Although this is my first post here at jeepforum.com, I have been around Jeeps and other 4x4s for years. This thread will serve as a build thread for Project Everyday Jeep. My 2001 Jeep Wrangler will serve as the base for this project. My intent is to share my experience, my successes, my failures, and to seek guidance from the jeepforum community. So how did I get here?
It’s been a long journey filled with lots of trial and error. My first Jeep was a 1984 CJ-7. On a college student’s budget, I traded my Ford Ranger for the CJ and immediately bought the cheapest 2 ½ inch lift and 31x10.5s I could find. On my first ever trail ride, I remember thinking lockers were “cheating” and “no one should ever need a 35 inch tire”. I kept the Jeep for about 7 years and went on numerous progressively difficult trails while swapping transmissions, building axles, swapping axles, rear locker, building engines, swapping engines, body lift, 33’s, Dana 44s, more lift, 35’s… well, you get the picture. It was a great Jeep and a great project, but I was driving it daily, and even on my short commute it was becoming less and less comfortable. By now I was married with one child and another on the way. I hadn’t wheeled in a while, so I decided to sell. I bought a Cherokee.
At Superlift ORV
in Hot Springs, AR
The 2000 Cherokee Sport was a nice change of pace. It had air-conditioning (and heat), and I quickly installed an OME 2 inch lift and 30x9.5 MT/Rs, and I was done. The Cherokee wheeled pretty good, and it was nice to get back to a more basic and highway friendly Jeep. It served me very well on Northwest Arkansas back roads and during the occasional ice or snow storm. As with the CJ, it carried me to and from work every day. By the time our third child was born in 2009, the Cherokee had moved to smaller, cheaper, all-terrains, and TJs started catching my eyes again. For more than two years, I looked and watched, all the while, telling myself, “The Cherokee is more family friendly.” By late summer 2012, I realized I could count on one hand the times my family of 5 had been in the Cherokee. It was time for a change…
After my dad passed away in October 2012, I realized I could engage my family and especially, my two young sons by getting out more, exploring, and building. I began seriously looking for my next project. I knew what I needed. I knew what I wanted. I looked at the local lots and scoured Craigslist and eBay. In January 2013, I finally found a 2001 Wrangler Sahara with a rear D44 with no reserve. After a Carfax check, I started bidding. I bid low, and who cares if it’s 1,400 miles away in New Haven, CT! The Jeep had low miles, it was clean, and it wasn’t like I would win the auction… Until I did. So I flew to New Haven, bought a Jeep sight unseen, and drove home to Arkansas. I’m still on a budget, but from my previous experience, I know it’s much cheaper to do it right the first time. Despite my hasty and not so well thought out purchase, I’m going to have to be patient and deliberate with each step.