By on May 15, 2011


Is it possible for a Jeep Cherokee with a 60s-technology AMC power to finish in the top fifth of a race on a crazy road course full of off-camber turns and dizzying elevation changes? No, it is not possible. And yet…

Petty Cash Racing somehow finished 14th overall, out of 72 entrants. These Seattle madmen have been running their Jeep for quite a while now, and with each race they find a way to make their big ol’ truck a little faster and a bit more reliable. This morning, it all paid off: Index of Effluency. Congratulations, Petty Cash Racing!

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28 Comments on “And the Real Winner Is…...”


  • avatar

    Perfect choice the American LADA these things were crap new, racing one even as a lemon takes a special kind of madness

    • 0 avatar
      JKC

      Crap? Hardly. They weren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination: the guy who approved the backseat accommodations went on to work for the Bush Administration at Guantanamo. But the old XJ’s are simple, stout, and will last forever with any sort of care. They were more fun to drive and handled better than you might think. Upstate NY and New England are still full of them, and they play a variety of roles from modded off-roader to work truck to family hauler.

      The U.K.’s Car used to describe the Cherokee as a “jacked up Volvo Estate.” They may not have meant it as a complement but there was an element of truth to that description.

    • 0 avatar

      The XJ Cherokee was one of the most durable and reliable cars ever made. It’s not unusual to find examples with 200,000+ miles on eBaymotors, still running fine. The AMC inline six, later updated by Chrysler into the 4.0, can’t be killed. The Cherokee was Jeep’s first unit body car so it ended up being way overengineered. It was also Dick Teague’s last styling job and it’s crisp, clean lines still look good.

      I agree that 2WD Cherokees are lame, particularly since they have a live axle up front, not independent suspension, but there’s nothing wrong with the basic car.

      • 0 avatar

        that is a nice, clean looking vehicle.

        “Survived Cash4clunkers!” I love it.

      • 0 avatar
        rpol35

        Ronnie – I’m with you on that; mine has 270,000 miles and it is still going strong (’91 and I’ve owned it since new). They’re far from perfect but do what that are supposed to do very well and for a very long time.

        Most snarky “genuises” who criticize the XJ never owned one, they’ve just heard “stuff”.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Bryce,

      You’re completely wrong. The XJ was a competent and powerful – when equipped with the 190 hp 4.0 liter High Output six – small SUV with very good offroad capability.

      The American Lada has to be a tossup between the GM J-Cars and the Ford Tempo/Mercury Topaz.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Oh so that’s a use for a 4×2 Jeep! I went to college with a boozy girl of questionable moral character who owned a 4×2 Cherokee that color. I always thought she was crazy for having a 2wd Jeep in the northern part of Ohio.

    • 0 avatar

      She sounds crazy regardless of whether she had a 4×2 Cherokee or not.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Well yeah, if I’d have been better at reading body language when I was 19 I might have fallen into that craziness. And maybe a case of herpes.

    • 0 avatar
      wallstreet

      Dan, we want to hear more story of you & that boozy girl inside the 4×2.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        What can I say? She and I were both Education majors, she was a few years older than me (I was a straight out of high school college student), married, tattoed and pierced ALL over (back when that still meant you were crazy {1997 in Ohio}) and she always seemed to end up in the study groups I was in, and would always ‘play’ with her tounge piercing when I was around. I was a (fairly innocent) farm boy raised in a strict Catholic household. Summer rolled around and she decided to start working in the Maintenance Dept where I was. Cut-off shorts, bikini top when we were mowing college lawns (to get tan she said), and then wouldn’t you know it she started having car trouble with that old Jeep. So hubby would drop her off at work around 8AM (he worked second shift at one of the local factories) and then guess who she wanted to take her home at 5? Yup, you guessed it. Even ended up in her appartment a few times, but was far too stupid to get was she was driving at. Man I was young and dumb, but likely being dumb saved me. That girl did everything but pounce on me.

      • 0 avatar

        Glad you missed out on her. Between the piercings and the tattoos, there’s a good chance she had hepatitis.

  • avatar

    Except it was exported to coubtries used to far better 4wd vehicled it aint a Landcruiser off road and it sure aint anygood on road and they suck fuel like they have real power not the ancient gutless 6 installed

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      190 horsepower in a 3300 pound 4×4 was very good for ’91. The hottest engines in the heavier Toyota 4Runner and Nissan Pathfinder had only 150 hp. The Cherokee had more power and torque than the V8 in the Range Rover. Wrap your head around that.

  • avatar
    AJ

    Two years ago I was shopping for an XJ and there were few good ones to be found. They were mostly used and abused, and yet going for top dollar. I found one that looked in great condition. I crawled under it expecting it’s underside to look as good and my heart sank that there was no transfer case.

    I hadn’t thought to ask her over the phone as every other XJ I had looked at was a 4×4 as we are up north. Then the lady selling it (her husband had bought it new) had brought it up north from Florida to sell it thinking it would sell better here with it’s “larger tires” (which were just stock). What a bummer Jeep sold XJs as 4x2s…

  • avatar
    Steve B

    So cool… OK, so, I learned to drive in one of these. Dad had a ’94 Cherokee to replace his ’85. It was a 2dr 2wd with a 4 speed auto and the 4.0L straight 6.

    That engine seemed like a rocket to this (at-the-time) 16 year old. I wound up ‘inheriting’ Mom’s Accord when she bought a new car, but would sneak any opportunity to drive the Cherokee. <3000 lbs curb weight, with a 190 hp straight 6 and 225 lb-ft of torque. Yes, nubm, overassisted steering was awful, like something out of floaty 70's Oldsmercurlet, and the slushy automatic didn't like to downshift, but it had some serious grunt.

    While the engine and transmission was unstoppable, and the chassis way more solid feeling than most other SUVs (unibodied and all), everything else on the car was crap. Dad is meticulous about his cars, possibly to the point of obsession… he drove it until it hit 60,000 miles.

    Fun memories:
    - "guess the fluid" Hmmm… what's leaking on the garage floor.
    - antifreeze streaming out of both sides of the hood.
    - seat recline lever that broke off in my hand (dad handed me the one off of his so I could lean the seat up. That ain't right.)
    - random electrical gremlins causing lights to stay on, such as turn signals, reverse lights, brake lights.
    - water leaking through the passenger side window/door frame (never figured out exactly where).

    I think that car did a lot to convince dad to never buy another American car. He'd had Mustangs, Cutlasses, an El-Camino, several Jeeps, even an El Camino, but once he saw how mom's 92 Accord was built, he was done.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I certainly enjoyed the one I had for a couple years. Loved the manual 4wd. You could drive it like a sprint car on dirt when the weather was bad, then shift to 4wd to extract yourself from the mess you got into.

    My only real complaint was fuel mileage. For its weight and power it was really inefficient.

  • avatar

    I was able to catch some shots of the Petty Cash XJ Sat afternoon and evening.

    http://s179.photobucket.com/albums/w303/RedStapler73/LeMONS%20Fernley%20May%202011/430%20Petty%20Cash%20XJ/

  • avatar
    PettyCashRacing

    Just an FYI, the Cherokee has 203k miles on the chassis and 246k on the motor and tranny. This is the 5th race for the SuperCherokeeBird and has required virtually zero repairs or upkeep.

    These things are amazingly capable, reliable, and versatile vehicles…and not slow at all. Just ask my fellow racers.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    Here is team Petty Cash on the dyno (no lying).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJ35-4blR4E&feature=related

    I was there on the same day they were doing some pulls with their “new” engine.

  • avatar
    bodegabob

    I think most of the negative impressions of the XJ came from people who somehow thought they were maintenance-free anvils of lore.

    No, a Jeep–any Jeep–is a high-maintenance vehicle.

    I drove a ZJ for 7 years that I still count as one of my favorite vehicles ever, despite the need to replace all 4 tires when one went flat (thanks Quadratrac) and service both the transfer case AND the transmission every 15K miles or so, as well as needing to stay on top of various known wear areas. I learned to tolerate the electrical gremlins. The Jeep rewarded me with its very pleasing on-road demeanor as well as an ass-kicking off-road capability. On level 4 trails I would be taking the same obstacles the guys in CJ’s and Wranglers would, but with the windows up and A/C on and everyone’s luggage and beer in back. The XJ is much the same.

    Unfortunately, most Jeeps have been abused solely because they have the name “Jeep” on them, and the fact that this is a 4X2 probably saved it from being bashed against a rock somewhere.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    FWIW, Jeepers are a different breed of cat. Some people won’t put up with the slightest squeak in the dashboard on their new Lexus, but Jeepers will trade a lot of creature comfort for the off road capability. More power to them. It’s what makes our collective obsession so weird and wonderful.

  • avatar
    vermontwalton

    I purchased an XJSE, 5 speed, 4 cyl., 4×4 new in 1994. Rock solid drive train. No surprises. Lasted 11 years and 265,000 miles. Slower than a turtle (I didn’t care-did what I needed in NH), never failed, always started from 30 below to whatever. Yes, the fit and finish had a lot to be desired, but it is up to this day it is the best, most reliable vehicle I ever owned since 1969. Let it go to NHPR donation with the original clutch that did NOT slip. At that point it was MAYBE loosing 1/3 quart every 3,000 miles. Anyone who puts these vehicles down have no idea what they are talking about.

  • avatar
    carve

    I have a ’95 that just rolled over 198k yesterday. These are fantastic vehicles.

    Over the past 11 years, I’ve averaged about 20 mpg. I don’t know why people are saying these are fuel-swillers. Just last summer, I got 24 mpg 2 tanks in a row, going 75 mph with the AC on. I’ve never gotten less than 16.9.

    They’re pretty tough off-road, and the styling has aged well. Mine’s been rear-ended twice with no ill effects. Very simple utiltarian vehicles. There’s just not much to break on these.

    My engine still runs about as strong as it ever did, although has a small oil leak now.

    Also, I think the handling would surprise a lot of people. The steering could use more feel, but these things corner flat and hard. Most car mags were getting about .84g on the skidpad, and that’s on all-season tires. That’s sports-car territory…especially considering the competition when these things were new.
    In all this time, my only unscheduled repairs have been a couple water pumps, a cat, a starter, and some persistant rear-brake issues. I’m still on the original clutch.

    Practical cars, too. The back is big enough to sleep in, visibility is better than anything I’ve ever driven (I can put any corner within a couple of inches of where I want it), and it’s rock-solid going 80.

    Fairly light-weight, too. My 6-cyl 4wd is about 3500 lbs.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve B

      They were super light, especially the 4x2s. And size-wise, well, this is the SUV that kickstarted the SUV craze… Funny how tiny they started. How many 4 door SUVs were on the market before this? My parents lept at the opportunity to ditch the hideous Buick Century station wagon (Wagon Queen Family Truckster, downsized edition) for the ’85. For quite a while, it seemed very unique in the area, until the Explorers and Pathfinders started appearing everywhere… even those weren’t all that big.

      Just for reference, the XJ was a little pip-squeak compared to modern SUVs:
      63″ tall x 67″ wide x 167 inches long.

      For comparison, a Nissan Versa hatch is 60 inches tall by 67″ wide by 169″ long. Lower the suspension on an xJ by two inches, and you have a subcompact hatchback.


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