Calling this truck an overlander is a bit of stretch.…
My friend Blake is obsessed with the 90’s aesthetic. It permeates every aspect of his style so when he saw a Regular Car Reviews video featuring the Jeep Cherokee XJ, he knew he had to have one. So began a months-long quest by me, his trusty “car-guy” to find him the best one for his constantly-fluctuating budget.
A budget of $6,000 Canadian, first seemed awesome and allowed for cross-border shopping, but then the Canadian dollar tanked and Blake decided he just wanted to spend around $3,000. It was during this process that I learned that really clean XJs are impossible to find. They rusted out badly and those that didn’t rust got lifted and turned into off-road beasts that were no longer viable for life in Toronto.
Now Blake wanted a car to take his friends skiing in the winter, and to the lake in the summer, all while being able to haul hipster antiques for his business. Did I mention it had to do all this while being able to impress girls who are generally too young to even be nostalgic for the 1990s? Given that it was going to be doing all this I narrowed down my search to 1997-2001 models(models that had been through an update), that had the optional ABS and and Selec Trac.
Not all XJs were created equal and while many were bought in 2wd, many more were bought by people with Command Trac 4WD, a system that cannot be used on dry pavement. So if you set it for getting out of your driveway and accidentally leave it on when you hit a dry, salted road, you may do some damage.
Every now and then I would send Blake some cars, he would get all jazzed and either say he was so down to buy as soon as he could move some cash, or he would say he was putting it on the back burner for a few months. This went on for nine months!!
Eventually Blake got sick of renting cars and decided to buy within the next 72 hours. He then proceeded to send me the biggest collection of beat up, swiss-cheese looking Jeep XJs I have ever seen. Eventually I pushed him towards a 1997 Country model with every option ticked except leather and heated seats.
Now his Jeep features the later, more subtle silver rims from the Cherokee Limited, but I have been tasked with finding him some original gold rims from the 1997 model. I wonder how long this process will take….