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1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ- Greta the Jeep

This 1996 Jeep ZJ is a grand ol’ dame that can move along a trail with power, style, and grace

John and Holly Lupfer's 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee was a perfect example of the type of vehicle we like to see on the trail. It was set up nicely for the job it was intended for, had some personality, and was not over-bedazzled with more than it needed. They joined us for the 2019 Jp Dirt 'N Drive Presented by Jeep in their well-built and capable ZJ nicknamed "Greta." The origin of the name came about naturally. John says, "Like boats we tend to affectionately refer to Jeeps as 'she' and they typically end up with women's names. One day on the trail 'Greta' was suggested because it sounded tough, and it seemed to fit, so it just stuck."

Tough she is—we watched the stylish Grand tackle challenging trails with a powerful grace. The Iron Rock 7-inch Rock-Link long-arm suspension system easily managed to keep the G2 Dana 44 front and G2 Dana 60 rear axles fully articulating so the 35-inch Falken Wildpeak A/T tires on 17-inch Spyderlock beadlocks could stay in contact with the terrain. A PSC Motorsports hydraulic system helped keep the tires pointed in the right direction under any circumstances John might encounter on the trail.

Power to keep Greta moving is supplied through a stroked 4.7L inline-six. When John set out to build the Jeep for some serious off-roading, he decided to have his brother (who owns Ridge Reamer, a race engine shop in Denver, Colorado) do the work. In the process, it got a new crank, cam, and lifters. The extra power coursing through the 42RE four-speed automatic transmission and the NP242 transfer case helps turn all four tires with more juice than the factory 4.0L could have ever provided.

The interior and body were also prepped for the world of dirt and rocks the ZJ would be seeing in the future. A Rock Hard Sport Cage offers added security, custom bumpers and wrap-around sliders help fend off hazards, and a Warn winch planted in the front bumper can deliver an assist if the Jeep gets into any serious trouble. That gorgeous paintjob in '85 Oldsmobile Horizon Blue was sprayed by John in his home shop.

On the same tailgate as the "Greta" nametag are the hand-lettered words "Just Another Grand!" During the build of his 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee, John found out what many Jeep enthusiasts have learned—something that is particularly fitting for this ZJ—that almost everything they did to it was "just another grand."

Hard Facts
Vehicle: 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ
Engine: 4.7L "stroker" I-6
Transmission: 42RE four-speed automatic
Transfer Case: NP242
Suspension: Iron Rock 7-inch Rock-Link long arm
Axles: G2 Dana 44, 4.56 ARB Air Locker (front); G2 Dana 60, 4.56 ARB Air Locker (rear)
Wheels: 17-inch Spyderlock beadlock
Tires: 35x12.50R17 Falken Wildpeak A/T