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2000 Jeep Wrangler TJ - Stretch

Posted in Features on October 1, 2001 Comment (0)
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Having owned at least one of every 4x4 built since the early Eighties, Phil Smith of Cedar City, Utah, knew that he wanted his next vehicle to be a stretched Jeep TJ, one that would not only have greater interior volume but would climb better on extreme obstacles. Phil turned to American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) of Missoula, Montana, which offers stock wheelbase TJs, as well as 104-inch and 112-inch stretched models. Phil chose to go with the 104-inch wheelbase because it would give him more interior room and better stability on the steep terrain and still be a manageable size for tighter trails. As a point of reference, the wheelbase of Phil's TJ is very close to that of the old CJ-8 (103 inches), and we all know how well Scramblers work.

A 2000 TJ Sport with a 4.0L straight-six and a three-speed automatic tranny was purchased directly from AEV, and after going over what Phil wanted, they went to work. While AEV mainly does turnkey conversions that don't void the factory warranty, Phil chose to just have them stretch the Jeep and supply a set of AEV's rocker guards. He planned to do the rest himself with help fromAbove All Design of Cedar City, Utah.

With the exception of a Turbo City throttle body, a K&N air filter, two Quick Air II compressors, and two Optima Red Top batteries, the engine was left stock. The 231 transfer case was helped out with a Teraflex fixed-output tailshaft kit and a reinforced transfer case skidplate/crossmember. Tom Wood's Custom Driveshafts built the front and rear CV shafts

Phil departed from his normal routine of installing a custom frontend and instead stuck with the stock Dana 30. A Lock-Right locker and 4.56 gears were installed along with a Four X Doctor front differential guard. While he carries a full complement of spare front axles, Phil hasn't needed them. Yet, the factory Dana 44 rearend was treated to 4.56 gears, a Detroit Locker, and a Four X Doctor rear differential guard.

The suspension was designed and fabricated by Above All Auto Design with help and input from Phil. Teraflex 4-inch heavy-duty coils with 1-1/4-inch spacers front and rear were used, but the control arms are custom. The 36-inch-long, 2-1/2-inch O.D., 9/16-inch-thick chrome-moly tubing makes the arms extra beefy. The arms use factory rubber bushings on the axle end and 1-1/4-inch Heims on the frame end. Skyjacker shocks reside at all four corners.

Phil mounted a set of 35x12.50R15LT Mickey Thompson Radial Baja Claws on 15x8-inch American Racing Outlaw IIs with Champion bead locks to keep everything in place. Phil reports that the Baja Claws are the absolute best tire he's ever run in the snow and the sand.

The interior was Rhino-Lined by AEV, and a Cobra 29 NW ST CB radio was installed along with a Sun Performance 2-gallon air tank. Off Your Rocker diamond-plate rear corners keep that part of the TJ in shape, while rocker guards from AEV and front and rear bumpers from Bulletproof Manufacturing round out the protection package. The Bulletproof rear bumper also has a nifty swing-out spare tire carrier. A Warn HS9500i winch was installed up front.

Phil's stretched TJ performs great. We went along for a trail ride and were amazed at the improved ride that the extra 10-1/2 inches in the wheelbase makes. The Jeep also felt quite stable on steep climbs. Not stable enough, though, since Phil has managed to put the Jeep on its side once on one of Cedar City's tough trails. After a few minor repairs, the Jeep looks like new, which is good, because Phil already has the itch to build something else.

SPECIFICATIONS
Owner/hometown: Phil Smith/
Cedar City, Utah
Make/model: 2000 Jeep TJ {{{Wrangler}}}
Engine: 4.0L straight-six
Induction: Turbo City throttle body
Transmission: {{{Chrysler}}} three-
speed automatic
Transfer case: Dana {{{300}}}
Frontend: Dana 30 with
Lock-Right
Rearend: Dana 44 with Detroit
Ring-and-pinion: 4.56
Suspension: Teraflex coils and
spacers, Skyjacker
shocks, custom
control arms
Tires/wheels: 35x12.50R15LT Mickey
Thompson Baja
Claws/15x8 American
Racing Outlaw IIs with
Champion bead locks

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