Anyone who has ever modified a 4x4 knows that achieving the right balance between on-road manners and off-highway performance is a challenge. It seems that when you get one aspect dialed in, another suffers. Cory Buermann of Ballwin, Missouri, faced this challenge head-on as he built his '92 Jeep Cherokee. Through trial and error he created a machine that not only serves duty as a comfortable daily driver, but also as a trail truck that's capable of tackling some very tough terrain.
In order to retain the 4.0L engine's factory reliability, Buermann left the engine internals alone, and instead concentrated on bolt-on items to enhance performance. Up top, he custom-machined the throttle body and installed a Poweraid throttle-body spacer to allow the engine to inhale more freely. In order to enhance exhaust flow he installed a Borla header and Dynomax exhaust. These mods helped generate a modest increase in horsepower and torque, all of which flows to an AX15 five-speed transmission. Bolted to the tranny is a heavily modified NP231 transfer case that features a TeraLow 4:1 kit, JB Conversions wide chain and gearset and an Advance Adapters slip-yoke eliminator kit. A pair of Tom Wood custom driveshafts carries the torque from the transfer case to the front and rear axles, both of which are heavily modified for extreme 'wheelin. The front axle is a reverse-rotation Dana 44 stuffed with an ARB Air Locker, while the rear is a Mark Williams nodular-iron Ford 9-inch that features a Daytona large-pinion support and a spool. Both diffs have been geared to 5.13:1 to offset the meaty 37x13.00-15 Bogger tires on 15x10 Rock Crawler steel wheels.
Clearly, fitting 37-inch-diameter tires while still providing enough room for unhindered movement wasn't easy, so Buermann created a 10-inch suspension lift from a variety of components. The front consists of Rubicon Express upper and lower control-arm relocators and 6-inch-lift coil springs, Teraflex 2-inch coil spacers, custom brackets that provide another 2 inches of lift and single Skyjacker Softride Hydro shocks at each wheel. The rear uses Rubicon Express 4 1/2-inch-lift leaf springs, 3-inch add-a-leaf, 2 1/2-inch spacer block and repositioned single Rancho RS 5000 shocks at each wheel that extend through the floor of the Cherokee's bed to fasten on custom upper bracketry. Of critical importance was a steering setup that was beefy and functional, so Buermann installed a crossover steering system that includes a drag link with 5/8-inch rod-ends and a heavy-duty tie rod with 3/4-inch rod ends. A Rusty's Off Road drop pitman arm and a Rough Country steering stabilizer round out the steering system mods.
The lack of fancy paint on the outside of this Cherokee is the first indication to the casual observer that this truck was designed to be 'wheeled. The only things that stand out are the functional accessories like the ARB Safari Snorkel (which was in the process of being installed when we photographed the truck), custom nerf bars, Tomken rear bumper and custom front bumper with D-rings and Hella 500 off-road lights. Likewise, the interior features practicality over plush. The list includes a Pro Comp tachometer with shift light, a bed-mounted spare, a 7-gallon air tank, spare axles, spare driveshafts and a Hi-Lift Jack.
Buermann's Cherokee is not only capable enough to carry him down the gnarliest of trails, but also comfortable enough to transport him to work throughout the week. Isn't that what a good 4x4 is all about?
|Owner||Cory Buermann, Ballwin, Missouri|
|Vehicle model||’92 Jeep Cherokee|
|Aspiration||Electronic fuel injection, custom- |
machined throttle body, Poweraid throttle-
body spacer, Borla header, Dynomax muffler
|Transmission||AX15 five-speed manual|
|Transfer case||NP231, TeraLow 4:1, JB |
Conversions wide chain and gearset,
Advance Adapters slip-yoke eliminator kit
|Front||Rubicon Express 6-inch lift coils, Tomken |
2-inch coil spacers, custom 2-inch lift brackets,
single Skyjacker Softride Nitro shocks
|Rear||Rubicon Express 4 1/2-inch lift leaf springs, |
Revolver shackles, 3-inch add-a-leaf, 2 1/2-inch
spacer block, single Rancho RS 5000 shocks
|Front||Reverse-rotation Dana 44, ARB Air Locker|
|Rear||Ford 9-inch, spool, Mark Williams |
nodular-iron case w/large pinion support
|Wheels||15x10 Rock Crawlersl|