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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello and welcome to what I hope will be the build and restoration thread for my recently acquired 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ Overland.

I bought the car as the just the third owner with just over 99,000 miles on the clock. The first owner having had the Jeep from new to June 2015. The second owner taking possession and undertaking some needed work such a motor mounts and front suspension work. The second owner also installed a Sony Media receiver head unit and Rough Country N2.0 steering stabiliser and dampers. The original head unit was included with the Jeep. So, I have on my hands what is effectively a one owner low mileage Jeep that is near original and could easily be converted back to original if desired.

My plans are to follow the resto-mod theme; fixing the little niggles that these vehicles have and undertaking sensible reversible modifications.

Here's the Jeep as I received it.

 

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Discussion Starter #2
Exterior Aesthetics / Modifications

Like a kid with a new toy the first thing I wanted to do was make this thing look more aggressive. Oh, and perform better off road of course. Basically spec it the way a Jeep should be specced from the factory.

First of all tyres (or tires).

The biggest dilemma of all when it comes to tyres is size and bigger is better. For my planned build, it would be the biggest that would fit without rubbing and hopefully also fit in the spare wheel well. This forum an others suggested the tyre of choice for my purpose would be 245/70R17.

The second dilemma is which tyre. Most of the mileage will be highway but of course I wanted an aggressive looking all terrain tread befitting a Jeep. This is a luxury SUV though and so nothing too aggressive, something purposeful and in keeping with the Grand Cherokee's character. Automatically the mind goes to BFG's AT but the on highway reviews, overly aggressive tread for my purpose, and cost suggested I needed to look elsewhere. In fact, no further than Toyo's Open Country AT which consistently reviews very well. Where I am in the UK, the available version is the ATplus. I believe the 'plus' version is a European specification tyre to have less road noise. I have to say, it is unbelievably quiet...no distinguishable road noise at all. Check back for a long term review of these tyres. I still need to check whether it fits in the spare wheel well. If it does, I may order another for the spare.

With the bigger boots fitted, the Jeep really needed a lift. Again, it had to be proportionate and in character. I love LoCoG rock crawlers and prerunners so didn't want to be showing too much wheel well. Plus with mostly on highway driving, handling characteristics were important. That had to be weighed against achieving the traditional look of a lifted rig. Also, in my opinion, any modification should be fully functional, so a BB wasn't going to cut it. In terms of quality lift springs, it's hard to ignore OME. It was now that I needed to decide Heavy Duty or Medium Duty; i.e. winch or no winch. As tempted as I was to go with a winch, especially knowing that the HK Off Road hidden winch mount exists, I decided the cost and required cutting of the front cross member was too much for my purposes. Look out for a future post of my experience with the OME lift springs and their A and B free height differences...the Jeep is tilted to one side at the minute!
Fortunately the Rough Country shocks fitted by the previous owner have enough travel to handle a mild lift so that was a nice bonus and saved the cost of new shocks. If it had been my choice though, I would have gone for the Bilstein 5100's.

The tyres and lift greatly improved the looks of the Jeep but I wanted more but something subtle. What I wanted was the black bezel headlights of the Sport model which were installed complete with new bulbs.

I'm really pleased with the outcome; I think it has achieved my aim of bringing a more aggressive and purposeful look that enhances the character of the Jeep. That should be it for exterior modifications. Let me know what you think.

 

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Discussion Starter #3
Quick update just to say that a 245/70R17 Toyo Open Country AT tyre fits in the spare wheel well with the cover sitting normally.

Spare wheel sitting in the wheel well:



Cover sitting normally:

 
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