Cherokee and Me (The Jeep That Shagged Me)
Jeep. Jeep. Jeep.
Jeep is the automotive bottomless pit of customizable aftermarket parts and repairs for people who have too few brain cells and way too much money and time on their hands.
From your classic 1940's Willy's to your brand new 2021 Jeep Gladiator Truck, the endless amounts of modifications you can put on that turd pile you call a vehicle are what draw's in maybe the most obnoxious, and if not insane, fanatics.
Working with these "fanatics" for a long period of time, you tend to pick up on the social trend of what makes these off-road monsters so heavily in-demand. From upgrading your suspension to turbo-charging your motor, Jeep's are endless in a sense of how endless your bank account is. I've had customers drop some serious cash for upgrades that were already available on their vehicle from factory to customers who would rather ride out a death wobble so that they could pick up on a light bar and some new tires.
Jeep definitely calls upon a rather strange group of followers but ultimately at the end of it, we all share the same passion to watch our badass rigs climb some rocks.
Although Wrangler's are typically what most people think of when you think of a heavily modified Jeep, the true hidden gem of the Jeep dynasty in my opinion is the Jeep Cherokee (XJ). (Not to be confused with it's less impressive off-spring the Grand Cherokee)
Built from 1984-2001, these beast of a compact-SUV have the signature Jeep hard lines we all know and love with their own special flare. Boasting a mighty 2.5L Turbodiesel or fan-favorite 4.0L engine, XJ's have pretty substantial motor resting on that lightweight unibody design. This Jeep screams "I belong in the wilderness" and stops short of metaphorically slamming your mom's station wagon.
Cherokee's have developed their own niche in the Jeep world, with their followers seemingly more reckless (or more redneck) than their Wrangler counterparts. Jeep Cherokee owners are a very special select breed of dumbfuckery where as the fascination for their car is more comical than fulfilling. Although let's be real, the last production year of the XJ's was 2001 and from what I know, any car 20+ years or older is typically a pile of problems people normally don't want to deal with. Unless you're an XJ guy, than throw your morals out the window and buy yourself a new CPS with the oodles of cash you're gonna need to invest in these shitboxes.
Speaking from personal experience, XJ's are neat off-road vehicles if you beef them up right. But let's not get too ahead of ourselves, living up to the blessed name of a "shitbox", in all senses it is what it is - a box full of shit. From factory you have to deal with constant overheating issues, random leaks, and don't even get me started on those Renix motors. You have a whole community making jokes about the nightmare that is the Crankshaft Position Sensor. I'm still astounded with the random issues and crap I see with the Cherokee's that filter in and out of my shop with problems I wasn't even aware could happen.
Regardless of it's shortcomings, the XJ is definitely a unique Jeep experience that pushes you on a whole different platform of off-road vehicles. The design alone beckons people to tear it down and build up one of the most aggressive rock-crawlers in the game. Not only that but XJ's are wiggling their way through the off-road scene, growing not only their fan base but their value as well.
My own Cherokee started off as a simple $400 2WD 4.0 rotting away in an apartment complex garage. Converted into a 4x4, slapped on a long-arm kit, re-geared my axles, got corbeau seats and upgraded to a Alpine Halo 9 system - I have people offering me well over what I invested in this thing. What I won't get any return on if I ever do sell this car are the countless hours and headaches I suffered with this junk. It's definitely still has issues but nevertheless still takes me wherever I want to go.
My only advice to anyone who want's to be a Cherokee owner: you can put make-up on a bunch of shit but at the end of it - it'll still be a piece of shit. Also, if you have a significant other - spend as much money on your SO as you're gonna spend on that jeep. Trust me.