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General Information

Year
1997
Make
Jeep Wrangler
Model
TJ/2.5/Auto/Hardtop SE
Color
Black
History
Growing up (in the 60s-70s) working on farms, I didn't realize Jeeps were popular recreational vehicles until I entered military service and went to the big city. (NJ, New Orleans, Miami.) There was always some old Willys or CJ around the barns, mostly with a few creosote posts, some post-hole diggers, and a box of fence staples in the back. FL has giant agribusiness and cattle industries, (Most people who visit the state never leave the beaches.) but miles of fence runs through places a truck just won't go. (FL is covered in water. Huge amounts of swamp and you can't throw a rock without hitting a lake.) So it's either a Jeep or a horse.

I can't stand horses. Every single one of them is a mental cross between Gary Busey, Lindsey Lohan, and Bobcat Goldwait, and weighs a thousand pounds. IMHO. So Jeeps were always a better choice.

I'm finally settling down in my life after 47 hard years, good wife, good son, good job, and even though I live mostly in LA now, I still feel like a farm boy. A Jeep feels right. Every car I'm ever in feels like a taxi-cab or a rental. Like a hotel room with 6" of clearance. Trucks are ok, but superfluous. For me, anyway.

I like hearing about people's excursions into the trails and stuff- I'm amazed at some of the modifications these vehicles are capable of, but for me it's a utilitarian thing. Most farm jeeps we had never ran anything but old car tires or maybe the orig skinny (bald/Nam/street-illegal) militaries and still almost never got stuck, so almost anything most of us will ever face in the real world, even in a crap-hitting-the-fan scenario is easily within grasp of even the most basic YJ. Doing a little hunting, fishing, driving to locations in SoCal isn't probably gonna challenge my TJ much. Thinking about getting one for FL too. I'm there with my son every two weeks.

I am, however, blown away at how comfortable these things are now. I bought mine in Denver and drove in back to LA overnight. Apart from being nearly blown the &$^% over coming through some incredibly freakin windy passes in Utah, it was like driving a car. Last Jeep I owned, a Wagoneer back in 84, was less comfortable than this Wrangler. A far cry for those old canvas farm-jeep seats.

Well, that's about it. Love m'Jeep.

--------------------------------------

Made some mods since I posted the original pictures. Seems I can't stop taking stuff off my jeep. I also went with U.S. Navy Haze Gray/Government gray (aka rattle-can New Ford Gray) paint over the original black. New pics posted since I changed a few things.
1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ/2.5/Auto/Hardtop SE (Black)

Modifications

Drivetrain
Nothing much, really. Hood was sunburnt, clearcoat gone, so sanded and flat-black bbq painted the hood and metal fenders. REALLY like the flat back.
Interior
31"x 10.5" Definity Dakotas. One of the most satisfactorily rated off-road tires in existence. About a hundred bucks apiece. Could not be happier.
Exterior
1 1/4" Body Lift. Ground-down skateboard wheels and Grade-8 bolts. $40. 45 min.

Trimmed or removed all plastic fenders, trimmed off the front "school-bus" metal as well.

U.S. Navy Haze Gray/Government gray (aka rattle-can New Ford Gray) paint over the original black.

Converted swing-out gate to drop-down tailgate.
Audio
Immediately removed the asphyxiating OE filtration box, replaced it with $25 washable high-flow air filter. Immed increase in hp (which is still pretty meager, but adequate.) and mpg. Est improvement of 8-10% in both cases.
Suspension
Added JK 17s front, 59s rear. (looking for 18s or 19s)Also added JK shocks. Unbelievable improvement in ride quality, and resulted in 3" lift to rear, a little over 2" in front. Will be adding spacer to level, eventually.
Wheel and Tire
Speaker bar. Really, really good addition.

Gallery

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