We see a fair number of restomod SUVs based on icons like the Ford Bronco and Land Rover Defender, but the first-gen Jeep Cherokee doesn’t seem to get as much love. This 1980 Cherokee breaks the mold, exuding the style of the era with the vibrant stripes of the famous Golden Hawk package thanks to a company called JeepHeritage.
The first-gen Cherokee, which goes by the internal designation SJ, is less boxy and more visually complex than the XJ that followed in its footsteps. This one’s Golden Hawk package accentuates those striking lines. The base color is Bordeaux Metallic, with dark gray, brown, and beige stripes adorn the hood, flanks, and tailgate. The Golden Hawk branding is on the sides and rear. The wheels wear a bronze color that perfectly matches the rest of the body’s earth-tone palette.
This Cherokee looks particularly good from the side. The dark red body, three stripes, and bronze wheels give you lots to take in. The shiny mirror caps and roof rack don’t hurt, either. Knobby BF Goodrich all-terrain tires round out the package to give the SUV a brawny stance.
The interior has a simple, classic appearance with lots of beige upholstery. JeepHeritage sources the original Levi’s fabric to cover the seats. Leather replaces any areas that were originally vinyl. All of the wiring, glass, and seals are new, as you’d expect from a truck that costs $195,000 to start.
The engine-turned metal gauge cluster trim is a particularly eye-catching part of the cabin. The rest of the metal trim consists of smaller pieces, so this big panel grabs attention.
Instead of turning to a modern powertrain, the original buyer decided to keep the AMC 360-cubic-inch (5.9-liter) V8 under the hood. It now has a multipoint fuel injection system rather than the original carburetor. The mill’s original output is 175 horsepower or 195 hp, depending on the carb. There’s also a new stainless-steel exhaust and disc brakes at all four corners.
The powerplant, axles, transfer case, and transmission have all been rebuilt, allowing the SJ to drive like new. A frame-off restoration allowed for new paint and rust protection to be applied, meaning the owner won’t have to worry about salt destroying their truck.
The SUV has covered about 2,000 miles since the restoration, and now it’s ready for a new owner. If you want a brand new build from the company, there’s a four-year waitlist. So we suggest hopping on this one if you’re the impatient type.