Rear cargo storage/bench/seat in an XJ

wandererr

Adventurer
Currently I have a half bench seat in the back. The way it works is that there is a "flip up" cushion on the passenger side of the rear bench with a full back portion. This works to a certain degree as I can have a passenger in the back as well as cargo but I'm looking to get something more functional setup.

What I'm thinking about is getting access to the cargo area through the drivers side:

In the process of getting that done I want to redesign is my rear cargo storage. Currently I have metal rack with two big plastic bins underneath which ends up not utilizing the space too well (plus every time I want to get something out I have to pull out the whole bin and search through it.

So here's my thoughts and I'm hoping someone has done something similar or at least parts of something similar:

In the rear cargo area, I want to dump the steel rack and go to a "hybrid" rack. That rack would have aluminum (or possibly a plywood) frame with plastic drawers

Btw, those storage areas/drawers would be evened out... this is just a quick sketch as I'm trying to figure things out.

Things that I'm still trying to figure out:
1. What to do with that single seat piece? I need a low "jump seat" style seat because a regular car seat has too tall of a bottom and people's heads come into contact with part of the roll cage halo
2. If I do a full construction out of plywood (frame) then how much can I "port it" to shave weight and still have it remain somewhat sturdy.

What I'm also contemplating is putting the tire back inside (currently I got the 35" tire on a swing out rack in the back) on top of the constructed storage system. I am already at the point where I can't see our of my rear view mirror (tire is in the way) and I would like to reduce the drag caused by the tire sticking above the roof line.

Thoughts? Ideas?
 
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rdonahe

Observer
I'm not sure how you would get a pass through since the seatback is all one piece. Have you considered mounting a bucket seat for the single rear passenger and taking the rear seatback out altogether? This would open things up a ton.
 

wandererr

Adventurer
I'm not sure how you would get a pass through since the seatback is all one piece. Have you considered mounting a bucket seat for the single rear passenger and taking the rear seatback out altogether? This would open things up a ton.
Well that's the issue: I've tried mounting bucket seats there before but the bottom base is too tall which puts passengers head too close to the cage's halo.

On the other hand I haven't given up totally on the rear seat: I haven't looked at them recently but I'm wondering if there is a small "jump seat" type of a seat that's small and compact so that I could put one in there.

Other thought I had was to take the back rest and chop it the same way I did the cushion and fabricate a way to have it "permanently" mounted in the "half" position.
 

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troy

Adventurer
I would vote using the ZJ/WJ seat and modifying it to work. having the matching seats up front would make a clean install.

If you only need a seat occasionally, the jump seat out of an S10/S15 extended cab pickup might work for you. I've seen a few Suzuki samurai installs where they wanted only one seat. As a bonus, it is only about 2/3 the width of a normal seat, and folds down or up, depending on how you mount it. It wouldn't look as factory as a ZJ/WJ set up, but would be cheap and space efficient.

Another option is to modify your current seat. There used to be a company that you could send your Jeep wrangler (fold and tumble) bench seat to, and they would cut it in half, sew it back up and supplied some additional brackets to make a 50/50 factory seat. It was not cheap, but I'm sure it could be doable with an XJ bench. You'd need to sew the seats back together, and add some reinforcement. Also needed would be a bracket to support the middle.

something like this:
http://www.autotrucktoys.com/jeep/Rampage-Jeep-Wrangler-Split-Fold-and-Tumble-Rear-Bench-Seat---YJ--TJ-PRD21250.aspx
 

wandererr

Adventurer
I would vote using the ZJ/WJ seat and modifying it to work. having the matching seats up front would make a clean install.

If you only need a seat occasionally, the jump seat out of an S10/S15 extended cab pickup might work for you. I've seen a few Suzuki samurai installs where they wanted only one seat. As a bonus, it is only about 2/3 the width of a normal seat, and folds down or up, depending on how you mount it. It wouldn't look as factory as a ZJ/WJ set up, but would be cheap and space efficient.
I like the idea of the S10/S15 :) Sounds like a junk yard trip will be in order.
Another option is to modify your current seat. There used to be a company that you could send your Jeep wrangler (fold and tumble) bench seat to, and they would cut it in half, sew it back up and supplied some additional brackets to make a 50/50 factory seat. It was not cheap, but I'm sure it could be doable with an XJ bench. You'd need to sew the seats back together, and add some reinforcement. Also needed would be a bracket to support the middle.
Yeah: I have been going back and forth on doing something to the existing back...

Pricing isn't bad but the shipping ... yikes with that it gets up there.
 

ijeep_2

Observer
My memory may have failed me once again but it seems like when i was shopping for my xj way back in 2002 that i saw an xj with a split rear bench. I want to say it was a limited. I may be confused though we did look at a couple of zj's also. Anyone know if there was ever a factory split bench option in the xj?
 

wandererr

Adventurer
My memory may have failed me once again but it seems like when i was shopping for my xj way back in 2002 that i saw an xj with a split rear bench. I want to say it was a limited. I may be confused though we did look at a couple of zj's also. Anyone know if there was ever a factory split bench option in the xj?
As far as I know, no factory (US) production XJ had a split rear bench. I do believe there was a concept vehicle I saw 97ish that had a split bench and I wouldn't be surprised if there was a European model with a split bench.
 
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