Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2
While the trend towards using supposedly off-road vehicles for everyday use, not to mention status symbols, was still growing in Western Europe in 1979 (as the growing numbers of Matra Simca Ranchos and Range Rovers without a trace of mud on them bore witness) it was well established in the USA.
Manufacturers like American Motors, with their Jeep range, developed vehicles which seemed at home off-road or in town, and the bright paintwork and chrome or alloy wheels
of the Cherokee were certainly biased towards the latter.
The Cherokee was a redesigned reintroduction of a two door body style, with a single fixed rear side window with an optional flip-out section. Previously, a two door version had been available in the Jeep Wagoneer line (1963–67), although this had the same pillar and window configuration as the four-door Wagoneer.
Sport, Chief, Golden Eagle, Limited, Classic, Sport, Pioneer, and Laredo
Based on the Wagoneer, the Cherokee was marketed as the "sporty" two-door variant of Jeep's station wagon. The term "Sport Utility" appears for the first time in the 1974 Cherokee sales brochure. A four-door was not added to the lineup until 1977. Other than the base model, the trim levels of the Cherokee included the S (Sport), Chief, Golden Eagle, Limited, Classic, Sport, Pioneer, and Laredo.
The most basic two-door Cherokee was powered by a large and uncomplicated pushrod straight-six engine producing 114 bhp and nearly 200 Ib. Ft. of torque. The drive was through a manual three-speed gearbox, with low and high ratios effectively giving six gears, to all four wheels.
If necessary a top speed of 90 mph could be managed but, considering that both front and rear suspension
was by simple cart springs acting on live axles, although this was probably not called upon too often. At the other end of the scale the picture was a little different; suspension
was still by the same very robust and simple system but the long travel would soak up the effects of the roughest road surfaces.
The engine, however, was changed to a 6571cc pushrod V8 producing no less than 205 bhp and 317 lb ft of torque at only 2800 rpm. The manual gearbox was dispensed with as a manual override of the automatic transmission
was considered sufficient. The Quadra-Trac system used featured a central limited slip differential, and this, allied to four-wheel drive, enabled the Cherokee to make light of the heaviest conditions.
Better still, with the V8 fitted the Cherokee could out-run just about any other 4x4 in its class, and, with 3.07:1 highway gearing, could reach speeds in excess of 100-mile-per-hour (161 km/h) (early models had 120 mph speedometers
). A range of AMC engines were offered: the 258 cu in 4.2 litre inline six-cylinder, a 360 cu in 5.9 litre V8 with two-barrel carburettor, a four-barrel 360, or the 401 cu in 6.6 litre V8. The durable 401 had a forged crankshaft and forged connecting rods, as well as the high nickel content block of the other AMC V8s. The 401 was discontinued at the end of 1978. After acquiring AMC in 1987, Chrysler kept the 360 V8 in production until 1991 for the Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
Jeep Cherokee SJ Quick Specifications
Front-mounted V8. 105.8mm (4. 17in) bore x 93.4mm (3.68in) stroke = 6571 cc (401 cu in). Maximum power (DIN) 205bhp at 3500rpm; maximum torque (DIN) 3171b ft at 2800rpm,'cast-iron cylinder block and heads. Compression ratio 8:1. 7 main bearings. 2 valves
per cylinder, operated via rockers, pushrods and hydraulic tappets
by single camshaft. Carter four-barrel carburettor.
Transmission: Automatic transmission
with torque converter; driving all four wheels through Ouadra-Trac system. Ratios 1st 2.480, 2nd 1.480, 3rd 1.00, reverse 2.080.
Live axles with semi- elliptic springs front and rear.
Discs front and drums rear.
5.5Jn x 15 in. Tyres H78 x 15.
2 or 4 door, 7 seats. Braced perimeter box type chassis.
Dimensions and weight:
Wheelbase 108.7 in; track-front 59.4in rear- 57.8in; length 183.5in; width 75.6in; height 66.9in; ground clearance 7.7 in; weight 3971lb; turning circle 37.7ft; fuel tank 17.8gal.
Maximum speed 106 mph: acceleration 0-60 mph 9.7 secs; fuel consumption approx: 14.5 mpg.