My Jeep Cherokee Sport, My Girl: Creative Nonfiction
Have you ever had a good old automobile that just wouldn’t quit? You drive her an’ you drive her, an’ all you have to do is put gas in her an’ change the oil once in a while. Oh, sure, there’s always that occasional brake job an’ new tires, but that old vehicle just keeps hummin’ down the road.
I got me a Jeep Cherokee Sport. No, not a Jeep Grande Cherokee an’ not one o’ them CJ’s or Wranglers. Got me a Jeep Cherokee Sport, an XJ model. Oh yeah, that’s what I got. They quit makin’ ‘em back in ‘01. Started makin’ em in ‘84 an’ other than puttin’ a computer in there, that vehicle barely changed in seventeen years. Now we call ‘em SUV’s, but when the Jeep Cherokee Sport first came out it was called a station wagon. Imagine that. A station wagon. Far as I’m concerned, it’s a sport utility vehicle like no other. Faster than pretty much anything else from zero to sixty. After that it ain’t much, but they are fast out o’ the blocks.
I got mine three years ago and she needed some tender lovin’ care. I put a new wheel hub on the driver’s side. Put one on the other side later. She needed a new master brake cylinder too. But she’s a good vehicle. Oh yeah, just gas and oil an’ she’s good to go.
I had to put a new crank position sensor in there a couple o’ years ago. An’ then a cam position sensor. An’ a coil pack. Then another crank sensor an’ another cam sensor. But she’s been one reliable automobile. She had 196,000 miles on her when I got her an’ now she has 235,000. I’m takin’ her to 400k. She’ll do it too.
One solid piece of mechanical genius she is. Some automobile magazine called her one o’ the top twenty vehicles ever made. That’s ‘cause o’ the straight six, four liter engine under the hood. Bullet proof. Best motor AMC ever made. Oh yeah! Got me one. Gas an’ oil is all she needs.
When I bought her, all I could see was that fine, jet black, paint job. She was as clean as a whistle. Well, after a quick once over that’s how I saw her. Then I did notice a little rust down on the quarter panels. But hey, she’s a Michigan Jeep and we use salt on the roads in winter. Takes its toll on a vehicle it does. I was underneath once wirin’ up the muffler an’ I noticed a big hole under the driver’s seat. Yep, that rust had eaten clear through. The hole may have gotten bigger since, but, hey, she’s a good vehicle. Just hope I don’t fall through that hole when I’m cruisin’ down the road doin’ seventy.
I drove her from Michigan to Montana once. Seventy five MPH all the way an’ she handled it just fine. I was in the Big Sky State for six months an’ that Jeep saw some rough mountain roads. Washboards, potholes an’ I swear a crater or two, an’ my Jeep Cherokee Sport handled ‘em all.
Out in Montana they don’t use salt on the roads in the winter. Don’t know how they melt the ice, and I ain’t stickin’ around to find out. But they got Jeep Cherokee Sports out there too an’ ain’t no rust on ‘em neither. They look like they was just drove off the sales floor. Even the county uses ‘em. Nice shiny Jeep Cherokee Sports, lookin’ like they was new yesterday. They say a lot o’ folks bought Cherokees to be suburban limousines. Just drove ‘em around on the city streets. What a shame. Like a workhorse with no work to do. Wonder how many o’ them city folk called their Jeep, ‘my girl?’
Oh yeah, she’s a good vehicle. Drove her right through a creek one time. Had my girl stand out there in the water an’ film the whole thing. Yep, she is one fine girl. Solid as a rock, that is if you overlook the rusty spots. I just put on a new muffler an’ tail pipe. Finally shook the old one loose on those Montana mountain two tracks.
Had the brakes changed today. They had to pull all the brake lines an’ replace ‘em. Too much rust. One o’ these days I’ll get a couple o’ regulators for the ‘lectric windows. The passenger side window won’t go down with the control on that side. Gotta roll her down from the driver’s side. The window on the driver’s side goes up and down fine. Just don’t know when to quit. Gets all the way up or down and makes this rattlin’ sound loud enough to wake the dead. But she’s a fine vehicle. The heater still works. But the fan only blows on high. No AC, sorry to say.
She’s taken me on some wild rides an’ seen me through every time, in spite o’ all them little flaws. I don’t even see ‘em when I look at her. I just see that jet black, shiny coat o’ paint. She’s a good old girl.
I got a nice Yakima roof rack for my kayak, an’ that old Jeep carries that boat with not even a little drop in gas mileage. Yep, stays right at about 16 mpg no matter what.
Did I mention the bumper? Rusted right off the back. Got a brand new one at a junk yard for $75. Now she’s as good as new. Oh yeah, she’s my girl and I’m stickin’ by her to the very end.
I’ll hop in her in the mornin’ an’ roll outa Missoula. I’m headin’ to Albuquerque. She’ll git me there just fine too. Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico. Lookin’ forward to those1200 miles in my Jeep Cherokee Sport, My Girl. Sad to say though, this will likely be her last long trip. I'm movin' up to a Dodge Ram, diesel pickup. Sweet ride.