Big-block Jeep Cherokee Chief Has Hot Rod Soul

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Jeep Cherokee Chief

It may simply look like a clean restomod on the outside but a 454 Chevy V8 heart makes this classic SUV into a new beast.

Without a doubt, the ’70s were a great time to be a Jeep fan. The brand just kept cranking out awesome special editions, packages that enhanced their already awesome model lineup. However, the mid to late ’70s wasn’t such a great time for fans of performance vehicles. The gas crisis essentially destroyed the muscle car, forcing us to drive incredibly slow (and ironically inefficient) slugs. All of which makes this incredible big block Chevy-powered Jeep Cherokee Chief, which we spotted over at Gateway Classic Cars, a bit of a rolling irony.

But make no mistake – as ironic as it may be, it’s still incredibly awesome. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a hot rodded SUV, of course. But most of the time people opt to lower them or render their off-road capability useless. That isn’t the case here. On the outside, you might simply think that this is a clean restomod of sorts. But the louvered front bumper and ram air hood hint that there’s something truly special going on underneath it all.

Jeep Cherokee Chief

Start it up or lift the hood, and the gig is up. There’s no mistaking that 454 for anything else, whether by looks or sound. Details on the build are scant, but we can spot an aftermarket intake, carb, and headers, if nothing else. And if that isn’t enough, there appears to be nitrous on hand in case you need to blow away some modern day musclecar at the local stoplight drags.

Jeep Cherokee Chief

With a 3-speed automatic transmission and steep 4.56 gears, we’re betting this Jeep Cherokee Chief leaps off the line pretty well, too. But despite its brute force, a modern diamond stitched interior looks quite comfy. So here we have a classic SUV that looks like it can do just about anything well. Yet at its heart, it’s all hot rod!

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Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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