Monday, April 4, 2016

TJ vs XJ

First off, I need to apologize for being a day late.  I was on vacation and didn't have enough time to set a post up before I went.  However, this post in response to a conversation that kept coming up over the course of our vacation.

And now he wants me to buy one of these.
If you're reading this blog, you're probably aware of the recent addition to my brother's family, a '11 Jeep Wrangler JK.  He's been driving it around, and he's pleased as punch with it.  So much so that on our vacation, he kept finding the need to point out Jeep Wrangler TJs we saw and kept trying to convince me that I should buy one.  I said no, but he's incessant, like a small puppy or termites.

This was what he sent me when I said I needed another picture, and he could state his case.
While it is not beyond my abilities to love a Jeep, I have my preferences, and I have my rules.  I have actually owned two Jeeps in the past; a black '96 Cherokee XJ Pioneer 4-door and a black '88 Cherokee XJ Sport 2-door (it even had a 5-speed!).  The interesting thing about my Jeeping history is that I know what I like, and I know what I need to look for next time.

So much right here.  Can I keep it?
I like XJs, and while they don't have to be black, they do need to be clean.  My first XJ was a daily driver for 6 months, and I got rid of it because of a few BS reasons and because I was paranoid about the rust holes in the floor and getting hit on the side in Milwaukee traffic (like I was in my previous car, my first Crown Vic).  Rust also killed my aspirations for my 2-door XJ when I found out that moisture had been wicked up the carpet into the fuse block and spread corrosion from there into the wiring.  If I buy another...... wait.  When I buy another XJ, it will be one of two options; buy it down south and bring it home or buy a rusty one to drive while I build the powertain up and then swap it into a rust-free shell from down south.  Either way, an XJ is further down the priority list than he'd like, but he doesn't want to go to the UP to the fun trails with me anyways.

Such a looker. 
Double picture because Jeeps are cool.
"Ok, why do you like the XJ so much?"  Three reasons: I like boxy '80s cars, it reminds me of my old K-car inside, and I just have strange preferences... I like strange thing, screw off.  Wranglers are so hip and trendy and mainstream.  I like the little Cherokees that are just as capable, but not as vocal about it to the people around them.  My brother thinks that I'll wish I had a roof to put down.  I have this rule, he's forgetting; "four wheels and a roof."  That means no convertibles and no motorcycles.  I'm not gonna die in a car, or I'll die trying... (See what I did there?)  They get similar mileage, they're not a huge difference in wheelbase, you can do similar mods, you can get to the same places, and they're not a huge difference in capabilities, but you know what is different?  Interior space, security, and price all suck on TJs.  I will say that my XJs were the second worst cars I owned for hauling my drum set (worsted only by my '87 Fiero), but they have tons of space for gear an equipment compared to a TJ or a JK.  It's been a while, but I bet an XJ rides better too.  Yes, you can break the wing window and steal an XJ, but it's easier to take a knife to the soft top on the Wrangler sitting next to it.  I can get an XJ for $1500 all day long that's pretty decent or fair but with mods.  A TJ that's fair with mods is $5000.  They hold their value too well.

This thing would probably be about $9000, on the conservative side.
I'm going to interrupt this next bit with pictures to help my points.  Half the fun of owning a Jeep is off-roading, right?  Right.  And to go further off-road, you're going to mod them.  Still right.  I really liked the 4.0L high output better than the older one I had, and I always wished I had the money to stroke it and build a manual valve bodied trans to go behind it for rock crawling.  I'd love to give it a respectable 3" lift to fit 31s and install a posi in the back and an e-locker up front.  Add a winch, a cage, some bumpers and rock sliders, and a bunch of trail gear, and we'd be ready to hit the trails for some rock, dirt, and overlanding!  Maybe even build a trail camper to pull along for those longer treks.

It looks so good in its natural habitat.
I would like to pose this point for audience review: you can do the same mods to both models, but you'll get more bang for your buck on an XJ than a TJ.  For instance, Wheels, tires, bumper, and maybe a small lift:

Pretty basic lift, tires, and bumper, but a good look.
This one definitely has lift, and he cut the fronts of the fenders off.
Lift and lights; a deadly combo
Lift, brush guard, flares, and wheels.  Hello, nurse!
Small lift, tires, flares, and the snorkel
Homemade bull bar, lift, and swampers.  This Jeep is here for the party!
With a group like that, which one are you takin' home at the end of the day?  If that black 2-door XJ had the tires from the last one, I don't think I could be stopped from taking out a loan.  I also would like to point out that I like the early Chrysler XJs (not to be confused with the earlier AMC XJs).  The rounded box is never really a good idea with any car (here's lookin' at you, '88-'91 Crown Vic).  For your viewing and judgement pleasure, here are two XJs that have very similar mods but are different styles of boxiness:

This one even has lamer tires, and I'm counting it as winning.
I'm not sure why, but I just like the wrap-around marker lights better.
In the end, I just like XJs better than TJs, and they're more in my price range too.  The thing that he doesn't understand is that I'm looking for more Crown Vics or an '80s panel Van, and I really trying to forget how cool it would be to buy another Fiero (but with a stick this time).  Eventually, I'll get back to having a Jeep (or that Rock Ranger... or both), but probably not before the van, and probably not before I stick swap a Vic, but maybe before the blown 5.4.  Either way, I'm not buying a TJ when I could've bought an XJ.  We also just have different tastes, and I don't think he realizes that as much as it's true.  He's not buying a Vic, and I'm not buying a TJ.

Unless, of course it's a Brute pickup.
Because Brute pickups are awesome... but expensive...
He didn't send me only one when I asked, so here are some more TJs:

He felt he'd make his clinching argument with a Brute, but that's even more expensive.

I asked him why the yellow, soft top Wrangler was being driven by a woman when he has a yellow, soft top Wrangler... Hmmmmm.......

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