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The following link is to a website where a guy wrote up a web article about my 1989 MJ.  I ran into him totally by accident when he was doing a photo shoot for the Jeep marketing guys about the Gladiator, and he saw my Comanche on the road and decided it was worth writing about it.

 

https://www.averagesquad.com/blog/2020/1/8/jeffs-jeep-comanche

 

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The author of the article doesn't know his Jeeps.  He meant to say "basically a Cherokee in Comanche clothing."

 

There is nothing Grand Cherokee about my MJ except the fuel filler neckt, which is from a 1996 ZJ.

 

I will see what I can do about taking some more snaps of the bumpers and add them in.

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When I first got a message from my friend John about a spotless modernized Comanche he spotted at a Jeep press event, my interest was piqued. I’ve never been the biggest Jeep lover - even though I’ve come close to owning one a couple times - but the way John described this build certainly got across the point that it should be given some time in front of the camera.

If you’re really interested in the backstory and details of this XJ Cherokee offspring, we can’t recommend MotorWeek’s Retro Review series quite enough, but for the most part what you see is what you get. Offered with 2- and 4-wheel drive, 4 engines, and 9 trim levels over it’s lifespan, even the most basic model was a pretty honest truck. With a fairly bulletproof powertrain and body (minus the rust issues), they’ve become increasingly desirable, and Jeff’s work has only helped that cause.

After searching and searching, one came across eBay that Jeff thought might fit the bill. With a listing of “running and functional” and a ton of work already done to basically make it a 2001 Grand Cherokee in Comanche clothing, the auction was won and the truck was rolled off the flatbed at Jeff’s house for an initial once-over… except it almost didn’t stop rolling since the brakes were all but shot. Thankfully it didn’t Koolaid Man through the garage wall, and so the teardown was underway.

Before the Comanche touched down at Jeff’s house, two previous owners had tried their hand at customization, with varying degrees of success. The Mango Tango Metallic paint and flares were already in place, as well as the bed liner and heavy-duty undercarriage coating. The powertrain, transmission, instrument cluster, and seats were all replaced as well, but more like taken out of an 01 Cherokee and hooked up just enough to work for slightly sketchy daily duty.

Since the Comanche obviously doesn’t have the back seat, back door speakers, rear dome light, or rear window wiper and washer, there’s a lot of wiring the engine swap’s harness could do without. Unfortunately, the first guy to wire everything up just ran the extra wiring to the back of the cab and left them there. After thinking through all of the ways to correct this error, it turned out the best-but-definitely-not-easiest way to do so would be to redo the wiring and looming from the firewall back.

After running wiring back to the rear tail lights, resealing the loom, replacing the seats and headliner, and stripping the carpeting, the interior was checked off the list. This portion of the update took about 4 months on it’s own.

The full cooling system was then replaced, negating the overheating issues that plague this powertrain in any sort of traffic, but doubly so in Phoenix 115+ degree weather.

The following bits don’t have associated photos, but the sheer amount of work has to be documented and appreciated. Since the steering box was installed incorrectly, it ruined the steering column so that’s all been replaced. A botched ball joint replacement damaged the front axle enough to warrant a full replacement, so that’s all been swapped out along with the front brakes, linkages, adjustable steering arms (to work with the 4” lift), and front suspension.

ZJ (1996) discs replaced the factory rear brakes, all new hard and soft lines were routed, and the stock foot-operated drum parking brake was replaced by a custom-bracketed hand lever cable setup.

The new seatbelts were actually shortened and rebuilt by a saddlemaker - the only person with sewing equipment strong enough to get through multiple layers of the belt material - with stitching perfectly replicating the factory patterns.

Finally, the tire holder and gas tank were replaced. The stock tank, a 20 gallon metal unit, was replaced by a 22 gallon plastic piece from a Dodge Dakota. The fuel pump and sender units were also replaced to make everything read correctly on the 2001 instrument cluster in the cab.

The tire holder took a bit more doing: the winch to lower the tire from the undercarriage was scavenged from a Ford Explorer, while the rest of the actual carrier was rebuilt to match what was offered on the long bed Comanche. Finally, an adapter was created to allow the Jeep jack handle to operate the Ford winch input, and the spare was good to go

With nearly the whole Jeep gone through, updated, and brought up to an OEM+ spec, it’s easy to see this is one of the best Jeep Comanche on the road today, and certainly enough to win over even the most casual of Jeep lovers.

 

I'm uploading his words and pics so the CC has a copy for posterity.  :L: 

 

 

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