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  #1  
Old November 10th, 2003, 22:17
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Goatman Goatman is offline
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Smile Again.....what is a "REAL XJ"?

Well, a few of the happenings we've had around here recently made me think of "REAL XJ's" again. XJ buggies, big tires on stock gears, etc. I posted this REAL XJ thing awhile back and it generated some good discussion, so let's have at it again.

"REAL XJ'S"

I've been thinking about what we might call the essence of the XJ, or what it takes to build what I'm going to call a "REAL XJ". So, letís talk about what the Jeep Cherokee is really about. The XJ is a true sport utility vehicle and is able to do many things well. I think everyone has seen by now that the XJ is a very capable trail vehicle. Itís one of the most capable off road vehicles in stock form, and when properly modified can run all the hardest trails, except a few of the most extreme buggy trails and thatís because of all the sheet metal. Besides being a great trail vehicle, we can drive our XJs to the trail comfortably, with the stereo blasting and the heater or A/C on, and all or most of our gear stored inside. Also, when weíre on a dusty trail we can roll up the windows and turn on the A/C. No handkerchiefs around our faces and none of us wear snowmobile suits while driving to the trail in the winter. I think the XJ is both a good street vehicle AND a good trail vehicle and a REAL XJ is built to be good at both. So I think there are a few things that have to be considered when building a REAL XJ.

Now, I have friends who will disagree with me on some of this, and you know who you are, but Iím not talking about a good or bad rig here, or an ultimate trail rig, Iím talking about what makes a REAL XJ. First, a REAL XJ has doors and a roof. You canít keep the dust out and the heat in if you donít have doors and a roof, so if this is what you want, fine, but you donít have a REAL XJ. Iíve seen some nicely done rigs that have removed part of the roof and rear of the vehicle, and then finished it off to look like a crew cab pick up. I think these are REAL XJs because what they did is a very utilitarian modification. A REAL XJ also has an A/C compressor that is still used to cool air, not pump it. A REAL XJ has tires that are not too big for its axles. Since weíre going to drive it home after we run those tough trails, we need to be reliable, so if you have 35" tires on a D35 you donít have a REAL XJ.

Now, I want to clarify something here. A bone stock Cherokee is a REAL XJ. So it doesnít matter how much your rig is modified, just how itís modified, if you want it to be a REAL XJ. Another quality of a REAL XJ is good driving characteristics on the street, even if itís seriously modified. The steering geometry needs to be correct for the amount of lift, and the components need to be strong enough to endure the type of wheeling you do and still get you home safely. If you have 8 inches of lift and 35" tires and you still have the stock steering, your rig is probably not a REAL XJ. Modifications that make it work better on the trail have to be done in a way that keeps it safe and still lets it work well on the street. A REAL XJ is not a trailer queen, it can be driven to any trail. I donít mean that you canít trailer your XJ to an event or trail, but if you have to trailer it, it may be a good trail rig, but itís not a REAL XJ. A REAL XJ can have short arms or long arms, 30ís or 35ís, a D35 or a D60, but it wonít have 35" tires with stock gears or a track bar made in the shape of a Z.

Iíll tell you about some REAL XJs. A REAL XJ is one thatís nearly stock, is driven halfway across the country, and then runs trails all over Moab. Itís one thatís open in front with a limited slip in the rear, 32" tires and climbs out of Mickeyís Hot Tub. Another REAL XJ runs Axle Alley and Sledgehammer with 32" tires, no body damage, and doesnít break. A seriously modified REAL XJ is driven to Johnson Valley, runs a bunch of Hammer Trails with no breakdowns, then is driven back home and to work on Monday morning, and does this often. And hereís a REAL XJ for you, it has dual ARBís and 31ís, is driven 2000 miles to Moab pulling a tent trailer, climbs Dump Bump and other great Moab obstacles, then hauls the family and trailer back home. Thatís also a REAL XJ driver.
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Old November 10th, 2003, 22:38
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You just said it all. We're supposed to add to this?

Well, I will add one thought: a REAL XJ has an American Motors-designed I-4 or I-6 engine -- not a Chevy 350 (or any other) V-8, with the possible exception of the AMC V-8s that most of you youngsters don't even know about.
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  #3  
Old November 10th, 2003, 22:49
XJguy XJguy is offline
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Hmmm

XJguy
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Old November 10th, 2003, 22:52
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Goatman Goatman is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Eagle
You just said it all. We're supposed to add to this?

Well, I will add one thought: a REAL XJ has an American Motors-designed I-4 or I-6 engine -- not a Chevy 350 (or any other) V-8, with the possible exception of the AMC V-8s that most of you youngsters don't even know about.
Well now, Eagle, I have to disagree. To me, the concept of a REAL XJ is keeping it's utilitarian function, or "doing everything well" purpose. It makes no difference what motor is in there. In fact, if a V8 swap increases the drivability and doesn't hurt trail performance, or even adds towing capacity, that's a perfect REAL XJ modification......as long as the rest of the drivetrain and suspension can handle it.

Member RXJC
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  #5  
Old November 10th, 2003, 23:35
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GSequoia GSequoia is offline
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After finally meeting most of you crazy guys I understand that one even more. Good repost Richard!

Sequoia - Keepin' it real in the 3-1-0 G
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Old November 10th, 2003, 23:45
Hunter-Lynchburg,Va Hunter-Lynchburg,Va is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Goatman
Well now, Eagle, I have to disagree. To me, the concept of a REAL XJ is keeping it's utilitarian function, or "doing everything well" purpose. It makes no difference what motor is in there. In fact, if a V8 swap increases the drivability and doesn't hurt trail performance, or even adds towing capacity, that's a perfect REAL XJ modification......as long as the rest of the drivetrain and suspension can handle it.

Member RXJC
so an XJ is less XJ if it has a utilitarian function like making the ac comp. blow air for tires, but a swapped in v8 fits the mold? you guys and your CA loop holes amaze me

Hunter
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  #7  
Old November 10th, 2003, 23:53
XJguy XJguy is offline
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I think an additional compressor added for OBA is fine but losing a function of the XJ (AC) in order to make another is not in the scriptures. A V8 swap causes the XJ to lose nothing of its creature comforts and conveniences if done right, in fact its a win win situation, more power, smoothness and if your talking an LS1 or better yet LS4, even more efficiency and lighter weight than stock!

Never saw an XJ with no AC BTW, was it standard in all models?

XJguy
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Old November 11th, 2003, 00:07
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GSequoia GSequoia is offline
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I've seen some in Bone Yards without AC, can't tell you what years they were though (they very well could have been pre '87)
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Old November 11th, 2003, 00:11
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azxjman azxjman is offline
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For the most part I say well said and I often think of something like this when I see pics of beezils rig or any other xj that is all chopped up and tubed out. I may not fit all of your catagories but IMO I drive a real xj. But to all the others who do drive a tubed out version of what used to be an xj, you drive one bad ass trail vehicle but dont you miss what it used to be.
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Old November 11th, 2003, 00:52
Hunter-Lynchburg,Va Hunter-Lynchburg,Va is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by XJguy
I think an additional compressor added for OBA is fine but losing a function of the XJ (AC) in order to make another is not in the scriptures. A V8 swap causes the XJ to lose nothing of its creature comforts and conveniences if done right, in fact its a win win situation, more power, smoothness and if your talking an LS1 or better yet LS4, even more efficiency and lighter weight than stock!

Never saw an XJ with no AC BTW, was it standard in all models?

XJguy
XJ's did come from the factory w/o AC thats a fact. i just dont see how removing AC makes it less of an XJ. how about if your XJ didnt come with AC and you add a compressor for OBA does that make it more of an XJ? what if someone removed the factory air dam under the bumper along with the rubber splash guard, does that make it more or less of an xj? they did serve a function and Jeep didnt put them on there for nothing ya know. how about if the air dam had fog lights in it, and they didnt replace them? how about the ever popular remove the carpet for durabak, does that make it less of an XJ or more. how about removing sway bars front or rear, thats trading function for function? how about taking off a steering stabalizer?

Hunter
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Old November 11th, 2003, 02:43
JnJ JnJ is offline
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How bout if ya never wheel it and it is 8" high and 4x4. Does that make it an XJ? Elitist huh?
I say run what ya brung and wheel it!
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Old November 11th, 2003, 03:10
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MudDawg MudDawg is offline
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I think it's a matter of perspective and how you use yours...from the stockers to the most extreme trail rigs to the (shudder) Bling-Bling posers. Every owner has their own idea of perfection.

I know one guy who bought a XJ because there is plenty of room for mega amps and speakers...another one has every chrome accessory you can imagine, needless to say it has never even been off the pavement and the car wax folks send him Christmas cards..I chuckle at that but it's his gig not mine.

Mine is a middle of the road one...Daily driver with the ability to go to the most remote fishing ponds and lakes which is it's intended function...I know my drive train wouldn't survive a lot of the mountain trails. but we dont have mountains in florida.

The most fun thing for me is when i get a wild hair and head to the local mudhole...wait for one of those zillion foot tall zillion foot long quad cab monster motor BIG DOLLAR beasts to git stuck.... and CIRCLE EM with my lil ole 4 banger XJ...
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Old November 11th, 2003, 05:08
92xjsp 92xjsp is offline
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Good post, and I agree with the concept. Itís basically why I swapped my YJ for an XJ 7 years ago and ainít ever going back. Now, I do think there can be more than one perfect form for a REAL XJ Ė youíve got to suit it to its environment. But, that said, for my version of the perfect form Iíd like to add one thing Ė

MINIMAL LIFT. Compared to other vehicles you see out on serious trails, the XJ is small and can squeeze in places that monster trucks canít go. That means you have some trails to yourself. Around here, I can take my XJ on some ATV trails. I donít even like roof racks cuz they limit your ability to sneak under fallen trees that block some trails for taller vehicles. My ideal is a 2 inch lift and fender trimming to fit 31s or 32s. Besides adding size, lift does all sorts of bad things to its performance characteristics, especially on the road, but also on the trail with COG issues. I have to drive a half hour through the city anytime I go anywhere, so if I can corner with the sports cars and weave on the interstate to get out of town fast, I have that much more time on the trail. Also, related to this, you donít want to make any compromises on turning radius. The XJ is an aggressively sharp turning sumbitch Ė why give up a couple feet turning radius to run 1-inch bigger tires?
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Old November 11th, 2003, 06:18
h.curtis h.curtis is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Eagle
You just said it all. We're supposed to add to this?

Well, I will add one thought: a REAL XJ has an American Motors-designed I-4 or I-6 engine -- not a Chevy 350 (or any other) V-8, with the possible exception of the AMC V-8s that most of you youngsters don't even know about.
I partly agree with you eagle. If you have an I-6 in an XJ you would be making a downgrade by putting in a V-8. The I-6 is a very good light motor that if you really wanted to do mods can make over 400 hp. That is more than enough for a vehicle that only wieghs a little over 3000 lbs. Even totally stock I-6's have tons of torque. A V-8 will not last as long as the I-6 either.

Someone mentioned towing power. I towed over 6000 lbs with my stock I-6 for 1200 miles through VA, WV and PA (pretty hilly states).

Adding a V-8 would just add unnessasary weight IMHO. It is a downgrade from a V-8. If you want a pile of horsepower add a blower to the I-6.

Curt
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Old November 11th, 2003, 06:44
OILBURNER OILBURNER is offline
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Goatman by your own definition a real XJ never breaks down.

"REAL XJ runs Axle Alley and Sledgehammer with 32" tires, no body damage, and doesnít break."

"REAL XJ is driven to Johnson Valley, runs a bunch of Hammer Trails with no breakdowns"


If this is the case, I don't believe there are any 'real' XJ's
If you never break anything, you are only trail-riding, not wheelin'
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