The 2017 Jp Dirt ’N Drive presented by Jeep was a huge success, and the on- and off-road adventure event is taking on a life of its own and has become an annual tradition for many Jeepers. One of those is Jeff Meikle of Utica, Michigan.
Jeff was able to land a spot on the Jp Dirt ’N Drive for the second year in a row, and we immediately recognized his nicely built ’00 Jeep XJ Cherokee. Beyond the NEEDIRT license plate and what he calls “orange-ish” paint, we could see the rig was built for dirt road exploration, but it had a sleeper vibe that had us taking a deeper look this time around.
We popped the hood and were pleasantly surprised. The powerplant was also in full sleeper mode. Although to outward appearances it was your standard 4.0L I-6, this specific example was built upon a Golen Performance 4.7L stroker block and breathed in through a custom air intake and out through a JBA exhaust header. The 4.7L I-6 stroker was backed by a rebuilt Aisin AW-4 automatic transmission and NP231J transfer case with an Advance Adapters Slip Yoke Eliminator.
The front and rear axles were ditched in favor of JK Wrangler Dana 44 units for their extra width and strength. The front was loaded with 4.88 gears and an Eaton E-Locker, and suspended underneath the Jeep using a Clayton Off-Road long arm kit with 6 1/2-inch BDS springs and Bilstein shocks. The rear leaf springs were removed to make room for a Clayton Off-Road long-arm coil conversion kit with Fox shocks, and they swung a JK Wrangler Dana 44 loaded with a matching set of 4.88 gears and an Eaton E-Locker. The 35-inch Goodyear MT/R tires have plenty of room for articulation thanks to a set of Notch Customs fender flares.
To help steer Jeff’s XJ Cherokee through the rough and rocky stuff, he added a PSC hydraulic steering system complete with box, pump, and double-ended ram. A Slimline Winch Bumper from Nate’s 4x4 protects the nose, and custom-built sliders, skidplates, and drop-down rear bumper/tire carrier help protect and serve the rest of the rig.
We were very happy to see Jeff again, but he might have been happier to see us. It turned out that Jeff not only got his rig featured this year but was also a big winner at the banquet/raffle held the last night of the 2017 Jp Dirt ’N Drive, going home with the Jeep JK grille that was autographed by the entire Jeep (FCA) marketing and engineering team! For more great Jeeps that joined up for the 2017 Jp Dirt ’N Drive presented by Jeep, stay tuned to jpmagazine.com.
HARD FACTSVehicle: ’00 Jeep XJ Cherokee
Engine: 4.7L Golen I-6 stroker
Transmission: Aisin AW-4 Automatic
Transfer Case: NP231J
Suspension: Clayton Off-Road long-arm kit with 6 1/2-inch coil springs (front); Clayton Off-Road coil conversion long-arm kit with BDS coil springs (rear)
Axles: JK Wrangler Dana 44s, 4.88 gears, Eaton E-Lockers front and rear
Steering: PSC hydraulic assist with double ram and custom tie-rods
Wheels: Stock 17-inch JK Wrangler
Tires: 35x12.50R17 Goodyear MT/R