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The starting point for my '89 Jeep Comanche SCCA Retro Race Truck Project!
It is a 1989 2WD 2.5L 4-Speed Short Bed California Truck with 243,00 miles.  Body is straight and rust free, but the interior is a mess.  Engine starts and runs well, expect for a lifter ticking.


This weekend's work

1. Change Fluids and Filters

2. New plugs, wires, and distro cap/rotor

3. Check lifters

4. Pass CA smog check...#@$%*

5. Lower back 3" - change bushings to poly - 2" lowering blocks and shorter Cherokee shackles

6. Swap out dash gauge cluster to full gauge cluster with new oil and temp sensors

7. Remove the six wires "not connected" to anything, just hang out from under the dash.   Or maybe that is why the radio does not work?


Starting point video: https://youtu.be/L-XMvcR01sg


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Not much progress today.  The poly bushings did not show up yet so I did not do any suspension work. The spark plug wires arrived from RockAuto last week but are the wrong ones.  Need to check all the parts I ordered to make sure they are what I ordered.  I changed the oil and started some body work.  Painted the lowering blocks and u-bolts with black POR-15.  I did get the new tires - 215/40r17 - mounted on 17" rims.  Can not wait to see it the truck lowered with these wheels!







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Started work on swapping out the dash cluster for a full gauge version, that I found on Craigslist for $40.  Sorted out all the zombie wires hanging loose, 5 of the 6 were not connected to anything, just passed PO wiring gone bad.


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Planning on a tan and black paint theme, then I can leave the original sand color the same.  Here is my bad "photoshop" version.  Also thinking maybe a black & tan mixed interior, any thoughts?  Black dash with everything else remaining tan?





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Definitely will be following this build.  I'm wondering though, where can a front air dam be found? As far as I know, they only came on the street Comanches and the SCCA race trucks.  On my future turbo autocross MJ build I will want an air dam like this. 

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The front valance is unobtainable at this point. Either need to figure something creative or find an original somewhere. I can tell you straight up that if you've got any plans of calling the Archers, they really don't care to talk about this stuff anymore.

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The poly bushings are all in, new Monrow Gas Shocks (shorter F150 in front and Toyota Tundra sized in back - these are 3" shorter than stock shocks), and still missing one shorter XJ rear shackle.  Business trip to Phoenix this week so will have to tackle the lowering next weekend.  Did continue on the body, 28 years of being a work truck has lots of small dings and dents, mainly on the rear bed.  Also measured the current fender height to compare to the lowered.




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Started to collect decals for the truck.  Spencer at http://www.jeepsticker.com/ did a great job to replicate the old school Jeep Motorsport decals for me.  Here are the others I have collected so far, shocks and tires. Hoping to add EngineTech (Lifters and valve train parts), Prothane (poly bushings), and E3 (sparkplugs).  I have emailed these companies to see what they can send me.  Still, need the numbers decals, but have narrowed down to 14 or 68.  Any favorites out there that have a SCCA Jeep race truck significance?



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  • 2 weeks later...

Back from my one-week trip to Phoenix area.  Started with more body work and smoothing out all the dings and dents.  The bed is almost done, just one large dent in wheel wall area to pull out.  Installed the new 17" Jeep rims and 215/40r17 tires.  Changes the look already!  My daughter thought the new tires looked like clown tires because they are so small compared to the 235/75r15 that were on it.  Once it is lowered it will look better.  All the parts to lower the rear arrived finally.


1. Shocks - 2 Monroe  Absorber-Gas-Matic LT 59367 (fits 95-04 2WD Toyota Tacoma) - these are shorter than stock height Comanche shocks

2. Rear Shakels - Omix-Ada 18280.19 Shackles - The shorter Jeep Cherokee version.

3. Rear Axle lowering Blocks - Belltech 6100 Lowering Block Kit - 2" Blocks

4. Poly Bushings - Daystar, Jeep Greasable Bolt, and Bushing Kit Rear Shackle  KJ02026BK - Thought I ordered red bushings, but I ordered black as the part number shows.

5. Yellow Paint - Rust-Oleum 7747830 Stops Rust Spray Paint, Gloss Yellow - The shocks arrived were very dull yellow, so repainted a bright yellow

6. Paint for rear leaf springs - POR-15 45404 Semi-Gloss Black Rust Preventive Paint - 1 Quart


I will tackle the rear lowered this afternoon, then maybe the front this Saturday.  Here are the pre-lowering photos.




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Completed the lower in the rear - 3 inches.  I think it is starting to look better and now time to tackle the front springs.  Changed out the gauge cluster, but the fuel gauge not working.  The gas gauge is maxed out way full.  Need to pull the cluster back out and check that gauge electrical connection.  The tachometer is sluggish and seems to read lower than it should, so will check the potentiometer on it.  I do not know the history of the gauge cluster, so not sure if it came from a 6 cyl. or 4 cyl.  Big wildfires north of here in Napa and Sonoma,  so the air quality here in Berkeley is bad today.  No outdoor work today.




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Cleaned up under the hood by degreasing, reconnecting vacuum and electric wires into the correct places this past weekend.  Took it in for smog and failed.  There is still one vacuum leak that causes high idle and smog tech could hear it.  So I know the area where it is, so I need to track it down and repair.  I have been surfing craigslist the past month for bucket seats and also checked at Pick n Pull.  Nothing but junk or overprices.  Found new race seats on eBay, but the wrong color.  The spray on vinyl dyes have gotten much better, so I decided to give it a try.  The seats I ordered where black and red, so my exterior and interior theme is tan and black, I prepared the red areas and used the spray color change dye.  I mis-taped a couple of spots, so have some respray to due, but not bad for the first time.  Next is to make up the mounting brackets and weld them in.


Here are the results  below and the fast motion 2 hours video in 2 seconds.: https://youtu.be/oqAUxhyKCcM






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I found a front air dam for a mid '90's Nissan Hardbody that we made work. It was the closest thing, since the Nissan front bumper is mostly straight like the MJ's. We put it on with tech screws and had to trim it some on the ends to get it to fit, but it worked. Don't want to steal your thunder, I should post up in another thread about this truck. We just finished the build and raced it in Sept in LeMons. Squeaked into class C with 5 penalty laps, and won the race by 10 laps. Here's a pic of the front air dam. Hope you have a blast with your project!


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We just cut the stock front coils to lower it, and used a block in the rear. We're going to relocate the front control arm mounts on the axle when we swap in the 2wd beam, right now it still has the 4x4 front axle, stripped out. We got lazy and limited the work we did to get it ready to race. We use offset upper ball joints to get some positive camber. We're running 245/45 17" tires, which are a very good size and look good. I like your idea of using XJ shackles, probably try that. I want to section the front axle to allow a lower ride height, and the UCA's will need to be lowered on the axle since they'll hit the motor mount bracket. We'll have to cut some off the front bumpstop tower to lower it more. We also run short Prothane coil inserts for bumpstops. Very fun to drive and handles amazingly well. We also have the Vanco big brake kit in front with Black Magic pads. And we run an 8.8 in the rear for disc brakes and 3.73 gears.

20170929_182625 - Copy (2).jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/30/2017 at 3:49 PM, bruceb said:

How much was your front coil cut?  2"?


Don't remember exactly, but I think about two coil wraps. You can start with maybe 1.5 wraps and then trim more if you want it. Have to watch the bumpstop height, leave a bit of travel before it hits the stops.

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Kinda off subject but since I saw your rear bumper and noticed your quarter panel was dented... this might be a cleaner option...97+ rear bumper with end caps. It's really close! The quarter panel angles are the same XJ and MJ. I slapped my mj armor on my xj for a perfect fit.
Would probably require you to cut and fold the quarter panels and then shorten the xj bumper to fit the body as a roll pan.

And I started messing with a bolt on roll pan last year but this was as far as I got 39510723ab644d07773502e851a86b4d.jpgad9968364975300fb833d9d78951be92.jpg060deabca6508911d434997b99b569d2.jpg02253e0ebf1a20aff6c285bc489d29d4.jpgc150a6c6d4f7d408306240d553879347.jpg

Sent from my SM-G892A using Tapatalk

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  • 1 year later...

After a very long year hold on the project and now my recent moving to Arizona, the work has started again on the SCCA retro truck.  First the paint, which is underway.  Then starting in November, then I will rebuild the top end of the engine, exhaust, cooling system, and then rebuild front suspension.









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