Perfect Pioneer: 1986 Jeep Cherokee

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This 1986 Jeep Cherokee Pioneer 4×4 has been with the same owner since 1987, and is clearly a part of the family. The listing description is like getting a glimpse into a photo album, as the seller relays the numerous ways this Jeep – named “Copper” – enjoyed the good life under their care. Living in California its whole life, the Jeep has been used sparingly as a third vehicle for beach trips and vacations. The Jeep is listed here on craigslist in Yorba Linda for $16,900.

The two-door Cherokee is a rare find in and of itself these days, but especially in condition like this. The factory white-painted steel wheels are a classic look for these Cherokees, and with just a hint of surface rust, they still look good. There’s something about a 4×4 that is typically beaten like a stubborn mule showing up in near-mint condition, as it’s a sight for sore eyes. The chrome bumpers are mint and even the black rubber end caps are still lustrous. These small details let you know just how well preserved this Cherokee is, and kudos to the family for taking such good care of it.

Despite being incredibly basic inside and out – and not changing much over the years – the Cherokee interior is surprisingly handsome. The dash plastics leave much to be desired, sure, but that’s not what you’re looking at when driving one of these. The classic three-spoke steering wheel, gigantic center console, and comfy bucket seats make this Cherokee a pleasant place to spend time, whether that’s sitting in the commuter lane or driving to the beach, as this family did (all while keeping the fabric in mint condition!)

The Jeep powerplant needs no introduction here; it is legendary for its dependability and for going years without routine servicing without complaint (not that you should do that.) The seller certainly seems like the type to have kept up with regular servicing, especially since Copper was apparently a treasured member of the family. When it comes to buying the best, there’s buying the vehicle that presents the best, and there’s buying the vehicle with an outstanding history. Fortunately, this Cherokee seems to possess both qualities. Thanks to Barn Finds reader T.J. for the find.

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  1. Todd J. Todd J.Member

    There’s a scammer who posts on craigslist who ends his posts with the statement “Have a blessed day,” which is how this post ends. I’m not saying it’s the same person or that the ad is a scam, it did catch my attention, though.

    Like 13
    • Dennis Sevick

      Not everyone uses that moniker Have a blessed day as a negative. Give credit occasionally by checking it out personally.

      Like 1
  2. Matt

    “The powerplant needs no introduction”? So you dont tell us which one it is? Gotta be a 2.5 Jeep or a GM 2.8 V6. Or the diesel. But you say “Jeep powerplant”. I highly doubt they made many loaded 4×4 autos with the 2.5. Sometimes mentioning which engine is kinda important

    Like 21
    • nlpnt

      This is a long way from “loaded”. It’s the middle-of-the-line trim with crank windows, and missing half its’ doors (that alone would’ve made what otherwise was one of the trendiest cars of the ’80s almost salesproof back in the day).

      Like 4
    • NHDave

      In the absence of it in the write-up, the badge at the lower left of the rear liftgate does identify the engine: V6 2.8L.

      Like 10
  3. Michael

    Looks a lot like the one posted in January, but with a detailed engine compartment – similar mileage too.×4/

    Like 4
    • Rw

      This is the legendary dreaded V6 Jeff.

      Like 2
  4. Michael55

    Looks a lot like the one posted in January but with the engine bay detailed, similar miles too.

    Like 0
  5. Bamapoppy

    I once considered one of these but when I got in it my head was rubbing the headliner. I’m 6’2” but what one might call ‘torso tall’ so I don’t tend to fit in the typical ‘90th percentile man’ drivers seat. Buyer beware.

    Like 0
    • Rw

      This is the legendary dreaded V6 Jeff.

      Like 2
  6. GOM

    “Legendary” (more like infamous) for being gutless, not particularly reliable, and fuel-thirsty, the 2.8 couldn’t hold a candle to the straight 6’s that followed it. Nevertheless, a beautiful example of the breed.

    Like 4
  7. Gary RaymondMember

    “ This posting has been deleted by its author.” Bummer!! I was actually thinking about going to look at it!

    Like 0
    • Todd J. Todd J.Member

      I was hoping someone would go to see it to confirm if it was legit and to find out how many quarts of Armor All the guy used dressing it up.

      Like 0
  8. Rw

    With the GM bell housing a 4.3 throttle body injection engine would be perfect.

    Like 1
    • GOM

      Especially if it had a 5 speed behind it! (or the 5 speed from a K2500 with 5th overdrive and the creeper low gear for real off-road performance).

      Like 0
  9. Jack

    I had the 85 or 86 wagoneer/ woody. Same exactly interior color 4×4 and actually I had a tan 1 and a blue 1. Whatever that V6 was a 2.6 2.5 I can’t remember but it was a gas sucking turd. It was a fun ride and caught a lot of eyes. I think I paid 1k, 15 years ago. First car I owned with a carburator. Lol. Cold mornings she didn’t like

    Like 0
  10. Jasper

    And when you’re asking top dollar for a flip, at least tend to the details like the missing window crank knob.

    Nice looking but not all that desirable with that GM 2.8.

    And a two door Cherokee does seem to command a premium over a four door.

    I’m 5’9 and not skinny, these fit me like a glove, no blind spots either. Perfect size.

    Like 0
  11. HoA Howard AMember

    Does anyone else see a connection between the 2 door 4 Runner and this? Both came out in 1984( ish), and too coincidental for me. The XJ was actually conceived in 1978, by AMC and Renault engineers. I believe this vehicle was the 1st to be called a “SUV”, although, called officially “Sportswagons”. These changed everything for Americans, and surely why Mr. Iacocca wanted Jeep so badly. The 2.8 is a cocky thing. My ex burned out 2 in my S-10 Blazer, yet, I had a S-10 pickup with one, that had a ton of miles, and ran great. Odd, they have an entirely new vehicle, yet power it with some surplus GM motor. Didn’t take long to see, the in-line 6 was the way to go,,,and still is. Gone already? Don’t be dismayed it’s gone, out here, I see this model Jeep more than any other. Like most 4x4s, you won’t find too many low mileage XJs. If they don’t rust, they are always worth fixing. A quick check on FB shows plenty of XJs, some under a grand, clearly, not like this, however. Vehicles, especially SUVs have gone full circle, from simple trucks like this, to unneeded complicated wizardry, and a trend back towards stuff like this, which explains why it’s gone.
    Now, if we can just get that Native American group to stop their whining about the alleged misuse of the Cherokee name, which I consider an honor, they don’t see it that way. No comment on Jeep about that,,,yet.

    Like 0

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