When most people think of getting into the 4x4 sport, they start looking for a rig to purchase that is reasonably trail-ready or close to it. This usually means finding a vehicle that only needs minor repairs or modifications. For some, the best way to go is to find one that is fully built and ready to go.
When Dan Jensen started looking around for a reliable rig, he began by asking a lot of questions of friends and fabricators to see what direction they thought he should go. What he discovered was that most of the older rigs had been used hard on the trail and were going to need a lot of work. So after giving it some thought, Dan decided to start from scratch with a new '01 Wrangler TJ.
Dan has been building custom Harleys for years, and he knows what it takes to build an exceptional vehicle. The TJ had to do more than look good; it had to perform great on the trail and be safe enough for the family. With nine kids, Jim and his wife Linda are very much involved in family ventures.
With only 400 miles on his new Wrangler, Dan took the four-by to Warden's Auto Repair in Placerville, California, where they began the transformation. For the suspension, Dan went with the trail-proven Rubicon Express long-arm system, which provides 5-1/2 inches of lift. Coupled with a 2-inch body lift, Dan has plenty of clearance. Rancho RS 9000s provide damping at all four corners, and a Currie Antirock sway bar keeps things nice and stable on the road.
The stock 30/35 axles were then set aside and replaced with a set of Dana 60s that were custom-built by Extreme Gear Off Road in Orangevale, California. Both the standard-rotation front and the reverse-cut rear are filled with 4.56 gears and ARB Air Lockers for excellent reliability in any terrain. And for better stopping power, the frontend got Dynatrac disc brakes, while the rear was outfitted with Explorer rotors. Capping all four corners are 38x15.50x15 Super Swamper TSL radials on 15x10-inch MT Champion bead locks.
With the exception of a No-Toil foam filter for better airflow, the 4.0L straight-six was left stock. The only addition to the drivetrain was an Atlas 4.3 transfer case, which backs up to the stock five-speed tranny. Transferring power to the axles are two custom CV driveshafts from Tom Wood.
Providing much-needed protection for the Wrangler is a Tera fuel tank skidplate and a front bumper from Sam's Off Road. The rear bumper was custom-built by Dan and a few friends to match the front unit.
From start to finish, this entire project took a mere three months to complete. And there is no need to worry about leaking gaskets, high miles, or thrashed components. This rig will surely be on the trails for years to come.
|Make/model:||'01 Wrangler TJ|
|Transfer case:||Atlas 4.3|
|Frontend:||Dana 60 with ARB|
|Rearend:||Dana 60 with ARB|
|Super Swamper TSLs|