Have you ever come across one of those gym fanatics? The muscle bound dude who looks like he could pick up a car, but cant turn a wrench if his life depends on it? Or the super-hot gym bunny who is a shallow as a kiddie pool? Both fine specimins of the human form, both nice to look at. Most of us, after seeing them from afar, envy those fitness models, but once you get up close, and see that they’ve sacrificed so much of their life just to get that shat super-fit body, you start to realize that maybe being super fit isn’t all its cracked up to be.
Having a Jeep on huge tires, thousands of dollars of suspension, a snorkel, and a shiny winch is sort of like that. Looks awesome in your profile pic on twitter, or posing on the RTI ramp, or whatever, but what can it do? Well, the good news is, with the right driver behind the wheel, it can probably do awesome things. If you’re _not_ that driver, well, it might just be a huge waste of money… Most mods degrade on-road performance, whether it be fuel economy, road manners or safety. That’s awesome if you’re using it, and understand what you’re getting into before you start down the road to building your dream jeep.
In 1999, I bought my first Jeep. A 1990 YJ, 2.5l manual transmission. It cost me a whopping $5000. I couldn’t wait to start modding it. I bought the first suspension lift I came across a Skyjacker 2.5″ kit. It was cheap, $400. I use the term “Kit” loosely. It came with leaves, and bushings… I had to re-use my u-bolts and shackle bolts. The track bars didnt fit anymore, the sway bar links were too short, brake lines, all the usual add-ons that nickle and dime you after putting on a lift. I didn’t know anything about what I was doing. My dad and I installed the lift the best we could. After that it was bolt-on this and that, i ended up with a decent jeep, but I did all the short-cuts. Shackle lift, 1/2″ flat washers for a t-case drop kit, cheap front bumper, rear tire carrier that i’m surprised didnt kill anyone. My point is, I spent all this money on mods, that I didnt even understand. I just kept throwing money at my jeep to make it look awesome.
Then one day i was reading about sway bar disconnects, and decided to buy a set. Installed them, and learned what the heck they were for. Thats when it all changed. A rock crawler was born. Now I could flex that suspension, and I did every chance I got. I got very interested in what I could do with that jeep i’d been building. Luckily it turned out that many of the mod’s i’d installed weren’t horrible. I got extended brake lines, and started wheeling. Before now i’d been mud puddles and bumpy roads. Now I started looking for uneven terrain, rocks, and little ravines. I took what i’d learned with that 90, and went out and bought a 4.0 1992 YJ, and built it smart. No more gimmicky BS, I started with a decent lift kit, extended brake lines, and got out and hit the trails. That 92 is what is all over this site, the Smurf.
Well as you know, I sold that, and bought a JK, and now I traded the JK on an LJ. Ive got an Anti-Rock on the LJ, and some 31″ MT’s. Man, that very mild build, along with my 15 years of off-road experience… I’m doing things with the LJ that I’m really impressed with. What’s my point? Rushing out and modding the heck out of your rig before you know what you’re doing, could be a mistake. If i’d known what I know now, back when I got that 90 YJ, I’d have done things much differently. I just wish someone had told me that, then. So, mod your Jeep, thats what having a Jeep is all about, but do it smart. Figure out what you want to do with your Jeep, and get out there and do it. Mod what makes sense, dont just throw money at it, and let your wallet dictate where your adventures lead.