After years of ExPo neglected…Herein is told the tale of an everyday Jeep. Just the story of a ’04 Jeep Unlimited that lives its life much like a pair of well-loved hiking boots. Like those boots it wanders the hills and valleys of the east in a quest to find the solitary places deep in the forests and shaded glens where it roams. No, you’ll not find radical modifications or state of the art tech, but instead a Jeep that humbly lives its life running the woods, chasing down critters and lugging it’s payload to far flung jobsites. So here is the story of how the Grey Mouser got to be the Grey Mouser and the fun and adventure we’ve had along the way…
Photo Courtesy of Cshontz
Our tale begins in the late fall of 2006, where we find nestled in a creek side valley home…Us. We have always owned a Jeep of some kind including a Comanche (much missed), two ZJs and at this time a ‘98 TJ. We liked our little TJ. It was bought cheap with only 32,000 miles on the odometer the year before and had served us well as a weekend rambler.
But with the four of us it was tight quarters when it came to even a weekend camping trip. Something had to change, but we liked the platform and flexibility of the Wrangler. And as fate would have it a buddy of mine mentioned he was selling his ’04 Unlimited to go buy another Defender 90. The year before he had rolled and totaled his 90 on icy roads and gave up looking for a new one after a lot of searching about. So he had picked up this LJ as it was about the same size and had the classic Jeep lines, and as a classic car dealer he’s always drawn to those cars that cling to their heritage like a badge of honor. Anyway, a year later, here he found another Defender and was hot to get it. The LJ had to go and go quick. So with some horse trading, a very good deal (for us) and a handshake the LJ had a new home, namely ours. And so on that day an ’04 Jeep Unlimited Softop with just 13,500 miles became part of Clan Haggis. Man what a difference those extra inches made. That LJ felt like a luxury car on the highway compared to the ride of the TJ (though definitely still a Jeep, luxury ride is relative when dealing with Jeeps) and the available rear space was like having another Jeep along when it came to storage. Now, we always name our vehicles but the names have to be earned. So for a long time the Jeep was just that, “the Jeep”.
So we got it home and it wasn’t long when changes started being made. I had pulled off all the aftermarket stuff from the TJ before selling it and now it was time to swap that stuff over onto the LJ. The Smittybilt SCR front bumper and the DC 1 rims were swapped over. The bumper’s main function was to protect the Jeep from the mujihadeer that throw themselves into vehicles in acts of critter jihad at regular intervals in this area. So far that bumper has squirted two deer out the sides of the Jeep, crunched on big boulder and had a meeting with a guardrail whilst traversing icy roads and it’s got nothing to show for it other than a six inch scratch. Soon after the bumper was swapped Warn had their old reliable M8000 winch on sale so on went the winch. To mount it up I bought a Collins Brother winch plate and am happy to report that after 4 years of salt, antiskid, mud and gravel it is hold up very well. No powder coat problems at all. Same goes with the SRC bumper, though this was one of the last ones built by Smittybilt when they were still owned by Smittybilt. I wish all Jeep aftermarket parts held up so well.