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1989 XJ Laredo imported to Mexico from California

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1989 XJ Laredo imported to Mexico from California

Old 03-07-2019, 01:49 PM
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Talking 1989 XJ Laredo imported to Mexico from California

A little backstory. My name is Rob. I hail from South Bend, Indiana. My parents and grandparents worked for Studebaker in days gone by. I've had a number of Ramblers, a few 65-66 Classics, A 69 Javelin, and a 76 CJ7.Finally, I've previously had a 95 YJ, and a 93 XJ. I recently decided to get back into the Jeep world. I needed a way to invest money in a project that will keep me busy and won't lose money. I'm terrible at saving! I live in central Mexico, where I teach English and translate technical documents and catalogs for a large manufacturing company. I've been here for 16 years now. The Cherokee seemed like a good project because these are appreciating in value down here. Additionally, I have several dogs that I'd like to be able to take places. They just don't fit in my Opel Tigra.

Here were my priorities when I started looking for an XJ (in no particular order):

1) 4WD
2) Not lifted or modified substantially.
3) Not terribly abused.
4) Not too expensive. $40,000 pesos maximum. (About 2000 USD) Used cars are very expensive here, so you get a lot less for your money than up north.
5) Not more than 3 hours or so from home.
6) 1987-1994 I don't care for the seats in the 95/96. I prefer the more simple/easier to work on RENIX system. Fewer emissions gadgets and sensors makes them easier to fix IMO.
7) NOT a big project. I've just finished a 3-year long Opel Tigra project and am tired of that.

This seemed like a tall order, but I was determined. I decided that I would uncharacteristically be patient and not settle for less. I looked on Mercado LIbre (Like a Mexican Ebay), in Facebook Marketplace, and just drove around a lot. I even traveled as far as Morelia in the state of Michoacan some 3 hours from home to view an 88 XJ. It was a bust. Filthy interior, broken back seat, front seats had been replaced with some other unknown origin ones, and worst yet.... the entire vehicle had been sprayed with some kind of undercoating or truck bed liner. Additionally, he wanted 35,000 pesos- way too much fro what it was. He had switched the nice rims that were on the truck in the photos with some other badly beaten ones too.

While driving around the nearby town of Ixtlahauca looking for a green XJ (which turned out to never have been legalized, rendering the vehicle useless except for parts) that a friend told that he had seen, I found this:


It had obviously been sitting for some time, and though I didn't want a project. It seemed intriguing. It seemed to fit all my criteria. Additionally, it might be very cheap. Hmmm. It wasn't obvious who the owner was so I just started knocking on doors, but nobody was home on the block. I came back a week later after seeing the terrible undercoated Jeep in Morelia ad this time and spoke to an older woman who was out in front of her house. She indicated which house the owner lived in. I was greeted by a housekeeper who gave me the owner's cell number. I called and he told that he did indeed wat to sell it and the price was 25,000 pesos. I told him that I was interested, but tried not to show too much enthusiasm. Buying a car in Mexico is like playing poker. Show all your cards at once and you'll lose. Most Mexican men are very adept at bargaining! After a couple missed appointments, we finally met. He either felt that I wasn't interested or that I wasn't going to meet his price. His brother was there too, making it 2 on 1. They told me that it had been their father's car. He had passed away recently. The car had been parked for 3 years. We settled on a price of $22,500 pesos. Though it was more than I wanted to pay for a car which might have many problems, I felt good about it and was wiling to take a chance and...... so it seems, start another project. This was just 2 weeks ago on February 28th 2019.

I had the car towed to a mechanic's shop where he and I (and his father who had worked in the nearby Rambler plant in Lerma Mexico in the 70s-80s) would do the work. Here's another pic:



I'm detailing every single peso that I'm spending on this project. More to come this evening.
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Old 03-07-2019, 09:20 PM
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The motor was really in need of a good cleaning, but spun freely. I didn't want to try to start it up with 3 year old gas in the tank. It turns out that the fuel pump didn't work anyway and the rubber base/mount of the pump had disintegrated. Note the overflow tank zip-tied to a hose.

The motor was filthy as could be expected:
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Old 03-07-2019, 09:32 PM
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Default Differential

The 8.25 differential was one of the things that I liked about this XJ, but it was in bad shape. Backlash now adjusted as well.

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Old 03-07-2019, 09:46 PM
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It had been painted black.


We ran the motor for a few minutes off a can of gas and it sounded good, so we decided not to do a complete tear down. What do the letters mean?

This is a tag that I found under the radiator, but I'm not familiar with what it is.

Brakes looked good, as if they had just been serviced. The rear drums looked like they were turned. at that time.A few of the wheel studs broke off so I decided to replace them all with new grade 8 studs and solid chrome lugs.


The motor was so greasy that none of the nuts/bolts were frozen. It tore down easily.
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Old 03-07-2019, 09:52 PM
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Default Interior, dirty but original.




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Old 03-07-2019, 11:21 PM
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Interesting project. I will be following this to see how it comes along.
The plate you found under the radiator is a body I.D.tag. There should be a similar one on the drivers side firewall near the hood hinge. It is somewhat different to the firewall tag on my '91. The second to bottom line provides info on exterior paint color codes (W7 = Bright White) and interior trim codes. This web site has a service manual and parts catalog that covers your year. The parts list should have the I.D. plate decoder: https://xjjeeps.com/
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Old 03-07-2019, 11:33 PM
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For just over $1100 US I would say you got a decent deal. This one looks relatively rust free and most of the parts are there.
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Old 03-08-2019, 07:34 AM
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Thanks for the link to the website Third Coast. Yeah, I think I got a pretty good deal too. My goal is to drive it and enjoy it. I don't see myself doing any modifications that aren't performance related. I've lifted and modified Jeeps and other vehicles in the past and it just opens up a whole can of worms. You gotta do it right or stay home. Here's a couple previous Jeeps: The yellow CJ7 is a 1976 that I bought on ebay back in 2000. I actually drove this from Chicago to where I live, near Mexico City. Once here, I installed a Mexican 282 (4.6L). With a Weber 32/36 and electronic ignition it had a lot of power. The other oneis a 95 YJ that I bought off the showroom floor. It had a 4 banger that I quickly grew tired of. So..... 1982 AMC 360, 1984 CJ wide track axles with Moser solid axles, The trans was a 1975 TH 400 short shaft with a Spicer 10 transfer case IIRC. 3'' lift that I bought from a company in Madison Wi. but I don't recall the name. The motor was treated to a rebuild with a mild cam, Edelbrock Torker intake (hard to find for AMC!), Edelbrock 600CFM carb, headers (also hard to find in pre-internet days), Accel ignition, Full array of SW gauges... So many years later, I can't recall everything we did to it, but boy were they surprised when I took it into the dealership for an oil change!


95 YJ with an AMC 360


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Old 03-08-2019, 04:18 PM
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Got a little work done today...



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Old 03-09-2019, 07:15 AM
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Good find.
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Old 03-09-2019, 07:48 PM
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What's weird is you have a tone ring on your carrier. Xj's never had 3 channel abs with the 8.25.
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Old 03-09-2019, 09:32 PM
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I hadn't even noticed until you pointed this out. It might be that it was switched in at some earlier date. There appears to have been water in the diff from the looks of the gear oil having that sh*t brown color. The backlash was terribly in need of adjustment as well. Poor installation? I fond a note from a mechanic from 3 years ago (It had been parked for 3 years) that said the vehicle had a high pitched whine issue and that the differential should be looked at.
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Old 03-10-2019, 10:29 AM
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I was wondering about the color of the differential oil. You might verify that there is an intact axle vent hose that goes from the brake line block mounted on the axle to a fitting high up on the frame rail. Missing vent line could be the source of the water. Are you thinking about trying to rebuild differential and replace wheel bearings or find a replacement axle assembly? Around here the entire assemblies are easy to come by for few dollars, not sure about in your location.
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Old 04-05-2019, 07:52 PM
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Default Floor repair










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