For those of us with an insatiable passion for classic autos, there usually comes a time in every man or woman’s life when we have to decide if a car-related investment is economically rational. Are we purchasing a car with the slightest hope of recovering or expanding our investment, or is this just some cockamamie scheme to relive the glory days. Fortunately though, not all classic car purchases have to end in total financial ruin. In some rare cases, we may actually stand to make a buck or two.
Case in point: just fifteen years ago, classic trucks – say from the 1940s or 1950s – were a really tough sell. Owners received a mere fraction of the value found in today’s market for vintage trucks. Along the same line of reasoning, other neglected gems are out there waiting to be bought, appreciated and sold when the timing’s right. For the original Jeep Cherokee XJ, the timing is now.
Back in April of 2009, Robert Cumberford from Automobile Magazine noted: “Great designs never grow old, a truth no better confirmed than by designer Dick Teague’s masterpiece, the Jeep Cherokee. Possibly the best SUV shape of all time, it is the paradigmatic model to which other designers have since aspired. Its face unmistakably says Jeep, even in the slightly overwrought face-lifts that appeared during its seventeen-year production life. The simplicity and directness of its boxy lines are perfect for what the car was-and is, as tens of thousands are still on the road-and the practicality of the shape is self-evident. Today’s ubiquitous tall 4×4 station wagons all owe their existence to the Cherokee and its resounding commercial success.”
Believe it or not, the Cherokee is even more significant today – especially from an economic perspective. The XJ was a unibody compact SUV, as opposed to a body-on-frame chassis, with front and rear solid axles. Combined with the vehicle’s macho looks, this was an SUV that could be both surprisingly fuel efficient and capable off road. When the XJ was produced from 1984 to 2001, car makers worldwide attempted to imitate Jeep’s tremendous success. But, today, the Cherokee is an undervalued asset.
Buyers can find a good quality, fairly low mileage 4×4 Cherokee for a few thousand dollars. And to sweeten the pot, many auto investors think the best time to buy future classics is at the 10-20 year mark – making the Cherokee ripe for the picking. Let’s not forget the 800+ movies which feature XJs in action, creating an iconic culture among media consumers.
But buyer beware, there are many Jeep Cherokees on the road. So, certain criteria should be considered before choosing an XJ for investment. First, find a clean, low mileage example which has plenty of road life ahead of it. Second, the Cherokee came in several different special editions, of which the Country and Classic models remain desirable. And finally, find a 4.0-liter straight six or diesel engine for the best return on investment.
Oh, and don’t forget to have some wholesome adventuring fun too. This is a Jeep Cherokee, after all.
Automobile Magazine: http://www.automobilemag.com/features/news/20_greatest_cars/0604_jeep_cherokee/index.html
Internet Movie Car Database: http://www.imcdb.org/vehicles.php?resultsStyle=asImages&sortBy=4&make=Jeep&model=Cherokee&modelMatch=1&modelInclModel=on