By on March 8, 2012

I spent a lot of time crawling around this ’69 Dodge A108 van during the last couple of weeks, picking up much-needed parts for my ’66 Dodge A100 Hell Project, and so I became quite familiar with the A108’s junkyard neighbor: this ’79 Jeep Cherokee.
This yard, being a typical Colorado self-service operation, has many Malaise Era Cherokees in stock. We saw this ’79 Cherokee Golden Eagle not long ago, and several more await my camera.
While this Jeep doesn’t have quite the style of the Golden Eagle, but it does have some timeless— i.e., extremely dated even when new— touches.
AMC didn’t have much in the art budget by the late 1970s, so they stuck with the “indian beads” tape stripes for a long, long time.
The giant “Quadra-Trac” selector knob adds a certain industrial charm to the cabin. You didn’t want to lock that center differential until things got serious!
The good news is that plenty of these trucks still roam the streets in these parts.

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19 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1979 Jeep Cherokee...”


  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Pity, this must have been a nice-looking vehicle when new. I’ve always felt they should have kept the original round headlamps on this model, though. The square ones and that overbite grille didn’t do it for me.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Without the grill in place, you get to see where they simply retrofitted the new rectangular headlamps in place of the round ones and slapped on a new grill to the original front fascia.

    I’ve always liked this blue paint on cars, such a refreshing color. That said, use that paint today, but add a clearcoating to it and it’ll look even better with a much deeper shine than it probably ever had without it.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Now that I noticed that I must say that this jeep has one of the cheapest face-lifts I’ve ever seen.

      It would’ve been better just to stick with the original look.

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      It is entirely feasible to retrofit the original “rhino” grille to the later SJs; I’ve seen it done a few times.

      I like that funky instrument panel–did it have a salvageable clock? ;)

  • avatar
    pdieten

    Huh. You brought back a little piece of my childhood here. My father owned a ’74 that looked exactly like this. Spent a lot of time in that truck, until ’82 when it had rusted away too much to use (I was 11 years old.) He traded it on a new J10 pickup…..

    I’m somehow always a little surprised to learn that any of these things are still on the road anywhere. I haven’t seen one in over a decade, and they were very popular here.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    This is just sad.
    This was an attractive vehicle when it was originally produced a decade or so previous to this year. What we are seeing now is feeble annual model year cosmetic changes which failed to enhance any of the original designs. Strip away the Halloween mask of a grille and you find a perfectly attractive front clip. You strip away the ridiculous rear quarter window filler and you see how clean and attractive the original straight-edge rear quarter window was. It is embarrassing to see the farcical attempts to make this good old vehicle appear new.

    If I was in Toledo or Kenosha in the late 1970s, I would have told Dick Teague to just restore the original styling designs, then enhance and highlight them. What we got here instead is just pitiful.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Couldn’t have said it better.

    • 0 avatar
      Zarba

      And AMC didn’t even bother to re-design the sail panel; “Just cut a smaller hole, boys, that’ll save $.05 per unit on glass! We’re saved!”

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Remember that the Wagoneer used the original window shape all throughout it’s life (other than the oddball panel delivery and 2-door Waggys made briefly in the 60’s). I suspect the different window treatment on the Cherokee was simply to give it a different appearance to distinguish it from the Wagoneer, which was in the process of moving permanently upmarket in the late 1970’s.

      Also, remember that the Cherokee was fractionally longer than the contemporary Broncos and Blazers (not including the external spare tire mounts typically found on the Ford and GM products) so I also suspect that the designers felt that the shortened window gave the appearance of a shorter vehicle, which probably equated to “sporty” at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      If I recall correctly, there wasn’t a Wagoneer two-door made after AMC bought Jeep in 1970. The Cherokee, which debuted for 1974, was big news because it was available in the two-door body style, and it thus competed directly with the Chevrolet Blazer and upcoming Dodge Ramcharger/Plymouth Trailduster.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    See, this would have still looked kick-ass in 1979:

    http://wagoneers.com/FSJ/j3000-1967-327.jpg

  • avatar
    John

    Was this JEEP made before or after Cher sang “Cherokee People”?

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Wow, what a memory machine. My friend’s family had a Wagoneer version of this. I can’t think of anything that could take the hell we put this thing through. What didn’t we run over, tear apart, ram into, jump over…that emergency switch in the glovebox was a life saver…I still remember the telltale glow of the light on the dash when it was engaged. That system saved our bacon numerous times. We would have been hauled in by the Lloyd Harbor police (actually probably not in our day). To this day I chuckle whenever I see the two bend marks in the top of the guardrail where my friend caught the back of the vehicle…If I ever win the lottery, I’d buy and restore one of these…

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Wish I was close enough to Denver I would save that AMC engine. This one would be either the 304 or 360, because all 401’s were 4bbls. I would also get that torqueflite.

  • avatar
    DavidB

    The temp/fuel gauge cover has come unglued and fallen down on the dash in the pic. Ha! EXACTLY the same as my dad’s ’82 Grand Wagoneer and my ’85 GW did, as well as my neighbor’s ’84 and a friend’s ’86. I used to know every single defect in these things, but the 20 years since I’ve driven mine has erased my memory. Best feature: completely separate heater and A/C units. You could run them both simultaneously (talk about mega dehumidification abilities!) and the A/C could cool a small apartment.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Man, vehicles used to be so damn roomy inside without all the over-sized center consoles and dashboards that leave little room for the front occupants for the sake of looking stylish.


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