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Brand-New Bashing: 1998 Jeep Cherokee

Posted in Project Vehicles on September 1, 1998
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Photographers: Cole Quinnell

Is Mark Hinkley insane? You might think so when you learn that this Cherokee is a '98 model and that he has already replaced nearly the entire driveline. But, hey, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, and this man's gotta be doin' rocks.

For the ultimate in slow-mo, Mark Hinkley of Laguna Hills, California, swapped in an NV4500 transmission, which required a different bellhousing, slave cylinder, and slave mount. The transfer case is an NP231 with a 4-to-1 gearset, a JB Conversions short-shaft kit, and 2 Lo conversion. A Currie reverse-cut Dana 44 axle is up front, and a standard-cut Currie Dana 44 is out back, both filled with 4.56 gears. All that equals a 116:1 crawl ratio. The driveshafts are from Drivelines Unlimited in Irvine, California.

You might have spotted Off Road General Store's head honcho on the trail, or even in 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 'crawling a '90 Cherokee Sport, but now he claws the stone in what's probably not only the newest but the most-built XJ on dirt. Not often do we see a capable Cherokee doing seriously rugged four-wheeling, so when we found this Jeep showing off its suspension travel and scaling the slickrock like Spiderman, we had to take a look underneath. And inside. And under the hood.

Mark's Jeep has a 5-inch Off Road General Store (ORGS) suspension lift composed of Rancho front springs and remote-controlled RS 9000s, while the rear has ORGS/National springs and remote RS 9000s. Mark also added the latest in arm technology, new uretane-covered front ball-joint arms from Currie, JKS shock mounts, ORGS bumpstops and spacers, and JKS sway-bar quick-disconnects.

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