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This incredible 1975 Jeep Cherokee is built to do it all

by Patrick Rall on

A while back I was partaking in a random discussion in a large Mopar Facebook group when I saw a comment made by a guy named Greg Huizenga. In his tiny FB profile picture, I could see a bright blue, lowered Jeep and that caught my interest, so I clicked on his profile. Once on his profile page, I was greeted by the image below, showing a massive set of tires, a huge intercooler and a turbocharger on what I believed to be that same Jeep.

Upon seeing this second picture, I wrote Huizenga and asked him if what I was seeing was a classic Jeep Cherokee that was lowered with a turbocharged engine and a flip-up front end. That sounds pretty interesting, but in speaking with the owner of this unique Jeep, this classic SUV is even more impressive than I first thought.

It turns out that this 1975 Jeep Cherokee is powered by a turbocharged 5.7-liter Hemi from a modern Dodge Challenger, with beefed-up manual transmission from the Challenger as well. In addition to this boosted modern engine, this old school Jeep has a Moser 9-inch full-floating dirt track racing differential, a full custom suspension setup and – get this – a modified chassis from 1967-1972 Chevrolet C10 pickup.

Upon getting the basic details, I knew that I had to share this wicked Jeep with the Mopar community, so I asked Greg Huizenga for more details and more pictures on his 1975 Cherokee. Below is his story with an array of pictures of this unique SUV inside, outside and under the hood.

In short, this 1975 Cherokee has been built to go road racing, drag racing and camping, while also serving as a great daily driver…likely making this the most versatile classic Jeep in the world.

Greg Huizenga’s 1975 Jeep Cherokee

To start out with, it’s a 1975 Cherokee.  1975 was the first year of availability for the wide-track body with the big fender flares.  It was originally a Cherokee Chief when new but is now badged and striped with 1977-1978 Cherokee S markings.  I built it to replace my 1983 Cherokee Laredo that was totaled by a big body Cadillac that ran a red light.  I’ve attached a couple pictures of that truck (below in red).  Very similar build and the new one uses a lot of parts salvaged from it.  Everyone survived somehow in case you were wondering.

It was built in a little under 4 months after the accident.  I basically slept in half hour increments and worked around the clock, plus my Engineering consulting work that pays the bills.

Mostly everything is custom on it.  I know everyone says that but the only original thing on it is the bare body tub.  I had a few local shops that really bent over backwards for me, want to make sure they get some recognition.  Autocraft Custom Collision did the paint and body, Bileth Services in Caledonia, MI did frame work, and Tim Clow in Hastings, MI did the roll cage.  Those guys are all rockstars in my book.  To get in and out of chassis jail and paint jail in just over a month is unheard of.

Because it’s only been on the road such a short time, I haven’t been able to do everything I built it to do yet.  But it’s built to do basically anything I could want to do with it aside from off-roading.  It’ll see autocross time, drag strip time, road trips, camping, etc.  Needs to be reliable enough to drive hundreds of miles to a track, race, and drive home.  Usually when I go to a race out of town I camp in the back of it.  Makes for a fairly inexpensive race weekend with no tow rig, no hotels, etc and lets me justify doing a lot of cool things vs just a few every year.

I’ve already made a weekend trip to Kentucky with it this year (I live in Michigan) and been to US131 Motorsports Park once.  It ran a best of 10.71 @ 126.9 with a 1.47 sixty foot time on only 8 psi and during a recent dyno run, it laid down 580 horsepower and 654 ft-lb of torque at the rear wheels. Anyone that can drive a stick can hop in and drive it with no instructions.

Below is the full mod list for this incredible 1975 Jeep Cherokee.

Engine:
-Junkyard 2010 Challenger 5.7 Hemi V8
-VVT locked, stock camshaft
-Aeromotive fuel rails
-Magnafuel boost-referenced regulator
-Dual Walbro 255 pumps
-Holley Hydramat fuel pump in a 16 gallon fuel cell
-Ford 80mm cable drive throttle body
-Ford 80 lb/hr injectors
-Holley HP EFI
-Fully flex fuel compatible with GM flex fuel sensor
-Bullseye Street Billet S366 turbo, JGS 50mm wastegate and blowoff valve
-Chevy LS “up and forward” turbo headers with custom adapter plates to fit the Hemi
-VS Racing 4” intercooler
-Single 3.5” exhaust to the back tire

Drivetrain:
-TR6060 6 speed manual built by Capizzi Automotive with standard RT/SRT ratios 1-4, Hellcat 5-6 gears
-Used stock Hellcat clutch
-Wilwood floor hinged pedal box sunk into the firewall
-Moser dirt circle track full floater 9” rear
-Yates cup car center section, Detroit locker, 3.70 gear, special Ron Sutton lightweight locker springs
-Street/autocross tires are 275/40zr17 Continental ExtremeContact Sports on 17×11 Corvette C4 ZR1 wheels on all 4 corners
-Drag race setup is 26×9 Hoosiers on 15x10s and Mickey Thompson 26×4.5s on 15x4s

Image courtesy of Follow Through Media

Chassis:
-Combination of a couple ’67-72 C10 chassis, shortened to 110” wheelbase, custom front frame rails, etc.
-Front suspension is a No Limit Wide Ride with Ridetech coilovers and rack and pinion steering
-Rear suspension is reinforced trailing arms with a custom coilover setup that I made

Body:
-Front clip is a lift off fiberglass unit on a tubular framework
-Stock steel hinged hood
-Aluminum front/rear bumpers
-Color is 1969-1970 Mopar B5 Blue

Interior:
-12 point Chromemoly cage
-Added creature comforts like power mirrors, power rear window, aftermarket heat, Bluetooth, 8” subwoofer and amp, etc
-Full Autometer gauges
-No extra switches or unnecessary operations

Even if this 1975 Jeep Cherokee had a stock engine, stock chassis and stock interior, the lowered stance and gorgeous body would make it a showstopper, but the turbocharged Hemi with the fully customized chassis and suspension setup make this an incredible machine. It was built to be driven on the street, but as large, classic SUVs go, it will handle a track with turns better than almost anything in the class while also running in the 10-second quarter mile range.

Image courtesy of Follow Through Media

While there might be a classic Jeep Cherokee from this era that runs better track times or turns more heads at a car show, we have a hard time believing that there are many – if any – 1975 Cherokees that will do everything that this machine will do as well as this one does it.

Image courtesy of Follow Through Media

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.

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