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Solar Flare

Posted in Features on March 19, 2003
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The beauty of owning a Jeep is that there exists such a wide array of aftermarket parts that you can literally rebuild your vehicle in whatever way you see fit. From the ground up, there is very little that cannot be accomplished to produce your ideal vehicle.

When Blair Will of San Diego started working on his '90 XJ Cherokee, he did not limit himself to any specific manufacturer or line of parts. Instead, he cherry-picked the industry to put together a vehicle that would meet the demands of both his imagination and his off-road prowess.

Beginning with the axles, Blair stuck with the stock Dana 30 housing up front but rebuilt it using 4.88 gears and an ARB, with a 4xDoctor diff guard to protect the outside. In back, Blair had MIT build him a Dana 44 with matching 4.88 gears, an ARB, and another diff guard from the 4xDoc. Capping the corners are 15x8-inch American Racing rims inside 35x12.50R15 BFG Mud Terrains. Motivating the axles is a stock AX-15 five-speed tranny and a stock NP231 T-case, which backs up to a 4.0L straight-six that has been equipped with Python high-flow injectors and a late-model ('96-and-newer) cooling system that replaced the stock plastic tank. Connecting the drivetrain and axles is a set of custom driveshafts from Fleet Driveline in San Diego.

When it was time to work on the suspension, Blair really put his creativity to work. Up front, he combined 4-1/2-inch ZJ coils, 2-inch coil spacers, and control arm brackets from Rubicon Express with upper and lower control arms from Tomken. Completing the frontend are bumpstop extensions and a WJ track bar from Off Road General Store, a track bar drop-bracket from Rusty's Off Road, JKS bar pin eliminators, Warrior Products bayonet shock mount eliminators, and Pro Comp ES9000 shocks. To make the steering work with the new setup, Blair used a 4-inch drop Pitman arm from Tomken, a new tie rod from Rusty's, a custom drag link from MIT, and a Pro Comp steering stabilizer. At the back of the truck, Blair installed leaf spring packs and extended shackles from Rubicon Express, 1-1/2-inch Fabtech lift blocks, OE Comanche bumpstops, ORGS bumpstop extensions, and another set of ES9000 shocks.To prepare the exterior of his XJ for the kind of four-wheeling he had planned, Blair equipped the Cherokee with an array of hardcore parts, including custom rocker skids from McKay Fabrication, front and rear bumpers from Custom 4x4 Fabrications, a Canyon City spare tire rack, a Wilderness Accessories 6-inch roof rack, Rusty's Off Road cut-out fender flares, a Warn winch, and diamond plate rear panel guards.

Inside, this Cherokee appears to be nearly bone stock. It's not until Blair fires up the stereo that you realize what an audiophile he is. The sound system he's currently running includes an Alpine CD player and changer, two 12-inch JL Audio subwoofers, four MB Quart mids with separate tweeters, four Altec Lansing 6-1/2-inch woofers, PPI crossovers, 800 watts of PPI amplification, and a Rockford Fosgate Parametric EQ. Who says you can't play music on the trail?

Blair's Cherokee is a unique example of technology meeting imagination, and with the modifications this XJ has undergone, we think it will be on the trails for a long time to come.

SPECIFICATIONS
Owner/hometown: Blair Will/ San Diego
Year/make/model: '90 {{{Jeep Cherokee}}} XJ
Engine: 4.0L I-6
Transmission: AX-15
Transfer case: NP231
Frontend: Dana 30 with ARB locker
Rearend: Dana 44 with ARB locker
Ring-and-pinion: 4.88
Suspension: Mixed manufacturers
Wheels/tires: 35x12.50R15 BFG Mud Terrains/15x8-inch American Racing
03054wd 01z+1990 Jeep Cherokee XJ+Drivers Side View On Mound
03054wd 02s+1990 Jeep Cherokee XJ+Rear Passengers Side View On Mound
Will outfitted the stock Dana 30 with 4.88 gears, an ARB locker, and a diff guard from 4xDoctor. Will outfitted the stock Dana 30 with 4.88 gears, an ARB locker, and a diff guard from 4xDoctor.
This Dana 44 was custom-built by MIT and houses 4.88 gears and an ARB. This Dana 44 was custom-built by MIT and houses 4.88 gears and an ARB.
The suspension on Blair Will's XJ is a unique mix of parts from Rubicon Express, Tomken, and a variety of other aftermarket manufacturers. The bumper was built by Custom 4x4 Fabrications, while the spare tire carrier came from Canyon City. The suspension on Blair Will's XJ is a unique mix of parts from Rubicon Express, Tomken, and a variety of other aftermarket manufacturers. The bumper was built by Custom 4x4 Fabrications, while the spare tire carrier came from Canyon City.
The front bumper came courtesy of Custom 4x4 Fabrications and houses a Warn winch. The front bumper came courtesy of Custom 4x4 Fabrications and houses a Warn winch.
The XJ sits tall on a set of 35-inch BFG Mud Terrains mounted on 15x8-inch American Racing rims. The XJ sits tall on a set of 35-inch BFG Mud Terrains mounted on 15x8-inch American Racing rims.
The stock 4.0L straight-six has been equipped with a K&N air filter, Python high-flow injectors, and a late-model cooling system. The stock 4.0L straight-six has been equipped with a K&N air filter, Python high-flow injectors, and a late-model cooling system.

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