How sour can you get before it's a lemon?
March 4, 2010 4:09 PM   Subscribe

When buying a classic car or truck for the first time, what should I be aware of?

I need a new car. So today I found (one) of my childhood dream cars - a 1980 Jeep Cherokee. I'm going to look at it in a week or so. My inner 10 year old is ready to go play! VROOM! But my outer old guy with the purse strings wants to make sure we don't buy a South Carolina lawn ornament.

Given that it's 30 years old, I know there will be some problems but I don't want to buy too many if I can help it. So how do I help it? What should I be looking for in something old and rare, as compared to a normal 5 year old used car? What do I absolutly have to check? What are warning signs to walk away?

Big example: It has some rust spots, but how can I tell if it's just ugly cosmetic or if it's structural?
posted by anti social order to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For any classic vehicle, step 1 is to find the online forums for owners and enthusiasts of that particular make/model. In the case of a 1980 Jeep Cherokee, that would mean doing a Google search for "full size Jeep Cherokee Wagoneer forum". Most of these forums have special "buyer's guide" or at the very least a "FAQ" section that includes buying tips.
posted by dacoit at 4:19 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

As mentioned above, find an owners forum to find out about the problems specific to your model. And keep in mind that keeping any 30 year old car running & reliable is going to take far more time and effort on the part of you or a mechanic than would a late-model car.

For me, the rust would be a big red flag. Even if the rust is "cosmetic", you're eventually going to have to repair it, or it will spread. And body/paint work is not cheap. I'd personally much rather buy an old car with a rust-free body and a shot engine than a rusty but running car.

Not sure if smog check is an issue where you live, but if is, make sure the seller has a smog certificate (this would be an issue in California, but may not be for other states)
posted by zombiedance at 5:01 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

1980 Cherokees came equipped with the NP219 chain drive transfer case, built by New Process Gear. They are vacuum operated, and were never that strong a mechanism, and now, parts are getting hard to find. You definitely want to identify and check the operation of all your 4WD gear, before purchase, as fixing/replacing these things can get spendy.

Rust is only considered "structural" on unibody vehicles, where it can cause weakness at suspension mount points, like shock towers on Macpherson strut cars. It wasn't until 1984 that Cherokees became unibody vehicles.
posted by paulsc at 5:18 PM on March 4, 2010

This list is geared towards old Toyota Van buyers, but I think it's generally a good guide for buying older cars.

If you are able, I also recommend a compression test on the engine.
posted by surfgator at 5:54 PM on March 4, 2010

The above info is good, but there are some other things to consider.

Are you mechanically inclined? Or will you be paying a professional to do any work on the Jeep? Big deciding factor right there. Because there WILL be problems, at some point, regardless of the condition of the vehicle. Old cars/trucks break down, it's a fact of life.

Will this be your only mode of transportation? Because when it they do break down, it's 95% of the time at the most inopportune moment when they do.

This was built by AMC, and as noted above, parts are getting difficult to find for these vehicles. The straight six 258cids were great motors, but are known to lose compression (usually due to piston ring wear). Fortunately, AMC built a jillion of these motors, but when they start to go, they usually require a complete rebuild. The optional 360cid motor is also a decent engine, but were plagued with problems from the get go. But any pretty much any motor from 1980 had its issues (strong points/weak points), and AMC built just a solid motor as anyone else in The States.

Any other drive train problems will be expensive to repair, as stated, parts are getting scarce.

As far as the rust, a strong magnet will really allow you to see a bit past the paint and see if it is a bondo-trap or not.

Too really assess the vehicle, you need to take it for a drive. Not just around the block, but a minimum of 10 miles, in order to get all of the fluids up to operating temperature. Upon returning, crawl underneath and use a flash light to inspect for leaks. There may be a little oil dripping off where the engine and transmission meets; it is normal for these to leak a little oil from the rear main engine seal. Also inspect the back of the wheels, where the axles meet the wheel. These areas should be bone dry. As well as where ever the drive shafts end (trans, transfer case, differentials). A little dampness is okay, but if there is any dripping, the seal(s) will need to be replaced.

Another thing to remember is to check all fluid levels BEFORE you test drive it, then check them upon return. If the any of the levels are lower after wards, well, fluids have to be going somewhere, they don't just evaporate.

After the vehicle has been driven on the test run, let it idle in park/neutral, and check out the exhaust pipe. No black or white smoke. A few small puffs are okay, but any serious smoke indicates something very wrong with the motor.

Also, has it sat for a long time? Driven regularly? Vehicles don't like to just sit and not be driven. If it has sat, was it stored in a decent fashion? Or just parked out behind the barn?

Nth-ing checking out forums, Jeep fans are pretty- intense; you can learn a lot just by lurking on them, and there are a lot of them.

Hope this helps, Good luck!

It all comes to the selling price, your knowledge, and your requirements for reliable transportation. Perhaps buy the Jeep and then another newer "beater" car for a back-up? Just a thought.....
posted by peewinkle at 6:42 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Some things come to mind if you want to use this as a daily driver. I can't tell your age from your photo well enough to know if you've probably driven a carbureted (pre-mid-80s?) car before. If not, be aware that they don't start with a turn of the key like modern cars. You get to know them, and they work OK, but when starting them you have to think about things like how cold it is outside, how long it's been since it ran last, and adjust your technique accordingly. I'm not trying to scare you off - everyone used to use them - but they're different, and more finicky.

If you have the automatic transmission, this a 3 speed with no overdrive. If you have 75mph interstates nearby and you drive a lot on them, it will really suck quite badly. The federal speed limit was 55 from 73-87. If you do ANY interstate driving, be positive that's part of your test drive. Wikipedia says the manual was a 4 speed, but I don't know if that's 3 + overdrive or 3 + granny.

If you have the inline 6 it might feel very wimpy compared to modern trucks.

If you have the 360 V8, it will feel powerful and drive nice, but you will get 9 mpg. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Make peace with that before you buy it.
posted by fritley at 6:43 PM on March 4, 2010

Find a buddy of yours who has been into classic cars for a long time and knows his stuff. Have him look at the car. Pay him in beer or similar.

There's so much to look for that no manual/list can give you a mechanic's experience overnight. When I was buying a used car I overlooked a few really obvious significant damage items that an experienced mechanic spotted instantly when the car was on a lift.

How much work/$$ are you planning on sinking into this? If you need a new car, I'd recommend you buy a new car, not a "classic" beater that will need hours of work every weekend. A "classic" car that needs work will cost just as much as a new car, look slightly worse, be less safe, and have less performance/speed/etc. But, classic cars are cool, and if you really want to do that, more power to you! Some of my coworkers have "project" cars. No one drives their "classic" car to work every day. Some people drive their shiny new sporty classic-car-lookalike to work every day.
posted by sninctown at 6:47 PM on March 4, 2010

To expand my previous comment with a bit more model specific advice, also consider that this 30 year old vehicle has either an inline 6 cylinder (258 CID or 4.2L) or V8 (5.9 Liter), that were carburetor fed, distributor ignition engines depending on engine vacuum for basic operation of vehicle accessories like ignition retard, brake booster (if power brakes are on the vehicle), transfer case, and internal heat/AC operation. Accordingly, these vehicles, even in their top condition, never have the starting reliability of late model electronic ignition, fuel injected, computer controlled vehicles, nor do they run as clean or as smoothly as modern vehicles. They are also prone to making weird noises, and having occasional mysterious performance problems, which can be hard to replicate or trouble shoot, and there is no OBD central vehicle computer storing error codes to aid in the diagnosis of such problems, as there is on a modern vehicle. Condition of the carburetor, many feet of rubber vacuum hose, and archaic old parts like a distributor cap, , distributor rotor, ignition points, and ignition coil all become vital to good starting and running. Your battery has to be in top condition for reliable winter starting, too.

Accordingly, your per mile maintenance costs are going to be higher, and a lot less certain, and you'll be doing a lot more frequent maintenance intervals, to keep the buggy running, than you'd experience with a later model car. Oil changes at 3,000 mile maximum intervals. Tuneups at 12,000 miles. Sooner, probably, on both, if you go 4 wheeling frequently. And the 1980 Cherokee was heavy by modern vehicle standards. Expect 30,000 mile brake overhauls, and 30,000 to 40,000 mile tire life, if that.

Also, if you plan to go 4 wheeling much, in that old a vehicle, you've got to understand 4 wheel drive systems, and be familiar with your suspension, and how it all works, to a much greater degree than most passenger car drivers, sticking to roads and highways, ever need be. Avoiding "bump steer" and "death wobbles" are mostly a matter of having every single part of your suspension working right, and being properly adjusted, but diagnosing and finding handling problems in these vehicles sometimes requires the services of professionals with a lot of experience and your willingness to fork over $$$ to employ them. More the case, if your buggy has (or ever has had) significant modifications or non-OEM equipment, under it.
posted by paulsc at 7:03 PM on March 4, 2010

Dont see it mentioned in your question but if the vehicle has been lifted or otherwise modified you are probably in for a heap of trouble. The wear and tear from big tires and abusive driving can really hurt a vehicle, and in my experience most lifts are done by people who really shouldn't be working on any vehicle, don't have enough money to do it right and never keep up with maintenance (i.e. mostly kids or kids at heart).

These things are built like tanks. Which may sound good (and can be good) but they are...demanding to work on. In that stuff is heavy, bolts are big and often tight and weird things can go wrong. The great thing about it is though that you can *repair* the vehicle, not just replace parts. The other thing is that jeeps of this style are austere in that there isn't a lot to them-no electric seats, windows or locks. Not a lot in luxury items and if you are lucky it is one with a vinyl/rubber interior you can hose out. Really great after a few days in the boonies.

I have owned and driven several jeeps and I like them, but I realize that they are not the worlds best built or most reliable vehicles. They are like a tank also in that they do require a fair amount of maintenance to keep on the road (more than most vehicles of the era I would say). The good news is that jeep built this particular kind of vehicle (between cherokee, wagoneers, and pickups)for many, many years and a lot are still around. If you cant find the oem part, some substitute might work. If you are not mechanically inclined and/or rich this is not what i would recommend for a classic vehicle to learn on.

That being said, this is the kind of truck that will lead to great stories you can tell later in life, will force you to become resourceful and knowledgable about cars and you will always have an adventure when you take it out. In that sense it can be a great vehicle to become mechanically inclined on. BTW my first car (a corvair)arrived at my house when i was 14, in pieces. I started driving it when I turned 16 and i swear that thing was like an airplane, and hour on the road, an hour working on it. And see, I am telling stories about it years later.
posted by bartonlong at 7:34 PM on March 4, 2010

"What are warning signs to walk away?"

O.K., First, It's a 1980 Jeep. Since this, in itself, won't scare you away, let's move on to other things to look for. If, when you first show up, the engine is warm, suspect that they went out and warmed it up for you because it is a hard-starter.

When you check the fluid levels, observe if they all look brand new. Ask yourself why the seller would change all of the fluids just for you. Are they hiding the water in the oil? The discolored tranny fluid? Look for recent paint work. Again, painting the car just before selling it is likely a sign that the seller is covering up rust, etc. While you are looking underneath for fluid leaks, carefully look for signs of frame damage and/or scrapes on the undercarriage. If the bottom of the oil pan, tranny, muffler or axles are scraped, it has been dragged around off-road areas that you might be paying the price of later.

Look at the floor mats and pedals. If they are excessively worn or brand new suspect heavy wear. When you sit in the driver's seat, do you sink into it or just sit on it? Broken or stretched seat springs may suggest that the rest of the car has had a rough life.

With your foot firmly on the brake, shift back and forth between drive and reverse without stopping at neutral. There should be no "clank" or lurch. If there is, the tranny may be bad and/or the engine is idling too high. Stick shift? There should not be any slop in the shifter. It should slide neatly into and out of gear. When the brake is set and the engine is idling, you should be able to gently let the clutch out and kill the engine. If there is any slip as you engage the clutch, you will be replacing the clutch soon.

The cost of any major repair to this vehicle will be more than you paid for it. If you know a mechanic in the town where the Jeep is for sale, ask to have it looked at by him before you buy. If the seller doesn't agree, leave immediately. If you do not know a mechanic in that town, find one before you go to look at the vehicle and ask if he will check out the Jeep if you call him at the last minute. Ask what he will charge before you go to look, so you know if you want to spend $$$ on his inspection once you've seen what the vehicle looks like.

As has been said above, you are probably better off not buying this or any older vehicle if you need to rely on it as a primary car. It will break down at the worst time. For those of us who have hobby cars (my latest is a 1942 Fire Engine) it's a great way to stay out of trouble. If it is your daily driver, it is a guarantee of getting into trouble.
posted by Old Geezer at 7:45 PM on March 4, 2010

A 1980 Jeep Cherokee is not a "classic car or truck," it's a 30 year old POS. If you're buying it for a project vehicle, realize you're throwing good money after bad from the git-go. If you're buying it for daiy transportation - DON'T DO IT.
posted by torquemaniac at 7:45 PM on March 4, 2010

Older cars can be great. Especially a vehicle you've wanted since childhood; what the hell is the use of life if you can't enjoy it. I wouldn't buy one unless I planned on doing a lot of work on them myself though. The stuff that needs doing is often fiddly and labour consuming but you can do a lot of your own wrenching for the cost of a new car payment every month. Like any sports car with a soul irritating things will be breaking on a regular basis. And on the upside Jeeps are very well supported by the after market and there is often plenty of interchange for essential drive train components. If you are going to have a 30 year old vehicle there are a lot of worse choices.

I'd do a bit of research before buying one though. Especially with Jeeps as there is lots of variation year to year on what's desirable and what to avoid. A few hours reading Jeep forums for the model you are interested in will be time very well spent.

Generally speaking you can pretty well count on having to replace at least two and sometimes all of of tires, exhaust, brakes or windshield of any run of the mill 30 year old car when you buy it. People tend to defer maintenance when they start thinking about selling something. On a 4X4 you'll want to give the u-joints a good inspection too.

As to this particular vehicle the 80 Cherokee came with either a 258 I6 or the AMC 360. The 258 is may be the best light truck motor fitted in any truck of that vintage. Don't over rev the thing and it'll keep pulling well past the body rusting off. Fuel on it is mixed in a Carter which is a decent carb though you need to either become an expert on it or find someone who is (look for an old Dodge mechanic). Guys who aren't familiar with it tend to hate it and swap it out for a Holley at the first sign of trouble but you'll get slightly better mileage with a well tuned Carter. The transmission if automatic is a Chrysler 727. Put the right fluid in it and they are basically trouble free.

I know less about the 360 never having driven one. It's an AMC mill (Not Chrysler, a bizarrely common misconception) and gas mileage will be poor even by 1980 standards. They are pretty durable.

paulsc writes "Rust is only considered 'structural' on unibody vehicles, where it can cause weakness at suspension mount points, like shock towers on Macpherson strut cars."

Body on frame trucks of this vintage often rust pretty badly at body mounts. A body mount rusting off can be pretty dangerous. And of course the frames themselves can rust to the point of breaking though I don't recall that being a particular problem with Full Size Jeeps. Check also seat and seat belt mounts. I bought an 80s Bronco whose outboard seat belt anchors were only being held in place by the carpet when I got it. The good news is this kind of damage is pretty easy to see and if localized is fairly straight forward to fix.

Body rust on these trucks is a problem. Maybe less in South Carolina but here rust free examples essentially don't exist and FSJ generally are scarce as the bodies get so bad you can't drive them or it obviously makes no sense to repair even relatively cheap problems. Old 4X4s aren't any harder on tires than any modern 4X4 SUV of comparable size in my experience. Unfortunately that means about 25%-50% faster wearing than a small car and tires are twice as expensive to boot. It's unlikely though that you will ever wear out a new set of street tires on a 30 year old vehicle though so I wouldn't sweat it much besides keeping the cost in mind when you look at the truck.

Lack of 30 on board computers and presence of ignition components you can see and inspect mean that when it does break down you can fix it without hooking it up to a computer. Tuning is done with a vacuum gauge and a timing light. Simple mechanical things have a beauty of their own that is sadly missing from whizzy modern cars. And it's not like intermittent problems never plague modern computer controlled automobiles; Toyota's current problems are evidence of that in spades.

The biggest drawback to older cars IMO is safety. This car isn't any where close to being as safe as even the worst performing 2010 truck. Every car more than 10-15 years old suffers from this problem and really only you can decide whether it fits into your acceptable risk envelop. I know I've skipped some vintage vehicle opportunities because of this (mostly of the cab over/forward control nature like A100s). My Dad thinks I'm being a wuss but as much as I lust over an A100 camper conversion or VW Type 2 the idea of my legs being a few inches behind a bumper and in front of the engine gives me the willies.

If I was looking to buy this car here's what I'd do:
  1. When I first got there I'd walk around the truck getting a general look. This is when I'd start taking pictures which will come in handy if you are undecided after your first look. Plus taking pictures slows you down a bit letting you process what you are seeing.
  2. Move onto the interior. Check to make sure the odometer matches what the seller told you. Look at things like door hinges, seats, pedals, and carpets to see if their condition lines up with what the odometer says. Take pictures.
  3. Pay attention to whether the windshield needs replacement.
  4. Open and close all the doors, check to see if they lock. Roll the windows up and down.
  5. Back out side start checking the body closely. Take pictures. Your research should tell you problem areas for rust. Check to see if exterior lighting is all there and in good condition.
  6. Slide under the truck and start checking to see how bad the leaks are; whether there are any clean spots/components (sign of recent work); general condition of the mechanicals. Check for play in U-Joints and closely inspect the springs for sag and breakage. Check out body mounts and floor boards for rust. If you've become familiar enough with the truck confirm that it has the correct axles and transfer case. Take pictures.
  7. Examine the exhaust for leaks.
  8. Give the e-brake cables a tug and observe them where they transition between body/frame and backing plates. You can often tell if the cables are frozen in their sheathes.
  9. Check out the tires. See if they match all the way around (important for 4X4s) and if they are the proper size (listed on door sticker). Take pictures. Make note of minimum tread depth.
  10. Make a note of stuff like trailer hitches, winch bumper, winch etc.
  11. Check fluid levels.
    • Have a rag with you and when you check the oil clean the dip stick between your thumb and forefinger. Rubbing your thumb and forefinger together can tell you alot (if the oil isn't brand new) about poor engine conditions. The oil shouldn't be gritty, wet, or sticky/slippery (hard to describe, indicates antifreeze). Ideally the oil won't be too black.
    • Check to make sure the rad isn't warm then pop the cap off. Look for oil slicks or rust.
    • Brake fluid is hydroscopic and darkens with age. Clear fluid indicates either recent brake work or a leak being masked by topping up. Low brake fluid can also indicate a leak but may just signal worn linings.
    • Auto transmission fluid should be felt like the engine oil when cold and should also be inspected for colour. It should be clear and red not murky or brownish. Smell the fluid before wiping your hands off, burning smell == bad. The 727 needs to have it's fluid level checked after the transmission has been warmed up and with the transmission in neutral.
    • Power steering fluid shouldn't be low.
  12. Check to see how old the battery is, many of them will be date coded. Inspect the battery clamps, heavy corrosion will inhibit starting.
  13. Inspect the belt(s).
  14. Check to make sure it has an air cleaner installed. Oil in the air cleaner housing indicates excessive blow by in the engine. While you've got the air cleaner off work the throttle and confirm the choke isn't sticking. Carters often have excessive play in the throttle shaft so give it a wiggle front to back if you can.
  15. You can basically assume that all the heater and vacuum hoses will need replacement but give them a once over checking to see if all the emissions equipment listed on the hood sticker is there.
  16. Finally time to start it up. Check for play in the driver interfaces. Set the E-Brake. Start the truck and pay attention to how it sounds starting and when it first starts up.
  17. Keeing your foot firmly planted on the brake shift the transmission through the gears. On an automatic observe the engine rpms moving between neutral and drive. In drive you should be able to feel the transmission resisting the engine when you bring the rpms up. The brakes should be able to hold the truck in place. On a manual pay attention to how easily the transission shifts; in first gear the engine should stall from an idle when you let out the clutch and the brakes should be able to hold the truck.
  18. Usually there is a 4WD shifting procedure on the either the sun visor glove box door. Shift the truck between 2wd and 4wd (HI/LO if equipped).
  19. Take the truck for a drive. Hopefully you can get it up to highway speed. Listen and feel for vibrations both in the drive train and in the brake pedal.
  20. Perform a couple of incrementally harder brakes from speed and notice whether the truck pulls, squeals or shudders when you apply the brakes.
  21. If the truck has a locked or part time 4wd mode on a hard surface idle forward and turn the wheels lock to lock a couple times. You should be able to feel the tires scrubbing without any alarming clunks or other noises.
  22. Once you park check to make the heater and A/C if equipped work.
  23. Check the operation of all the lights and turn signals.
Finally while your 30 year old jeep will never perform as well as a brand new truck (and I'm not sure I'd want it as my only transportation if I needed to drive to work) it's not like we were walking to work every second day in 1980 because our cars wouldn't start. Automotive technology had advanced well into the "appliance" range by that time. The 440 in my '75 Dodge fires up first try even after sitting for a week at -20. Your truck is going to creak and rattle and probably be a bit drafty but it was most of those things brand new too. I sometimes find the lack of refinement comforting. I'd do my research and then go for it. At worst it costs you some money but you could also drive the wheels off it for the next decade and either way you'll have fulfilled a childhood dream.
posted by Mitheral at 10:38 PM on March 4, 2010 [5 favorites]

Rust would be a deal-breaker for me. Whether cosmetic or structural, it's going to be expensive to deal with -- either to fix, or in terms of lost value when you sell it.

And that's my real advice -- to be hardnosed and realistic about the purchase. Very, very few older vehicles are rare enough to be worth grabbing in any condition. Most -- and very emphatically this includes 1980s Jeeps -- are common enough that with a little waiting and perhaps being willing to fly to another state you could buy a completely clean, no-rust, all-original one for the same cost as your rusty local one.

So with that as the first touch-stone, I would then follow Mitheral's great checklist -- but only after you are sure that the car is really worth the time and trouble for the cost.
posted by Forktine at 11:30 PM on March 4, 2010

"... Simple mechanical things have a beauty of their own that is sadly missing from whizzy modern cars. And it's not like intermittent problems never plague modern computer controlled automobiles; Toyota's current problems are evidence of that in spades. ..."
posted by Mitheral at 1:38 AM on March 5

I'm trying, hard, to keep a straight face, and agree 100% with Mitheral, when it comes to the simplicity of "mechanical things," except that, in my memory of vacuum retard/advance units, and breaker points, and "dwell" settings, and tens of feet of vacuum hoses, and intake manifold gaskets, and carburetor gaskets, and breaker point cam follower tolerances, and distributor breaker point cams, and distributor cap arc paths, and coil faults, and carburetor vacuum leaks, and "automatic" choke issues, and cold weather exhaust manifold heater stack hose problems, and carburetor fuel passage problems, and carburetor jet issues, and spark plug problems, and the weakness of 1980 starter motors under long periods of battery cable assisted cranking in cold climates,


yes, wishes you the very best of 21st century luck, with a 30 year old Jeep.

God, herself, bless you, and your beloved 30 year old folly, on your 251st winter morning together...
posted by paulsc at 12:23 AM on March 5, 2010

The only advice I can give with old cars, whether they be classic or just simply old, is that you want the work to be done on them already. That is, you don't want to be paying for that work to be done, or worse, having to do it yourself. Typically the best person to buy it from is the one that just put $30k into restoring a hulking sack of shit back into resplendent late-70s grandeur. Don't be that guy. Be the guy after him, that takes it off his hands for half the money he put into it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:04 AM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Amazing stuff. Thank you all very much, it will be hard to mark a single 'best' with all the greatness going on.

This is an example of what my inner 10 year old thought was awesome.. OMFG MY OWN MONSTER TRUCK!! And so something similar, maybe with flames, would be the 'end goal' of buying this ride. Just thinking about that makes me smile...

More about me: I'm not completely clueless about car maintenance but I've never really worked with any older cars. I have a 91 honda cb750 motorcycle so I'm somewhat used to carberation's finickiness in weather. I've done medium-level stuff like tune up parts and various bolt-ons like alternators and starters, and once a transmission swap in an 82 Impala (my first car). But I had shade-tree mechanic help and access to a full garage of tools. Now I live in an apartment in the DC burbs and just have a small toolbox. After that 82, I've only had >1990 modern commuter cars - saturn, buick, mitsubishi, and just took them to the shop for whatever. I accept that I'll have to put a few thousand a year into it (not counting gas) to keep it going and get it too be what I want, but I want a good place to start.

Here's the craigslist ad that started this and the text in case it gets wiped:
1980 Cherokee Laredo - $2800 Has 360 V8, 727 trans., 6" Skyjacker lift (NO shackles or blocks), 33" all terrains, American Racing rims, factory brush guard with KC lights, Dana 44 front and AMC 20 rear (with locker), Alpine CD player/radio and four 6 1/2" Polk audio speakers, have a sub box set up for 10" (no speakers) that will go with it. I've already done the Gladiator grill and round headlight conversion and have installed hood vents made from 1978 Z28 fender louvers, they are functional and look like a factory option. Jeep is in running daily driver condition, and at $2,800 is a steal (suspension lift alone is $1,000)."

The seller and I've exchanged emails, and I have some pics I'll try to put up somewhere (uncompressed jpgs right now). I'll copy what he said about the vehicle:
"(rust) the only holes are in the drivers side rear quarter panel and the passenger side front fender at the bottom. I bought this Jeep because of how solid it was in the normal places they develop rust the floor and body/frame mounts, and in these areas it's very solid...The rust on the tailgate is mostly surface with a couple very small pinholes. The bumpers are the aluminum ones that AMC plated with chrome, the chrome likes to peel on these."

Again, thank you guys for all the advice. You rock.
posted by anti social order at 6:53 AM on March 5, 2010

As a follow-up to my previous post, looking at the seller's description and your circumstances, I would strongly counsel against even thinking about this vehicle. You will not be happy with the handling with the suspension lift and the 33" all terrains. If your commute is more than five miles at highway speeds, the noise will get to you as well. This is a kid's weekend brush crasher. You've outgrown it.
posted by Old Geezer at 4:56 PM on March 5, 2010

Don't know if you're still looking but here's a pretty nice example if you are up for a road trip.
posted by Mitheral at 7:33 AM on March 19, 2010

As an FYI, I ended up getting a 2001 XJ already built with a 3.5" lift and dana44 axles with detroit lockers front and rear. Haven't even registered it and I've got two camping trips planned.

thanks for the advice everyone.
posted by anti social order at 7:16 AM on April 5, 2010

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