It’s been a year and many miles since I got my all-purpose XJ running and back on the road again.
In the middle of the original buildup of my $400 Jeep, it had a couple breaks that probably would have made me start with a different Cherokee had we not already added so many parts to it. The transfer case was the first to go. After building it up with some heavy-duty parts, it somehow managed to smoke all the fluid out of it—so much so that when we pulled the case apart, there was only an oil film within it. This was very strange, as there were no drips on the ’case or stains on the driveway where this Cherokee parks (and yes, three of us verified that oil had been added when we built it).
Once the transfer case was fixed, my Cherokee was put back on the road and seemed to be doing great until the engine spun a bearing and busted a connecting rod while climbing a steep highway pass. This was also a fairly strange break since Jeep 4.0L engines often run for upwards of 300,000 miles, and mine only had about 100,000 on it. But after Jeeps R Us got the engine back together, this all-purpose XJ has been running like a champ, and I’ve been having a blast. This Cherokee was built well enough to do some light off-road racing while still being functional and comfortable enough to be a daily driver.
Our editor-in-chief thought it’d be a good idea to give you some long-term updates with how this Cherokee is rolling, and show you a few more parts that I’ve added over the past year. I’ve definitely raised the price tag on this build, but I felt all parts were money well spent and nothing that deviated too far from bolt-on, ready-built parts status. Every single piece we’ve added to this Cherokee is something that you can buy—readily available and off the shelf—and use to make your own race-ready, daily-driven XJ Cherokee at home.