As forecourt wars rage all over the country with desperate drivers literally fighting to get those vital last few drops of diesel into their tanks or to fill their door pockets with Buxton-branded Molotov cocktails, what better vehicle could there be to show your disdain for the state of modern society than a 4.7-litre V8 Jeep Grand Cherokee?
There have been bigger-engined sheds in the past like the odd S500 Merc, but Shed honestly thought those times were long gone until he spotted this throbber in the PH classifieds. 1999 was the first year for the new WG model Grand Cherokee, which replaced the old pushrod V8s with a new chain-timed PowerTech V8. Nowadays we commonly read about fuel-sipping cars whose boring fuel gauge needles hardly move from one week to the next, or batteried-up cars that don't even inhale let alone burn through vapour, but the 4.7 Cherokee was a proper old school juicebox that really put the consumption into fuel consumption.
It weighed more than 1.9 tonnes but it could tow 3,360kg, which is why quite a few of them were bought in the carefree days when petrol was sloshing around like wine or something. The official combined figure of 18.1mpg was nearer to twelve in the real world, or eight in the surreal one if you nailed a Swift Conqueror twin-wheel caravan on the back. The 17-gallon tank would easily get you from one petrol pump to the next, but only if both were on the same forecourt.
Normally with Jeeps of a certain age, or any age probably, expectations of robustness and general quality are pretty low, but this particular specimen looks oddly tidy for its 171,000 miles. The MOT expires in November but the advisories from the last test look quite benign: a little play in the front suspension, some nearside tyre edge wear, and a bit of brown on the back brake plates. We'll come back to that tyre thing in a minute. Generally speaking though, everything that has appeared on the MOT sheets down the years has been innocuous consumable stuff.
Although it was less torquey than previous lumps, the PT V8 was reasonably reliable as long as you showed it a little love on the maintenance side every now and then. Leaving the same oil in for decades would not end well. Oil sludge or 'foam' would build up if a problem developed with the PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) system, which it often did. 4.7s didn't like to run hot either, so regular checking of the thermostat, water pump and rad was good practice.
The QuadraDrive AWD system was new to this vehicle, its 4-All Time mode sending 100 percent of the torque to the back wheels in normal conditions. You had to be careful only to use the right fluids for the transfer cases of either this or the Quadra-Trac II transmissions however if you wanted to avoid binding and/or scrubbing from the front tyres during parking manoeuvres. You also needed to be very careful about tyre sizes. Even slight differences between them could trash transfer cases. Irregular wear was your clue to bad things ahead, so if you're being tempted by this Chero you'd want to look into the nearside edge wear we mentioned earlier.
The gearbox was interesting. Chrysler called it a 4-speed auto but it actually had six potential ratios, only five of which were programmed to operate (hmm). There were issues with the differentials, wiring in general, and the aircon's 'Blend Door' which would result in it either blowing full hot or full cold. Before it was worked out that you could mend that with a couple of hours labour by coming in through the glove box, owners would find themselves facing hefty bills for the removal of the entire dash. Early cars suffered from seizing brake calipers and warped discs.
If Shed owned this Jeep he would enjoy the meaty rumble of the exhaust and he would never have to worry about fuel either because of his car storage scheme for the villagers and his ownership of a siphon tube. Plus, he would only have to look at the driver's seat to be reminded of his wife's unique face and complexion. Think a slightly less attractive version of Jack Palance in City Slickers - 'like a saddlebag with eyes' - and you won't be far off.
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