1997 Jeep Cherokee

I didn’t really have the intention of turning my Jeep into an offroading beast. Maybe it was something in the water, but there’s no denying that when it hits the dirt the Zombie Killer is a force to be reckoned with.

I bought my bone stock 1997 Jeep Cherokee Sport used from a Jeep dealership. It had 30k on the clock when it rolled off the lot in October of 2000. I had decided that I wanted a Cherokee (or “XJ” if you’re serious about being a Jeep owner). There’s something beautiful about the unapologetic boxy design. I test drove a number of older XJs, before I decided I wanted something newer.

Things started innocently enough at first. A mild lift and slightly oversized tires, but as any automotive enthusiast will tell you, there’s always something more that you want. In my case it wasn’t horsepower, or handling, it was just the ability to pull off the road and laugh at things that most Hummers would struggle driving over.

Jeep is America's only real sports car.
— Enzo Ferrari


My Jeep is all about the extras. Let’s be honest Jeeps are more capable than many other vehicles off road, but if you want to do some serious wheeling, you need some serious upgrades.


4.5" Rubicon Express
Old Man Emu
Control Arms
Rusty's Long Arm


Front Axle
Dana 30 (4.54:1 Gears)
Front Locker
ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle
Ford 8.8 (4.54:1 Gears)
Rear Locker
Slip Yoke Eliminator

Wheels & Tires

15x8 American Racing Tyrant
24x12 Truxus MT


210 HP
RTI Score
907 (20° Ramp)


  • On board air with 3 gallon air tank
  • Skidrow transfercase skid plate
  • Currie HD steering linkage
  • Rusty's adjustable track bar
  • KC Highlighter flood lights
  • Custom built interior rack
  • Surco roof rack


My Cherokee is certainly worthy, but it also allows me to get into situation where a rollover is possible. The Cherokee is a unibody vehicle, and a rollover means that the Jeep will most likely be trashed. My next large project is to build an exocage for the Jeep that will help protect the body in case I roll it.

Designed and built by Jonathan Sweet in Berlin, CT