At $8,000, Could This 2001 Jeep Wrangler TJ Wrangle Up A Buyer?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

The seller of today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Jeep touts as a selling point its use in a photoshoot that also featured actress Drew Barrymore. Let’s see if his price is more of a draw than is Drew.

There was an abundance of “hey, why not?” sprinkled throughout the comments on yesterday’s 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06. Sure, the mileage was kind of high for a car with athletic expectations. And yes, according to Chevy the new hotness is mid-mounted motors. At $12,999 however, that old school ‘Vette still had some fun to be done, and with a 70 percent Nice Price win, most of you voted to go along with that ride.

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Yesterday’s Z06 was, at the time, one of the top models of the Corvette lineup. There’s long been debate amongst the armchair punditry of the car world as to whether it’s better to buy a cheap version of an expensive car or an expensive edition of a cheaper one. That’s kind of a three-bears enigma, and it seems that in real life most people tend to gravitate to the baby bear center, buying a mid-level model of whatever strikes their fancy.

Today’s 2001 Jeep Wrangler is an exception to that non-binding rule. This TJ represents pretty much the cheapest edition you cold spec off the lot. The seller claims to have added a few unique touches and personalizations to make it more livable, but those don’t overcome certain aspects that can’t be overlooked.

We’ll get to those in a sec, but first, let’s do a little refresher on this model’s history. The TJ is Jeep’s second take on the Wrangler, a model that evolved from the CJ series before it. This version is noteworthy on a number of fronts. It’s the first of the series to sport a “Quadra-Link” coil-sprung suspension instead of leaf springs, and it represents a return to round headlamps after the previous generation’s rectangular units. As we all know, rectangular headlights on a Jeep are an abomination. I mean, how does one even do the angry eyes mod on those?

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Upon its debut, the TJ’s old school headlamps were celebrated by Jeep traditionalists and people with proper sensibilities alike. Not so, however, was the TJ’s entry-level engine. There were two four-cylinder mills offered in the TJ over the course of its life. The first of those, as in this one, was a 2.5-litre OHV engine. That was a legacy AMC design, and that shared a lot of features with the 4-litre straight-six so they could both share production lines. Later TJs received a 2.4-litre OHC four liberated from the Chrysler PT Cruiser. Yes, the PT Cruiser.

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Here the cast iron 2.5 offers up 120 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque. Behind that sits a five-speed manual and two-speed transfer case sending power forward and aft to, respectively, a Dana 30 and Dana 35 axle.

Those are not impressive specs and with the four-pot, the TJ is not really an enjoyable highway cruiser. That being said, it’s probably alright for around town and light gutter fording.

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The rest of this 158,000 mile TJ is also somewhat low-end, but those other aspects a bit more endearing. The only top is a soft edition and that extends to half-doors with plastic windows rather than the quieter full doors.

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One of the seller’s additions is leather straps on the window zippers which apparently are an attempt to quiet them while driving. Other updates include an overhead cargo rack mounted to the rear bumper and windshield base. That’s removable should you find it ungainly and unneeded.

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Other than that, this is one stock and very lightly optioned Wrangler. Alloy wheels do dress it up and are wrapped in Goodyear rubber that looks to offer plenty of life. The paintwork seems to be in pretty good shape, albeit with some wear noticeable on the door sills.

We don’t get to see much of the interior in its present state, but the seller does include some snaps in his ad from a photoshoot in which the TJ co-starred with actress Drew Barrymore and a very handsome dog. In those it looks okay. Hmmm, I kind of want to pet that dog now.

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Additional info in the ad details some regular maintenance as well as some laudable repairs. The most notable of those include a new clutch and windscreen. The A/C is said to function fine as does the heater, and the Jeep comes with a clear title and clean history.

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It also comes with an $8,000 price tag. Now, as we all know, the TJ is one of the more sought-after editions of Jeep’s long-running series. New enough to offer a modicum of comfort and convenience but old school looking enough to make you feel like you might want to wrestle a bear after driving it, they hit that sweet spot of suburban Jeepdom.

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Of course, this one is less sweet owing to certain cheap seats elements it maintains—things like that woeful four-banger and the bottom of the line top and doors. That position within the lower caste of the TJ family might make you think twice about this Jeep’s purchase. What we need to decide is whether that $8,000 price tag would have you thinking again.

What do you say, is this TJ worth that asking as it sits? Or, is that too much for just too little?

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You decide!

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Los Angeles, CA Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Mark Kelsey for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOCP. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.