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Pick-Up a Grand

Posted in Project Vehicles on January 1, 2001 Comment (0)
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Will this be the first Jeep pickup since the Comanche?

Until recently it was almost impossible to have a Jeep that was slick enough to hit the town in but rough enough to haul a sack of cement and even head up to the mountains. While climbing, jumping, and generally acting like kids at Camp Jeep, we bumped into this Grand Cherokee Limited Sport Truck, otherwise known as a 2000 Jeep Colorado, built by M&L Automotive.

As you might have guessed, it started out as a Grand Cherokee Limited. The rear portion of the Jeep, including the hatchback, was removed to facilitate a short bed. The tailgate and bed interior was custom-built from aluminum. Factory taillights were replaced with pieces that flow into the body but have round bezels. Under the anodized floor of the bed hides a fullsize spare tire that is accessed from inside the bed rather than underneath like most pickups.

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The bedsides hide an electric Coleman cooler big enough to fit a 12-pack. The cooler can be accessed from inside the bed and from the top of the bedrail. The temp is controlled via a panel in the dash. Perhaps the most interesting feature is the lift-up rear window. It slides on tracks incorporated into the roof rack and can be opened and locked into position by one person. It securely attaches to the rack so you can drive with the back open. Once opened, the rear seats can be folded forward offering an 8-foot bed to fit larger items in the Colorado. The grille and fascia of the Colorado also received some refinements. The idea was to design the lower portion to look like a reflection of the upper portion if you held a large mirror at bumper level. Obviously it’s not identical but you get the idea.

The underpinnings are all Grand Cherokee. The 285/55-18 tires actually lift the Jeep about an inch over stock but the suspension is original issue. The interior received a drop-down LCD monitor and VCR as well as a Mopar onboard GPS. See the captions for more on the Colorado.


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