on 6 cylinders (it was a V8), and it got 8 mpg (to clarify, that is 8 mpg of gas; mpg of oil was marginally better).

    After dealing with this car for two years, I sold it and bought a canary yellow ’85 Eldo for $1750 (the sketchy used car dealership was asking $3700 but sold it to me for $1750 after rejecting my “ridiculous” offer of $1700…). The ’85 was great. It had no rust and the interior was like new. I drove it for two trouble-free years before buying a new Civic. I even learned to fix a few things in the process. Unfortunately, I had to sell the ’85 since I had no place to park it while I was away at college. For reasons I can’t comprehend, my parents didn’t want a giant yellow pimpmobile occupying their garage.

    Twenty years later, I still regret selling the ’85. I think the forced sale of my ’85 is contributing to my vehicle hoarding habit (2 trucks, 1 car, 3 motorcycles). I am currently considering selling one of my trucks. It was the vehicle I bought when I got my first “real” job 10 years ago. It was my daily driver for 5 years, but I have driven it maybe 1,000 miles in the last 5 years. It is in bad shape. I don’t intend to fix it as I lack the time, space, and ability to do so. I can’t bring myself to sell it, though. I know I’d regret giving it up.

    Anyhoo, I’ve rambled enough. Don’t let the 2 door get away. If you do, in 20 years the regret will eat at your soul and you will spend your evenings lamenting your decision on a random car website. It will also lead to further vehicular hoarding. Heed my warning.

    1. I had to share my first car with my younger brother, and when I left home to go to university, he kept driving it and managed to kill it. In a way, I’m kind of happy about that because I never had to make the decision to part with it, the decision was made for me.
      Mind you, that was a 1984 VW Polo and I’m currently driving…a 2006 Polo, so I guess I have ended up with a better version of my first car.

      1. This XJ is awesome and ticks a lot of the boxes, but not quite the Holy Grail. The ‘Holy Grail XJ’ is a 1999 2 door, 4.0, 5 speed with the “Up Country” package. That gives you all the goodies your green one in the article has plus a 1” factory lift, limited slip rear, tow hooks, and skid plates. 1999 still has the good cylinder head but the updated intake manifold while still having the bulletproof distributor ignition. Also, for one more Jeep-nerd fact, the AX15 is actually the better trans to have because they still make it and have actually improved on it over the years so replacement parts are actually better than factory. NV3550 is not made anymore and replacement parts are not the best.

        Anyways, your green one here still rocks the vent windows and has the right colors, but isn’t quite in the league of adding to your already crowded collection. Regardless, I respect the hell out of your find!

      2. You told me that you are not a fan of the two-door. And I respected that because those doors do have issues way more than the fours. So disappointed. Send me back my 10 shares of Willys Overland Co. stock. Also this one has rust. Always with the rust!

          1. Though I think this one looks great, stick with your preference, especially if you really plan on fixing the burgundy XJ up. As a project, the green one looks more manageable to me, even with the rust, but even restored, you wouldn’t have the attachment to it as your 4-door original.

  9. I know because we love cars we tend to view them emotionally. But at the end of the day, its an inanimate object that you are all but guaranteed to give up at some point in time. This is a great chance to step up (in a manner of speaking), get something you’ve always wanted, lose a headache of your own, and help out a young family

    Win, win, win win.

    When something makes this much sense and you dont move on, the H word creeps closer and closer to your driveway.

    1. The thing is, David comes up with holy grails every 2 weeks. I say he should stop buying cars, period. Fix what you have Dave, trim the fleet and move on. You need one winter beater (the OG), one cool weekend project (the Mustang) and one nice daily (that would’ve been the Lexus but that ship has sailed). Everything else you buy is a distraction keeping you from taking care of your project cars properly.

      1. Replying here because I can’t figure out how to post a new response.

        Update the original with the green one. If the green one is truly the one you always wanted you can’t let that go. Keep a piece (or 2) of the original. I suggest something you make contact with like the shift knob. You’ll have that familiar old feeling in your hand and a momento of the original.

  10. Look, it’s just my useless opinion as a reader, but here goes:

    – Keep the ‘stang

    – Keep the J-10 and fix it. You’ll always need a good pickup.

    – Let the Golden Eagle go. It’s too special to let it molder and you won’t get to it. I say keep the J-10 and not the Golden Eagle because I sense a deep, abiding affection for the J-10 that you comparatively don’t have for the Golden Eagle.

    – Let your OG XJ go, you’re not going to fix it and you know in your heart it’s not the XJ you really want (manual 4×4 with however many doors you choose). Like others have said you’ll still have the memories and letting it go now doesn’t mean you failed in loving it. If you do truly want an XJ in the fleet go get a version of one you really desire and this particular one in the article seems as good as any example in the condition you’re likely to buy.

    – Junk the blue FC and electrify the red one. The blue one is simply too far gone. If you’re not going to get to the electrification project get rid of the red one, too.

    – Sell the Valiant. You had your fun for the winter and it, too, deserves a loving owner who will do something fun with it. (leaning tower of power 4ever!)

    – If you still have the Rio or the Alero or any other POS random vehicles, get rid of them.

    – I think you’re sitting on two Grand Cherokees. Are you really going to get one good example put together from the two? Be honest with yourself. If not, sell the better (notice I didn’t say good) one and junk the worse one.

    – Not sure if you’re still sitting on a Land Rover. If so, pick a Grand Cherokee or the LR and use it for your winter vehicle, no use for both.

    – I don’t remember if you have any other Jeeps, but if so, buh-bye.

    – Not worried about Project Krassler. If you have a place to keep it, cool. If not, get rid of it. Again, you had your fun but there’s something to be said if you have free storage in having a vehicle when you visit Europe.

    – The Kangaroo thing? Super cool, but I suspect that’s more a get it running, play with it while in Australia and then get rid of it.

    That would still leave you with five vehicles at your place in Michigan and it’s plenty. But hey, I’m just an Internet slob and in the end, do what makes you happy. Don’t worry too much about the rest of us. We will still eagerly lap up every recounting of your epic antics.

    1. Gonna be honest, I like your plan. Only issue is that I think I have more Grand Cherokees than you think I have. I have a borderline-mint 1993 five-speed and a 1994 that I wanted to turn into a world-traveling overlanding rig. I may just keep one.

      I think the rest of what you said makes sense. Now I just need to execute.

      Man I almost had one more vehicle down. It was gone! I had sold it! Then the motor exploded.

      Getting rid of vehicles is hard.

      1. I give you permission to keep one more XJ (but it has to be of notably differing specs, like one of the European market diesel-engined ones or a Chinese facelift model) but you will have to sell that Mustang to some boring boomer. That ought to pay for shipping Krassler over here as well.

      2. It’s very hard to give you good advice when it is literally impossible to ascertain what you currently own. I read everything you put out here and from the old place and I can’t keep track of your current roster.

        My personal MO is if I want to buy one, I have to sell one or at least have it up (running and) for sale. Granted, you are not me. I also of course do not know how much you have in your checking account.

        My inner child says, for several reasons, you should buy this. My inner adult says you can’t have ANYTHING else until you fix the one you almost sold to the nice lady. And sell it.

  11. My wife had one of these as her first car. hundreds of thousands of miles when she got it, holes in the floor, all that great Jeep stuff. She drove it until the wheels almost fell off, then handed it down to a cousin. It survived until crashed. She’s still nostalgic; I’ll buy her a shiny one, someday.

  12. As someone with a similar obsession (Saab C900’s), I understand your dilemma. It’s hard to pass on a car that you’ve always wanted, and they always seem to turn up when you’ve sworn that you’re not going to buy another one. My main rule is that only one can be in less than great running condition at a time. I can’t juggle projects well and never finish anything if I have too many irons in the fire. I also have a rule that only one car can be parked outside at any given time, so when the barn and garage are full, something has to go before I get another project. Yet, as I type this, it all reminds me of late stage alcoholics who start making up a bunch of rules for their drinking in order to convince themselves that there isn’t a problem. At the end of the day, my cars bring me a lot of satisfaction and I *usually* break even or make a little scratch when I decide to let one go, so it isn’t the worst addiction I can imagine, but there is a fine line between obsession and passion and you seldom know when that line has been crossed. Anyway, that’s the best looking Jeep I’ve ever seen you get excited about, so buy that thing, but maybe get rid of another one if you do.

  13. So that leads me to the question: Would you sell your first car for a nicer version of it? This green two-door is truly the grail, but can I sell my burgundy bestie? Or do I just keep both somehow?

    You’re David Jeep’n Tracy. Of course you buy it and then age it like fine wine in your backyard jeep cellar.

  14. You have so much you can’t focus appropriately on any of them, to their detriment.

    New rule for DT: For every 1 in – 2 go out.

    Thin the herd, man, it’s much more enjoyable to follow you to the finish of a project than to watch you wallow around from shitbox-problem to shitbox-problem.

  15. I would sell the red one as parts (it’s horrible) as-is, and also sell the one that just blew its motor as-is, take that money and flip it into the green one. You clean out your yard, get rid of projects you know you’ll never get to, and you have a good running and driving XJ. While you’re doing minor body work / paint to the green one, you can mess w/the Golden Eagle or the little blue rust bucket you insisted on buying for a “winter beater” that sat in your driveway all winter. lol

    Good luck David!

  16. I’m probably the wrong person to ask, since I’m still driving my first Jeep (see user name) and have added two new ones to the fleet. I am concerned about the burgundy XJ. I know I’ve spent far more on my ZJ than it’s worth, but if it wasn’t that Jeep it would be another…I just really like these vehicles. At least I know the complete service history of this one…plus, it’s still an enjoyable drive. The burgundy XJ seems to hold similar value, except it sits as a monument. It deserves a bit of attention to really decide if it can be returned to good working order.

    The green XJ looks awesome! The current owner has reached out to you because — as you’ve made clear through countless articles — you do care about these Jeeps, and see them as more than just appliances that get people from point A to point B. That being said, it sounds like it needs work beyond cosmetic issues; if you don’t have the time now to address that, I’m worried that it risks joining the burgundy XJ.

  17. David,

    I think unless you are actually going to repair the burgundy one you should let it go and get the green one. It fully understand sentimental value, but as I write this I have a garage full of my parent’s crap that I kept for sentimental reasons. Over time I have slowly been parting with things I realize I will never use and should go to someone who will. Holding on to a vehicle and letting it slowly rot because it has sentimental value is really just letting a vehicle rot. There may be someone out there with more time, money, and passion (maybe not passion) than you who can and will get your burgundy one running. You can certainly repair the green one and have a sweet Jeep that makes both you and Alex happy with your respective decisions.

  18. I had this same Jeep, identical specs up to the manual transmission. It was great…up until we had our daughter. If it had four doors, it would still be sitting in our driveway and probably wind up being her first car. But the gymnastics of leaning in to the car seat on the back bench was too much for our lower backs to tolerate.

  19. The first car I ever bought was a Triumph TR6. Rusty as hell, missing the floors and the thermostat. Learned how to really wrench on that car, loved it, drove it everywhere, fixed it again when I got there. Then, on a perfect sunny driving day, on the way home, the fuel line worked it’s way off the front carb and started dumping gas all over the exhaust manifold. It was over.

    I was devastated. It was like Nana died all over again.

    But in the end, it was a necessary thing. I never would have gotten rid of that car on my own, and since then I’ve been lucky enough to have worked my way through some great cars and gone great places in them. I met a girl with an MGB and never looked back.

    It’s time David. Let it go. Fix new things. Learn about new vehicles, solve new mechanical puzzles. Find a girl with a MGB and get going.

  20. There is no question here.
    Buy it.
    Sell whatever is necessary.
    Buy it.
    Or convince the seller to sell it to ME for short money. I’m less than an hour from Williamsburg.
    I had a green-over-tan, 94, 4-door, manual transmission, 3″ lift, 32*11.50’s, and still miss it.

  21. Is your burgundy also rusted? I love my 97 and would probably never sell it but it’s hard to argue with that 96. I feel the pull of nostalgia.

    Can you do rust repair, rocker replacement,or be willing to pay for it? Figuring out the engine issues should be pretty straight forward. Seems like a keeper. If you can’t part with your burg just keep it on the back burner until you come across a deal on an axle and a head. They’re not that expensive stock.

  22. David, here’s the truth pill. The only thing holding your first jeep together are the memories. I understand the love, I really do. I still have my first car .. but…. Here’s the thing. Even if you manage to complete the marathon wrench-fest to get that thing back on the road, I guarantee there’s at least another 10 things that still need fixing. It’s time to let it go. Strip it of usable parts so the legacy lives on and send it to the yard. Fix the black one and enjoy it. Don’t buy the green one. You know rust. If you can see it, there 3x as much you can’t see. Good luck. I know it’s hard.

  23. Buy it and unload your other xj’s. I owned a 94 2-door manual XJ throughout high school and college. Wish I never sold it.

    The most simple and best reason to own a 2 door is just cruising with your arm resting on the door with the window down. The 4-doors are so short that its not comfortable to do that. Try it out and you’ll be sold.

  24. I thought I would keep my first car forever, but rust and other issues said otherwise. It was very hard to get rid of it but in the long run it was much better to let it go. It would have been an anchor I had to drag around. It’s time to move on to something better and cooler.

  25. This is a sweet looking XJ. I’d get it. I was able to fix the heat soak issues on mine by using a cut out of reflective padding placed between the headers and injectors. It really helped with the heat soak without having to cut holes in the hood.

  26. David,

    Just get the damn XJ.

    It’s a Jeep. It’s WHAT YOU DO. It’s what we have come to expect of you.

    My hot take – shitcan the FC’s. You’re talking time, money, and trouble. Sell the Valiant to a loving soul. Shitboxes like the Kia can go down the road to the happy Parts Galore in the sky.

    Figure out what to do with the burgundy XJ – your first one. Fix the really nice one that just blew up. Hang onto one Grand Cherokee, and make it EXACTLY how you would want it using the parts from the others.

    And keep one car that can be considered “sensible shoes”. Something reliable, something that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to keep running, and will pretty much run through a nuclear winter.

  27. How about – since this is in Virginia, have Jason buy & store it for you. But before you can take it home, you’ve got to get his old RV revived (or the Scimitar, if you’re feeling extra motivated).

    It’s a win for Torch & your readers, at the very least!

  28. David, I’ve been reading your stuff for so damn long I’m always surprised when I remember that you’re barely 30. I was your age now back when you were, like eight. And I adore your writing, your spirit, your relentlessly positive attitude, and your particular flavor of half-assed but formidable competence. There’s only one thing I think you lack: a modicum of variety in your passion for cars. You and your GOD. DAMNED. JEEPS. And hey, I wouldn’t care nearly so much if your passion fell more to the old Wranglers, CJs, Go-Devils, Willyseseses… you bring in juuust enough of those to make us think you’re not totally outta yer tree with the Cherokees, and then BAM! Here’s another Grail. I know you love driving them, and I guess you must love looking at them, but speaking purely as a Constant Reader, boy, am I so much happier when you dig into the Valiant, or the terrifying FC, or the POStal Jeep, or your brother’s Mustang, or even your hideous minivan in Germany. A Cherokee or two or even three would be fine to read about every now and then. But HOW MANY have you owned and/or written about??

    Like other, wiser commenters have advised: pick one. Take this green one if it ticks the boxes and looks solid enough to you. (I’m from SoCal born and bred, 4th generation San Diego native, and I really don’t see why you put up with as much rust as you do, but you’re a better mechanic than I am, so you do you.) I say dump the maroon one, and I say that as someone who unloaded his first car (a ’78 Mercury Zephyr wagon) after owning it all of three years… and never looked back. I loved that car. I lost my virginity in that thing! Was I too sentimental to unload it when the time came? Hell no. I bought and wrenched on other shitboxes. I went from that to a ’77 Accord, to an ’81 Civic, to a ’62 Skylark, to a ’78 Accord, to a ’76 Mustang II, to a ’77 Mustang II, to a ’94 Hilux, to a ’74 Super Beetle, to a ’79 Mustang, to a ’94 Firebird, to a ’70 Cougar, to a ’68 F250, to an ’87 XJ6 (into which I installed the engine and transmission from a ’93 Caprice), to my recent spate of boring-ass late-model Toyotas and Hondas… I still have the Cougar and always will, but the rest came and went with barely a backward glance, though I do miss the F250. Anyway, as much as I had fun with that Fox-body Zephyr, I didn’t keep buying it over and over and over again. Not only are you a better mechanic than I am, you’re a much better writer, too. But the stories I could tell about my fleet over the past 35 years… man, David, YOU could make those stories so much more epic than I can, and they wouldn’t be as numbingly repetitive as your I Found Another Rusty XJ Grail But This One’s The Grailiest Yet stories.

    Pick your XJ, keep it and cherish it and drive the hell out of it and keep it running for the rest of your life… but don’t ever get another one until that one vanishes in a puff of rust flakes. For the love of all the combustion that is internal, QUIT BUYING JEEP CHEROKEES, GRAND OR OTHERWISE! There are so very many other cars and trucks to own and drive and break and fix and cuss at and cherish and write about and sell or push off a cliff or blow up or donate to NPR. Really there are.

  29. You keep suggesting you will, but you have not made a decision of whether you want to have a “normal amount of cars”, or not. What you have is a museum of cars, most of which don’t run. Having more than one non-running car over 30 years old is simply NOT normal.

    Believe us, we love this SAGA, but make a decision and let us watch it play out. But, what you’re doing now is just getting ridiculous. 🙂

    Keep David Tracying David Tracy.

    OH, and buy the green holy grail. Easy answer.

  30. David, you know how much I love the green and tan combination (although finding trim pieces for tan interiors in junkyards is difficult), and it’s a great spec, so get it. As for the maroon one, please do what I was trying to convince you to do last year: convert it to an EV. Maybe ask Uncle Rich and his crew for recommendations. There are enough people out there who would love to be able to do this conversion economically (myself included), and if there’s someone who could find a cheap way to do it, it’s you. I am being 100% selfish here in this request as I would use your detailed documentation of the process and try to replicate it in England. The fact that the maroon XJ is an automatic (like mine) is even more appealing as most people convert manuals. Please consider it!

  31. David: What you need are “stash houses.” Your loyal readers in the Detroit metro area should volunteer to host one of your project vehicles each. You can travel between them wrenching and writing updates on your progress.

    Addendum:
    Every host has the right to evict your car with a weeks notice.

  32. David:
    Temptations like this are easy to pass on when you have a set of ground rules. Between my wife and I, we own six cars. Here are the rules I’ve had set in place regarding any new acquisitions.

    1. Be able to buy the new car in cash.
    2. All other cars in the fleet are running, drivable, and need no major work. Worthy of taking on a weekend trip out of town.
    3. Have a suitable place to store the new vehicle.

    Do I store a car at a friend’s summer home’s garage? Maybe…Did I put a storage lift in my parent’s garage to stash another? Absolutely! Figure out a set of rules that will keep the city of Troy off your back but keep your addiction satisfied and you will sleep easy at night.

  33. Yeah, being responsible is hard, even though this is a perfect Jeep that is really hard to pass up. And it’s not too far from where I lived so if you needed it to have a temporary home until you can pick it up/prep it for an impossible drive home… I’m there for ya.

  34. “Would you sell your first car for a nicer example of it?”

    Yes. Absolutely. In a heartbeat. (Mostly because the reason I had to let it go was because it had reached the end of its serviceable life) However! I’d keep at least one part of the former to attach to the latter. Y’know for remembrance.

  35. If I still had the car, no as my grandfather gave it to me. However after throwing a rod and blowing up the motor I ended up giving to family in Ohio. Last I knew it was farm truck.

    The question is what is the price of the like yours vs the price to fix? How attached are you to your Jeep? At this point is not about money but what it means to you. It would be fixed because you want to, not a flip. Using the truck as an example, if I had it in any sort of usable shape, I would spend a ridiculous amount of money to fix it. Way more than it would be worth.

    The other reason I ask the price I am trying to convince my wife that the only way to back off on my expensive Fish Keeping hobby is buy another car. I know it won’t work but I can try.

      1. Me too. Four doors was the USP that made the XJ Cherokee the runaway success it was, blowing away the 2-door-only (for the first 7 or 8 years, really until 1990-91) Chevy S-10 Blazer and Ford Bronco II.

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