One of Three. My '86 XJ

by Rob Mellow
(Tiverton, Ontario, Canada)

(File Photo)

(File Photo)

No, there was nothing Borg about my first Jeep (not even the transmission). It was my first Jeep and my 2010 Grand Cherokee Overland is in a pile of orders at the Jefferson Ave plant.

It was a 1986 XJ Cherokee Chief 2-door with a 2.8L V6, 5-speed manual and Command Trac (NP207). It was silver-grey with the black Chief stipes. As it was an AMC: the engine was GM, driveline Chrysler-ish (Aisin/NP/Dana) and radio & heater that seemed Ford like.

The V6 engine was awful. More under-powered than the 115 HP rating suggests. The 5-speed manual wasn't great either. With it's long (classic truck style) shifter and that gearbox, shifts were far from "positive"; as the automotive writers call it. Not good considering that you needed to shift precisely to get anything resembling acceleration.

The aluminum wheels had a plastic coating that perpetually peeled and flaked while the aluminum corroded anyway. Although not a terrible rust-bucket overall, the large rearward side widows had rubber that actually trapped water and that's where it rusted badly.

Despite the terrible quality of body and powerplant I was hooked by the concept. It could do amazing things off-road and it fit in the garage. It also amazed me when helping friends move that I could transport their drier with a few items stuffed around it.

This was a terrible quality build of a good basic design. I will never forget it's inexplicable ability to move through grill-deep snow; it was only part-time with open diffs.

Larry's Comment: Great Star Trek Voyager analogy Rob! Your '86 XJ would definitely not be part of the "Collective".

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