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Unread 04-20-2013, 06:57 PM   #1
MrElectric03
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Bought my first cherokee- 1984 4dr 4wd 2.8l

Hi guys, I'm not quite new to the forum. I sold my 94 YJ about a year ago, but have been wanting something to take out when I go shooting and don't need to worry about scratching or thrashing.

I had been looking for a 90+ Cherokee that was a 4dr and 4wd. I mentioned to a co-worker that I was looking for one and he mentioned that the Dad of a friend of ours had one sitting in his yard. I was told it was an 88 6 cyl 4 dr and was 4wd so I was interested in it. When asked about selling it his dad said $200 and its mine!

When we arrived today I saw the 2.8 emblem on the back and knew it was older. So we pulled it out. It has sat in the same spot for twelve years. It ran when parked but would not pass California smog. I was told it had a brand new carb put on it just before it was parked. All in all its in good shape. Some sli body damage on the right rear that has had bondo slapped over it but all four tires were still holding air and other than getting out of the yard it was in it turned out to be a pretty easy pickup. It's a 1984 cherokee pioneer 4x4 automatic.

I'm going to check it out tomorrow but I cleared some black widows out from under the hood and looked down the carb which was really clean. Id like to have this engine running but I have little confidence that it will be usable. I've checked out a few posts and am planning a 3.4 fi swap at some point. I've had many camaros over the years so I'd like to pick up a 94 or so as a diner vehicle.

Here's a few pics, if anyone has had one of these AMC early Cherokees and can lend any suggestions I'd sure appreciate it!






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Unread 04-21-2013, 01:22 PM   #2
Kevin108
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84 is the first model year. That's almost always bad. The XJ was no exception. Engine, transmission, CAD front axle, weak front drive shaft, weak rear axle, etc.

I don't know how CA smog works but what comes into play when you're looking at an engine swap?

Honestly, I'm not sure I'd put anything into such a rig. Around here you could get your money back by scrapping the body and recycling the cat and battery. YMMV
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Unread 04-21-2013, 03:15 PM   #3
MrElectric03
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Yea that's about what I assumed. First years are always problematic. I'm not looking to turn it into a rock crawler or anything, I just mainly want something to take out when I go shooting so I don't scratch my suburban all up and have some fun with my son. I'm a competent mechanic so if I end up having to swap in some junkyard diffs or rebuild the trans I can. That front driveline is no joke! It's about the same diameter as the steering shaft!

I would never have believed it if you had told me but the damn thing runs. I checked the oil to be sure there was no water in it, put a spare battery in it and poured gas down the carb and got it going, put fresh gas in the tank and it drove around my yard. I'm surprised as hell.
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Unread 04-21-2013, 04:27 PM   #4
mschi772
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If an 84 XJ was so bad, we'd all be driving some other model vehicle right now. Yeah, it had some issues, and the GM engines were weak, but the Cherokee was successful for a reason. That thing is dripping with potential, it will get you where you need to go and then some, and I'm a little jealous. I'm supremely glad to see an 84 still surviving and in the care of someone who can appreciate it. Take care of it; it's a piece of history.
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Unread 04-21-2013, 05:00 PM   #5
MrElectric03
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Originally Posted by mschi772 View Post
If an 84 XJ was so bad, we'd all be driving some other model vehicle right now. Yeah, it had some issues, and the GM engines were weak, but the Cherokee was successful for a reason. That thing is dripping with potential, it will get you where you need to go and then some, and I'm a little jealous. I'm supremely glad to see an 84 still surviving and in the care of someone who can appreciate it. Take care of it; it's a piece of history.
Thanks a lot! Yea I know they made improvements since this was out but it's not that bad. I don't think I want to tear into the firewall to put a 4.0 in it as big of a fan as I am of that motor. If this motor goes out I can pick up a Camaro wrecked in the back for $500-$800 and make my money back from parting the rest and scrapping it, done it a few times for the ls1 motors. The 3.4 with fuel injection should be a big upgrade from the 2.8, maybe not as good as a 4.0 but good enough.

I can see it needs a radiator and I'm sure a bunch of hoses but all in all with reg fees and replacing a bunch of hoses ill probably be running down the road for under $700.
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Unread 04-21-2013, 06:37 PM   #6
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I say enjoy it! Buddy of mine just bought an unmolested (but very rusty) 84 in the same color. Sitting inside felt like I got warped back to the '80s, absolutely loved it. Sure they arent as perfected as later years but sounds like your buy-in price is exceptionally cheap so to hell with the details. Get out there and have a blast!
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Unread 04-21-2013, 06:48 PM   #7
91AzXJ
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Be careful with engine swaps, AZ uses CA rules on emissions and if you replace the engine, it has to be from the same year as yours otherwise I would suggest a 4.3L swap.
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Unread 04-21-2013, 07:01 PM   #8
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You may have luck swapping the fuel injection Parts from a later model 2.8. I've never heard of it being done but I imagine it's possible. That engine isn't too bad when it isn't carbureted.

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Unread 04-21-2013, 09:16 PM   #9
MrElectric03
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I say enjoy it! Buddy of mine just bought an unmolested (but very rusty) 84 in the same color. Sitting inside felt like I got warped back to the '80s, absolutely loved it. Sure they arent as perfected as later years but sounds like your buy-in price is exceptionally cheap so to hell with the details. Get out there and have a blast!
Yea it's pretty cool. This one has some rust but none through the metal. Could easily just be sanded down and painted.

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Be careful with engine swaps, AZ uses CA rules on emissions and if you replace the engine, it has to be from the same year as yours otherwise I would suggest a 4.3L swap.
That's something I need to look into, I've looked into swaps before but never done one. I was thinking of a 3.8 swap bevause it's a good engine. I didn't really consider a 4.3 because i haven't had good experiences with them in the past and a 3.4 is such an easy swap.
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Unread 04-22-2013, 05:35 AM   #10
Kevin108
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Sure they arent as perfected as later years but sounds like your buy-in price is exceptionally cheap so to hell with the details.
You have a point. Owning an 00 has been no walk in the park. You know, just little things like replacing the engine at 130,000 miles.

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Be careful with engine swaps, AZ uses CA rules on emissions and if you replace the engine, it has to be from the same year as yours otherwise I would suggest a 4.3L swap.
I was an S-10 guy before I was an XJ guy. 2.8 to 4.3 is not an easy swap. The Camaro 3.4 the OP has mentioned is a direct swap, same 60° bolt pattern. On the carbed S-10s all you had to do was add an external electric fuel pump.

The 4.3 goes to a 90° bolt pattern and you wind up chasing transmissions and t-case adapters.
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Unread 04-22-2013, 09:23 AM   #11
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If an 84 XJ was so bad, we'd all be driving some other model vehicle right now. Yeah, it had some issues, and the GM engines were weak, but the Cherokee was successful for a reason. That thing is dripping with potential, it will get you where you need to go and then some, and I'm a little jealous. I'm supremely glad to see an 84 still surviving and in the care of someone who can appreciate it. Take care of it; it's a piece of history.
Yeah, it was successful because they changed damn near everything about it other than the styling. Pre-Renix XJs didnt make the vehicle a success, the 4.0 did.

Sales dropped off sharply before the 4.0 came out and AMC had planned on replacing it with the Grand Cherokee until sales shot up in 87.
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Unread 04-22-2013, 01:21 PM   #12
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You have a point. Owning an 00 has been no walk in the park. You know, just little things like replacing the engine at 130,000 miles.



I was an S-10 guy before I was an XJ guy. 2.8 to 4.3 is not an easy swap. The Camaro 3.4 the OP has mentioned is a direct swap, same 60° bolt pattern. On the carbed S-10s all you had to do was add an external electric fuel pump.

The 4.3 goes to a 90° bolt pattern and you wind up chasing transmissions and t-case adapters.
Yup, and why bother putting in a 4.3 when a 350 has same bolt pattern. I say either 3.4 swap for simplicity keep the carb, intake, and valvecovers. they probably couldnt tell the diffrence at inspection. Or go crazy and put in a 350 lol then it might not be legal tho. I was never impressed with the 4.3 takes alot more gas than a 3.4 and dosent feel like any more power. I smoked a 4.3 s10 in my 3.0 nissan with a rod knock lol and we were both trying.
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Unread 04-22-2013, 01:29 PM   #13
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Yea it's pretty cool. This one has some rust but none through the metal. Could easily just be sanded down and painted.



That's something I need to look into, I've looked into swaps before but never done one. I was thinking of a 3.8 swap bevause it's a good engine. I didn't really consider a 4.3 because i haven't had good experiences with them in the past and a 3.4 is such an easy swap.
3.8 superchared from a buick would be sweet!
I bet that would smoke a 4.0 in a dragrace haha
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Unread 04-22-2013, 08:57 PM   #14
MrElectric03
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Yea the supercharged would be great but I think the 3.8 and 4.3 are more trouble than I'm looking for. I don't need a bunch of power, even though I have a lot of sbc experience that's way more engine than I want in that car with a unibody. I think the 3.4 would do fine, I want to keep the fuel injection because I like the reliability and throttle response.

First things first, going to put a radiator in it and get it running to see how it runs. May try to put an electric fan on it to get a little weight off the front of the motor. I definitely want to build a roof rack for it so I can have people in the back seat and have some rifle cases with me.
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Unread 04-23-2013, 01:09 AM   #15
chris87xj
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...The 3.4 with fuel injection should be a big upgrade from the 2.8, maybe not as good as a 4.0 but good enough.
I think this is a very accurate statement.
Enjoy that early era XJ for the classic it is!
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