Design Notes Lite: 1984 Jeep Cherokee
Do you know the Pacer connection?
One is of a sketch and the other a clay model. Neither shows anything particularly shocking but each is a testament to Jeep’s foresight in the segment.
A two-box approach
The upcoming 2014 Cherokee, the KL, will be the marque’s third generation. The first was the SJ and the second the XJ; they were introduced for 1974 and 1984, respectively. Sort of appropriate that the KL is being introduced for 2014 (with the whole “4” thing going on there).
As polarizing as the new Cherokee’s styling is, the XJ’s was anything but. This drawing below is dated 1978, that’s nearly six years before its production counterpart was out and only four after the first generation debuted.
It seems to me that early in the game Jeep had a pretty solid grasp on where they were taking the XJ’s design. The angles of the front and rear ends on the production model were changed to be more vertical, the B- and C-pillars were narrowed, and some detailing was altered but the overall blocky profile was retained.
In my opinion, that blocky profile has aged very, very well.
However, what I find to be a great irony about the XJ’s linear lines is that, the design was the handy work of Dick Teague, the same guy that is credited with designing the jelly-bean-like 1975 AMC Pacer. Talk about extremes.
Below, is a picture of a clay model of the XJ. The photo was undated.
Even though the model doesn’t appear to be particularly sophisticated, there’s at least one thing about it that was notably ahead of its time. It’s got four doors.
Compared to the production version, the shape is again largely represented but, interestingly, there are two front clips proposed on it. (It’s common practice for models to incorporate different designs on the left and right sides for many reasons, including efficiency and reducing clay consumption.)
Notice the two sides of the model’s hood height are slightly different, and the angles of the parking lights and lower half of the grille also differ a bit. It appears to me that the driver’s side version, having a raised hood midsection and tucked front end, was influenced by the first generation Cherokee’s design.
I thought it noteworthy, however, that even though the passenger side looks more like what made it to production, it is labeled “Proposal B” at the bottom middle of the photo.
Photo credit: Peter C. Sessler