The Cherokee was produced from 1974 to 1983 and it was part of Jeep’s SJ lineup that included the Wagoneer, Gladiator pickup and M-715 military trucks. These models hold the distinction of introducing the term “sport utility vehicle”, with the words first showing up in a 1974 Cherokee sales brochure.
The Cherokee Chief trim level was brought to market in January 1975, and Jeep claimed it was the “youth-oriented Cherokee.” These “Wide-Track” models, more commonly called wide-body SJ’s, featured 3” wider Dana 44 axles, larger and wider wheels, larger wheel arch cutouts, fiberglass fender flares, and a nicer interior.
This Cherokee Chief is said to be finished in its factory Firecracker Red paint with black graphics package and still retains the original roof rack and white 15” 6-lug steel wheels with Jeep hubcaps. The fiberglass fender flares show some chips in the paint, but otherwise the exterior has held up extremely well, indicative of the low miles. The Cherokee Chief interior package came with an awesome Southwest motif on the seat inserts and door panels, but we’re not fond of the more modern side steps that have been installed and would remove those immediately.
Power comes from the original 360ci AMC V8 mated to a GM-sourced TH400 3-speed automatic transmission and Quadra-Trac four-wheel drive system. The seller doesn’t mention any recent service, but we can spot fresh hoses and a newer windshield washer reservoir in the engine photo that was provided.
Prices for Jeep SJ’s have been on a tear in the last three years, with extremely nice examples selling for unheard of money. The Golden Eagle, rare Golden Hawk, and later Laredo models regularly sell on Bring a Trailer for $25k to even $50k, and a 1979 Chief with almost twice as many miles as this truck sold on BaT in December 2018 for $21k. Hagerty values for this model have not caught up to the current market with a #1 Cherokee price showing only $26k. The seller’s asking price for this truck is fairly reasonable considering the low mileage and mostly original condition, and if we were in the market for an SJ we’d reach out and investigate further.