Featured Build: Cheyenne

This week we chat with Devan Nelson about his beautiful XJ, Cheyenne. Eleven years and three builds later, Cheyenne readily tackles some of the toughest trails out there, including his favorites out in Moab, Utah.


what got you into jeeps and off-roading?

My family is originally from Moab, UT and with visiting my grandma and grandpa frequently, I fell in love seeing all the Jeeps down there. I’ve always liked doing things outside and figured buying a Jeep would help get me out even more to see more things!

When I was looking to buy my first car, I had two vehicles I considered that I always loved: an Acura Legend and a Jeep Cherokee. At first the Acura Legend seemed like the most practical out of the two but I looked everywhere and couldn’t find one that was in good enough shape. When I finally gave up on the Legend, I was glad I never found one I liked so I could move on and get a Jeep Cherokee being more capable instead of practical.

I found this 2001 Jeep Cherokee Sport and once I saw what kind of condition it was in, I instantly bought it and took it home.

11 years later it’s been through three different builds, and has seen countless trails.

why did you want to build an xj?

The reason I wanted to build an XJ was honestly because I couldn’t afford the cost of building a Wrangler originally. I had always loved the XJ body style ever since I was a kid and figured that would be a great option for a first Jeep to build up. The great thing about the Jeep Cherokee is that even if you were to just put 33” tires and a 4.5” short arm lift kit on it,

you’ll always be surprised at how capable the vehicle can be without going overboard.

what sets your XJ apart from the others?

What sets my XJ apart from others is of course my custom ragtop and custom paint job, not to mention the fact that I actually use it on a regular basis on some of the toughest trails out there. When we were putting ideas together on this build, a friend of mine who did all the paint and body work came up with the crazy idea to do a custom ragtop. I thought he was nuts but I was also intrigued at how it could turn out since I had never seen one on a Jeep Cherokee before.

After a couple days of thinking about whether we should do it or not, I finally decided to go for it. We went with a kit that was produced by Legacy Products, installed JCR Offroad frame stiffeners to help with support, and it’s been working great even with all the flexing I’ve put it through.

what’s next for Cheyenne?

The next modification for my XJ “Cheyenne” is a custom hood scoop and TeraFlex speed bumps. In the future I have also been considering upgrading to the PSC hydro assist steering but for now love the TeraFlex HD steering with the Falcon Nexus steering stabilizer.

One modification I don’t ever plan on doing, is swapping out the factory cassette deck.

Call me stubborn but I feel like there are some things that should remain with the vehicle’s time period.

where is your favorite place to wheel?

My favorite place to wheel is of course Moab! I feel so lucky to be so close to some of the best off-roading in the world. When I’m not wheeling in Moab, I like to go on more local trails closer to where I live just to get away for a short trip, and in Utah there are plenty of trails to explore. I’m looking forward to branching out more this year hitting trails in Colorado to see some different terrain,

but Moab will always be my favorite.


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