CC Capsule: 1979 Jeep Cherokee – I Love Bacon

Where have all the old Cherokees gone? If it doesn’t have Di-Noc wood paneling, these old bricks don’t exactly seem to get a lot of love. The two door Cherokee Chief probably has a cult following, but a plain Jane Cherokee four-door wagon? Not so much. Especially when it’s a ’79, which has to have the homeliest version of the ever-changing face on these. A rather pig-like snout, actually.

Was this front end designed in Iran or Kazakhstan? Somehow, I don’t think Brooks Stevens was brought back for the annual grille re-do on these cars. Yes, I must run out and buy a new 1979 Cherokee, because my 1978 suddenly looks so old-fashioned!

The money would have been better spent indoors, where the Cherokee is a mish-mash of left-overs from the Kaiser and AMC warehouses. Not exactly very appealing, unless you’re a rancher or such.

Or maybe a Bavarian or Swiss (Update: Austrian, actually)  looking for a rugged American 4×4 to take your Freülein on a picnic? This shot is from the 1980 Jeep export brochure, and finds the Cherokee in all sorts of exotic European locales. Too bad they didn’t make it in a diesel version back then; might have actually sold a few.

The first one looks pretty real, but this one begs the question: photochop?

Speaking of chops, the driver of this Cherokee makes his meat preferences quite clear.

That is a handsome steering wheel, eh? We can speculate as to whether this Cherokee has the 258 cubic inch six or the 360 V8, but it does have an automatic. And maybe the “I Love Bacon” sticker is a tip-off for the V8? I once ran across a Cherokee wagon in Colorado with the six and four speed stick, and suddenly had a surge of love for it.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Wagoneer, but you know me by now: big thirsty V8s churning through an automatic are a bit of a turn-off for me; except in my camper, perhaps. The original Tornado OHC six was very appealing in principle, but turned out to be a lemon. Then it was all V8s, until the big 258 AMC six arrived. Perfect match; it really made the the Wagoneer/Cherokee into a domestic version of the Toyota Land Cruiser, but how many were sold with the six and stick? I only remember seeing the one.

Sadly, the Navajo blanket trim decal has faded over the decades. But those emblems went on to have a long life on the XJ Cherokees.

So my thoughts on this Cherokee are mostly abstract. But if you want to read a gripping first-hand account, here’s Michael Freeman’s adventure with his 1979 Cherokee. Nothing abstract about that.