1996 Jeep Cherokee Turbodiesel Is Scrapyard Junkyard Treasure

Jackson Wheeler
6 Min Read


Nearly a decade ago, I documented the inhabitants of a spectacular car graveyard in Sweden. Since that time, my explorations of discarded automotive history had been confined to the junkyards of the United States, but last week I took a whirlwind tour of the scrapyards—as they’re known over there—of Northern England.

I photographed everything from a Bentley S3 to an Alfa Romeo Brera S on that trip; the saga now begins with the first scrapyard inmate I shot after roaring out of Heathrow in a rented A-Class saloon.

sherwood forest exit sign on m1 motorway

Murilee Martin

There is only one genuine American-style self-service junkyard chain in Britain, and that’s Copart-owned U-Pull-It. U-Pull-It has but two locations in the UK, and the main focus of this trip was the yard in York.

On the way during the four-hour drive to York from London, though, is a legendary old-school scrapyard that was recommended by several British friends: Albert Looms, located in Derby. The road signs near this yard referenced locations that leap right out of English history, specifically the legend of Robin Hood; Albert Looms is about five miles from Nottingham and 10 miles from Sherwood Forest.

We were in England for just four days, so ordinary tourism was out of the question for us. This trip would be all about visiting scrapyards by day and drinking beer at night.

Jet-lagged and with the sun sinking fast, we pulled into the Albert Looms parking lot, asked if we might walk around the yard (that’s the policy at a dismantler, known as a breaker’s yard in Britain) and were stunned by the awesomeness of this pair of Land Rover Defender pickups before even seeing the inventory.

albert looms scrapyard in britain

Murilee Martin

The employees of Albert Looms were excited to have a couple of American junkyard aficionados checking out their establishment fresh off the plane, and they were far friendlier than most of their counterparts on our side of the Atlantic.

Northern England has some dialects that can be tough for a Yank—or a Londoner, for that matter—to decipher, but since most of our interactions were in scrapyards and pubs we managed to get by via subject matter familiar to both sides.

My companion on this trip (and the guy who thought up the idea of the trip in the first place) was renowned automotive journalist and 24 Hours of Lemons judge Andrew Ganz. Albert Looms has all manner of not-found-in-the-USA inventory, but Andrew is an XJ Cherokee collector and he beelined right for the one Jeep in the yard.

After securing permission to extract parts ourselves (this is de rigueur at dismantlers/breakers), he got to work removing the Europe-only XJ taillights while I gazed, awestruck by all the Vauxhall Tigras and Citroën Picassos.

1996 jeep cherokee in british scrapyard

Murilee Martin

The XJ Cherokee went on sale in Europe as a 1985 model, and it was available there all the way through the end in 2001. While a Renault diesel was available in North American XJs during the middle 1980s, few bought them.

In diesel-loving Europe, however, oil-burning XJs sold very well; these received the 2.1-liter SOHC Renault turbodiesel through 1994 and then the VM Motori pushrod 2.5-liter turbodiesel after that. This Italian-made engine was rated at 114 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque.

This is a four-wheel-drive version with the Aisin five-speed manual transmission.

1996 jeep cherokee in british scrapyard

Murilee Martin

Right-hand-drive Cherokees were sold new in the United States, for use by mail carriers, but they are extremely rare. The only example of an RHD Cherokee I’ve ever found in an American car graveyard was a ’95 originally sold in Japan and then brought back over for postal service.

The taillights from this Cherokee cost just £20 (about $25), and the employees were happy to accept American license plates in trade for some unobtainium-in-America emblems. This Vauxhall badge will reside in a place of honour on my garage wall.

fish and chips with mushy peas in york, england

Murilee Martin

After that, it was on to York and a well-earned dinner of fish and chips with mushy peas, washed down with pints of bitter at an 18th-century pub. Check in later for more Junkyard Scrapyard Treasures from this expedition!

It appears they used USDM television commercials for the mid-1990s XJ in the UK.

We’ll need to go Down Under to see an XJ advert with the steering wheel on the right.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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