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1991 Jeep Cherokee XJ Unlimited Buildup - From "J_ep" To Jeep

Posted in How To on March 1, 2010
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This XJ has the simultaneous blessing and curse of living in Utah. On one hand, Utah’s terrain and trails are as extensive and breathtaking as they are rugged. On the other hand, Utah's DOT insists on salting the roads during harsh winter weather. This, of course, wreaks havoc on sheet metal and hard parts.

The '91 Jeep Cherokee XJ Limited in these pages was purchased for $1,000, which was probably $500 too much. Fittingly, part of the Jeep badging above the grille was missing. This thing wasn't a Jeep; it was a "J_ep." The engine was fried, so the first order of business was to swap the bad motor out for one plucked from a wrecking yard. This, too, was no good. The third time was the charm, and the "J_ep's" engine bay was finally filled with a living, breathing 4.0L inline-six.

The "J_ep" was finally able to move under its own power, but there were still several issues to iron out. The shocks were done, and the rear springs were sacked out. The tires were a worn-down set of street shoes incapable of exploring the Utah backcountry.

The plan? Turn the "J_ep" back into a Jeep. Make the Jeep worthy of exploring the Utah landscape it's surrounded by. The chosen upgrades would take this rig well beyond stock capabilities, and also address stock weaknesses. The rules? No overbuilding, and no long-term installations. As is the plight of many an XJ, this one does double duty as a daily driver. Extended down time was verboten.

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