I feel like I need to make something clear. I have always tried to stay true to the idea of bang for your buck.
What’s the point of going off-roading in your $50K+ rig when you can have nearly as much fun for a 100th of that price? Enter the Gambler 500. A brutal road and off road rally for $500 cars and trucks this event will test the limits of the most bottom of the bucket vehicles the state has to offer. This event takes place in multiple states including Washington, Oregon, and this year, my now home state of Michigan. The event will consist of a mixed(and secret) route involving highway, gravel roads, and ORV trails over the weekend with a camp out Saturday night. The event is big on fun and low on costs(there is no entry fee) with the only requirements being the vehicle has to be street legal and have an ORV permit.
After hearing about this event from a friend, we quickly hit up the local craigslists to find our rig. I wanted something that, even after this event, I could abuse on some of the trails and maybe even do a overland style road trip in. After looking at several old trucks, blazers, and a perfect( but quickly snapped up) pathfinder we finally found the perfect vehicle. A $400 1998 Jeep XJ Cherokee Sport with 4wd and 264,000 miles. The previous owner used it as a daily driver until it blew a head gasket and has been since been neglected. Due to the overwhelming amount of spare motors and parts for these, and the relative ease of the fix, we decided to pick it up. A day and a trailer fiasco later, the “Share-okee” had a new home. It is the best $200 I have ever spent.
I guarantee it.
For $400 you don’t expect a lot, but I was actually incredibly surprised. There was the expected rust under the doors and a dent here or there but the 4×4 works, the transmission seemed to work, and the frame was spotless.
The only real issue is that inline 6, which would start but die without any throttle and sounded like an old steam engine. The oil is full of coolant and the exhaust header has a bad leak, but overall I think it’s salvageable. Worst comes to worst we will have to find a replacement, which can be had for the remainder of our budget.
So there you have it, our beater with a heater (and Aircon!) project has begun. The Gambler is a few months a way, and we have a lot of work to do but I couldn’t be more excited or optimistic.
Over the next coming months I will be updating with our build and eventually a report on the event. Stay Tuned.
For more info on the Detroit event you can visit their facebook page here
Also look for a Gambler event in your area here