Definitely want to see receipts for claimed items/work. Titanium rods? Yeah, let's seem 'em. Crack that oil pan.
A WJ is within your budget, a nice XJ holds its value and could cost as much or more than a WJ.
My concern would be reliability vs age. How many things go wrong over time? Is this thing getting ready to nickel-n-dime the current owner to death?
With the potential for various issues concerning the more sophisticated trim levels to rise with age, I'd get as basic as possible while still getting the upgrades you desire.
WJ, Laredo with a 4.7, if you can find it. QuadraDrive is virtually bullet-proof and would serve you well in the PNW but I'm not sure if QD was available in a Laredo. Don't get power windows or auto-AC that are prone to fail.
Can't speak to the ZJ, but really long in the tooth...(I never liked 'em).
With the XJ, I'd say the newer - the better(I had a '94 and a '98, basically the same tho' the body was remodeled in '97), barring the ones that blew their heads in the '00-'01 time frame. They didn't seem to have problems with their power windows(like WJs), mine always blew cold/hot air when I wanted(unlike the auto-AC options in WJs), starters never failed(like in my WJ) and doing my own servicing was a breeze which I enjoyed.
"Sport" trim levels are well equipped.
Do not get the 2.5 engine.
could find a good, '97+, 2dr XJ, I'd snap it up without a question.
(I didn't like the 4dr version).
My WJ is ready to be replaced. Bought it new. Currently, relatively worthless.