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2003 Jeep Liberty - Progress In Motion

Posted in Project Vehicles on September 1, 2009
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Creating your own custom 4x4 is what this hobby is all about. We're not just talking about high-zoot tube buggies, but also the real-world creations that spawn from campfire discussions, high school dreams, and the old school of thought that goes: "It's paid for, it's here, so let's build it."

James Randolf's '03 Jeep Liberty is a great example of a build in progress. Culminating from a desire to build something a little different, his KJ project continues to develop as time and funds allow. With the Liberty used as both a daily driver and weekend off-roader, James has the daunting task of creating a unit-body wheeler that's trail tough and road tolerable. Though currently outfitted with a Dana 30 and 8.25 axles, a Dana 44 and a 9-inch axle combo swap are in the works.

Like many of us, James must balance work, college, and this 4x4 hobby we all love so much. For now James' plans are to continue to push his straight-axle Liberty over some of the toughest East Coast trails, and as the weak links slowly emerge the KJ build will continue.

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Since the Liberty was fitted with a rack-and-pinion steering setup from the factory, a new steering system had to be devised. Since James did not want to spend a ton of dough but needed the Jeep to be easily controllable both on and off road, a steering gear box from a Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ was used. Completing the custom steering setup is a set of DOM steering links that tie together the Teraflex high-steer arm and pitman arm.

Tech Spec
2003 Jeep Liberty

Engine: 3.7L V-6
Transmission: 45RFE
Transfer case: NP231, Advance Adapters SYE
Front Axle: High-pinion Dana 30, Eaton Truetrac, 4.56 gears
Rear Axle: 8.25-inch, 4.56 gears

Front: Custom straight-axle conversion from Cape Fear 4x4, 10-inch Fox shocks with 550 over 450 Eibach coils
Rear: 8-inch Jeepin' by Al springs, triangulated four-link
Tires & Wheels: 36x13.50 Iroks on 15x10 steel Eaton simulated beadlocks with 3 1/2 inches of backspacing
Steering: Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ steering gear box, Teraflex high-steer knuckle
Other Stuff: 1 1/4-inch wheel spacers, Smittybilt roof rack, K&N drop-in filter

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