EARLY YEARS: AMC opened the 1986 model year with some changes. Gone after six years was the Scrambler. During its five year stint, 27,792 of the CJ-8's had been produced. After the Scrambler got the axe, the upcoming of a vehicle with the usual truck style took its place. Like the spawning of the Gladiator pickups from the fullsize Wagoneer in 1963, The new XJ Cherokee spawned into the new Comanche.
The new jeep sat on an XJ chassis streched to make a 119.6" wheelbase. It had the Cherokee's Quadra-link front suspention, and from the doors forward the body was identical to the XJ. Behind the cab was a 7.5' bed. The new truck used the XJ's 4&6 cylinder drivetrains. This truck was a first for jeep being its first truck with the option of 2 wheel drive. A good thing because 75% of pickup sales were with 2 wheel drive.
The new Comanche was passed off by jeep as a compact, but actually belonged to the rare mid-size breed pickup class, along with the '87 and newer Dakotas.
It was larger than any domestic or import compact. With a width of 43.8" between wheel wells, the bed was only equaled in width by the Chevy s-10, being the widest in class. At 2205 lbs. of payload, was higher than any ford or chevy entry.
The Comanche was not as big as any full-size though, no V-8 was offered, and the three seatbelts on the inside were a joke, as 3 adults would have trouble squeezing in.(At least thats how mine is)It was unique from all other pickups though, it was a partial unibody.
MID LIFE: The Comache won many honors, being "4 Wheeler of the year" being just one from FOUR WHEELER MAGAZINE, Also it was a race opening for jeep, as the Archer brothers won the manufacturers championship in the SCCA Race truck challenge driving Comanches. Mike Lesle added a Comanche championshp in the HDRA/Score Desert racing series.
In 1988 the Comanche got the Eliminator package. Based on the 2wd short bed, the eliminator came standard with an I-6, graphics, color matched grill, fender flares, front air dam, and new ten hole alloy wheels with 215/64HR14 tires. Interior included bucket seats, a tach, sport wheel, and an upgraded trim package. With less weight than a Cherokee, a 4.0 Eliminator could easily roast the rear meats.
THE END: The last year of the Comanche, 1992, was thanks to Chrysler taking over in 1986, and not wanting competition to it's Dakota, so it finally axed the Comanche in '92.
The Jeep Comanche is now becoming a well sought after vehicle, due to its age and its rarity. And now, with the 1986 Comanches approaching 20 years old, they are soon to be collectors vehicles.
In the 4x4 department most Comanches do well. I say most because some just aren't made for off road such as the ones that are 2x4 I-4 Automatic. I've seen the 2wd versions of the Comanche do outstanding off road though, especially the ones with the 4.0L. The 4x4 models are natural off roaders and very powerful. The owners I have been around are amazed at how this little pickup can climb grades, part mud, and excell on the highway. The 4x4 4.0L Comanche paired with some lockers can make an excelent off roader for the beginner. The 4x4 2.5L four cylinder engines also hold a place of their own when it comes to the off road enthusiast. A quote from Peterson's 4 Wheel and Offroad magazine. "Give us a shortbed with a four-banger and a five speed. We'll lift it and trim the fenders until knobby 33s fit, then pile in the dog, cooler, and mashmallows, and go camping."
I am making plans for a offroad Comanche, and am now looking for parts and axles.
One way to lift a Comanche to the heavens is to do a spring-over axle conversion. That is where you take the leaf springs of an axle, which in some cases(like the comanche)the leaf springs are under the axles, and they are setup like that. A spring-over axle conversion is where you take that spring, and put the spring on top of the axle, rather than underneath it, rasing the vehicle. That only takes care of the rear axle though. For the front axle you get the lift kit for a Cherokee(the front suspention is the same remember) and that lift should be about 6". For more information of the Spring over axle conversion, see the lift tech link in the links section.
If you don't want to deal with the hassles of fabricating a spring over axle lift, there is a few places that have lifts for Jeep Comanches. BE CARFUL THOUGH! CAUTION: SOME LIFT MANUFACTURERS JUST GIVE YOU A CHEROKEE LIFT, AND SINCE THE REAR SUSPENTIONS ARE DIFFERENT, YOU WON'T GET NEARLY ANY LIFT ON THE BACK. SO STAY AWAY FROM LIFTS THAT HAVE THE NAME CHEROKEE IN THEM. DO YOUR REASEARCH!!!! Here are a few.