From the first day we drove our used 2.5L-equipped ’97 Jeep Wrangler home, we longed for more power under the hood. We sprang for the great deal on the used Jeep with the underlying expectation of one day swapping-in a more powerful engine, but as the years rolled on, the factory four-cylinder remained quietly in place. Like so many of you, we loved to complain about how weak the factory four-popper was, but were far too cheap to drop the coin on an ultra-pricy Hemi conversion.
For all of its faults, the 2.5L never really let us down—it is, at its core, a very reliable engine. In the end though, our goals of furthering the build and increasing the Jeep’s on- and off-road capabilities sent us looking for a cost-effective way to gather more ponies behind the grille. With so many engine conversions and opinions across the globe, we opted for what appeared to be the best bang-for-the-buck V-8 swap—the 5.9L Magnum V-8.
Available in Grand Cherokees, Dodge Rams, Dakotas, and Durangos, the 5.2L 318ci and 5.9L 360ci were two of the most common engines used throughout the ’90s. Now, nearly two decades later, these powerful V-8s can be had for dirt cheap, along with the entire donor vehicles themselves. Though storing a truck carcass can be a real pain, it makes engine conversions much easier, as many of the miscellaneous parts and pieces you’ll need can often be picked from the donor rig.
For our conversion we pillaged a 5.9L and 46RE automatic transmission from a ’99 Dodge Durango. Since our Jeep was already under construction at Off Road Evolution in Fullerton, California, we added on one more item to the list for the expert Jeep crafters to help us out with. Off Road Evolution is a full service 4x4 shop that is experienced with all projects, big and small. In this installment, we’ll show you the initial breakdown and list the essential parts and pieces you’ll need to achieve the conversion. Be sure to check back with us next issue as we put all the pieces in place.
•Upper radiator hose: E71953 (Auto Zone)
•Lower radiator hose: D71954 (Auto Zone)
•Engine mounts: 713094 (Advance Adapters)
•Radiator: 716685 (Advance Adapters)
• 23-spline input shaft: 716095 (Advance Adapters)
•1-inch Daystar Body Lift: KJ04508BK (Daystar Products)