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First World Problems


NAXJA Forum User
Atlanta, GA
Hey everyone, my name’s Brandon. This is a first-time post from a new user and as it’s crunch time on a major project there will likely be several more. Not sure if this should fall under the XJ or MJ category. I’m not new to the late 90’s early 2000’s Jeep era vehicles. I’ve owned 4 XJ Cherokees, 1 TJ Wrangler, and 1 KJ Liberty. Usually when it comes to specific issues, I’m a pretty good google user and I usually find what I need but this first one out the gate has more interpretation to opinion about how I should handle the situation and then if I go thorough with some of my intended plans what are some of the pitfalls and things I should be looking out for.

So, in early 2019 I got my hands on two XJ Cherokee vehicles. A 2001 2wd Automatic Limited with a blown engine, interior that needs a little work but all in all the interior is in ok shape. Since it’s 2wd it has a pristine body with absolutely no rust or dents as we live in Georgia. I also got my hands on a 1999 Sport Manual 4WD. Mechanically it’s in tip top shape. But it was up north in Pennsylvania and has some minor body rust specifically in the floor pans. The interior is flawless BUT it has a salvage title as it was stolen and then recovered after it was written off.

My plan was simple. I have a wonderful 2wd Jeep that will be the host vehicle with a written off vehicle that will be the parts donor vehicle. My intent has been to move the entire driveline from my 99 to my 2001 as well as do a soft interior replacement. With emissions and transmission changes between a 99 and a 01 I figured this plan wouldn’t come without its difficulties but would be doable.

Now comes the plot twist. In late 2019 my wife got a job offer in Sydney Australia and we said yes for a once in a lifetime opportunity. Plans were starting to come together with a move scheduled in mid to late 2020. I then was planning to just do the engine swap in my 01 so I can sell it and part out my 99 and ditch the big pieces of the whole project and then COVID happened. Our move was indefinitely postponed as Australia has closed borders and gone in and out of lockdowns. With everything going on my Jeep project has simply been on the back burner. Do I finish it? Do I ditch it? Do I even want to commit that much time to a project that I can’t take with and I can’t enjoy?
And now a turn for the better. We just found out the deal is still on and we’re looking at a Late Summer Early Fall Northern Hemisphere move in 2022 as Australia is expected to fully reopen by next summer. Since we’ve had extended time to prep on the possibility of going, I’ve also had time to think, and a third option has come to mind which I might now have time for if I work quickly.
Australian import and registration rules say that any vehicle manufactured after Jan 1st 1989 must be a vehicle with the steering wheel on the right hand side of the vehicle. That rules out taking any Cherokee coming with me that I might build here as I couldn’t register it once I get there. I thought about taking a postal Jeep but the premium people charge for those, plus the premium of shipping makes it to where I could have bought two of them in Australia. BUT, I recently found out that the MJ Comanche wasn’t sold in Australia. I could import to Australia an MJ built before Jan 1st 1989 and would be grandfathered in based on the manufacture date and then be allowed to be registered. (I’ve emailed New South Wales Transport which is their DMV and confirmed this.) Seeing I would have a vehicle that was not sold or marketed in Australia I think it would be smart from an investment standpoint as it’s price would automatically jump the second it comes off the boat and justify the cost of shipping. It would also justify my time as it’s a project I would get to keep when it’s “finished” (because we all know project vehicles are never finished).

So as option 3, get the 01 running and sell it. Use some of that money to buy a MJ Comanche and use my 99 for as many parts as I can. It doesn’t need to happen before I leave, but I’d like to do a post 97 interior conversion on the MJ as it’s the vehicle I prefer. I have those parts with my 99. I can sell the 99 for parts then scrap when I’m done with it. I’d also have all the components less the drive shafts to do a 4wd conversion on a nicer 2wd MJ but see that as needing to be done before I leave cause shipping axles can be complicated or source them and do that part overseas. But I’ve never worked on an MJ before or even an XJ as old as this. Since I don’t know the ins and outs of them is a conversion with XJ parts like this truly obtainable?

I leave it with the forum. What would you guys do? Finish the project as painful as it is and sell? MJ Swap? Scrap them both? I know the demand for a manual 4wd XJ, but I hate doing the work to not get to enjoy it. If any of you are from Australia let me know the rarity and demand for an MJ or registration pitfalls as well. I’ll be asking some questions over of AusJeepOffroad as well. Either way I’m running out of time and need to get something done and plan to get started with something around Thanksgiving.
My experience says you are better off selling them as they now are. You are going to have plenty of other details to worry about as it is. This is a complication you don't want right now.
Agree with Anak. K.I.S.S.