I have to admit, I have been having evil thoughts about building a ZJ to my tastes the last few months. Part of me says I could build something nice with it. I love the body style, and I love the brute force drvetrain that comes in these. Simple, and very modifiable.
Now To be honest I'm not into off-roading as in going rock crawling. Not my cup of tea, although I could be persuaded.
Now for some of my rambling. I have been off-road a few times and done a bit of snow driving in all manner of car/truck rwd/fwd/4wd/awd vehicles. Most recently I took a european fiesta that looked like it came out of a rock crusher on terrain that makes the Baja envy it. However that was not what I would like. I felt like I was driving in one hole and coming out the other like a mole and not a vehicle.
My Ideas for a ZJ go two ways. One is to build a reliable daily driver that can both haul ass and not be afraid of the fluff. Im not talking big mud tires here. Just something that is midly upgraded at the surface with the stock 4L AMC I6 massaged a bit and a 8.8inch ford axle out of a truck or mustang. Upgraded transfer case as well as front axles. NO LIFT. Basicaly stock looking with slightly wider tires and some tasteful wheels. Reinforced in all weak ares as well coupled with some good shocks that return the vehicle more to a car handling scenario than a truck.
Something like this, but the tread closer to street than mud.
Now the second option is recreating a SRT inspired ZJ.
Chassis - The main centerpiece would be slightly lowered suspension, wide tires. Possibly a 6 speed manual trans with a divorced transfer case. The rear axle would have to be a mustang 8.8 with 3.73 gears, matching gears in the front.Watts link in the rear as well as coilover springs shocks.
Engine - I'm a bit distraught. Being the vehicle was made in the 90's turbo v6 trucks were doing the same times as a vette on wet ground. So this would have to be a 6 cylinder. Now the engine can either be the original straight 6 worked over to produce about 450hp with possibly a low mounted turbocharger and a water to air intercooler and some methanol injection. Or a procharger/rotax maybe? with said intercooler, however also mounted low on the engine as not to be the centerpiece.
Interior - Go junkyard shopping for some of the best interior components from the 90's chryslers and get a set of new leather from Catskins.
Second option would give me basically a brand new jeep Grand Cherokee srt6.
I pipe dream just like most jalops. So now its time. What are your thoughts on this? And has anyone seen a hotrodded to good taste zj yet?