Brenda the 92 Explorer budget build


New member
Apr 11, 2022
Jackson, MI
Hey y’all! I don’t know how this thread will go because I’ve never tried to make a build thread before but here goes…

My 1992 Explorer build has been and will continue to be a long drawn out process because of my limited budget and time. I have a prerunner that takes priority and the lion’s share of my budget to maintain and improve. Mountain biking is also an obsession of mine so a lot of time and money goes towards that hobby. With that being said, I’ve really enjoyed my Explorer so far and I’m actively taking it to the next level over the next few months.

I live in southern Michigan, the heart of the rust belt, so finding a vehicle that’s older than 10 years that isn’t completely rotted out is a challenge. Searching for the right Explorer was 5-6 year process because I wasn’t able to spend much and I wasn’t going buy something that was solid rust. I found Brenda, my Explorer on marketplace in October 2021 for $800. She was originally from Idaho and had only been in Michigan for a year but she still needed a lot of tlc along with a new rearend.

I spent the winter of 21/22 deep cleaning the interior that was trashed by a giant dog and its daily use by the previous owner who did seal coating for a living. There was tar, dog hair and mud everywhere and unfortunately I didn’t take any “before” pictures. None of the windows worked and the front door handles were broken. It required a lot of elbow grease and time but the end result was a clean rig with minimal rust and a great platform to start my build.

I’ll attach a few pictures from the day I brought Brenda home and some after cleaning her up. My next post I’ll talk about “phase one” of the build and my vision of what I’m trying to accomplish.


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My goal was to be able to enjoy driving Brenda as soon as possible with as little downtime and money invested as I could manage. I swapped out the rearend, installed a muffler, changed the oil and was ready for my first round of “mods”. I removed the chin spoiler and running boards to get started then started looking for a set of used 33x10.50’s.

I ended up finding a set of Generals that had been mounted but never driven on for $600. The plan was to mount them on my stock wheels but I couldn’t pass up a set of 5 basically new Methods that I found for $300. I’m just including prices because I’d like to highlight my budget.

In my opinion the best budget mod for the money on a TTB vehicle is 2” lift springs. It’s enough to clear 33x10.50’s and the combo adds 5 1/2” of clearance at the front bumper. I’ve always had good luck with Skyjacker products so I used the Skyjacker 132X springs for around $180 on Amazon. They’re considered a 1.5-2” lift but they actually end up being closer to 2.5 because of the old worn out stock springs.

This was the extent of phase one of mods for Brenda. With total investment of about $2000 I’ve been able to enjoy cruising, off-roading and adventuring with my son and my friends for the last couple years. I know this is a really lengthy way to say I put leveling springs and bigger tires on an otherwise stock vehicle but I’m trying to set the stage for future posts with actual mods. I’m also trying to show that it’s ok to work within your means without being concerned about comparing your rig against higher end stuff. The fact is that most adventures that I plan on doing with Brenda could be done in any stock 4wd vehicle so any mods I do are just icing on the cake.

Here are some phase one pictures from the last couple years of doing stuff instead having it torn down for a full build that I don’t have the time or budget for.


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