Many years ago, we featured Chad Hughes' XJ Cherokee in 4WD&SU Magazine. It wasn't the biggest or most modified XJ, but it was maybe one of the finest examples of attention to details that made it work well everywhere. Chad did it again, this time to his 1999 TJ Wrangler that he purchased with less than 7,000 miles on the odometer in 1999.
Chad immediately went to work on his Jeep, installing numerous suspension systems, 35-inch tires, and a Detroit Locker in the stock Dana 44 rearend. Chad wanted more. When it was introduced, he purchased Rubicon Express' new TJ radius long arm suspension. This was the original RE suspension that used radius arms up front and a four-link in back. He reported that this system worked well, but he didn't like the way his TJ lifted the left front and squatted in the rear on steep climbs.
Chad's XJ, which had coils up front and leaf springs in the rear, worked well. Why not set the TJ up this way and, instead of using steel leaf packs, use fiberglass? Fiberglass leafs had been used on other vehicles, such as the Corvette and GM Astro and Safari vans. The Astro leafs were, in fact, what Chad had in mind. He went to his friendly salvage yard and found a few sets of Astro rear leaf springs.
GenRight Off-Road had by this time entered the scene with their fine aluminum gas tanks and other products. Chad figured that he could stretch his TJ's wheelbase by using GenRight's gas tank and would only need about 4 inches of lift to clear 37-inch tires if he used Poison Spyder's front tube fenders and fabricated his own rear fenders. He also had other ideas to make his TJ special.
We'll show you those ideas in the photos. This is an amazing TJ. The fiberglass leafs in back ride well and, with their inherent damping, controlled. It just goes to show how attention to detail can make all the difference.
Vehicle: 1999 Jeep Wrangler TJ
Owner: Chad Hughes
Hometown: Washington City, Utah
Engine: Jeep 4.0L inline-six
Induction: Throttle body fuel injection
Transmission: Jeep 32RH three-speed automatic
Transfer Case: NP231
Low Range Ratio: 2.72:1
Front End: High-pinion Dana 44
Rear End: TJ Dana 44
Ring and Pinion: 4.88:1
Front Differential: ARB Air Locker
Rear Differential: Detroit Locker
Suspension: Custom RE radius arm front/Chad Hughes fiberglass leaf rear
Tires: 37x12.50R17LT BFGoodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM2
Wheels: 17x8 Walker Evans Racing beadlock wheels
Backspacing: 3.75 inches