After years of wheeling, wrenching, and trail riding, my 4x4s typically fall into one of two categories: It’s either a trail rig or an adventure rig. To me, a trail rig is one that primarily sees off-road use. I don’t have to compromise on components because they might not be street friendly, nor do I have to worry about the cosmetics of the Jeep because it’s just going to get scratched and dented the next time it hits the dirt.
My ’99 Jeep Cherokee has been the epitome of the ideal trail rig. I named it Disposable Hero for the fact that the ’84-’01 Cherokee XJ platforms have become one of the easiest and cheapest 4x4s to get into. The ’99 I started out with had already been rolled, bashed, and broken multiple times, but yet, there was plenty of life left in the aging Unitbody. Ultimately, I knew that the aftermarket parts I placed on the Jeep would outlive the sheetmetal host.
When in fact the sheetmetal does crumble for the last time, I can easily slide the parts under another suitable XJ. In hindsight, maybe I should have called it Mr. Potato Head. That might have more clearly conveyed the fact that I don’t feel the Jeep is entirely disposable but rather the parts are very easy to swap and exchange between the long-running XJ platforms.
Like every project I am a part of, I learn something that I can carry to the next. Building a Unitbody rig is a little more challenging but can be done with great success. I’m still toying with the idea of a low-lift big-tire WJ (’99-’04 Grand Cherokee), but for now, I’ll stick with building one Unitbody vehicle at a time!