Apart from my wife's 02 plate Golf GT TDI which she absolutely loves (and frankly, it's all the car you really need 360 days of the year) my other charge is a 1997 Jeep Cherokee XJ which I may have mentioned on occasion:
That's it freezing its nuts off outside my old house, ready to go to work. There's something very reassuring about the XJ as it has nothing too complex and everything you need. Live axles, ABS, 2WD, 4WD, Low range and comfy seats. Great heating and aircon too (the yanks can do aircon!)
Lots of bits can break - mainly wires as the harness isn't great quality - but the aftermarket support is amazing. Sadly it's all in the USA so shipping kills it but I love mine. If I had to take someone to hospital, that is the vehicle I'd take.
Mine was converted to LPG by a total dickhead using the wrong tanks and old LPG kit. By the time I bought it, the reducer had gone and the injectors were knackered. It barely ran on LPG at all. It has since been re-converted by another company local to me and then taken to Simon to actually finish the job properly. As ever, I should have just taken it to Simon in the first place!
The engine is the amazing AMC 4.0 litre, affectionately known in the Jeep community as the 4.slow as it puts out between 180 and 210 BHP depending on age and emissions spec. It's plenty for a relatively light vehicle like the XJ which weighs around 1420kg wet. For comparison that's almost 800kg lighter than a P38!! The 4.0 (or 232 cu in if you prefer) is a straight six with 7 main bearings, iron block, iron head and pushrods. It's fuel injected and pre 2000 they run on a distributor. Simple, reliable and re-buildable. Jeep made 6 million of the things and they run pretty much forever. They were killed off in the UK with the 2002 model year like so many classic engines (including our fave V8) :(
To drive, the XJ is nothing like a P38a and not what you'd expect from the outside. It's light, peppy off the line and corners flat. It's also noisy, jiggly and much smaller inside - although I'm OK at 6'4" in the front, rear space is much more limited. The brakes, when in good condition, are Perfectly.... acceptable :) It has rear drums which are a pain in the arse like all drum brakes I've encountered. There's a hiliarous self adjustment facility which needs you to rock the car back and forward a couple of feet 10 times. It works and sharpens up the rears, until you don't bother for a few months and the auto-adjusters seize again.
For towing it is plated at 3250kg which I probably wouldn't exceed without a rear disk brake conversion (you just slap on the rear disks/calipers from a ZJ)
Transmission is the bombproof AW-4 as used in many other trucks including contemporary Toyotas which makes it a bit easier to get service parts. It's a 4 speed. No modes in my year. TC locks up at about 45mph and that's it. The only pain is the lack of a 1 setting. The 2 setting is the lowest and you can sometimes get a fierce downshift when using engine braking. It's not exactly a crippling fault. If you're towing, use 3rd as it's the 1:1 ratio. All UK spec XJs that I've seen came with a transmission cooler. I did have some funky shifting in mine at about 165,000 which was solved with new transmission solenoids for about £70 for the set of 4.
The whole thing is relatively OK on cost. 20mpg UK is the offical stat, which is bearable on LPG. I got just over 50k from a set of General Grabbers, using 235/75r15 which are one size bigger than stock and look better :)
So, that's it!