No Time to Restore: 1978 Jeep Cherokee Chief

It’s a story as old as the car hobby itself: you buy a project with every intention of restoring it, and then life gets in the way to such a degree that it’s not possible to even get started. The seller of this 1978 Jeep Cherokee Chief knows this all too well, as he bought this truck out of California for its rust-free condition and heavily-faded but original Firecracker Red paint. Work travel deems he hasn’t had time to even clean the cobwebs out of the engine bay, so up for sale it goes. The Cherokee Chief is listed here on craigslist in Allen, Texas for $7,500.

One of the most gratifying feelings in the world is buffing out single-stage paint and seeing the original color come back to life. This alone would have propelled me to find a way to justify keeping the project, if only long enough to bring it all the way back to life. The Cherokee Chief is a truck that benefits greatly from strong original cosmetics, as the factory decals and paint codes were entirely fitting with the period in which it was made. The seller notes that when he got his hands on it, it had been sitting in the California sun for 20 years. The “razor” grill is said to be in good condition.

The interior isn’t bad either, and this was a well-optioned truck when new. The seller notes it was equipped with air conditioning, cruise control. and an electric rear window. Of course, it’s anyone’s guess whether those features will still work when a battery is hooked up, but it’s nice to know those pieces are there when it comes to justifying the restoration of a worthy candidate. The seller doesn’t say whether the dash is cracked, but it seems likely given how long it sat outside. The good news is the enthusiast network around this model and the abundance of spare parts should make it pretty straightforward to find any spares you may need.

The 360 is dusty but complete; given the durable qualities of this engine, there’s little doubt it will fire back up with some basic deferred maintenance tackled. The seller doesn’t allude to doing any sort of evaluation or a pre-purchase inspection, so it’s a mystery right now whether the Quadratrac four-wheel-drive engages correctly or the engine still turns freely. Given the high degree of originality, from the factory badges and decals to the faded-but-correct paint, this Cherokee Chief is worthy of being brought back to life, even with the prospect of having to restore both the cosmetics and the mechanical bits.


  1. wuzjeepnowsaab

    I wanted to say something about how “no time to restore” usually means I looked into it deeper and it’s a money pit…but it really doesn’t look terrible. More info about the engine/transmission/drivetrain is needed as is underside pics. I think the 7500 is steeeep for what it is though. Rust-free no flare bashes aside it’s still a 3500 non-runner truck

    Like 4
    • Paul in Ma

      I find it usually means I bought it with good intentions but I don’t have the time/skill to, it has sat there for a year or 20 and my wife is finally after me/the homeowners association is after me/I need to move/I died.

      I prefer this one to the ones we find where the people get excited and take it all apart before they realize they are over their heads

      Like 3
  2. Rw

    These unit body vehicles bottom matters not top

    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      This is a body on frame not unitized

      Like 4
      • Rw

        Even so frame and floor rot most important.

    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      Well yeah, of course. That’s why I said in my original comment that underside pics are needed.

      Like 1
  3. Alan J Odze Member

    I have an 85 Cherokee Pioneer Chief and I am having a huge time finding parts for this vehicle. All the junk yards crushed these vehicles. JC WHITTNEY is gone. Checked the Jeep forums and no luck. Anyone on here have any ideas? Thanks

    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      Keep checking the Jeep forums and FB groups.

      Your 85 is an XJ model not an SJ like the one in this listing so parts shouldn’t be too difficult – depending on the parts you need. A lot of the mechanicals are probably still available on RockAuto and the like.

      Like 2
  4. Governor

    Great looking Jeep. It’ll sell fast!

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