XJ Cherokee with Reversed Steering Is Just as Disastrous as You’d Think

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Hoonigan takes this anxiety-inducing Jeep through already-stressful obstacle course. This should go well.

Binaries make life a lot easier. On or off, in or out, good or bad. In a car, if you turn the wheel to the left, the vehicle goes left. Spin it right, the vehicle goes right. Pretty simple stuff. So it should be easy to adapt to the exact opposite of that, correct? That’s what The Hoonigans at Scumbag Labs set out to find using an XJ Jeep Cherokee Sport.

To prepare the battered Jeep for their experiment, the Hoonigans fitted it with harnesses in the front row and a roll bar in the second row, then flipped the position of the XJ’s Pitman Arm, turning left into right and right into left. Then they set up a course at the Irwindale Speedway that consisted of a slalom, clockwise hairpin, figure 8, and “surprise light” that would tell the driver at the last second whether to go right or left (or is that left or right?).

jk-forum.com XJ Jeep Cherokee Goes in the Opposite Direction You Steer It

Hoonigans Scotto (aka Brian Scotto), Sara (aka Sara Price), Hert (aka Hertrech Eugene Jr.), and Brad take on the challenge with varying degrees of fear. Scotto admits, “Just driving it in the parking lot, it reminded me of the first time I ever drove a car when I was … 14 years old with my dad and I was just … terrified and intimidated.”

jk-forum.com XJ Jeep Cherokee Goes in the Opposite Direction You Steer It

Hert is the first to attempt the course. It goes about as well as you’d expect. He bumps into the plastic barrels that he’s supposed to steer around, gets the XJ onto three wheels at one point, runs into more obstacles, and skids until the tires smoke. He sums his experience up perfectly when he says, “That was terrifying.”

Scotto’s run goes a little better, but not by much. He nails the hairpin and gets off to a good start in the figure 8. Then things go downhill. Scotto runs into some barrels and he overcooks a turn, getting an entire side of tires off of the ground as his passenger Brad screams in terror and delight.

His antics require replacing one of the front tires. The Hoonigans decide to swap it out for a donut spare. Knowing what’s bound to happen eventually, Scotto sarcastically says, “That’s not going to up the danger level at all.”

jk-forum.com XJ Jeep Cherokee Goes in the Opposite Direction You Steer It

Sara gets into the driver’s seat next. Hert jumps in beside her. Her first run through is surprisingly clean…at first. She nails both the slalom and the hairpin, but then clobbers a barrier and slams into the surprise light. Her second round with Brad riding shotgun is even worse. Actually, it’s the exact opposite of that because Sara ends the lap by flipping the XJ Cherokee onto its roof. Luckily, she and Brad emerge from the squashed rig unharmed and with their senses of humor intact.

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management from Texas State University, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism from Austin Community College as well. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK-Forum.com and Ford-Trucks.com, Derek also contributes to other outlets. He started There Will Be Cars on Instagram and Facebook to get even more automotive content out to fellow enthusiasts.

Derek can be contacted at [email protected]

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