This Super-Rare Diesel Jeep Cherokee XJ For Sale In Idaho Shares Its Engine With A Winnebago

Image: Craigslist
Image: Craigslist

Diesel Jeep Cherokees are a dime a dozen in Europe, with the most common ones coming with the overheating-prone VM Motori 2.5-liter turbodiesel. In the U.S., though, diesel XJs are pretty much nonexistent, because very few were ever sold here. The ones that were had a gutless engine shared with a Winnebago; Here’s a beautiful example for sale on Craigslist in Boise, Idaho.

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Jeep sold only a few diesel Cherokee XJs in the U.S. in 1985 and 1986, and finding any remaining is a true rarity. That’s why when a reader named Ted, who’s local to Boise, sent me this listing for a beautiful 1986 Jeep Cherokee turbodiesel, I figured I’d share it with you all.

Image: Craigslist
Image: Craigslist
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The Jeep has 143,000-ish miles on it, though the seller says over half of those come from the vehicle being towed behind what I assume was some sort of RV. “70000 miles on engine as it was a snowbird tow behind. 143000 on frame,” the listing claims before asking $7,500 or best offer.

The air conditioning and one of the seatbelts needs mending, but overall, the Jeep looks great, and the walnut-color cabin is truly beautiful. Early XJs really did have the best interiors.

Image: Craigslist
Image: Craigslist
Image: Craigslist
Image: Craigslist
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The 2.1-liter turbodiesel wasn’t exactly powerful at 85 horsepower and 135 lb-ft of torque according to a cursory online search. The five-speed mated to it is likely the AX-5, a common light-duty transmission not really known for its strength.

The engine is from France, and it’s my understanding that it’s technically called the Douvrin J8S, a motor built in a joint venture between Peugeot and Renault called Française de Mécanique, and at the same Douvrin plant that built the legendary PRV V6 found in a bunch of Volvos, Peugeots, and Renaults of the 1980s and 1990s. It’s also my understanding that a variation of the 2.1-liter diesel found in the XJ is also used also in the Winnebago LeSharo.

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Check it out:

You may notice that the host of the above MotorWeek video, John Davis refers to the diesel as a 2.0-liter, while Jeep calls their diesel a 2.1. Regardless, one look at the engines shows that they’re clearly the same basic motor. Here are some clips showing the XJ’s 2.1-liter:

And if you’re not into watching videos of revving turbodiesel motors, fear not. Here’s a screenshot of the Winnebago LeSharo’s engine:

Screenshot: MotorWeek
Screenshot: MotorWeek
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And here’s the Jeep’s:

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Clearly, they’re related.

Who knows, maybe the RV towing this XJ around the country had a Douvrin diesel in it. That’d be great; you could tow your own spare engine. 

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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I've argued with people about the existence of US spec XJ diesels.