• Welcome to the new NAXJA Forum! If your password does not work, please use "Forgot your password?" link on the log-in page. Please feel free to reach out to [email protected] if we can provide any assistance.

XJ Cherokee in England


NAXJA Forum User
My first post on NAXJA, so I'll try to make it an interesting one..
Sometimes, the best stories start with "watch this" or "I may have been a little drunk"
This sort of falls into the later.
Bit of a back story first, we are no stranger to the Jeep range having had a couple of Grand Cherokees over the years for dog hauling and occasional tow duties. In addition we have a soft spot for and have been fortunate to have owned several American cars over the years, including a 79 Corvette we still own.
A few years ago we tried to buy an SJ Wagoneer but it did not happen and have since watched the prices spiral way from my wallet capability. It does not stop me having Wagoneer as an eBay Worldwide followed item, this is where the Jeep XJ comes in, as they occasionally have been appearing and I have a look and try to justify the (admittedly low) purchase price, plus the shipping invariably means £3-£5k landed.

Ok, so that's you up to date.
So, last week a rather sad looking XJ Wagoneer appears via my eBay email, poor pictures and poor description... my favourite !! and it was in the UK on Italian plates... what could go wrong my Corona diluted brain wondered.

Now it must be said, I have a very understanding wife, but even this may be a plan too far. so when in doubt remember "forgiveness is easier to seek than permission" so I put in a cheeky Best Offer.

Next morning, my offer had not been accepted, but I showed the eBay page to Mrs N saying to her "I can't believe nobody has bought this" I recall the reply being " that's quite cool, buy it if the price is right" that's what I recall, though it may have actually been slightly less complimentary, either way it was a green light.

I got to work and received a counter offer for a little more than I was willing to chance, so I rang the seller to find a common ground, we got within £50 of where I wanted to be so I upped a little and the deal was done.
So, not for the first time have I bought an unseen pup on a wing and a prayer.
With a transport company organised the Wagoneer was dropped off the following night...


The Wagoneer was dropped off at 22:00 on a Saturday night, with a misfire and a blowing exhaust it limped round to my garage and turned out to be reluctant to stop. In fairness I had pretty low expectations, I had managed to locate myself an XJ Wagoneer for less than the shipping alone would cost me from the USA or Canada.
Deciding to leave it tucked up and look at it with fresh eyes in the morning. A bit of bed time reading was the Italian paperwork, well I say reading, more picking out words I could understand. It looks like the Wagoneer was first registered in Italy in 1994 and spent most of its time in the Vicenza area of Italy. The Manhattan Jeep-AMC dealer badge on the back may be original or not, but the car has a KPH speedo and the handbook is in Italian so may have been destined for export from day one, perhaps spending time registered and used in the USA to avoid import tax.

Sunday morning, reveal day... All the panels are straight with the odd ding, all the Wagoneer specific trim is there. The paint is faded and lacquer peeling and the bonnet has been keyed.


Interior is surprisingly good with just a tiny tear in the drivers seat, one of the rear door panels was partly off and it looked like some of the trim was missing, luckily I found it the back with the factory over mats. the only down side, and probably easily sorted is the saggy headlining looking like a Harem.
Floors and boot floor, like new, I suppose this was my biggest concern that I would be drawn into a load of welding, but apart from some surface corrosion, it is fresh as a daisy.


Engine and drivetrain... well it moves under it's own steam (literally) but does not want to stop.
Engine is running rough and the manifold is blowing thanks to 2 snapped studs, and we may have a blown headgasket. I have not had chance to do a leak down test yet, but head coming off is not the end of the world, especially if the broken studs are flush with the head.
Brakes, it is fitted with the horrible Bendix 9 set up, this will be junked and a booster, M/cyl and valve from a regular set up will be fitted.
First jobs will be:
Sort out H/gasket or not
Sort Exhaust manifold to head
Brakes Servo conversion
Fit proper Euro rear lights
Once I have a running/driving car I can get it tested for roadworthiness and then registered in the UK

Looks like a nice find. When I was living in Cambridge, I was into mountain biking and our crew spent a few weekends in the Peak District staying in hostels around Manchester but never in Manchester proper. From what I remember, it would be a great place to wheel if there is access for things other than hiking and biking.
We are in South Manchester with the Peak Districk on our doorstep. We used to Green Lane/Wheel in the Peak District around 10/15 years ago with a Series 2 and than latterly a Defender, back then many of the lanes were getting closed to "motorised" vehicles. Many of us moved to closed sites for trials and pioneer events for less hassle.
Nice find. I recommend you do a compression test both wet and dry before you do anything further. While you have the plugs out, evaluate how they look. They are the windows into the soul of your vehicle. That coupled with looking at the oil and coolant will give you a good idea on what shape the vehicle is in.

Good luck.
Good luck.

Thanks. We had the pleasure of visiting Denver a few years ago for the Mercury Cougar Nationals. We had driven over from S/F and done part of Route 66 and other touristy bits. We spent a few days travelling round the greater Denver area, stunning part of the country, we may well have travelled through Loveland :)

Thanks. We had the pleasure of visiting Denver a few years ago for the Mercury Cougar Nationals. We had driven over from S/F and done part of Route 66 and other touristy bits. We spent a few days travelling round the greater Denver area, stunning part of the country, we may well have travelled through Loveland :)


Well, the next time you are in town give me a call. I will kill the fatted calf and we can have a burnt offering.
Thanks Tom, will be sure to do that.

Work has begun, the blowing exhaust was down to a snapped manifold stud, unfortunately non of the stud was exposed and being the rear most stud, access for drilling out was limited, so I whipped the head off and left it for my local engineer to get it out (did not fancy snapping an Easy-Out and making the job worse).

De-pressurised the Bendix 9 and stripped that off now, sourced a regular booster/master cylinder set up.

I was going to source a couple of Euro back lights, the price of new units was crazy compared to US spec units, so I ordered a pair for Rock Auto while was getting some other bits. If the original Wagoneer units had been in good condition I could have had the amber flashers through the reverse lens, but one was smashed and the other badly cracked.
Cheers, work takes me to Scotland a few times a year visiting customers. I much prefer the drive to the Frozen North from Manchester than a drive South to Kings Landing.

With the snapped manifold stud recessed in the head and not being able to get close I decided to whip the head off and get the local engine centre to do it and check if the head needing skimming.
I use a local guy, used to have race engines done by them and they do a great job without going daft on prices.

With the snapped stud out and a light skim it was time to start building up.

Apart from the blowing at the snapped stud, the manifold was blowing too, it looks like repeated welds over the years and new cracks were bound to occur.

I planned to order one from the USA with some other bits, then I found a guy in Germany with a NOS one kicking around, including shipping it was less than £100, so a no-braniner.


Coming back together



I followed the "Cruiser54" fix for the TB to MAP issue, cheers for than, saved me a load of messing, thanks for sharing, much appreciated.

Hopefully, should have it running this weekend.
Great deal on the manifold. The pistons look nice and clean. You may have a real winner here.

A common problem on a vehicle that has set for a while is that the injectors dry out and don't work well. A can of good injector cleaner may help. Cracks in the manifold can also cause premature failure of the O2, but don't bother replacing until you get it all back together and running to see if you still have a problem.

Adding a flexible coupling between the header and the tailpipe will lessen the odds of the header cracking again if you plan to keep it a while.
With the Jeep up and running sweetly and now capable of stopping too, it was time to give the bank account a rest while I got on with a couple of other projects.

While idle I decided to look up the origin of the sticker on the tailgate

Turns out they are quite a big dealer of American cars, looking through the gallery on thier website I happen across this picture

Apart from it being the same colour, what also caught my eye was the roof mounted CB aerial. I decided to ping an email off to the dealers for s*&ts and giggles. Get a reply from the owner of the business saying it was the only one they sold in Grey with Burgundy interior, so it must be the same car. He is the guy far left, his brother next to him, the guy stood on the door sill is the new owner and the guy on the far right is that well known [sic] Italian Actor and Comedian Massimo Boldi.
Manhattan Jeep (the other badge on the tailgate) was their US supplier of Jeeps, so it looks like it went to Italy earlier than I thought.
That picture is so crazy!
Nothing makes a car cooler than a bit of providence. Good luck with sorting it, I hope you have many happy km's together.

As for it being the same vehicle....does your bumper have holes in it for the lights that are in the old picture? Also, the rims are definitely different.
The front bumper does have the holes, I think the fog lights were standard on the Wagoneer.
The 5 spoke wheels were stock on the Wagoneer, but mine has ended up with the lattice ones at some point, that said the spare wheel is still the 5 spoke
Re: XJ Wagoneer in England

Work has been a bit hectic recently so progress has been slow.
The front brake pads were worn and the discs/rotors a little scored, decided to change them as they were not expensive.
One of the caliper pistons was damaged, fortunately I had ordered new seals and pistons when doing an order at Rockauto.

One of the Wagoneer specific rear lamps were smashed when I got the Jeep and the other has a small piece missing. As I needed amber turn signals anyway, I was going to use the early European spec ones, but the prices of new units is stupid and there were no good used ones at the time, so I ordered a pair of the US spec ones until I decide otherwise.
The lights conversion was a little untidy, so finished that off

Moved outside into the rare Manchester sunshine for the first time in a while


The extra reversing lamp under the bumper is now redundant and will be coming off

The grille has a couple of broken pieces, not much chance of finding one for sale, so may have to piece in a couple of bars, though when it gets some fog lights they will hide one anyway


Someone in the UK currently has a set of the correct style Wagoneer 5 spoke alloys from a Renegade, though at the moment the asking price is a bit too much for my pockets and I can't see them having much appeal on this side of the pond to anyone else.

I am pretty much ready for its road worthiness test, "MOT" in the UK and taking it Friday afternoon, if it passes I can then apply to register it over here :clap:
Re: XJ Wagoneer in England

Friday I had the afternoon off to take the Wagoneer for its MOT.


Having a proper mooch underneath I was pleased with how solid it is



Now for something slightly different that may be of interest
Saturday, I was on Safety Car driving duties at Oulton Park, the regular car is a BMW 235 Coupe and the Mini Championships racing yesterday bring their own MINI SC.
The BMW had just been replaced and this had just 42 miles on it when we jumped in.


The MINI was fun, but kept throwing up engine temp warnings, so we parked it in shame and stuck with the BMW


With the changeable weather we were quite busy, the OBC informing us we had averaged 9.5MPG through the day :D

Those gold honeycomb wheels are awesome. I'd leave them on.
Those gold honeycomb wheels are awesome. I'd leave them on.

It was looking like I would not have a choice, the set I had seen on eBay actually sold for strong money and they needed a refurb.
I was mooching around eBay a few weeks later and spotted a XJ that was being sold complete but only good for parts, it had the correct 5 spoke wheels. I shot the seller a message to see if he would sell the wheels as I had neither the time or space to part out a car (it was a facelift diesel, so not much use to me).
He came back saying he would, they also need a refurb and missing some of the centre caps.


The first Sunday of the month is an American car meet near to us, so with my new plates arrived we decided to have an inaugural run out.


The only issue we did have, was the water pump leaking from the gland valve. When I had previously stripped the head off, I gave the water pump a good dose of looking at, it appeared recent. More fool me, it looks like it was changed before its lay-up and the seal had probably hardened or damaged.

Time to tan the card with RockAuto again, decided to change the viscous hub thermostat, idler pulley and rad hoses at the same time


I am on the hunt for a Wagoneer grille, mine has several broken bars. Though it may prove to be a prolonged hunt.

I am on the hunt for a Wagoneer grille, mine has several broken bars. Though it may prove to be a prolonged hunt.


There is a Wagoneer being parted near me.


I can see what he might take for the front clip. I'd be willing to work on getting it to Europe for you.

Any other little Wagonner specific parts you need? I'd be curious to scavenge that Jeep. I see it has the Wagoneer appropriate tail lights also.