And the Real Winner Is…

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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!

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Vermontwalton Vermontwalton on May 16, 2011

    I purchased an XJSE, 5 speed, 4 cyl., 4x4 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.

  • Carve Carve on May 16, 2011

    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.

    • Occam Occam on May 16, 2011

      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.

  • Dartdude Having the queen of nothing as the head of Dodge is a recipe for disaster. She hasn't done anything with Chrysler for 4 years, May as well fold up Chrysler and Dodge.
  • Pau65792686 I think there is a need for more sedans. Some people would rather drive a car over SUV’s or CUV’s. If Honda and Toyota can do it why not American brands. We need more affordable sedans.
  • Tassos Obsolete relic is NOT a used car.It might have attracted some buyers in ITS DAY, 1985, 40 years ago, but NOT today, unless you are a damned fool.
  • Stan Reither Jr. Part throttle efficiency was mentioned earlier in a postThis type of reciprocating engine opens the door to achieve(slightly) variable stroke which would provide variable mechanical compression ratio adjustments for high vacuum (light load) or boost(power) conditions IMO
  • Joe65688619 Keep in mind some of these suppliers are not just supplying parts, but assembled components (easy example is transmissions). But there are far more, and the more they are electronically connected and integrated with rest of the platform the more complex to design, engineer, and manufacture. Most contract manufacturers don't make a lot of money in the design and engineering space because their customers to that. Commodity components can be sourced anywhere, but there are only a handful of contract manufacturers (usually diversified companies that build all kinds of stuff for other brands) can engineer and build the more complex components, especially with electronics. Every single new car I've purchased in the last few years has had some sort of electronic component issue: Infinti (battery drain caused by software bug and poorly grounded wires), Acura (radio hiss, pops, burps, dash and infotainment screens occasionally throw errors and the ignition must be killed to reboot them, voice nav, whether using the car's system or CarPlay can't seem to make up its mind as to which speakers to use and how loud, even using the same app on the same trip - I almost jumped in my seat once), GMC drivetrain EMF causing a whine in the speakers that even when "off" that phased with engine RPM), Nissan (didn't have issues until 120K miles, but occassionally blew fuses for interior components - likely not a manufacturing defect other than a short developed somewhere, but on a high-mileage car that was mechanically sound was too expensive to fix (a lot of trial and error and tracing connections = labor costs). What I suspect will happen is that only the largest commodity suppliers that can really leverage their supply chain will remain, and for the more complex components (think bumper assemblies or the electronics for them supporting all kinds of sensors) will likley consolidate to a handful of manufacturers who may eventually specialize in what they produce. This is part of the reason why seemingly minor crashes cost so much - an auto brand does nst have the parts on hand to replace an integrated sensor , nor the expertice as they never built them, but bought them). And their suppliers, in attempt to cut costs, build them in way that is cheap to manufacture (not necessarily poorly bulit) but difficult to replace without swapping entire assemblies or units).I've love to see an article on repair costs and how those are impacting insurance rates. You almost need gap insurance now because of how quickly cars depreciate yet remain expensive to fix (orders more to originally build, in some cases). No way I would buy a CyberTruck - don't want one, but if I did, this would stop me. And it's not just EVs.
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