Back in June, the city of Troy, Michigan told me I had six weeks to get all 12 of my cars into compliance with an ordinance dictating that all vehicles stored outside must be both registered and functional. Many of my junkers were nowhere close to the latter. Now, over four weeks in and with a deadline looming, I’ve made good progress. But I’ve still got plenty of work to do.
I’ll start with a list of cars on my property as of June, 2020:
2003 Kia Rio 2000 Jeep Cherokee 1995 Land Rover Discovery
- 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee five-speed
- 1992 Jeep Cherokee
- 1991 Jeep Cherokee five-speed
- 1991 Jeep Comanche
1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer
- 1985 Jeep J10
- 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle
- 1966 Ford Mustang
1948 Willys CJ-2A
I’ve managed to rid of five of those vehicles, with three of them actually netting me a bit of cash. The Kio Rio went to a junkyard and scored me a generous $145, I sold the Grand Wagoneer to a gentleman in Italy for $4,000 (the truck just picked it up the other day), and the CJ-2A went to a guy named John from Pennsylvania for $3,000. Not bad!
The 2000 Cherokee and the Disco are parked off-site, with the former now my brother’s daily-driver, and the latter moved Thursday night to a safe spot nearby, where its owner will pick the vehicle up at his leisure. He’ll have to tow it, as the Discovery only drives about five miles before overheating due to what I suspect is a head gasket leak or a slipped engine sleeve (see video below). The owner will have to spray copious starting fluid into the intake and apply throttle to get the machine firing (thanks to a junkyard battery and starter motor, the off-roader will now fire up without having to be pull-started). And once that little dance has been executed just right, and the Disco is running, the owner can’t let off that gas pedal or the GM-derived 3.9-liter V8 will cut out.
The green 1995 Land Rover Discovery is a great vehicle that deserves only the best, but it’s clearly been mistreated and is suffering through a lot of pain; I’m afraid it’s not something that can be easily mended.
The J10, Comanche, 1992 Cherokee, and Jeep Grand Cherokee are all in decent shape, and I’ve registered them all. I even registered my 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle (historical tags, since they’re cheaper), even though the vehicle remains thoroughly stationary. Registering all of these cars cost me over $400.
The 1966 Mustang is in the garage, away from the curious eyes of city inspectors, so that’s no issue. This leaves me with the Cherokee Golden Eagle and 1991 Jeep Cherokee as the only two non-compliant machines.
But even those are well on their way. The 1991 Jeep Cherokee’s front axle is pretty much completely repaired, with new ball joints, u-joints, tie rod ends, jounce bumpers, and upper control arm bushings (at the axle). Plus, there’s a new drag link, a new track bar, fresh axle seals and differential oil, and a bunch more—check out the new parts in the photo below. The Jeep is pretty much ready to be aligned, inspected, titled, and registered. I think I’ll be able to do that next week without issue, though at some point thereafter, the XJ will need to have its fender adjusted and painted, and it needs a new flare.
I have to say, I dig the black XJ. It’s bone-stock, it’s got a manual transmission, the 4.0 runs perfectly, the interior is borderline-mint, the quarter-windows are epic, and the body has zero rust. That said, an eager buyer awaits in the wings, and I’m tempted to let the machine—yes, my favorite car of all time—go so that I can have a bit more mobility should I decide to leave metro Detroit soon.
The other vehicle I made some progress on is the 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle. After my friends Derek and Chris came over to help me get the motor back together, we realized that for some reason, the pistons didn’t want to glide in their bores. I’d just honed the cylinders, and I’d lubed then and checked ring end gaps, but those jugs were still in those bores really tight. With three pistons installed, I could barely turn the engine over with a two-foot breaker bar.
I don’t have time for this, especially given that this is an old and imperfect motor, anyhow. So I bought an AMC 360 from a friend of a friend, who claims the thing was rebuilt in the last 15-ish thousand miles. I trust him and snagged this engine from about an hour west of me near Ann Arbor for $849.
This weekend, I’ll try to get the 1991 Jeep Cherokee inspected, but the big job will be installing that AMC 360. Hopefully by the end of Sunday, that Kenosha, Wisconsin-Built iron-block V8 be in that SJ-platform engine bay, and I’ll be driving one of the most beautiful Jeeps of all time. Check out my Instagram to follow the progress; this engine installation will be fun.