(Photos by Dave Nutting) – This could be the most BangShifty vehicle we have ever featured before. Built by a group of five smart friends and raced at the Grassroots Motorsports $2,000 Challenge, local autocrosses, and the drags, this 1995 Jeep goes 12s and has won the autocross at the GRM Challenge two years running. It has beaten pony cars, exotics, foreign cars, and lots of other stuff it has come up against all the while sporting solid axles front and rear, a 240,000+ Jeep engine with a home cobbled turbo setup pushing air through it, a paint job that was done inside two EZ-up tents wrapped in plastic, and leaf springs wrapped in duct tape. All of these things will be explained in further detail but perhaps the wackiest detail of ’em all is the fact that all of these dudes live within about a 60 mile radius of BangShift eastern world head quarters and we never knew it! We’re so into this Jeep that it literally hurts us. By the time you get done reading this story, you will be hooked as well. It is the perfect match of odd-ball vehicle, competition success, bucks down smarts, and brutal performance. We rode around in this thing on slicks in the rain and were still blown away about how it was handling. On dry asphalt it probably has the ability to shift the organs inside your body and it is a freaking Jeep Cherokee.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Grassroots Motorsports $2,000 (now $2,014) Challenge, it is a multi-faceted motorsports competition where racers need to have a car that they built for the $2,014 allotted by Grassroots Magazine. That means weirdo combos and lots of home engineering. Over the years some amazing stuff has showed up like a C4 Corvette with a “sucker” ground effects unit on the car that basically suctioned it to the Earth, lots of Mustangs, BMWs, and Miatas have been involved and one, yes only one, Jeep Cherokee that belongs to Team External Combustion. This group of Massachusetts guys named the Jeep the “XJ-R” with absolutely no apologies to Jaguar. Nor should they.
Like all things that seem too ridiculous to work on their face but are ultimately successful, the Jeep is a collection of fixes, modifications, and home-brewed solutions that either correct or lessen the effect of any shortcomings the base platform has. On the day we shot these photos we hooked up with the whole crew which consists of the Jeep owners Jeff Hutton and Dave Seavey along with team members Tony Sestito, Pat Murphy, and Greg Stewart. Between the five of them, they have driven, thrashed, and thought about this thing for more time than they’d all care to admit, but the results are a true humbler. A machine you can walk past with your nose up only to have it cave your face in on the track. In our world there is NOTHING better than that.
As we do with all of our features here at BangShift, we’re going to tell you the rest of the story though Dave Nutting’s awesome photos and attached captions. Here’s the story of the Team External Combustion XJ-R – King of the Mind-F Jeeps.
Ok, guys could you please move the Ferrari, those couple of Porsches, and the Maserati? We’ve got a friggin’ Jeep to shoot in here!
We owe a HUGE thanks to Kachel Motor Company for the use of their incredible shop. CLICK HERE TO CHECK THE PLACE OUT!