I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now

I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now

I reached out to the current owners. Let's look back at these gems, and talk about where they are now

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

With the recent sale of my Lexus LX-470 and the impending sale of my 1991 Jeep Cherokee five-speed, I’ve been thinking a lot about all the cars I’ve owned over the years since starting here at Jalopnik. So I reached out to the current owners. Some of the cars have been fully restored, others neglected, and a few ended up crushed, like my heart. Let’s take a look back at some D.T. wrenching history.

Wow that was weird referring to myself in the third person. Won’t happen again. Anyway!: When I arrived at Jalopnik still wearing my Chrysler standard-issue khaki pants and pocket-protector-equipped dress shirt, I owned only four cars:

Vehicles I owned when I started:

  1. 1992 Jeep Cherokee
  2. 1966 Ford Mustang
  3. 1985 Jeep J10
  4. 1996 Jeep Cherokee 5spd

In the 6.5 years since, I’ve purchased (and written about) 20 cars. TWENTY. That’s a lot of iron. Let’s have a look at what those cars were, and how much I paid for them.

Cars I’ve purchased since arriving at Jalopnik:

  1. 1995 Honda Accord ($1,000)
  2. 1995 Jeep Cherokee ($600)
  3. 1991 Jeep Cherokee ($2,000)
  4. 2001 Oldsmobile Alero — traded for Kia Rio ($1)
  5. 2003 Kia Rio (one Oldsmobile Alero)
  6. 1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer ($800)
  7. 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle ($2,000)
  8. 1966 Plymouth Valiant ($2,000)
  9. 1958 Willys FC-170 ($1,500)
  10. 1957 Willys FC-150 ($2,000)
  11. 1948 Willys CJ-2A ($1,400)
  12. 1976 Jeep DJ-5D ($500)
  13. 2002 Lexus LX-470 ($5,000)
  14. 1991 Jeep Comanche ($500)
  15. 2001 Jeep Cherokee ($500)
  16. 1995 Chrysler Voyager ($600)
  17. 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd with 265K Miles ($700)
  18. 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd parts car ($350)
  19. 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd overlanding build ($250)
  20. 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee ($3,000)
  21. 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer ($0)

=$25,201

In total, I spent $25,201 buying cars in the past 6.5 years.

But of course, I don’t own 25 cars, I only own 12, meaning I’ve parted ways with a dozen machines. Let’s look at what those were, and how much I sold them for.

Vehicles I’ve sold since writing at Jalopnik:

  1. 1995 Jeep Cherokee ($500)
  2. 1995 Honda Accord ($1,350)
  3. 1991 Jeep Comanche ($2,400)
  4. 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer ($4,000)
  5. 1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer ($2,150)
  6. 1948 Willys CJ-2A ($3,000)
  7. 1976 Jeep DJ-5D ($2,000)
  8. 2003 Kia Rio ($145)
  9. 1996 Jeep Cherokee ($3,750)
  10. 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ($3,500)
  11. 2001 Jeep Cherokee ($3,150)
  12. 2002 Lexus LX470 ( $7,200)

= $33,145

Look at that! A net-gain of eight cars, and I actually made money! Of course, if you add up all the cash I spent on repairs — a figure that I’d probably put at around $35,000 if I had to guess — I’d be deep in the hole. Luckily, some of the cars I have remaining, like my 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, 1991 Jeep Cherokee XJ five-speed, 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee five-speed, and my (possibly) stolen 1957 Willys FC-150 are worth a decent amount of coin, so in the end, the $60,000 or so I’ve spent on cars while here at Jalopnik will probably have been a wash. The best financial investment? Maybe not. But it’s been a fun way to start a journalism career and to balance out some of the nerdy technical stuff I write about with some real-world application.

Anyway, it’s the end of the year, and I’ve been asked to make a slideshow, so I figured a look back at the 24 cars I’ve written about so far might be fun. So let’s get to it! We’ll begin with the vehicles I’ve sold.

Advertisement

2 / 27

1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer AKA ‘Project Redwood’

1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer AKA ‘Project Redwood’






One of the things that I take a lot of pride in is fixing vehicles that may otherwise have become parts-donors or simply junkyard heaps. My 1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, which had sat in someone’s backyard in western Michigan for a dozen years, may fall into that category.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

The $800 machine was rusty, had all sorts of issues with its carburetor, brakes, steering column, and on and on (you can see the full list of issues here or in the video above). But I got it going, drove it to Moab, off-roaded it, and returned all the way back to Michigan with nothing but a small overheating incident (Andrew Collins joined me on that; he was an amazing road-trip partner) to show for it.

  • Off
  • en

I sold the vehicle to a body-shop owner named Jarad, who was looking for a Wagoneer in good mechanical shape so that he could drive it while gradually making body repairs. I’d gone through my Jeep thoroughly, so its mechanicals were excellent aside from a leaky transmission.

Over the past three years, Jarad has apparently been hard at work, because the once-rusted-out Wagoneer that I’d dubbed Project Redwood looks absolutely pristine!:

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: Jarad
Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: Jarad
Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: Jarad

It’s hard to believe that the crunchy Saggin’ Waggin’ that I dragged over the rocks in Moab is the same machine shown in these pictures! That’s just epic.

Advertisement

3 / 27

1948 Willys CJ-2A AKA ‘Project Slow Devil’

1948 Willys CJ-2A AKA ‘Project Slow Devil’

My 1948 Willys CJ-2A, dubbed Project Slow Devil after its broken “Go-Devil” engine, was a true barn find. It was as legit as a flatfender Jeep comes, having served on the farm since new, and sitting heavily-used out in rural Michigan.

My friend Brandon, truly one of the world’s most knowledgeable people when it comes to flatfender Jeeps, went out with me to take a look, and we both fell in love. The thing had rust problems, but most of the important bits were there, so I dropped $1,400 on the Willys and towed it home with my friend Michael’s truck.

The challenges that Slow Devil presented were incredible. Its transmission needed a full rebuild. Its engine needed a full rebuild (but we just honed the cylinders and installed new rings and bearings), the steering box needed a full rebuild, the carburetor needed a rebuild, and on and on.

In the end, I drove the Jeep 1,000 miles sitting with only a pillow shoved into a trashbag between my butt and the gas tank. Then the Jeep suffered an unpredictable engine failure that ended up being a sheared timing gear. After towing the Jeep to Moab the rest of the way, my colleague Freddy and I fixed the Jeep, and I off-roaded the ever-living crap out of it.

The machine remains to this day the most capable off-road vehicle I’ve ever owned. By far.

The Jeep also fell victim to the great City of Troy purge of 2020, though honestly, I’d planned on selling it anyway. I just wasn’t using it enough, and I had too many cars. I did flood the engine during one last epic off-road session prior to sale. I then foolishly allowed the water to remain in the engine and freeze over the winter.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

Eventually, the ice thawed, I drained the engine, and noticed a severe knock. So in the course of just a few hours, I yanked the motor, and extracted the crankshaft to be machined by a local shop. I slapped everything back together, and it ran great. I sold the Jeep for $3,000 to a gentleman named John out of Pennsylvania, who kindly towed my Kia to the scrapyard on the same day.

John recently had a few setbacks; his house caught fire, and while escaping, he sustained burns and also sustained serious injuries when he hit his foot on a wall. John told me his fire department arrived at the house, and once the crew determined that everyone was safe, one of the first things they did was hook straps up to the Willys they saw through the open garage doors. The fire was out at that point, but John told me how funny he found it that rescuing a classic meant so much to his local fire department.

So the Jeep hasn’t seen much use since I sold it. John did weld up a rear crossmember while recovering from his injury, and he is still doing some work on the vehicle, namely fabbing up some floors out of old basement doors and fabbing up body mounts. “My goal is to make it run really good and do farmer-repairs to the body because that path has already been gone down,” he told me.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: John

The Jeep is in stripped-down form right now in John’s garage. The vehicle looks largely the same, except John painted over the names “Virgil” and “Linda Lou” at the base of the windshield.

Advertisement

4 / 27

1991 Jeep Comanche AKA ‘$500 Jeep Comanche’

1991 Jeep Comanche AKA ‘$500 Jeep Comanche’

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I bought a 1991 Comanche as a secondary winter beater (in reality, I bought it simply because it’s awesome); it was $500, so I figured “why not?” I drove the Jeep for a winter, and even used it to dump over a thousand pounds of steel off at the scrapyard.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

Eventually, I sold the vehicle for $2,400 to a welder named Tim, who’s been stitching up the rusty body. He’s not done yet, but he’s fixed the major holes on the bedsides and rocker panels. Interestingly, Tim chose to custom-fabricate the rear flares out of steel instead of using the original plastic flares. Check it out:

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: Buyer
Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: Buyer

The rocker panels aren’t pretty, having been replaced with just 4x4 square tubing. But it’s an improvement over a void surrounded by brown rust:

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: Buyer

Tim also welded in new floors:

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: Buyer

I’m thrilled to see the Jeep ended up in the hands of someone who can fix its biggest ailment: Fe2O3.

Advertisement

5 / 27

1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee AKA ‘265K Mile Holy Grail Jeep Grand Cherokee’

1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee AKA ‘265K Mile Holy Grail Jeep Grand Cherokee’

The Jeep above is a legend. It’s a perfectly rust-free 265,000 mile five-speed Jeep Grand Cherokee that I snagged for $700 in Colorado. It was my very first five-speed ZJ, and I went through a lot of trouble to get it, as you can see in the video above.

But I’m trying to reduce my fleet, and with the used car market booming, I decided to let go of the ZJ. Its paint was looking pretty awful, so I chose to keep my other red $250 Jeep. It’s more presentable than this black one, even if it’s significantly jankier than the nice Reno one.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: Buyer

As soon as I sold the vehicle, its fuel pump went out. The poor buyer is going to have to swap his fuel pump in the parking lot of the hospital where he works. Still, once he gets that done, I bet that Jeep will be incredibly good to him, as its engine and transmission were very healthy, and — again — the body literally had zero rust.

Advertisement

6 / 27

1995 Honda Accord AKA ‘The Shitty Honda’

1995 Honda Accord AKA ‘The Shitty Honda’

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I’d prefer not to even mention this car. I bought it shortly after joining Jalopnik so that I’d have a reliable winter car while wrenching on my first Moab project, Project Swiss Cheese — the $600 Jeep XJ that would get the name Project Swiss Cheese.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

The five-speed Honda ended up being a total shitbox. The water pump went bad, a ball joint went bad, the clutch slave cylinder went bad, fifth gear synchro was awful — honestly, the car was just a mechanical menace. After fixing it, I sold the black sedan to my landlord, who drove it for a little while before deciding he couldn’t handle the stick shift and then selling it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the buyer has had absolutely no issues, given that I basically replaced every part in the eight months I owned it.

Screw that Accord.

Advertisement

7 / 27

1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer AKA ‘The Free Grand Wagoneer’

1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer AKA ‘The Free Grand Wagoneer’

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I’m also pleased to have sold my 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer — a vehicle that I received for free from the nicest lady of all time (the same one who sold me my 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle). I towed the free Jeep to Michigan from Ohio with the then-new Jeep Gladiator:

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

The Wagoneer had some serious issues, namely a rusty body, rusted out brake lines, a broken ignition switch, and a mouse-infested interior. Look at this nastiness:

But I did get the machine running reliably after shooting a mouse-nest out of its exhaust. It was quite hilarious:

I removed the mouse-infested headliner and did lots of cleaning; in the end, the vehicle was presentable enough to sell for $4,000 to a gentleman named Sean, who sent me this photo of the Jeep in his mom’s upstate New York garage:

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: Sean

Sean, a military servicemember, describes the current status of my Free Wagoneer:

Originally, I was expecting to be stationed back in the US around October 2021, but instead received overseas orders to a remote location. Since I could not bring my dog, I took her back to the states in June to avoid the airline pet heat embargos. I used the opportunity to get familiar with the Jeep and see what I will need to add to the most likely endless to do list.

First, I had to get it running, which required a new battery. A new battery and a few cranks and pumps of the gas pedal and she roared into life:

With it running, I sorted out what did and did not work:

Working:

Carburetor & fuel pump

Ignition switch

Distributor, cap, rotor, spark plugs & wires

Starter

Engine

Transmission

Dash & under dash lights

Head, tail, turn lights

Tachometer

Temp Guage

Driver side windows

Passenger side front window

Door locks (3 of 4)

Dome light wiring

Thermostat

Power steering

Radio (minus the display)

Washer pump

Front brakes

Blower motor & resistor

Not Working:

Passenger side rear window

Passenger side rear door lock (caused by severed wires running to door)

2 flex tracks need replaced

Rear tailgate window

Fog lamps

2 door speakers

Both rear speakers

Wiper motor

Floor Pans

Rear brakes

Any rubber seal

2 tires when it comes to holding air

The steering gearbox seals (leaking)

My lungs after all the glorious exhaust fumes

Time was short, so I only got to test everything and drive it around the yard a bit. I also pulled up the rear carpet and discovered that the sheet metal is still in excellent shape. I started and drove it every day for a week, but had to leave to go back overseas. I then disconnected the battery, pulled the spark plugs and poured some transmission fluid in the cylinders. I then put some stabil in the fuel tank and set the axles on jack stands.

The project will now be on hold a few more years because my next base following my current remote assignment is in Tokyo, Japan. I view it as a great opportunity to save up the funds needed for the project and start stockpiling the parts. I also still need a name for the project. I’m leaning towards either Project Rust, Dust, Must and Wanderlust or Project Endless Delay at the moment.

The video above shows the Jeep running beautifully. I’m quite proud of that.

Advertisement

8 / 27

2001 Oldsmobile Alero AKA ‘The $1 Oldsmobile’

2001 Oldsmobile Alero AKA ‘The $1 Oldsmobile’

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

For a while there, my coworker Jason and I planned to run some fun experiments on a car as part of a video series, but with company turmoil happening (lots of turnover among editors/writers/management), that never really happened. So I ended up with this $1 Oldsmobile and nothing to do with it.

I fixed its bad ignition system, swapped out a bad transmission cooler line, and did some other basic maintenance before taking it on a road trip to Virginia. The old GM N-body sedan was comfortable, efficient, and just downright excellent. So naturally, I traded it to my landlord for a totaled 2003 Kia Rio.

In retrospect, doing business with my landlord was a questionable move that bit me in the arse, as I later found myself replacing rusty brake and transmission lines at their request. That was hell.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

The Oldsmobile languishes in my landlords’ garage, since the battery has drained and my landlords don’t want to deal with that. It’s a good car and deserves to let its lovely Twin-Cam (a derivative of the legendary Quad 4 engine) sing.

Advertisement

9 / 27

2003 Kia Rio AKA ‘Rock Bottom’

2003 Kia Rio AKA ‘Rock Bottom’

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I figured I’d give my landlords the reliable Oldsmobile in exchange for their up-until-then reliable but totaled Rio, since I was going to wreck the car anyway in my video series with Jason.

Problem is: As soon as my landlord parked the Rio in my driveway, it never ran properly again. If I had to guess, I’d say the accident broke off the O2 sensors at the front of the engine right near the manifold, but I’m not entirely sure. In any case, it ran like dogshit, and that contributed to it getting stuck in my backyard. (I say “contributed to,” but in reality, the main factor was my own stupidity).

One of the most hilarious moments with this car happened when Jason was at my house visiting. He got into the Kia, and I rammed the car from behind using my $600 Jeep Cherokee XJ. I had tied a gallon milk jug to the front bumper to act as a pillow; obviously, it burst immediately. As I was ramming the totaled Kia out of a mud pit in my backyard, my neighbor came out and — upon meeting me for the very first time — called me an animal.

I tried being as pleasant as possible, but my neighbor was beside himself that his property values were being jeopardized by someone with severe redneck tendencies.

So I figured the polite thing to do would be to stop horsing around. I ceased ramming the Kia from behind, and chose to tow the sedan out with a strap like any normal human being would do. I hooked the nylon strap to the front bumper beam, and pressed my Jeep’s gas pedal. The Kia’s entire front fascia ripped off (see above).

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

Jason and I ditched the pathetic Kia in the mud pit, where it remained for months. I later pulled it a few yards into some grass, and eventually, it too fell victim to The Great Purge of 2020 (in which my city enforced its “all cars must be functional and registered” ordinance). I took the Kia to a junkyard and got a pittance for it ($145).

The little Korean sedan has likely been melted down, and I’m hoping that metal isn’t being used for anything important. Because I, for one, wouldn’t trust it for a door latch on my bathroom stall.

Advertisement

10 / 27

1995 Jeep Cherokee AKA ‘Project Swiss Cheese’

1995 Jeep Cherokee AKA ‘Project Swiss Cheese’

Project Swiss Cheese was my very first off-road project, and the beginning of what would become a legendary annual adventure to the off-road Mecca of Moab, Utah in some soulful, dirt-cheap shitbox.

The XJ was rotted out, its four-wheel drive system didn’t work, its water pump was bad, and its electrical system was possessed by demons. My friends and I conducted lots of repairs; we installed a three-inch suspension lift I’d built out of Chevrolet S10 leaf springs, aftermarket front coils, and Jeep wrangler JK shocks; and ultimately the Jeep made the trek to Moab without issue, kicking major ass off-road.

I kept the XJ for a few years after that as a winter beater, but it deteriorated quickly. At one point, I was starting the car using a wire to short the starter relay under hood. Literally every time I went to fire my Jeep up, I had to pop the hood and short that relay in the fusebox. Plus, my taillights didn’t work while my reverse lights were constantly on, so I just put red tape over my reverse lights; it was janky.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I remember picking up my dad from the airport in that Jeep. He’d never visited me in Michigan, so this was the first time he was seeing my adult post-college life. I remember as he reached out to close the passenger-door after he’d hopped in, and there was no handle. “Just grab the cloth strip and yank it” I told him.

The look on his face was the classic “I have failed with this child” look. You know the one.

Anyway, that Jeep became a real burden, especially since its charging system was all out of wack, causing it to blow fuses and bulbs; it was bad. So I sold the thing for $500 to a youngster who used the engine and suspension for his own two-door Jeep:

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

Project Swiss Cheese was promptly taken to a scrapyard where, if we’re honest, it belonged when I’d bought it a few years prior. I assume it has been recycled, hopefully into something cool.

Advertisement

11 / 27

2001 Jeep Cherokee AKA ‘$500 Low-Mileage Jeep Cherokee’

2001 Jeep Cherokee AKA ‘$500 Low-Mileage Jeep Cherokee’

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

When a kind Chrysler designer offered to sell me this beautiful 2001 Jeep Cherokee for $500, I thought he was giving me the deal of the century. Especially since the vehicle’s engine had less than 100,000 miles on it. I drove the Jeep for a few winters with snow tires, and it was an absolute tank thanks to an excellent full-time four-wheel drive system.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy
Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

Eventually I discovered a huge rust hole in the Jeep’s main unibody rail, and realized that my $500 deal hadn’t been such a deal after all. I ended up welding the rail up and selling the Jeep a while later for $3,150 to an engineering student named Lorenzo.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: Lorenzo

Lorenzo wanted the XJ as a winter car to give his Focus ST a break from the salt.

He had to do a decent amount of work to the Jeep, though. He swapped the fuel pump and painted the underbody:

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: Lorenzo

He welded in some unibody stiffeners to join the one I’d welded in during my patch-job.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: Lorenzo

He also swapped the rear leaf springs (which, as you can see by the image above, was a pain in the ass), installed a two-inch lift, threw in some new shocks, and bolted up some black steel wheels with aggressive all-terrain tires. The Jeep looked good:

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: Lorenzo
Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: Lorenzo

Lorenzo eventually parted ways with the XJ after about a year. He also sold his Focus ST, and used the money to snag a 6.2-liter V8 Ford Raptor. Luckily, Lorenzo isn’t completely XJ-less. He snagged a nice two-door Cherokee for his girlfriend last summer.

Advertisement

12 / 27

1976 Jeep DJ-5D Postal Jeep AKA ‘Project POStal’

1976 Jeep DJ-5D Postal Jeep AKA ‘Project POStal’

  • Off
  • English

If there’s one vehicle that I think represents me most, it’s my 1976 Postal Jeep. I miss it with all my heart. It began life as a crusty junker with a cracked cylinder head, a two-foot long rust hole in the frame, a ruined steering box, literally no suspension bushings, a janky ignition system, and so many other problems.

I worked hard to get the machine in good enough shape to beast-mode a 4,000 mile road trip to the off-road trails of Moab and back. It was among my life’s greatest treks.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

Sadly, the Jeep succumbed to the inexperience of its new driver after I sold it. The DJ-5D ended up in a Chicago junkyard with clear signs of having been in a crash. The beloved Postal Jeep has likely been melted down and used to make belt buckles.

Advertisement

13 / 27

1996 Jeep Cherokee 5spd AKA ‘The White XJ’

1996 Jeep Cherokee 5spd AKA ‘The White XJ’

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

The white 1996 Jeep Cherokee was a real beauty that I recall purchasing for $2,600 or so back in 2015-ish. The XJ had very little rust, the transmission shifted like a dream, and the engine felt strong.

The suspension, though, was garbage (it was a cheap lift kit), and that engine ended up needing a new cylinder head. I swapped the head, installed an aftermarket motor mount after noticing a broken bolt in my engine, and then sold the Jeep for $3,750. (By the way, I only mention prices because they’re just a part of the car game, and I figure there’s no harm in being open about it).

The Jeep was too nice for me to maintain; I’d have felt too guilty rusting it out in the winter, and I already had a few XJs. Plus, I could have used the cash as an entry level blogger, so the XJ left.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: Buyer

Of course, that just means someone else gets to rust it out, but that’s not on my conscience! The Jeep has been in Chicago for five years now, and it actually still looks decent (see above). The new owner has replaced the suspension and muffler, installed new wheels and tires, changed fluids, bolted up a new clutch kit, and done quite a lot more.

The Jeep was being used as a daily driver for a while, but now that the owner has a second vehicle, the Jeep will be a “winter beast and camping transport.” Here’s the Jeep pounding through snow last winter:

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: Buyer

The Jeep, which also sees use as a cargo-carrier (with concrete mix being a recent occupant of the vast space in the rear), has some surface rust above the windshield, but is otherwise a “good blend of looking good and ‘worn in.’”

Advertisement

14 / 27

2002 Lexus LX-470 AKA ‘The Land Snoozer’

2002 Lexus LX-470 AKA ‘The Land Snoozer’

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I bought my 2002 Lexus LX470 as a tow vehicle for the 1958 Willys FC-170 you see above. The Lexus handled the long road trip like an absolute boss, but in the end, I found it to be a bit boring and more than a bit thirsty. So I parted ways with it, instead choosing a Plymouth Valiant as my winter car.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

Dustin, whom you see above, is the proud new owner, and will use the vehicle to navigate Michigan winters. I have no doubt it will serve him well.

Advertisement

15 / 27

1992 Jeep Cherokee AKA ‘My OG Jeep’

1992 Jeep Cherokee AKA ‘My OG Jeep’

I installed that engine, then later replaced my expensive lift kit with a junkyard one that rode much nicer and flexed better. I tested that wheel articulation during a fun off-road trip with my boss this past fall. Check out the excellent suspension:

Unfortunately, the trip took some casualties with it: I broke my sway bar bolt while removing it, I overheated my engine (I think the block and radiator are filled with rust), and I ruined my rear differential when I dropped into a deep mud pit (water got into the diff through the breather, ruining bearings).

So now the Jeep sits in my backyard with a bad rear axle, no sway bar, and an engine that overheats after five minutes. Poor Jeep.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I’ll get the vehicle back up and running in due time. It’s my first car, so I’ve decided I won’t sell it. It’s had my back, now I’ll have its.

Advertisement

16 / 27

1966 Ford Mustang AKA ‘My Brother’s Mustang’

1966 Ford Mustang AKA ‘My Brother’s Mustang’

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I bought this beautiful Mustang back in 2013. I was still in college, and knew that my brother — who had been dreaming of owning a ’60s Mustang since he was nine or 10 — would love it. So I bought it for him as a gift, assuming he’d move back stateside at some point, but that hasn’t happened. So, I took the Mustang out of storage, towed it from Virginia to Michigan using a Honda Ridgeline, and let the car sit for far too long. After a few years, with the pandemic in full swing and me just feeling awful, I went on a wrenching blitzkrieg and allowed the Mustang to heal my internal wounds. It worked reasonably well.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

In short order, I had the widowmaker single-bowl master cylinder swapped out for a dual-bowl, I’d rebuilt and tuned the carb, replaced the water pump, gapped the points, installed new tires, and shined the Mustang up beautifully so that it even starred in an Indian wedding.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I learned during that wedding that the vehicle’s cooling system doesn’t do so well during low-speed driving, but I’ll take care of that in the spring.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

For now, the Mustang is in the garage, far away from Michigan’s salty roads.

Advertisement

17 / 27

1985 Jeep J10 AKA ‘DT’s BAE’

1985 Jeep J10 AKA ‘DT’s BAE’

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

My Jeep J10 was my very first project while at Jalopnik. I began the project and quickly got distracted with a much cheaper, rustier car (as has become my M.O., it seems) — that junker being my $600 Jeep XJ (my first Moab project).

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

So the J10 languished in my backyard for four years. I kept saying I’d finally get back to it, but sub-$1000 Moab projects kept getting in my way. The cheap projects were a bigger challenge, and offered opportunities for more stories than did a $3,500 obscure Jeep pickup that needed a transmission rebuild.

I eventually rebuilt the truck’s transmission (in my kitchen), installed it, and took the J10 for a test drive. I immediately fell in love and vowed never to sell the truck.

In the past few years, I’ve taken the J10 on many long, epic road trips. A few highlights include a trip to the home of American Motors Corporation, Kenosha, Wisconsin:

A 3,000 mile road trip to the east coast, deep south, up through Arkansas (where I took the bench seat-equipped truck to a drive-in movie with a woman so far out of my league that I’m pretty sure she could legally file her date expenses — she brought some mixed drinks — as philanthropic expenditures), and then back to Michigan.

During that trip, I picked up a Changli. The image of a Changli in the bed of a J10 pickup remains among my favorite photos ever.

I spent a long weekend camping in Pennsylvania with my friend Brandon:

I’ve got quite a few stories to tell about my road trips in the J10. Many of them are wild; one involves a reader letting me drive his Ferrari 360 at ridiculous speeds in Indiana farm country, and the other involves a car hoarder who kept making sexually suggestive remarks to me in a way that made me deeply uncomfortable.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

Anyway, the Jeep sits in front of my house awaiting the spring, when I will drive it regularly and joyfully.

Advertisement

18 / 27

1994 Chrysler Voyager Diesel 5spd AKA ‘Project Krassler’

1994 Chrysler Voyager Diesel 5spd AKA ‘Project Krassler’

Purchased for 500 Euros (roughly $600), my diesel manual Chrysler Voyager began life as a non-running minivan with a broken axle shaft, bad tie rod ends, bad wheel bearings, and a bunch of other issues that would have made it impossible to pass Germany’s rigorous TÜV inspection. My friends and I fixed those maladies, and the van promptly failed the inspection. Twice.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

Eventually, it made it through, and I took it on some incredible road trips to Belgium, Sweden, Eastern Europe, and Turkey. I’ve put 10,000 miles on the van, meeting awesome car-people around Europe.

It’s been an unstoppable machine, and continues to serve faithfully at my parents’ abode in Germany. Occasionally it needs to be trickle charged, but otherwise, the thing is a beast.

Advertisement

19 / 27

1966 Plymouth Valiant AKA ‘The Most Reliable American Car Ever’

1966 Plymouth Valiant AKA ‘The Most Reliable American Car Ever’

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

My 1966 Plymouth Valiant is turning out to be one of the best $2,000 investments I’ve ever made. I bought the car spontaneously, and immediately drove it over 600 miles from upstate New York to Troy, Michigan. The vehicle was basically flawless.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I got the sedan undercoated, and with its snow tires, I expect it to act as a valiant winter cruiser. It is my daily driver when the roads are wet/snowy.

Advertisement

20 / 27

1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd AKA ‘Base Model Holy Grail Jeep Grand Cherokee’

1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd AKA ‘Base Model Holy Grail Jeep Grand Cherokee’

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I bought this 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee for three grand from a reader in Reno, Nevada. I consider it to be the greatest Jeep Grand Cherokee on earth. It is a base model with crank windows, manual locks, and a five-speed stick shift. Add to that simplicity the fact that there are only 130,000 miles on the venerable 4.0-liter engine, and this Jeep is basically unkillable.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I’ve taken this ZJ on multiple road trips, and as we speak, I’m in Charlottesville, Virginia hanging out with my brother for the holidays. Here’s the Jeep parked in front of my brother’s apartment:

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

There’s a little miss at idle, which isn’t ideal. Plus the cracked exhaust manifold is a bit loud. I plan to swap the manifold and do a tune-up on the ignition system to hopefully get this thing idling smoothly, and maybe even scoring over 20 MPG highway.

In time, I will probably put on some factory-original steel wheels, and then I’ll have to sell it to remain true to the “only own one of each car model” rule I’ve made for myself. I plan to keep that $250 ZJ for my overlanding adventure, so this one will have to go.

Advertisement

21 / 27

1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee AKA ‘$250 Holy Grail Jeep Grand Cherokee’

1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee AKA ‘$250 Holy Grail Jeep Grand Cherokee’

By the time I’m 35, I hope to have completed a worldwide overlanding expedition — I’m talking 50,000+ miles in a single trip. It will likely take me over a year, and will eat up at least $50 grand of savings, but this is something that I have to do. I have the mechanical skills to pull it off, I have a high threshold for discomfort, I’m well-traveled, I have multiple passports, and I have no family, so now-ish is the time. I’d rather not wait until I’m retired.

Ideally, I’d find a Spanish or French-speaking road-trip partner, but who am I going to convince to take a year off to travel the world in an old Jeep? That’s an uphill battle.

Anyway, I bought this $250 Jeep (which lacks a transmission, as the previous owner, Seth, had purchased it for the five-speed) for the job for a number of reasons. I believe that the rare five-speed ZJ is among the best overlanding Jeeps ever built; it is a hidden-gem. That said, I didn’t want to ruin a nice one, so I bough this cheap beater, which I can comfortably modify without feeling bad about disturbing originality.

I’ve already got a snorkel (a gift from my brother), a winch (a gift from a reader), a dirt-cheap lift kit (courtesy of a junkyard and eBay), an upgraded rear axle with a limited slip differential, upgraded front brake rotors, an adjustable front track-bar, all-terrain tires, and an entire parts Jeep.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I plan to completely comb through this Jeep, rebuild anything that seems even slightly off, and create the ultimate budget overlander. I also want to keep the entire build under $5,000.

The Jeep has been sitting in the same spot in my backyard since I bought it in May. I’m excited to get the project underway in the next few months.

Advertisement

22 / 27

The 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee AKA “Holy Grail From The Wisconsin Dairy Farm’

The 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee AKA “Holy Grail From The Wisconsin Dairy Farm’

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

This is the parts Jeep I referenced in the previous slide. It’s the first Jeep Grand Cherokee that I ever referred to as a “Holy Grail.” The story about this rusty stickshift Jeep — and the conundrum the owner faced in deciding what to do with a rare but hopeless machine — resonated with many readers. That article reached over a quarter million pageviews.

The seller called me at about the same time that the seller of the $250 Jeep you saw in the previous slide messaged me. Both gentleman were planning to haul their vehicles to the scrapyard. When I saw a complete but rusty Jeep and a rust-free but transmission-less Jeep, my mind went to the only logical place it could: Merge the two into one rust-free machine.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

So that’s the plan. This old Holy Grail will donate its parts to my overlanding rig. Right now it’s sitting in my backyard, hanging out with an old Willys FC-170.

Advertisement

23 / 27

1991 Jeep Cherokee Laredo 5spd AKA ‘DT’s Dream Jeep’

1991 Jeep Cherokee Laredo 5spd AKA ‘DT’s Dream Jeep’

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I went through hell to buy this 1991 Jeep Cherokee. For years, I’d considered it the ultimate Jeep. The look, the powertrain/drivetrain combo, the interior, the vent windows — the 1991 Cherokee Laredo was the GOAT.

I never thought I’d find one this nice, but then a reader named Tracy told me about one that her family had owned since new, but that had been in a fender bender. After clearing up a bit of confusion, I managed to obtain the Jeep and, over the period of a few years, fix it up into almost mint condition. Now I’m selling it.

Why? Because it’s hard to keep beautiful cars beautiful. And if I know I can’t garage the thing consistently, then why own something whose high value is fleeting when instead I can own something whose value has already reached rock-bottom but that I don’t have to baby? That something, by the way, is my original burgundy Jeep XJ, which I’ve decided I’ll never sell. It’s not perfect and it is unfortunately an automatic for now, but I plan to remain loyal to it. And there’s no sense in owning two of the same car. Not when you’re trying to reduce your fleet to a reasonable figure.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

The Jeep sits in my driveway for now. There’s usually a for sale sign on it ($7,500), and quite a few people have indicated interest. I’m still talking with the Jeep’s original owner to see if he’s interested in reuniting with the car he originally ordered from the factory. We’ll see what he says; in any case, I’m pretty sure this Jeep’s days under my ownership are numbered.

Advertisement

24 / 27

1957 Willys FC-150 AKA ‘Possibly Stolen Jeep’

1957 Willys FC-150 AKA ‘Possibly Stolen Jeep’

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I don’t think this Jeep is stolen, but it’s possible, because I have no title and no VIN. And also, I bought it out of a sketchy warehouse filled with thousands of random household items (plus a boat). Anyway, let’s not worry about that for now.

The Jeep has been sitting in my backyard since I bought it. I poured a bunch of light oil into the spark plug holes hoping the fluid would get into the cylinders (it’s a flathead, so I bet much of it went down the valves, into the manifolds), and I installed a new battery.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

Trying to crank the engine yielded some pathetic noises, but no engine motion. I don’t think the motor is locked up, though. I think there’s an issue with the starter relay or starter itself. We’ll see.

Advertisement

25 / 27

1958 Willys FC-170 AKA ‘Project Rust-E’

1958 Willys FC-170 AKA ‘Project Rust-E’

The 1958 Willys FC-170 was the most hopeless hunk of crap I’d ever seen, and yet I devoted an entire month of my life trying to rescue it. You’ll learn about the results of those efforts soon, but for now, just know that the FC is languishing in my backyard with the rest of my misfit machines:

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

You can expect the most epic article/video you’ve ever seen the first week in January. Mark it on your calendars.

Advertisement

26 / 27

1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle AKA ‘The Golden’

1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle AKA ‘The Golden’

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I bought my 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle in 2017. It was running at the time, but there was a broken exhaust bolt. I removed a cylinder head to mend that, but then water got into the engine. So I removed the engine to hone that cylinder. Figuring the engine was already out and that I may as well do the rings and bearings, I tore into the motor, and ultimately decided —based on wear indicators — that it was not worth fixing.

I bought a newly rebuilt motor, only to realize that there was an oil starvation issue at the top end. So the Jeep has been sitting in the driveway in front of my house for years. It’s kinda sad, really.

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I’m starting to see rust form on the fenders behind the front wheel arches:

Image for article titled I've Owned 25 Cars While Working At Jalopnik. Here's Where They Are Now
Image: David Tracy

I plan to get this beautiful SJ-platform Jeep fixed soon so I can sell it. As it sits, it’s not worth much. Once running and cleaned up, I bet it’s worth somewhere in the five-figures. I can use that to make my beloved J10 the truck it deserves to be.

So there it is, a nice year-end look-back at all of the vehicles I’ve owned since working here at Jalopnik. Of course, though I’ve mentioned in these slides that I aim to pare down my fleet, don’t you worry: You’ll be reading lots more about the cars I buy. I don’t plan to stop, I just plan to be a bit more methodical in how I go about vehicle acquisition. Otherwise it’s a bit overwhelming.

Advertisement

27 / 27