A couple months ago, after I struggled to decide if I wanted to buy a 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, readers told me I’d be a fool not to. So I heeding their advice and hauled the Jeep home through an ice storm. Yesterday, I finally washed the big SUV, and my god were readers right: this Jeep is incredible.

When I first laid eyes on this Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, I honestly wasn’t sure I wanted it. I already had a huge herd of Jeeps at my house, including two “SJ” platform Jeeps like the Cherokee—one of which I was spending what felt like all of my time preparing for the Easter Jeep Safari. Buying another shitbox just didn’t make sense at the time, especially not one that cost more than my usual $1,000 vehicles.

The paint was disgusting, and seemingly beyond repair thanks to 30 years of sunlight exposure.

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There was moss all over the truck, the grille was cracked, the huge front bumper looked hideous, and—though there wasn’t a ton of rust—the rotted-out tailpipe definitely made the Jeep look worse than it really was.

The dented chrome trim around the passenger’s side of the rear glass, and the missing trim on the driver’s side didn’t help, either:

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From about 20 feet, the Jeep looked okay, but up close, it was hideous. Yesterday, though, that all changed.

After spraying the Jeep off with a pressure washer, I broke out a soft sponge, a bucket of soapy water, and began wiping the Jeep down, only to turn my yellow sponge brown with a single swipe:

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After cleaning the Jeep with the sponge, I rinsed the big brown 4x4, wiped it again with a soapy microfiber cloth, rinsed it again, and then applied wax.

Once I’d waxed the whole Jeep, I wiped all the compound off with a chamois and a microfiber towel, at which point the Jeep transformed into something truly magical:

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Before the wax-job, the entire Jeep was covered in a blue-ish haze, which really made the paint look downright dull.

But as you can see in the two photos above, post-wax, the Jeep became the version of itself that the Jeep gods had always intended.

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The lighting conditions aren’t quite the same, but let’s just have a look at some before and after photos, anyway. Before:

After:

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Notice the tailpipe, which my friend and I replaced with a really nice one I found on a 1988 Jeep Grand Wagoneer at the junkard, and picked up for only $20.

Before:

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After:

Most of that nasty, hazy grime is gone. And though the paint on the hood has faded a bit, and there are a bunch of scratches, I think it still looks okay.

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Before:

After:

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Eight years of nastiness (at least) is mostly gone, though I’ll admit that there’s still a bit more cleaning to do to get all the haziness out of the paint.

Before:

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After:

Again, you can still see a bit of haziness, which I’ll work to solve in the next few days. Also notice how my friend and I replaced all of my side marker lights with some cheap $6-a-pop ones from Ebay.

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Before:

After:

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Before:

After:

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Before:

After:

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Obviously, it’s not perfect—there’s still a bit of work to do to get the paint to its full potential, but my gosh am I amazed at how well this Jeep has cleaned up.

I’ve never really owned a car worthy of being washed and waxed. I’ve always driven dirt cheap, clunky old Jeeps with so much rust it made any sort of cleaning seem almost pointless. But now I find myself staring out my window multiple times a day, just amazed at how beautiful this old Jeep is, and how much prettier it will be once it’s got a new grille, a proper front bumper and some center caps for the rear wheels.

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I think I’m in love with this Jeep.