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1991 XJ Build (bought new in 1991)

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1991 XJ Build (bought new in 1991)

Old 05-09-2018, 02:23 AM
Thread Starter
XJPilot's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: DFW (Arlington), Texas, USA
Posts: 29
Year: 1991
Model: Cherokee(XJ)
Engine: 4.0
Cool 1991 XJ Build (bought new in 1991)

Well... here we go. I've been a longtime watcher around here and have been able to troubleshoot many problems over the years by just searching this site.

For fun... I thought I'd finally give a bit back.

This is my Jeep Cherokee Sport, 4-door, 5-Speed, 4.0... that I bought brand new in 1991.

I was 21 years old at the time and to this day... it's the only vehicle I've ever bought new off the lot.

Back when I bought it... I was considering the XJ or the Nissan Pathfinder. The thing that swayed me the most, was that the Nissan sales guy wouldn't let me take it off-road to see how it would do. However... the Jeep dealership had an off-road course built behind it... complete with steep climbs, muddy trenches, and goats.

I know it was a sales technique... and I'm sure every angle and obstacle was built to specifically show off the prowess of the Jeeps they sold... but... it worked on me anyway.

I paid $15,000 for it that was supposedly a good deal because my college room-mate was the salesman.

I bought the "Sport" specifically because I didn't want any extra electronics on the Jeep. I wanted to keep it simple in case something went wrong with the power seats, or door-locks, etc. I had every intention to abuse this thing... and that's exactly what I did.

In 1991, in Lubbock TX... we had lots of open space. Lots of dirt, mud, and "craters" to jump out of.

In the first 2 years of owning it:
  • I've had the XJ several feet in the air as I've popped out of some of the terrain in west Texas.
  • I've also had the axles buried in mud in the field next to my apartment for a week. It set like concrete, and it stayed there until it rained again and I could drive it out.
  • I had ran it through many rain crossings, and stalled in water over the bottom of the doors... as a result, I've had water in the Jeep over the pedals. Once my buddy pulled me out... I opened the door and it was like a movie. Water just poured out of the cab.
  • I had made several ski-runs to Ruidoso in it, and pulled several people out of snowy ditches or even off the side of the mountain.
  • I've pulled my buddy out of the mud when he got stuck "parking" with his girlfriend (now his wife).
  • I kept it stock, but I never bypassed an opportunity to have fun and "abuse" it.

After a few years of that, and realizing that I was now married... it was no longer a toy and was actually my main vehicle. So I calmed down and actually took care of her. She's been with me from my moves from Texas to Ohio, to Maine, and back to Texas. I've now owned it for 27 years. Only been married for 25.

I kept it stock for the majority of that time. But, she sat more and more over the years because it was no longer my daily driver. It wasn't until several years ago, that my buddy (same one I pulled out of the mud 26 years earlier), suggested we should have a bit of fun with it.

So... once I started actually trying to make it a solid driver, and put a lift on it... the adventure began again. For 20 years and only 150,000+ miles... the only things I've had to replace on it were the brakes, tires, plugs, belt, oil, and water pump. That's it...

But, once I started really getting into it... I realized it needed a lot more care to get her going well in order to bring her truly back to life.

This will be her story. It's not a fancy rock crawling, mega-lift, with 35's type of story... but it is one that brings an old XJ back to life and thus makes life a bit more fun for me.

Much of this thread will be "historical" as most of the things have already been done, and I'll just be using this thread to document them for you guys.

Thanks for watching... questions and comments are welcome.


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Old 05-09-2018, 07:04 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 30
Model: Cherokee

Great story so far. I enjoyed your write up.
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Old 05-09-2018, 09:38 AM
IStoleIt's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 223
Year: 1998
Model: Grand Cherokee
Engine: 5.9L 360 ci

First, Welcome(officially) to CF.
Love the XJ. Very nice ride. Cant wait to see more of the build.
Great story and amazing to hear you are the original owner.
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Old 05-13-2018, 07:07 PM
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Join Date: May 2013
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 2,000
Year: 1997
Model: Cherokee
Engine: 4.0

Hero status achieved. That's amazing man. You basically have an adult child that still lives in your home. I can't wait to hear more.

My first car was an XJ and I at least wish I could have had it for the past 13 years let alone its entire life, but nope - got totaled in the first five months.
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Old 05-14-2018, 04:47 PM
Thread Starter
XJPilot's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: DFW (Arlington), Texas, USA
Posts: 29
Year: 1991
Model: Cherokee(XJ)
Engine: 4.0

A bit of history... like I said, I bought her new in 1991, so it's actually older than my marriage.

I got married to my wife in 1992. I could have rented a Limo... but instead, I just cleaned up the ol' Jeep and swept my wife away after our wedding in the XJ.

Last edited by XJPilot; 05-14-2018 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 06-12-2018, 04:05 AM
Thread Starter
XJPilot's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: DFW (Arlington), Texas, USA
Posts: 29
Year: 1991
Model: Cherokee(XJ)
Engine: 4.0

OK... some timeline history on the Jeep.
  • 1991: I bought it new in Lubbock, TX from Frontier Dodge, Jeep, Eagle. Bought it from my college room-mate who was a salesman there. They had an awesome Jeep "test ride" course out back. It consisted of severe inclines, rocks, mud, uneven surfaces, and even had a few live goats hanging around.
    Looking back, it was obviously a "purpose built" course designed to specifically show off the Jeep. It worked... it was better than any other 4WD test-drive I took, when I was comparing vehicles to buy (Nissan Pathfinder was the runner up). Does anyone else recall your test-drive being that fun? If I recall, I paid $15,100
  • 1992: Got married in it (see above post)
  • 1993: Moved to Arlington TX
  • 1994: Moved to Columbus, OH
  • 1999: Moved to Cape Elizabeth, ME
  • 2003: Moved back to Arlington, TX
  • Present: Still in Arlington, TX

So... it's had it's share of rust inducing environments, but it's spent the majority of it's life in Texas. I have a few rust spots, mostly around the windshield area, and some typical rust underneath, but nothing that's noticeably eating through at this point.

Since our first child was born in Maine... this vehicle went from my primary driver to our "3rd" or "spare" car. Wife wanted something newer with airbags for the kids. As a result... it didn't get driven as much anymore.

One we moved back to Texas... she sat out front of the house, baking in the Texas heat for several years. The AC went out in it too and that made it even worse to drive in the Texas heat. It wasn't until recently that I decided to start really taking an interest in getting her back on the road and making her my daily driver again.

Soooo... because she was bone stock up until I moved back to Texas, that's where this "build" begins. I say "build" but it's also a "replace worn out parts" thread... because having a Jeep just sit for years really takes a toll on it. I'm glad to be breathing some live back into her now that I have the means. That said, up until this time... the only thing I had replaced on her is tires, brakes, spark plugs, headlights, and a water-pump. So, it was actually a very affordable vehicle to own.

My goal is to create a capable off-road vehicle that is still close to stock so it's not too uncomfortable as an every-day driver. Also... teaching my girls to drive a stick is a priority too.
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Old 01-31-2019, 08:21 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 1,703
Year: 1998
Model: Cherokee
Engine: 4.0L i6

I hope you can get it running.
Don't invest in mods until you know this thing drives for a few months
Tons of threads here on how to restart after sitting
Let us know what happens
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Old 02-05-2019, 05:04 AM
Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 5
Model: Cherokee (XJ)

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Old 02-19-2019, 11:23 AM
DJXJ97's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: State Center Iowa
Posts: 107
Year: 1997
Model: Cherokee(XJ)
Engine: 4.0L I6

Looks awesome man, can't wait to see what comes of it.
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