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A Year-Long Weekend Hobby

Front Left View
Dan Cunningham | Writer
Posted May 1, 1999

Saturdays and Sundays Spent Making a Custom Front Suspension and More!

Step By Step

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  • Gregg McNair's '87 Jeep Cherokee.

  • A stock 4.0L inline-six fills the engine bay and uses the existing transmission and transfer case to provide the get-up-and-go for Nevada’s resident rock crusher. The hood and interior are about the only parts of the vehicle left untouched.

  • A Con-Ferr roof rack carries the gear, and there’s a fullsize spare mounted below it on the tailgate. A nitrogen tank is at the ready for air tools, and Flowmaster exhaust keeps the Cherokee breathing. Note the rear Dana 44 between the 33-inch meats. Try to imagine the custom-built rock sliders on either side that can get Gregg up and over without leaving half of his vehicle behind.

  • A custom 1 1/2-inch tubular winch bumper frames a Superwinch 9000 and sits in front of handmade chrome-moly fully adjustable control arms and track bar. Coil springs give 5 inches of lift and accommodate 33-inch Super Swampers. Other goodies include JKS Sway Bar disconnects and Rancho 9000 shocks with custom mounts. The front fenders have been custom-cut to fit the front bumper.

  • As the Boy Scouts’ motto clearly states: Be prepared! Hopefully, 200 pounds of recovery equipment and a Hi-Lift Jack will get Gregg and company out of any trouble they can conjure up. Don’t leave home without it.

  • The interior layout was left intact with a few perks added for good measure, namely a Sony CD player and a Cobra Sound Tracker CB with a Wilson 1000 antenna. The four-speed automatic tranny is visible and up to the task of power allocation.

Mechanic Gregg McNair says his bionic ’87 Jeep Cherokee is the result of a quest for a weekend activity. With its custom-made front suspension and numerous other McNair originals, the retailored Cherokee aptly illustrates the notion of do-it-yourself assembly. The Cherokee retains some stock parts, but any troglodyte will quickly realize that the brutish nature of McNair’s McNasty wasn’t created entirely by Chrysler.

The menu of McNair-made parts includes chrome-moly fully adjustable control arms and an adjustable track bar for the front suspension and front fiberglass fenders. The suspension was helped by the addition of 5-inch coil springs. For those considering a similar project, Gregg suggests looking for Cherokees with Dana 44 rears and to expect the process to take a substantial chunk of time. The year-long gestation period included broken motor and transmission mounts but also showcased Gregg’s welder-by-trade ability to fabricate his own parts.

As for the broken engine mount, Gregg made his own urethane version and, with the help of an adapter, used a Chevy urethane transmission mount. Front fiberglass fenders gave instant tire clearance for added dexterity over the rough stuff.

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