Home » The Ultimate Overlanding Jeep Cherokee XJ Is For Sale In Michigan — The Coveted 1996 High-Top ‘Chief’

The Ultimate Overlanding Jeep Cherokee XJ Is For Sale In Michigan — The Coveted 1996 High-Top ‘Chief’

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It feels like it was just last month that I wrote about Elkhart, Indiana-based “Glaval,” the company that, in 1996, offered a Jeep-sanctioned high-top version of the Jeep Cherokee XJ called the “Jeep Cherokee Chief.” (Oh wait, that was just last month). Now a reader has sent me a mostly-complete version of that hyper-rare ultimate-XJ-overlander for sale in Michigan for under $4 grand. Check this rare machine out.

The Jeep Cherokee XJ, built between 1984 and 2001, was beloved, but two of its main weaknesses included: 1. It wasn’t luxurious enough and 2. It was too small inside. It’s no surprise, then, that when Jeep tried to replace the XJ in the early 1990s, it did so with the ZJ Grand Cherokee, a larger, more luxurious vehicle that was otherwise pretty much the same as the XJ. It’s also why I think the Glaval-built Cherokee ‘Chief’ is so compelling.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

It took a reliable, incredibly capable off-road vehicle, spruced it up with some interior niceties, and added plenty of vertical volume in the back thanks to a fiberglass topper:

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Also included were unique front and rear bumper covers, running boards, a special grille, wood trim inside, and a bunch more. This converted Jeep Cherokee was awesome, and to see one today is a true rarity, which is why I wrote about the other one for sale last week.

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But that thing is a steaming heap that was clearly not complete. Today, though, I have a gem to share with you all.

Sent to me by a reader named Scott, this XJ for sale is pretty much complete. For one, it’s got the special front bumper that Glaval designed for it:

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And second, it’s got those strange aluminum wheels:

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Perhaps most important, it has the cathode ray tube TV and VCR hat the other one lacked:

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As a Michigan vehicle, it’s far from perfect, with rusty floorboards and some rust between the fiberglass roof topper and the drip rails:

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There also appears to be part of the front bumper missing (was that sliced off after a crash?), and this picture really shows the extent of that roof rust:

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One of the taillights is cracked (an easy fix) and the rear bumper has some scuffs. Also, it appears that the rear left wheel has been swapped for a steelie, though there’s a spare aluminum one in the car:

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Maybe this isn’t quite the gem I thought it was when I started writing this article. $3800 starts to seem a bit dear when you’re missing some of that impossible-to-replace front bumper, and when you’ve got to do rust work.

Still, it’s a badass machine from an era when conversions were hot — especially conversion vans.

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Spencer Strucienski
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Spencer Strucienski
Do I still prefer the Grand Cherokee “Excursion” built by Mark III Industries out of Ocala, Florida? Yes. Yes I do.

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Still, the 1996 Jeep-authorized XJ conversion, called called “Cherokee Chief” — an homage to the badass, widebody SJ-platform Jeep Cherokee Chiefs of the 1970s— deserves some love, if only for being so rare and so wacky.

Here’s what I’ve learned about the XJ via Glaval’s 1996 brochure:

Leave it to Glaval to put the perfect finishing touches on the legendary Jeep Cherokee. Outside, your eye is captured by the aggressive, Aerodyne hightop roof that makes it clear this is no ordinary Jeep. But a closer look reveals running boards, ground effects, and special [indecipherable] that compliment the rugged good looks of this, the most timeless of all Jeep vehicles. Expect to attract attention and admiration. It just looks that good — but wait until you see what we’ve done inside.

The added clearance provided by the Aerodyne roof makes room for an overhead entertainment including…remote controlled [indecipherable] TV, videotape player and AM/FM…speakers and personal stereo headphones…Rear passengers enjoy extra headroom and storage, abundant wood [indecipherable] …mood lighting…seating angle to better accommodate adult passengers.

It was a bit hard to decipher that text in the brochure, but the point is: The Jeep Cherokee Chief received a remote-controlled TV, a VHS player, an AM/FM stereo, a new multi-speaker sound system, headphones, and Nintendo plug-ins (!), plus a bunch of wood accents.

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It’s a little too sporty for my tastes, and the ZJ Excursion clearly nailed the “overlanding” vibe better, but still. The Jeep Cherokee Chief from Glaval is a special beast, and if I can find a decent one for sale sometime, I’d be tempted to turn it into the ultimate overlanding machine.

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Images: Facebook Marketplace, Mark III Industries, Glaval

 

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Jj
Jj
28 days ago

Does the high roof really add that much function? I know headroom is nice, but this doesn’t allow standing room, does it?

Also, that is not a little rust. Those appear to be holes. This roof is about to turn itself into a side-hinged camper top – possibly while in motion.

Ted Fort
Ted Fort
28 days ago

The TV situation confuses me. On a conversion van, it makes sense. But on this, wouldn’t the viewing angle be awfully high? The TV being between the front seats, which they did on a lot of conversion Suburbans, seems to make a lot more sense.

Bob Terwilliger
Bob Terwilliger
27 days ago
Reply to  Ted Fort

My mom had one of these growing up and yes watching the TV was like sitting in the front row at a theater you had to look up and it wasn’t all that comfortable

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
28 days ago

> It’s a little too sporty for my tastes

We’re gonna need Peter or Jason to draw big arrows pointing at what’s sporty about this car because I’m not sure we’re looking at the same vehicle.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
28 days ago

I know my sporty sense is poorly calibrated, I didn’t think my Z4 Coupe was sporty because the steering feel was terrible.

So they are going to have to be some big fucking arrows.

Or maybe a new definition of “sporty” we can all agree on. I once got thrown the keys to a Humvee and the guy said “it’s just like driving a sports car”. It was not. It was like driving something that was two Defenders on the outside, but only 2/3rds a Defender inside. Or like being pushed down a narrow flight of stairs inside a tumble dryer.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
28 days ago

Maybe he meant that it could carry athletes to whatever competition they are involved in?

Engine Adventures
Engine Adventures
28 days ago

Saw something similar on DeXJ’s YouTube. First time I’d seen one and now another within a week.

Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
28 days ago

As they say in Minnesota: That’s different.

Joshua B O'Donnell
Joshua B O'Donnell
28 days ago
Reply to  Widgetsltd

Hahahha my wisconsinite great grandmother said this quite a bit. Doesn’t hold the same weight down here in Kentucky

Not The Ford 289
Not The Ford 289
28 days ago

I really want to see something like this done to a brand new Grand Wagoneer.

Last edited 28 days ago by Not The Ford 289
Austin Vail
Austin Vail
28 days ago

Yet another missed opportunity for an Easter Jeep Safari concept!

Gee See
Gee See
28 days ago

Wow.. not a grail in sight! How do you realistically fix those roof rust? Take off the fibreglass and patch or just easier to find a donor XJ?

Last edited 28 days ago by Gee See
EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
29 days ago

He thought he could escape Michigan, but the Glove truly covers the Earth. It screams to you, “David, what’s one more Jeep?” Do you answer the call? Are you on the 405 right now, starring at the sun on a temperate day in the i3, behind the wheel of small automobile, asking yourself “How did I get here?”. It’s once in a lifetime deal, you have to get it.

Gee See
Gee See
28 days ago

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down. Letting the days go by, water rotting under. In the brown again, after the money’s gone. Then David ask himself, is that his small automobile? (i3).

Last edited 28 days ago by Gee See
Col Lingus
Col Lingus
27 days ago
Reply to  Gee See

“where is my beautiful wife?”

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
28 days ago

I have to say I often ask myself “who thought that monstrosity of a house is beautiful?” and I ask myself “how did automobiles get so large again anyway?” a lot these days…

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
29 days ago

High roofs do make sense, the Japanese have a few. I have seen JDM Suzuki Samurais and Landcruisers with factory high roofs,and ads for the HiJet Jumbo Cab which is both higher and longer. I’d be interested but 30 years in Oregon has made me allergic to rust.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
29 days ago

I can’t access the posting because I don’t have stupid facebook.

Can someone post what town this is located in? Maybe it’s worth a look just for curiosity sake. But only if it’s within like an hour drive.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
29 days ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

Facebook really is an absolute hellscape. I got off the platform in 2020 and haven’t even been mildly tempted to return. Hell I’m not on Instagram or Tik Tok or any of that crap. I’d rather semi anonymously discuss the things I hyper fixate on with likeminded sickos on blogs like this than subject myself the black hole that is social media…

Abe Froman
Abe Froman
28 days ago

Joined in 2005, complete deletion in 2020. Created new profile and page solely for the business I started in 2023. I didn’t miss it.

Mordax
Mordax
28 days ago
Reply to  Abe Froman

Are you branching out from sausages?

Abe Froman
Abe Froman
28 days ago
Reply to  Mordax

It’s all I sell!

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
28 days ago

I’ve honestly been impressed with the civility of the Facebook groups that I’ve interacted with compared to Instagram and the like, but as my dad has pointed out it’s insane that a platform with UI as fucking awful as Facebook’s has existed for so long. Somehow the UI is never improved and only made worse year by year, too. Everything about using Facebook is clunky and unintuitive. Maybe I just don’t see any toxicity because I can only handle the UI for about ten minutes before I give up.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
28 days ago

I have never used Facebook for actual Facebooking, but Marketplace has largely supplanted Craigslist. Especially for extra cheap crappy stuff, aka what I’m interested in.

OptionXIII
OptionXIII
28 days ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

Three Rivers Michigan, sold by Dom Stacks. He seems to be singlehandedly responsible for half the XJ partouts listed in the state.

I’m normally one to try to hide that sort of info online but that guy definitely is not trying to stay on the down low.

Last edited 28 days ago by OptionXIII
Pupmeow
Pupmeow
28 days ago
Reply to  OptionXIII

I appreciate it! This is about 90 minutes for me– 3 hours is a long trip just to satisfy some curiosity.

CuppaJoe
CuppaJoe
29 days ago

The roof of that thing makes it look like it has some kind of unhealthy growth formed on its back. Sorry not sorry.

Can we go back to talking about Azteks?

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
29 days ago
Reply to  CuppaJoe

The roof looks like a dinghy turned upside down. ʅ( ´◔౪◔) ʃ

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
28 days ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

That’s what I’ve always thought about the ones on vans. Looks like a rowboat or jonboat.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
28 days ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I vaguely remember that boat-tops were a thing sometime back. Pretty sure there was a VW Type 2 based one. And it seems it’s being done again: The American Dream Trailer Company is producing seriously retro campers with a rowboat topper.
I’m assuming they don’t talk much about the torsional rigidity of the camper 😉

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
29 days ago

Well? What’re you waiting for, David? Go ahead, get it!

The Clutch Rider
The Clutch Rider
28 days ago

i think he is more interested on the one in the back under the tarps 🙂

Data
Data
29 days ago

What if Mitsuoka decided to make an old Mitsubishi Montero look like a Jeep? I think this is what it would look like.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
29 days ago

David if you don’t buy this we’re setting up a go fund me and buying it for you

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
29 days ago

This is an honest cry for help if I’ve ever heard one. The man needs an intervention.

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
29 days ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

Yes, he does. If he doesn’t buy it.

PresterJohn
PresterJohn
28 days ago

Hahaha 2 gofundmes in this site’s history, one for Torch’s exploding heart and one to pull David back into his old habits

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
28 days ago
Reply to  PresterJohn

Also the Kitteh fund—and the one to help Jsaabaru (?) when his shit broke on the way to the Chapel Hill meetup

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