The City Is Cracking Down On My 12 Cars. Here's Where I Stood Only Days Before The Deadline

After the city of Troy told me in June that I had until July 31 to fix, sell, or garage all 12 of my cars, I went to work. I sold cars, fixed suspensions, tore into engines, and spent far too much time at the vehicle registration place. Here’s a look at the progress I made last week, just a few days before the city’s deadline.

Let’s go through the list of vehicles on my property as of June:

  1. 2003 Kia Rio
  2. 2000 Jeep Cherokee
  3. 1995 Land Rover Discovery
  4. 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee five-speed
  5. 1992 Jeep Cherokee
  6. 1991 Jeep Cherokee five-speed
  7. 1991 Jeep Comanche
  8. 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer
  9. 1985 Jeep J10
  10. 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle
  11. 1966 Ford Mustang
  12. 1948 Willys CJ-2A

This list hasn’t changed from last week’s update. The Kia remains at the junkyard, I sold my beloved Willys CJ-2A to a gentleman from Pennsylvania, a U.S. soldier living in Italy had a truck pick up the Grand Wagoneer and take it to his mom’s place in New York, and the Land Rover has been removed from the premises to be picked up by its owner.

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Here’s the 1987 Grand Wagoneer—which, I have to say, is a hell of a 20-footer—driving up the vehicle hauler’s ramp:

Illustration for article titled The City Is Cracking Down On My 12 Cars. Heres Where I Stood Only Days Before The Deadline
Photo: David Tracy
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And here’s me towing a >two-ton Land Rover Discovery with a 3,500 pound Jeep Grand Cherokee. I definitely exceeded the Jeep’s tow rating, and the tongue weight was definitely heigh—the rear suspension squat was no joke! Good thing I was driving slowly.

Illustration for article titled The City Is Cracking Down On My 12 Cars. Heres Where I Stood Only Days Before The Deadline
Photo: David Tracy

This left only the 1991 Jeep Cherokee and the 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle as non-compliant cars (the Willys, I should make clear, was compliant, but I just wanted to reduce the fleet to make time in my life for non-wrenching-related endeavors. Hence the sale).

I gifted the 1991 Jeep Cherokee with new brake pads and rotors, all new tie rod ends, a new drag link, new ball joints, a new track bar, new axle shaft universal joints to go with the all-new axle housing, new jounce bumpers, and the list goes on.

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Illustration for article titled The City Is Cracking Down On My 12 Cars. Heres Where I Stood Only Days Before The Deadline
Photo: David Tracy

With the bent axle having been replaced and a new fender bolted to the Jeep’s unibody instead of the wrinkled one, I took the machine to a mechanic, who gave his stamp of approval. At that point, I drove to an officially-licensed Michigan state inspector about an hour away. It was just a regular guy at his house; I drove the Jeep there without issue—it runs, shifts, and rides perfectly—which is good, because it’s obviously not registered:

Illustration for article titled The City Is Cracking Down On My 12 Cars. Heres Where I Stood Only Days Before The Deadline
Photo: David Tracy
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As you can see in the video at the top of this article, the 1991 Jeep Cherokee was—as of last week, when we edited the video—almost there. The inspector said everything looked good, and all I had to do was take the Jeep to the Michigan Secretary of State to have the little off-roader titled and registered in my name.

Illustration for article titled The City Is Cracking Down On My 12 Cars. Heres Where I Stood Only Days Before The Deadline
Photo: David Tracy
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With the XJ Cherokee pretty much in the clear, I still had to take care of the 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, whose engine I had replaced with a used one I’d bought for $849 just a few days prior.

But instead of just slapping the engine into the Jeep, I decided to replace some gaskets and seals, as well as some accessories. I’ll get into those repairs in the series finale, to come this Friday. (My latest picture on Instagram shows where I stood as of Saturday). The good news is that, while tearing into the motor a bit, I did confirm that the innards looked absolutely immaculate, telling me that this thing has indeed been recently rebuilt.

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My deadline for completion was July 31, but given that that was a Friday, I actually had until today, Monday, to complete the task of making sure all 12 of my vehicles are either hidden in a garage (I only have space for two cars) or both registered and functional.

As of late last week, the Golden Eagle was failing the second requirement, and the 1991 Jeep Cherokee was failing the first. That’s why this past weekend was a true slog.

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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DISCUSSION

duke-of-kent
Duke of Kent

The part about this saga that I don’t fully understand is that, to me, the cleanup criteria don’t necessarily address the underlying issue.

The letter from the city indicated that you’re not allowed to keep “one or more inoperable vehicles outside...” and helpfully suggested that one of the potential remedies is to repair and license the vehicle.

You’ve sold/scrapped/otherwise gotten rid of some of them, which is arguably the easier option, but if I’m understanding the complaint correctly, you could have fixed them all up mechanically (at least to the point that they could be considered “operable”) but leave everything else — the tarps, the cardboard, the stacked tires. You’d be complying with the law and with the letter you received — but to an outside observer (and to whomever issued the complaint) everything would look exactly the same.

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