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1997 Jeep TJ - Project Teal-J II - Introduction

Right Front View
Craig Perronne
| Brand Manager, Dirt Sports & Off Road
Posted July 15, 2004

The return of our favorite Jeep project

Behold, the original Project Teal-J in all of its finished glory. It sported a Tera Flex suspension, a 1-inch body lift and 33x14.50 Dick Cepek Fun Country tires.

Project Teal-J II, Intro
Project Teal-J II, Part 1
Project Teal-J II, Part 2
Project Teal-J II, Part 3
Project Teal-J II, Part 4
Project Teal-J II, Part 5
Project Teal-J II, Part 6
Project Teal-J II, Part 7
Project Teal-J II, Part 8
Project Teal-J II, Part 9
Project Teal-J II, Part 10
Project Teal-J II, Part 11
Project Teal-J II, Part 12
Project Teal-J II, Part 13
Project Teal-J II, Part 14

The world of four-wheel drives was turned upside down in 1996 when Jeep introduced the TJ as a '97 model. Gone was the leaf-sprung YJ, which was at best--in stock form--just marginally capable. It was replaced with a new Wrangler, dubbed the TJ, that came equipped with a flexy coil-spring suspension. Purists rejoiced, for the YJ's ugly square headlights were gone, replaced with round ones. Best of all, the TJ was very capable right out of the box.

The trouble is, none of us is ever satisfied with a stock vehicle, no matter how capable it is. Modifying vehicles to increase their capability is just something we do. All of us. So back in 1997, the staff of Four Wheeler got its collective hands on a brand-spankin'-new teal-blue TJ. It was named--what else?--Project Teal-J. The buildup began immediately, and the TJ was outfitted with plenty of stuff to improve upon its already excellent trail manners.

What amazes us, upon blowing the dust off our back-issue collection and browsing through the buildup--a well-known work avoidance technique that everyone here subscribes to--was how far the aftermarket has come. Back in 1997, the TJ was still very new and the staff had to deal with a scarcity of parts for the freshly redesigned Jeep. Now, however, there are plenty of cool, quality parts available for the TJ that can transform it into a hard-core trail runner with little fuss.

Teal-J rolled upon a set of 15x10 steelies from Stockton Wheel. They were outfitted with a set of beadlocks from Real Racing for low-pressure running.

So while considering the abundance of parts now available, a thought popped into our fevered brains. What, we wondered, if we could locate the original Project Teal-J and rebuild it with the latest and greatest parts? We got lucky. The Teal-J was actually easy to find. It was sitting, forlorn and forgotten, at a former staffer's house. We acquired it. We blew the dust off of it, and we began Phase II of our Teal-J buildup process. We'll detail the steps of that process in the months to come. First, though, we thought it would be well to reintroduce you to what Project Teal-J was, and how we found it in its current state.


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