Cherokee Trim Packages
Contributed By: Bill Kelsey
Ian Conley wrote:
> I currently own a 79' Cherokee Chief S. Does anyone know what the
> difference is between the S and the regular Chief if any?
Ian, do you *really* have a 79 foot Cherokee? Yikes, and the rest of
us think we get bad mileage!
OK, all kidding aside, you are really asking the wrong question
here. Jeep never produced a "Cherokee Chief S". Rather, there
were two separate trim/option packages, the "S" and the "Cherokee
Chief". And the short answer to a question about the difference
between the "S" and the "Cherokee Chief" is "they are decorated
The confusion between the "S" and the "Cherokee Chief" has two
sources, I think. First, because when the widetrack Cherokee was
introduced (as recently discussed on the list, late in the 1975
model year as an early 1976 model) it was available only with the
Cherokee Chief package, the widetrack became identified as the
"Cherokee Chief"; even Jeep used this designation in its literature
for 1976. Even after the Model 17 was available with other (or no)
trim/option packages in 1977 or 1978, the name stuck.
Second, Jeep used the "S" medallions, which were originally part of
the "S" trim/option package which predated the widetrack
Cherokee, on all Cherokees other than those with the basic
"standard" trim. Why Jeep didn't have another version made
without the "S" is unknown (probably to save money), but it has led
to confusion such as you have experienced. In 1980 Jeep left these
medallions off the new high end "Laredo" package, and in 1981
dropped the "S" package and the medallions altogether.
The long detailed answer follows:
In model year 1979 there were 3 Cherokee body-types and 4 trim
- Model 16 (2-door narrowtrack Cherokee), introduced in model year 1974
- Model 17 (2-door widetrack Cherokee, called "wide wheel" in 1979), introduced as an early 1976 model
- Model 18 (4-door narrowtrack Cherokee), introduced in model year 1977
1979 option/trim packages, from most basic to most extensive:
- standard (stripper) on all models
- "S" (sport) on all models
- Cherokee Chief (Model 17 only)
- Golden Eagle (Model 17 only; first offered in model year 1979)
In 1980, the Laredo was added as the new high-option Cherokee
option/trim package, beyond the Golden Eagle. In 1981 the "S"
and "Golden Eagle" packages were dropped, and the Chief became
available on both the Model 17 and Model 18 (and became the
standard option/trim package for the 4-door Cherokee).
All Model 17s were the same other than standard drivetrain options.
1979 Cherokee trim/option packages:
- The basic "standard" option/trim package, available on all Cherokee
models, consisted of: (interior) vinyl front &rear bench seats with
retractable seatbelts (Model 18); vinyl front buckets &rear bench
seats with retractable seatbelts with front passenger's folding seat
back (Model 16 &17); padded sun visors; padded instrument panel;
12" inside day/night mirror; heater &defroster; glove box lock; oil,
volt, temp, fuel gauges; color- keyed vinyl floor and cargo area
covering; cigar lighter; armrests, front and rear; front ash tray;
(exterior) chrome- plated aluminum bumpers front and rear; lights
(head, parking, tail &stop, backup, directional (with lane changer
feature, side safety; outside left (driver's) mirror; bright ("chrome")
ventwindow, windshield, tailgate window moldings; high impact
resistent windshield; "4-wheel drive" badges on the front fenders.
- The "S" option/trim package, available on all Cherokees models,
consisted of the standard feature with these changes or additions:
(interior) custom vinyl bucket seats (Western weave fabric optional);
center armrest &cushion; driver's folding seat back; passenger
assist handle; interior pillar covers (Model 18); engine-turned
instrument cluster overlay; custom door and rear quarter trim
panels; color-keyed carpeting &carpeted wheelhouse covers; rear
seat ash trays; color-keyed vinyl sports steering wheel; small "S"
medallion on the glove box door; (exterior) body side and tailgate
tape stripe (this is the stylized Indian design body decal unique to
the "S"); bright trim in rear quarter window (Model 16 &17); flipper
quarter window (Model 16 &17); large "S" medallions on the front
fenders above the "4-wheel drive" badges (Model 18) or behind the
rear quarter windows with the "4- wheel drive" badges on the front
fenders (Model 16 &17); 15"x7" aluminum wheels (Model 16 &18);
15"x8" styled steel wheels painted white with red stripe (Model 17);
flared front &rear fenders (Model 17); 10x15 outline white letter
"Tracker A-T" tires (Model 17).
- The Cherokee Chief option/trim package, available in 1979 only on
the Model 17, consisted of the interior features of the "S" (with
different seat covers), and included the same exterior features with
these changes: unique body two-tone paint in low gloss black
(replaced the "S" stripe); "Cherokee Chief" lettering on lower body
sides &tailgate; bright ("chrome") drip &rear roof moldings; large
"S" medallions on the front fenders with the "4- wheel drive" badges
moved to behind the rear quarter windows (that is, the reverse of the
arrangement on the Model 16 &17 "S").
- The Golden Eagle option/trim package, available in 1979 only on
the Model 17, consisted of the interior features of the Cherokee
Chief except with denim fabric seat covers and only available in tan,
with the addition of the soft-feel sports steering wheel, and included
the same exterior features with these changes: bright ("chrome")
door frame moldings; eagle decal on hood, special tape striping on
hood, cowl, body sides, and tailgate, and "Golden Eagle" lettering
on lower door panels (replacing the "Cherokee Chief" decals);
"bronze-tone" tinted rear quarter &flipper windows; black frush
guard; 15"x8" styled steel wheels painted gold with black stripes;
large "S" medallions behind the rear quarter windows with the "4-
wheel drive" badge on the front fenders (in the same places as on
the Model 16 &17 "S").
As can be seen, the only difference between these three option/trim
packages (and the basic "standard" option/trim level) is in how each
decorates the Model 17.
Too, to add to the confusion, in 1979 almost everything could be
ordered as an option -- so my 1979 Model 17 "S" includes
everything listed for the "Chief" and "Golden Eagle" packages
except some of the "chrome" moldings and the paint and decals
specific to the "Cherokee Chief" and the "Golden Eagle".
Aberdeen, South Dakota
'79 widetrack Cherokee "S"