One of the best things on Twitter is an account called Bustleton Auto; I’m sure some of you have heard of it. It’s genius. Each day it posts mangled, seemingly AI-compiled low-res images of cars “for sale” that don’t actually exist, alongside makes and models like CZHOTY TROND that I suspect have been borrowed from a list of names of companies that sell Bluetooth adapters on Amazon. Bustleton does this like 10 times a day, for free! You can’t beat it.
Anyway, yesterday I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, as I often do when our Editor-In-Chief Rory calls a Zoom meeting, and I happened across another installment of my favorite Twitter series. Except, this non-Euclidean metal contraption wasn’t a bot shitpost; it was real. Car Bibles’ Kevin Williams, a cool guy I follow and you should too, described it perfectly:
That’s exactly it! Specifically, it looks like the result of that one glitch where your car will endlessly grow wider if you drive it around after parking it at the junkyard crusher in a very specific way.
This is a 1987 Jeep Cherokee, and it’s not the first time it’s appeared on Jalopnik. David Tracy wrote a bit about it — of course it was David — almost exactly four years ago when it also found its way onto Craigslist. At the time, it was listed for sale in San Luis Obispo, California. Here’s what David said:
If I had to guess, the owner rolled this thing while off-roading, smashing the roof in, and also bending the front of the hood. So, to fix it, maybe the owner just chopped the car at the center of the pillars and replaced the top with a big flat piece of metal? How they got the A-pillars to lean back so far, and whether the windows still function are questions to which I’m dying to learn the answer.
David wrote that he’d been “calling the owner daily” but never received a call back. The current listing states the vehicle’s location as Atascadero, just 17 miles away from San Luis Obispo. Either this vehicle relocated to the other side of town since 2017, or it never changed hands at all.
Before we go any further, we’d best note in the description. Pure poetry:
Start it, drive it, and don’t stop until you have warmed it up. 750 pounds of weight have been removed and it supposedly gets 24mpg FREEWAY. I did not do the work. I have drawn a map to explain the interior. Everything in the vehicle is included. Spent $1800 tagged and smogged for DEC ‘22
I emailed the owner last night, asking basic questions like what happened to this XJ and why, and he was gracious enough to promptly reply. I humbly thank him for it. However, his response was short on details, quite cryptic and ultimately left me puzzled:
I will tell you nothing new has happened to it. I know there are switches that perform certain actions and that it had 750 pounds removed. That is all. I purchased the vehicle to support Mr. [REDACTED]’s masterpiece as well as his health.
For now, that’s all I got. I followed up with some additional questions, and will tack on whatever responses I get to the end of this post.
The windows look like they’re half, maybe two-thirds height. The hood is dented in toward the front, but bulges out well above the bottom of the windshield. The entire front of the car, from the flared arches to the droopy hood and the lowered fascia, looks like it’s melting. Or evolving. “If you stare at it long enough, it’s basically a Mk III Supra,” my colleague Raph said. I see his point. I hate it, but I see it.
Back when David wrote about this XJ, he wished for an interior shot. Well buddy, it’s your lucky day. Because this time there are shots of the interior — though sadly not of the aforementioned map the owner claims to have drawn. If you’re unsure why a map might be necessary, that’ll become clear in approximately two seconds.
We see a steering wheel that’s missing about 60 percent of its rim, with the remaining part fastened to the spokes with what looks to be electrical tape. It’s like a yoke from hell. The seat cushion is practically on the floor. I count at least two multimeters, maybe a third depending on what purpose that box to the right of the two red ones serves. There are many extra gauges, those enigmatic “switches that perform certain actions” and copious amounts of foam tubing guarding the edge of the dash. It’s the same general principle as airbags, just applied differently.
You may not like it, but this is what 750 pounds of weight savings looks like. Your run-of-the-mill 1987 Cherokee was rated for a 23 MPG highway; this one gets 24. “Supposedly,” as the seller says. $1,400 for the lot.
Please, one of you (David) buy the XJ Superleggera so we can uncover its secrets. Or if you’re reading this, owner or Mr. [REDACTED] himself, feel free to educate us all in the comments. I have so many more questions: namely, how tall are you?