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Jake's 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland

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  • Jake's 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland

    I think this deserves its own thread now, so here we go...

    Most of you know we picked this 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland up a few months back for Melissa's younger brother, Jake.

    We thought about a few different options for him, but really just kept coming back to JGCs. You just get so much vehicle for your $ with an older JGC. It's a great size, pretty safe, etc. The only downsides are probably fuel mileage, but we can live with that. Of the various generations of JGCs I picked a WJ because they were in our price range and they are still solid axle. ZJs were in play too, but it's much harder to find a clean, low(ish) mileage ZJ.

    After some research I knew I wanted to find a '02-04 w/ the HO 4.7. No, a 16 year old kid doesn't "need" a V8 but IMHO they just suit the vehicle so much better. The trans behind the V8 is also far superior to what you got w/ the 4.0L I6 in the WJs. I wanted the HO, not for the power so much, but it just has a (slightly) better reputation for reliability and better parts (tri-metal bearings, forged crank, floating wrist-pins, better damper etc.). I got to looking into it a bit more and found out about the upgraded brake calipers in '03 so I really wanted a '03-04 (though many '99-02 have been retrofitted w/ the newer calipers, I'm told). After lots of looking around on Craigslist, eBay, cars.com etc. I found a few to look at. I was even ready to settle on colors we didn't like as much to get the year and options I wanted. However, one came out on top that was even a great color so I bought it...

    It's a 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland (loaded) w/ the 4.7 HO V8













    It was at the top of our budget, but with 92.5k and great maintenance records I think we did good. I added a Gibson Exhaust (really nice, deep sound without being overly loud) right away and got to planning the next phase of the project. The idea was to build a vehicle capable of wearing the "Overland" badge this Jeep came with. In Jeep Grand Cherokee talk the Overland was the top of the line model but mostly focused on luxury (it has dual zone climate control, power sunroof, a billion-way power seats, obv power locks/windows, auto wipers, upgraded stereo, really nice leather/suede seats etc.).

    That said, the Overland (and a few other high-trim WJs) had the Quada-Drive system. It's a pretty neat design. It's full-time 4WD with a true Low Range. In Low it's a regularly fully locked up T-Case. In High it's a limited slip, but it has a small pump that is driven by a differential in speed between the front and rear outputs. When it's driven it applies pressure to the clutch packs, essentially locking them up. Both axles have the same concept, but left to right vs. front to back. No, it's not as hardcore as true selectable lockers, but they actually perform very well if they're in good shape and WILL provide true 4WD rather than spinning the tires with the least traction. Perfect for Overlanding, and even mild rock crawling.

    So, to compliment the nature of the WJ, I wanted a mild lift with great flex but I wanted to maintain great onroad manners too. After a lot of research I settled on Iron Rock for the lift, and names like Addco, Bilstein, and Kevin's Offroad for some of the ancillary parts.

    For wheels and tires we landed on this setup:
    Wheels - Pro Comp Series 7032 (16x8, 5x5, 4.5BS):


    Tires - Goodyear Duratrac (265/75-16):

    (don't worry, we'll run them with the white lettering in )

    Again, the goal isn't a hardcore rock-crawler or anything like that. More of a very capable Overlanding vehicle for Jake that can still be his daily driver to work and school. The IRO 4" ROCK-LINK is probably a bit of overkill for "just" Overlanding, but IMHO extra flex is worth it. The Quada-Drive is a good system, but like I said it's not as good as true lockers. Keeping the tires planted with the extra flex will help out a lot in letting the QD system work this Jeep through tight spots. WJs are pretty tire size-limited so they're not a great platform for 35"+, Dana 44/60s etc. and real rock crawling, you might as well start with a JKU if you need a 4-door real crawler. However, the WJ is probably one of the best overall SUVs ever made for a combination of Overlanding, mild to medium trail running, while still being 100% daily drive-able, comfortable and luxurious.
    -TJ

    "You can lead a horse to water... but you can't make it dune"

  • #2
    We finally got everything on the Jeep, and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. We have some more trimming to do on the front bumper, but we wanted to start "small" and trim more as needed.

    It sits great:





    Front tire clearance (or lack thereof) to front bumper at full-lock:


    It looks like there will be plenty of clearance at the back of the front tires at full-lock:


    Rock-Sliders:




    And some pics of the kit itself on the WJ, sorry it was raining and I didn't feel like crawling under it.

    Front long-arms:










    Over-the-knuckle tie rod, steering stabalizer, etc:










    Front springs, shocks (I hate how the dust boots have bunched up) and extended end-links:


    Rear:








    So far I've only driven it on the street, but I'm really, really impressed with the ride and handling. The Addco rear sway bar and Bilstein 5100s have taken a lot of the wallowing out of the ride it had before. Steering input seem sharper as well. These are not benefits you expect to get when lifting a vehicle, instead you expect to learn to deal with a "floppy" ride and less precise steering.

    All of the parts are very high quality and impressed my buddy's shop that did the install as well as the alignment shop (which mostly deals with high-end sports cars and track cars, I used them back in my racing days).
    -TJ

    "You can lead a horse to water... but you can't make it dune"

    Comment


    • #3
      That is one lucky kid. Good upgrades, should be a good car for him for quite some time. When does he get his license?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Another 1sl View Post
        That is one lucky kid. Good upgrades, should be a good car for him for quite some time. When does he get his license?
        About 6 months... I guess that's a new thing in CA, they have to have a learner's permit for 6 months and he was a little behind getting one.
        -TJ

        "You can lead a horse to water... but you can't make it dune"

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by tjZ06 View Post

          About 6 months... I guess that's a new thing in CA, they have to have a learner's permit for 6 months and he was a little behind getting one.
          It was like that when I was getting my license 16 years ago.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by LLCoolJT View Post

            It was like that when I was getting my license 16 years ago.
            I'm ooollllldddddd.
            -TJ

            "You can lead a horse to water... but you can't make it dune"

            Comment


            • #7
              It drives really nice now. He is itching to drive it. We go Saturday morning for his permit!

              Comment


              • #8
                I've been traveling for work, and we still need to do some more front bumper-cover and wheel-well liner trimming before we can really go flex it out. But I got some pics for fun with our WK2 High Altitude (5.7L Hemi) with it set at the lowest, and highest heights. It's funny how much bigger the WK2 looks, though some of that is because of the angle of the pic:

                WJ vs. WK2 set at "Entry Exit" height:




                WJ vs. WK2 set at "Offroad 2" height:




                -TJ
                -TJ

                "You can lead a horse to water... but you can't make it dune"

                Comment


                • #9
                  I want to hear about the radio install and some pictures of that.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mcclure_m View Post
                    I want to hear about the radio install and some pictures of that.
                    We didn't really take pics during the install, and Jake did most of it. It's a kick-ass head unit though, and it even makes the stock amp/speaker setup sound much better.

                    Click image for larger version  Name:	20180208_091102.jpg Views:	1 Size:	2.63 MB ID:	16134

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                    Click image for larger version  Name:	20180208_090817.jpg Views:	1 Size:	2.44 MB ID:	16133
                    -TJ

                    "You can lead a horse to water... but you can't make it dune"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tjZ06 View Post

                      We didn't really take pics during the install, and Jake did most of it. It's a kick-ass head unit though, and it even makes the stock amp/speaker setup sound much better.

                      Click image for larger version Name:	20180208_091102.jpg Views:	1 Size:	2.63 MB ID:	16134

                      Click image for larger version

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Views:	248
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ID:	16137



                      Click image for larger version Name:	20180208_090817.jpg Views:	1 Size:	2.44 MB ID:	16133
                      Looks clean in there. Now he just needs to save up and get himself a sub or 2!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Someone has great taste for music!
                        LIEVENSE RACE SERVICES
                        RACE & PLAY CAR PREP
                        WELDING & FABRICATION
                        CAD DESIGN & WATER JET
                        FULLY INSURED TRANSPORTATION SERVICES

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Is Mellisa's all wheel drive or selectable 4 wheel drive? Thinking about a SRT for jess next.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by L.R.S. View Post
                            Someone has great taste for music!
                            You know about 60% of our playlists are the same!

                            Originally posted by Another 1sl View Post
                            Is Mellisa's all wheel drive or selectable 4 wheel drive? Thinking about a SRT for jess next.
                            Yes? It's "AWD" or full-time 4WD, whatever you want to call it. There's no 2WD mode. But it does have a true low-range, which the SRT does not have. It also has a N setting for flat-towing (with the RV), which I believe the SRT has as well. The SRT has "traditional" springs/shocks not the multi-height air-suspension like this one. Hindsight being 20-20 we're never going to really "wheel" Melissa's Jeep, so I kind of wish we had just gotten the SRT. I kind of wanted the Low range and air suspension though... and there was about a $20k difference between them. I drove a SRT recently, and man it's fun. There is a nice blower kit for the 5.7L Hemi like Melissa's though, which produces better power/numbers than a SRT. Then again, you could put a blower on the SRT... or just get a Track Hawk.

                            Ultimately, I think her was the right call by any rational measure. There's no way either of us would have been happy with the V6, but we also don't need the 475HP 6.4L SRT. Of course, I rarely do rational things. We were kind of thinking of trading it on a SRT Durango for a little more space and the SRT power... maybe put a blower on that! Wait. No. Stop. It's paid for. Keep it...

                            -TJ

                            "You can lead a horse to water... but you can't make it dune"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              So, this thing is mine now... and getting a new motor. So, yeah, I really owe a thread update.

                              -TJ
                              -TJ

                              "You can lead a horse to water... but you can't make it dune"

                              Comment

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