The $5K XJ


1KidsA couple weeks ago in our feature about the Sentra That Wouldn’t Die we mentioned that we were proud of some guy.  That guy was Jon.  Jon has had a collection of beaters, not unlike most of us, and seems to prefer the off-road 4X4 genre of beater the most. When we reached out to him we initially were looking for a story about his current workhorse, a Toyota Tacoma, but instead got a pleasant surprise with this lunk of a Jeep instead.  Here is Jon’s $5K XJ:

When did you get your beater?
-I purchased it in February 2010 for $5000 (dubbed the 5KXJ).

What do you like about your beater?
-Everything about it was cheap. It was cheap to fix, cheap to build, and cheap to run. It was simple and fun (when it ran). It was loud, tall, covered in mud most of the time, had tons of wheel travel, and had stickers all over it.

What do you dislike about your beater?
-Like I said, everything about it was cheap. It was an absolute lemon, everything broke at least once, and when you add up a bunch of cheap parts, it gets expensive, as I found out. In short it was a money pit that got single digit gas mileage. I had to staple the headliner to the roof to keep it out of my face when I was driving down the road.

332595_10150416130660939_206603881_oWhat is the funniest thing that has happened in it?
– While wheeling at Hollister Hills SVRA in California, my friends convinced me to drive over an obstacle that was too big for my Jeep. My idle air control sensor was already on the fritz so it wouldn’t idle and I had been power braking the thing all day. So anyways, when trying to get over this rock, my “spotters” said I was clear and I ripped my exhaust clean off. Had to drive home with essentially an open header.

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Have you been on any roadtrips?
-Well, I drove it from Philly to Florida pulling a uHaul trailer when I began my career in racing. Then I drove it from Connecticut to California with no A/C and cutoff exhaust in August.IMG_0081

What is the weirdest thing you’ve had to fix or take it to the mechanic for?
-Days before I was set to move from Connecticut to California, the Jeep broke. It was unloaded from a trailer after being transported from Florida to Connecticut and wouldn’t start. Unfortunately, I was on the road for work during all of this, so needless to say I was less than pleased to return from 3 months on the road to a broken Jeep. After several failed attempts to fix it, a smoked Optima battery and fried electronics, I had it fixed at a dealership due to time constraints. Picked it up, and drove it to California the following day without fault. It wound up being a faulty, shorted out coil pack.312657_10151331994805939_753669113_n

What is the weirdest thing you’ve had to fix or take it to the mechanic for?
-Worst thing that almost happened: The afternoon after I picked my Jeep up from the dealership, I returned to my motel to pack my bag for California. A severe thunderstorm rolled through, flooding the parking lot. Lightning struck the motel, arced through flooded parking lot, and fried all the electronics in the Dodge Magnum parked next to me, totaling the vehicle. My Jeep was spared, due only to the fact that I had larger tires on it, and the puddle never got deep enough to arc the lighting through my wheels, unlike the Dodge. So I got the hell out of there, thanked my lucky starts and continued on my merry way.


-When I first put a lift kit on it, I backed it out of the garage, grinning ear to ear. On my way to the tire shop where I worked at the time (to install my big bad-ass tires that were sure to win the ladies over), the rear driveshaft exploded no less than a mile from the garage, due to a horrendous driveshaft angle. I removed the mangled shaft, slammed it in 4Hi, and kept driving. I drove it like that everyday for over a month while I waited for a custom driveshaft to get shipped to me. I eventually sold it in March 2013 for $6K (Score!)


Remember: WE NEED YOUR STORIES!!! Send your stories and some pics about your everyday cars to:   If we like it. We’ll feature it!

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