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Junkyard Gem: 1976 Jeep Cherokee

Americans were able to buy a car called a Cherokee for most of the past half-century, though the size and even manufacture of the Cherokees have varied greatly during that period. Right away, Your Jeep dealer can sell it to you a compact crossover Cherokee based on the Fiat platform and built by Stellantisand the most iconic Cherokee still 1984-2001 XJdesigned by American Motors with lots of Renault input and (starting in 1987) built by Chrysler and then (starting in 1998) DaimlerChrysler. First Cherokees are two great great doors based on Wagoneerthough, and they were built between the 1974 and 1983 model years. Of today Junkyard Gems was one of the first Cherokees, photographed a few months back a self-catering vineyard in the Denver area.

The 1976 SJ Cherokee is a 3,938-pound giant (actually the same weight as the current Cherokee and much smaller footprint, but modern vehicles are much heavier than their predecessors), with a base price of $5,258 . That’s about $26,590 in 2022, which is remarkably similar to the base ’22 Cherokee MSRP of $28,135, but remember you Actually must pile up Additional cost options if you want features that we take for granted these days (e.g. power steering, automatic transmission and whatever kind of audio system costs a fortune in your ’76 Cherokee).

The base engine for the ’76 Cherokee was the old 258 cubic-inch AMC inline-six, making 110 horsepower and 195 pound-feet. If you think that sounds like a recipe for amazing slowness vans, you’re right. That’s why most ’76 Cherokee buyers chose one of the three available AMC engine V8; you can get a 304 (5.0 liter) with 150 hp, a 360 (5.8 liter) with 175 or 195 hp, or a 401 (6.5 liter) making 235 hp. All three engines look the same at a glance, and I don’t feel like I have to scrape off decades of engine block dirt to look at the minting numbers, so we’ll just say this. Jeep car got an AMC V8 built between 1970 and 1991 and left it at that.

AMC presents this truck as a rough and rugged family van, ridiculously lacking in luxury by 21st-century truck standards but quite comfortable compared to the military-style trucks that many Americans bought in previous decades. It’s cheaper and looks sportier Wagoneer brother, thanks to the stylish two-door setup, but access to the passenger compartment is more difficult. A four-door version appeared starting in 1977.

This person has lived a difficult life and does not have much furniture left.

Is there any rust? Yes, a lot!

There’s no air conditioning, but at least it has an automatic transmission (the base transmission is one three-tier notebook) and dims the rear window. That auto, by the way, added $455 (about $2,300 now) and the defoamer costs $52 ($262 now). A/C would be a great 480 spondulix, up to about $2,425 by 2022). There will be riots in Jeep showrooms if Stellantis tries to sell any Jeeps without A/C today, so the cost is included in the sticker price.

A small, single-speaker AM radio for $75 from your Jeep seller in 1976 ($380 today), but this truck has after-sales AM/FM/cassette radio from MetroSound.

Even though this yard is just south of Denver, I found a Oakland athletics cap fits well in dusty but equally beautiful condition in the back seat of this Cherokee. I took it home, washed it, and gave it to a 24 Hours of Lemons team full of A . fans.

Unlike later Cherokees (and Grand Cherokees), the SJ was built with hunting and fishing abilities taking precedence over ride comfort, and these stickers show this truck spent part of his time in the woods.

Just the thing to take your daughter cross-country to a campsite full of hot boys.

A few decades later and every mall parking lot will be packed with Cherokee heads.

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