FSJ Cherokee Trim Packages

If you’ve followed me for awhile, you might have realized that I am sort of a Cherokee aficionado. I got my first Cherokee in 2009 which I replaced in 2010 with a 5-speed. After The Little Red Jeep reached the end of its life with me, it was replaced by yet ANOTHER one. Plus, I have my sweet vintage Cherokee. If you hear me talk about my cars, however, you’ll mostly hear things like “XJ” or “FSJ” (or “SJ”). I’ve picked up the Jeep model parlance.

So what’s the deal with all of these different models? Where did they come from? The following is a description of SJ Cherokee trim packages from its inception in 1974 to the end of its run in 1983. Click to jump to a summary table.

Predecessors to the Jeep Cherokee

The Cherokee’s roots begin with the Willy’s Station Wagon produced from 1946 until 1965.

By the mid-1960s, however, Jeep decided to replace the Jeep Station Wagon with the Jeep Wagoneer on the “SJ” platform. This station wagon model was available in both two door and four door models and with or without four wheel drive. After 1967, two wheel drive was discontinued and after 1968 the two door model was also discontinued. The Wagoneer continued to evolve as a family vehicle and remained in production through 1991 as the Grand Wagoneer.

Introduction of the SJ Cherokee

In 1974, Jeep introduced the Jeep Cherokee using the SJ platform of the Wagoneer. The Cherokee was marketed as a “youthful and sporty” alternative to the family-focused Wagoneer and was meant to keep customers buying Jeeps instead of Ford Broncos or Chevrolet K5 Blazers.

1974 Jeep Cherokee sales brochureThe 1974 Jeep Cherokee came in two models. The base model had black window moldings and painted bumpers. The “S” model had chrome bumpers, Native American themed striping, aluminum wheels, a roof rack, and “bright” window moldings. Cherokees had drum brakes front and rear however front disk brakes were an option. In 1975, electronic ignition was added to Cherokees and The trim tape on “S” models was changed from the 1974 model year. This new trim was used again for the 1976 model year.

For the 1976 model year, in addition to the base and “S” models, the Cherokee Chief model was added with wider axles and fender flares, a low gloss black tape decal that showed “Cherokee Chief” in the body color.

In the 1977 model year, a 4-door Cherokee was introduced (this means that there were two SJ-platform four-door models as both the Cherokee and Wagoneer had four door variants). A wide track version of the Cherokee “S” was added in addition to the wide track Cherokee Chief. Four door models only came in narrow track versions. A new version of the “S” model trim tape was introduced and used for both 1977 and 1978.

For the 1978 model year few changes were made to the Cherokee line up. The following photo is from the 1978 Jeep sales brochure and it shows the differences between the different models. Clockwise from upper left is a 4-door Cherokee “S”, a wide track 2-door Cherokee “S”, a wide track Cherokee Chief, and a narrow track 2-door Cherokee “S”:

Front End Changes

In 1979, the Cherokee grill was revised with its most prominent change being to square headlights. The “S” model trim was revised again (for the 4th time) and used in 1979 and 1980. The “S” model continued to be available in 2-door narrow track and 4-door wide or narrow track models while the Cherokee Chief continued as a wide track only model.

A new trim package, the Golden Eagle, was also introduced. The Golden Eagle was a wide-track 2-door model with beige denim seats, a large eagle decal and tape striping on the hood, “Golden Eagle” lettering on the lower doors, “bronze tone” rear quarter windows, a brush guard. and painted gold wheels with a black stripe.

In 1980, Jeep added two trim packages to the lineup of “S” model, Golden Eagle, and Cherokee Chief: the Limited and the Laredo. The “S” continued to be the only model available with 4-doors and with a choice between wide track and narrow track versions. The Chief and Golden Eagle models were also unchanged from 1979.

The Laredo model was a two door wide track model with special striping (either silver and grey or gold and brown) and badging. It also featured extra sound deadening insulation, extra plush carpeting, a special seating package, and some interior striping to coordinate with the outside. The Limited model was also a two door wide track model that had gold and brown striping on the lower body and on the fender flare. The Limited also had a faux woodgrain finish on the dash, cruise control and other options—in many ways, the Limited resembled a two door version of its cousin the luxurious Wagoneer.

Top: Cherokee Laredo; Bottom: Cherokee Limited

1980 Jeep Cherokee Limited Cherokee Laredo

For 1981, the Laredo package added a four door narrow track option in addition to the existing two door wide track model. The Cherokee Chief became the standard four door trim package while also adding a new body striping scheme option as well as an optional “blackout” grille. (I believe, but have not been able to confirm that the bolder of the two striping schemes was only available on the two-door model). The Limited and Golden Eagle were dropped for 1981. The “S” simply became an unbadged base model.

1981 Cherokee Chief

In 1982, the Cherokee was available as a base model 2-door, 2-door and 4-door Cherokee Chief, and 2-door and 4-door Laredo. All 2-door models were wide track while 4-door models were narrow track.

1982 Cherokee Chief 4-door

End of the SJ Cherokee:

The final year of the SJ Cherokee was 1983. The Pioneer model was added to the lineup in both two- and four-door models. It joined the Chief and Laredo that were each available in two- and four-door models. The base model Cherokee was only available in 2-door models but both wide and narrow track were available.

1983 Cherokee Pioneer:

1983 Cherokee Pioneer
Photo Credit: Dustin Libby

 

Sources:
AllPar.com: The Massive Site for Mopars, Jeep Wagoneer.
FallOut’s CJ-7 Site: Jeep Brochures.
Geepster’s Flicker: 1977 Jeep Sales Brochure1978 Jeep Sales Brochure1980 Jeep Sales Brochure.
Love to Accelerate: Jeep Brochures.
Old Car Brochures: 1981 Cherokee Brochure.

1977 Jeep Cherokee

I’m not quite sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I decided I wanted an “FSJ.” While we were living in Idaho, I briefly owned this green one but it needed a fair amount of work and Forrest and I sold it before I got a chance to even drive it. I never changed my mind about wanting one though and when an opportunity to bring this lovely beast home, I jumped at it.

Like all older vehicles, there’s things that need to be fixed, but it drove all the way from Denver to Ridgway (while towing the TJ…) and then yesterday took Dave, Jillian, and I to Telluride and then to Ouray’s Lookout Point like a champ.

Sprocket approves of the giant dog sleeping (ahem… cargo…) area:

Since it’s a 1977, it has the sexy round headlights. Jeeps have round headlights.

This lovely lady needs a name but I’m going to give it sometime to earn one.


P.S. Long time reader, Katie won the SKINourishment giveaway. Thank you so much to everyone for entering. If you didn’t win, I still encourage you to head over to SKINourishment and treat yourself today!

Minty Ford

“I bought you a truck.”

When F says something like that, I get suspicious. My husband has an uncanny ability find great deals on vehicles. Often times, they don’t stick around very often and usually “I bought you _______” is really just a joke.

This time, he found a sweet 1977 Ford F250 in a farmer’s barn. It hadn’t been driven for about seven years and was filled with the sweet aroma of mouse urine and a fairly thick layer of dirt and grime. It has some body damage to the passenger side door and fender but otherwise, it’s in pretty good shape. He towed the truck home to await some TLC. We named it Minty. I call her Minty Ford.

Last weekend we set to work on Ms. Minty: we removed the bench seat to be scrubbed and then I cleaned the whole interior. F looked at the carburetor, checked the fluids, and charged the battery.

Finally, it was time to fire it up: it fired! The fuel pump wasn’t working but for $23 dollars we were able to not only replace the pump but also to add an inline fuel filter and an air freshener. The next step is to drain the old gas and then we’ll have a running truck!

It might be a gas guzzler but it also felt really good to get the truck running rather than just taking it in for scrap. Plus, she’s really cute.

1977 13′ Scamp: Before

Before we did anything to the Scamp, I took a whole lot of photos of it. The ol’ gal is in mostly original condition so we don’t plan to change too much but it’s always nice to document a beginning to compare with later!

Out With The New, In With The Old

Sometimes in life, opportunity arises and there’s only one thing to do: take it.

Yesterday, we bid our dear Sprinter adieu. It was ours for just a year but yet we still had so much fun with it starting with our mad dash from south Florida to north Idaho, to hauling our stuff to Utah for the wedding, and being our home for the beginnings of our current adventure.

The adventures aren’t over though—not by a long shot! Last weekend, we brought home this little beauty, a 1977 13′ Scamp travel trailer.

She needs a little bit of loving care (aka Forrest is putting in an entirely new axle) but is mostly in great shape. We’re excited to welcome her to the 3Up Adventure Team.