From Rust Bucket to Racer in Six Short Weeks
Moab, Utah — with its picturesque landscape and extensive trail systems — attracts outdoor adventurers from around the world. Each spring thousands make the annual pilgrimage to the Easter Jeep Safari, bringing in a stellar collection of modified Jeeps and killer customs.
We met up with Carter Reed from Zone Offroad Products to check out the company’s latest build, a 1990 Jeep Comanche coined Project MJ.
Zone Offroad designs and manufactures lift kits and off-road accessories for a wide range of trucks and Jeeps. After locking in a spot on the 2011 Ultimate Adventure, the crew over at Zone decided they couldn’t show up in a run-of-the-mill TJ or JK, so the decision was made to build an MJ. The thinking was to not just build any MJ, but one that would have broad appeal to both desert racers and crawlers. With a short six-week build deadline they quickly sourced two rusty Michigan donor trucks and got busy tearing down and gathering parts.
With an empty shell they started out by plating the unibody with 10-gauge steel for additional strength and rigidity. From there the cage was mocked up, Hannemann fenders and bedsides were fitted, and the drivetrain was prepped. In place of the worn out 4.0L went a brand new 4.6L stroker mated to the stock AX-15 and NP231. Driveshafts came from J.E. Reel Driveline and axles were sourced from a J8 Wrangler with the military spec Dana 44/Dana 60 getting some attention in the form of a custom sleeve and truss for the front. It was then outfitted with Reid knuckles, Superior gears and shafts, and ARB Air Lockers. Suspension came in the form of a prototype front four-link and rear triangulated four-link long arm with 14-inch Fox 2.5 remote reservoir coilovers at all four corners.
From there, the bumpers and rock sliders went into place. Hidden beneath the low profile front bumper a Warn 9.5 XP winch is ready for recovery while an AGR Rock Ram assists with turning the 40-inch Maxxis tires. With the mechanical wrapped up, the guys focused their efforts on completing the body, cage, wiring, and accessories before quick stops for paint and graphics in a frenzy to the finish to make the starting point of the Ultimate Adventure.
The plan for this truck was simple, build a clean, capable, full-bodied Comanche, that would be right at home on the street or out on the trail. Zone used the opportunity to not only build a one-off killer custom, but to design and test new products to expand their Jeep line with innovative new products in the future.
|Vehicle:||1990 Jeep Comanche MJ|
|Owner/Hometown:||Zone Offroad/Coldwater, Michigan|
|Engine:||Golen 4.6L Stroker|
|Transmission:||AX-15 five-speed manual|
|Transfer case/low range ratio:||NP231/2.72:1|
|Front end:||Mopar J8 JK Dana 44 w/ Reid knuckles|
|Rear end:||Mopar J8 JK Dana 60|
|Ring and Pinion:||5.38 Superior|
|Front Differential:||ARB Air Locker|
|Rear Differential:||ARB Air Locker|
|Suspension:||Zone prototype front four-link/rear triangulated four-link long arm with 14-inch Fox remote reservoir coilovers|
|Tires:||40x13.50x17 Maxxis Trepador radials|
|Wheels/Backspacing:||17x9 Mickey Thompson Sidebiters with Inner Air Lock beadlocks/5 inches|
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