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M.L.C. Jeep
Created 4Jul12

2004 Jeep LJ Unlimited

"M.L.C. Jeep"

So I bought a Jeep. I suppose if you stumbled upon this page randomly or just don't know me, that might be a surprise. For the rest of you, this makes my fifth Jeep, and my first Universal Jeep since selling my '73 CJ-5 back in 2000. Three XJ Cherokees (1989 and two 1996s) also preceded it. The Cherokees have been great, reliable vehicles - between the three of them, I had an average of nearly 200,000 miles on each, and they still ran great when I sold them! One major key to that longevity is the 4.0L inline-6 engine, so if I wanted that same reliablility in a Wrangler it was going to have to be prior to the 2007 redesign.

For a little background, this isn't the normal Wrangler seen on the roads since 1987, or the 1997-2006 version either. This version (subtype?) was built during only three years (2004-06) of the ten-year production of the TJ Wrangler. The most noticeable feature is the added length - ten inches added in front of the rear wheel, and another five inches at the rear. The backseat was moved back about three inches, giving those passengers more legroom.

Why an Unlimited? There's an extra two inches of wheelbase over the Cherokee, and the top is removable! More importantly with that removable top is the fact that you can put it back on pretty easily, unlike some chopped Cherokees. Once those roofs are cut off, they're pretty much open to the elements. Living in Colorado, we can get snowstorms anywhere from late September through May - even June sometimes! Therefore, I really need something that will be durable in snow yet removable for summer. Plus...I've always wanted a Wrangler ever since seeing one back at MCAS El Toro in '89 or so.

2004 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

The added room in an LJ Unlimited was also a huge selling point, as the extra ten inch wheelbase softens the ride considerably, it's actually two inches longer than an XJ's 101.4" wheelbase. The LJ portion of the requirement limited me to 2004-06, and don't forget the TJ assembly line was still in full swing at the time! This meant I was looking for some relatively rare Jeeps, and actually spent about eight months actively searching. Most of them were black, silver or tan, with a smattering of blue, green or yellow and one or two orange ones. Quite a few of them were lifted, and used anything from super-stiff, super-cheap lifts to some seriously flexible, make-you-seasick-on-the-highway suspensions. Neither of those extremes makes for a good daily driver, so I kept looking.

After about eight months of looking, many test drives, and quite a few miles racked up looking all along the Colorado Front Range, I happened upon a seriously-clean '04 just down the road from me. Not only did it have the hardtop, the owner included a full softtop with tinted windows, and a bikini top along with soft half-doors with zippered uppers. It's like a grown-up set of Legos, with all the mix-n-match possibilities...and in the first month I've experimented with just about all of them!

  • 4.0L I-6 "High-Output" engine (one of the last years for this great motor)
  • Chrysler 42RLE 4-speed automatic transmission
  • NP231 "Command-Trac" transfer-case (2.72:1 lo-range)
  • Dana30 low-pinion front axle, 3.73 gears
  • Dana44 rear axle, 3.73 gear, Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential
  • 31x10.50x15 Cooper Discoverer tires

Future Plans

I'm not even going there at this point...it's too new, and a daily driver. I have some ideas, but they're a long way down the pike. For now. Although, one thing I didn't consider when buying was the factory radio. There's not an audio-in jack like the Pioneer stereo in Red had, so I can't listen to Pandora on the road. Guess I'm going to have to decide if it's really needed or not then. And...there are the paracord-woven rollbar grab handles I've been making. Those will get a link of their own soon, I'm sure.

Okay...maybe a small lift. I need new shocks anyway, and hate buying parts that I know will be replaced prior to wearing out. Yeah...that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

superbrightleds.com - Change dash lighting. Also want to upgrade the interior lighting, adding strips under the rails next to the rear passenger, as well as a separate circuit covering the rear cargo area.

NEO4-G...you'll need 5 of these for your dash

74-GHP...need 3 of these for AC panel

e-mail Jim
created: July 4, 2012
 

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