Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ 1992-1998, from the threshing floor to the showroom. [videos]

Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ 1992-1998, from the threshing floor to the showroom. [videos]

In January 1992, a Jeep Cherokee XJ with rounded corners and steroids rolled through the streets of Detroit toward Cobo Hall, surrounded by police motorcycles. The place where the North American International Auto Show was held, our familiar NAIAS.

The history of the Jeep Grand Cherokee goes back to 1983, when AMC who controlled Jeep were looking for a replacement for the Cherokee XJ.

At the wheel of the car is Robert “Bob” Lutz, the boss of Chrysler, and Coleman Young, the mayor of the city, is the passenger.

Suddenly, the car slowed down as it approached one of the gates of Cobo Hall and… went up the stairs without hesitation, in a display of its 4×4 prowess. Arriving at the top of the stairs, the unknown Jeep continued on its way and broke a large glass window.

And then he ended up in the middle of eager journalists who were invited to see this new Jeep: Grand Cherokee ZJ!

Chrysler’s new model was launched just five years after America’s third-largest automaker bought the legendary (and national) Jeep from Renault.

To refresh your memory, in 1987 Chrysler acquired the 47% of American Motors Corporation that Renault owns. The remaining shares of AMC were bought on the New York Stock Exchange.

Why AMC? Because then-Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca wanted his profitable Jeep subsidiary brand in Chrysler’s portfolio. And especially the Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ that was already in production, as well as the new global production plant in Bramalea, Ontario.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee will be the first Jeep model under the Chrysler brand. But also a large 4×4 that would use an independent chassis unlike the competition’s frames which were mostly pickup derivatives.

You see, the charismatic Iacocca wanted to put all the work that Renault had done up to that point in his hands. The specific improvement of AMC engineering (computer-aided design and platform systems) and the improvement of management and brand reorganization would give Chrysler a first-class industrial tool, essential to its future success.

To make things clear, the ‘XJC’ project was intended to be the successor to the Cherokee XJ. And Giorgetto Giugiaro was commissioned by AMC to make the model.

The transition from the Jeep Concept 1 to the Jeep Grand Cherokee was limited only to changes in details: Clear crystals in the headlights, two auxiliary lights made from one on the edge of the bumper, other grab handles and side guards on the body . which did not include the dome.

After contact with outside designers, however, in 1989 Chrysler gave the ring to the official design of the car to the creators of the Jeep Concept 1, already very close to what would become the Grand Cherokee ZJ in ’92. Frenchman Alain Clénet, who had launched his own brand in the United States (Clénet Coachworks), and Larry Shinoda, who felt he had been robbed from AMC.

With the acquisition of Chrysler, the teams of the Frenchman François Castaing, head of Technology and Product Development, therefore redirected the project towards the completion of the Cherokee and not its successor. A strategic decision, like the Grand Cherokee, Jeep would expand its range on top, replacing the 30-year-old Grand Wagoneer SJ, launched in 1962!

The April ’92 launch of the Jeep Grand Cherokee included a single engine range and three trim levels: SE (base), Laredo and Limited.

Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ 1992-1998
The Jeep Grand Cherokee’s base engine was a 193-horsepower inline 6-cylinder gasoline engine, the same as the Cherokee. It was also available from ’93 with a new 5.2lt 223PS V8 petrol engine which increased towing capacity to three tonnes, making the Grand Cherokee ideal for towing an Airstream caravan.

The engine was an AMC-sourced inline 6-cylinder 4-liter (242 ci). The 193-horsepower engine was paired with a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission from Aisin, with a choice of rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

Manual distribution was discontinued in 1994 in the United States due to low demand. In Europe, however, he continued his work with the 2.5-liter turbodiesel Grand Cherokee (’95-’98), a 117 PS engine that came from VM Motori.

In total, however, there were four transmissions available: Command Trac, optional 4×4 transmission, standard SE and Laredo versions. Choose the Trac with permanent four-wheel drive and optional rear-wheel drive only, optional on the Laredo version. The third, called “Quadra Trac,” was permanent four-wheel drive, optional on the Laredo and standard on the Limited and Grand Wagoneer, mated to a three-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. The Laredo version, a rear wheel drive only, was also introduced later.

Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ 1992-1998
All versions came standard with a driver’s airbag and ABS, and the Laredo version pictured had better seat upholstery, power mirrors and cruise control.

The following year, in 1993, the V8 Magnum engine with 5.2 lt and 223 hp was added to the range. But also a limited-time “luxury” version with a V8, taking the name Grand Wagoneer. The model was produced in only 6,378 pieces, a number that has made it a highly collectible piece.

In 1996, the Jeep Grand Cherokee underwent a slight facelift (Phase 2) and the 6-cylinder engine was downgraded to 188 PS according to new American production regulations. Changes were also made to the On Demand Quadra Trac transmission which now forwards all torque to the rear wheels. Torque was distributed between the two axles using an epicyclic center differential and an effective clutch when conditions required it. A system that broke away as soon as it used short gears to allow mechanical locking of the differential. By late 1997, On Demand Quadra Trac had all kinds of equipment.

And in 1998 and the last year of the first generation of the model, the Limited edition would wear in the engine room the last V8 of the series, with a capacity of 5.9 lt (360 ci) and 248 PS.

Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ 1992-1998
In 1998, the Limited edition was revealed with a 5.9-liter V8 bolt and 248 horses that launched the Jeep Grand Cherokee from a standstill to 100 km/h in just 7.3″, making it the fastest SUV on the market. grilles in the hood, grille, rims, special leather upholstery and 180 W sound system.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ quickly gained popularity, winning several awards including Truck Of The Year (Motor Trend magazine) and Four Wheeler Of The Year (Four Wheeler Magazine), before being replaced by a more modern version, the Jeep Grand Cherokee. WJ.

Between 1992 and 1998, a total of 1,251,473 Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJs rolled off Detroit’s production lines. Figures contributed by the plant in Graz, Austria, where the Grand Cherokee is manufactured for Europe and Steyr-Daimler-Puch, Cordoba, Argentina and Valencia, Venezuela. A good average especially for a large 4×4.

Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ 1992-1998
The ‘Quadra Coil’ suspension, consisting of two rigid axles each suspended by four arms and two coil springs, gave the Grand Cherokee the ability to combine excellent off-road capability with long-distance comfort.

For anyone brave (and rich) who would like to own a vintage Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ, with a big engine (of course), luxury and endless 4×4 capabilities, the price is low – very low. He would rather have a rare Grand Wagoneer or a ’98 Limited 5.9 or an Orvis special edition wagon (15,094 cars – MY 95–98) or a sportier TSI version (MY97–98).

Today let us remember that we are in the fifth generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee which is also available in our country, and is available only with the plug-in hybrid system, “4xe” with a starting price of €92,777. You can also configure it in configurator of the Greek delegation.