As used SUVs go, few are more affordable, competent, and easily buildable than the ’93-’98 Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ. The relatively lightweight unibody wheeler can seat four comfortably, has front and rear solid axles, and was even available with a V-8! Over the years these once luxurious Jeeps have dropped substantially in value and consumer demand. Fortunately not all of the ZJs met their fate at the hands of the Cash for Clunkers 4x4 annihilation.
Take our buddy’s ’98 ZJ for example. For just over 1,500 bucks he picked one up that was fitted with a 4.0L engine with less than 150K on the clock. Though he did get stuck with the less-than-desirable Dana 35 rear axle, there are plans in the works for an 8.8-inch Explorer rear axle swap.
Getting the Jeep for a great deal allowed funds for a few upgrades. Since the original suspension was pretty worn, that was the first area to receive attention.
To give the ailing suspension a bit of new spring, he opted for a 4-inch Performance series lift from Zone Offroad Products. The Zone 4-inch kit is one of the best-bang-for-the-buck kits on the market. It fits you with new lower control arms, shocks, springs, and all necessary brackets to pump in off-road prowess, without removing a lot of dough from your wallet.
To complete the upgrade, a set of 33x12.50 TSL Radials was squeezed on with a little trimming. And while 33s aren’t huge by any stretch, it was just the extra bit of meat that converted this old grocery getter into a capable trail toy.
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Tires can make or break the look and performance of a vehicle. Since this Grand off-roads mostly in the muddy backwoods of the Southeast, it was fitted with a set of terra-chucking 33x12.50 Interco Tire TSL Radials wrapped onto a set of low-buck 15x8 steel wheels. We were extremely pleased and impressed with the performance and look of the tire and wheel package. And while the TSL Radials do have a noticeable highway hum, they rolled surprisingly smooth on the street and lived up to the Super Swamper name in the soggy dirt.