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Jeep Liberty - Freedom

Posted in Features on January 1, 2007 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Randall Jachmann

Liberty (aka freedom) is the right to act as you choose. When a society uses this term to live by, it is known as sovereignty. When this term is the foundation of a nation, it's called national liberty. This body of rights gives Americans the liberty to escape the dreads of civilization to what's left of our undeveloped wilderness. It also gives us the responsibility to keep these areas free of foreign debris, which is the essence of the urban lives we try to leave behind for short durations of time.

Off-roading is growing as our population growth makes the "civilized" areas less and less desirable. With governmental corruption ready to make open trade agreements with countries that don't trade on an even playing field, and micromanagement of our personal lives enclosing our freedoms, it's a wonder we all haven't gone stark raving mad. Not to worry: The Bureau of Land Management hasn't closed all the off-road parks - yet. For us, this Jeep Liberty stands for the adventurers' rights to explore American soil on our time and in our own way. It's the epitome of off-road enthusiasts of all types.

The guys at Tractech/Detroit Locker thought they would turn some heads at the 2003 SEMA show with this Liberty build. It started at S&N Fab in Arlington, Washington, where the Jeep was stripped, and the plasma and MIG were taken to the little SUV. All the stock suspension components were removed to make room for the custom link-style suspension that would be adapted to two straight axles on the Jeep. An Atlas 5.0:1-geared transfer case was put in place of the stock 4x4 unit. Advance Adapters has an adapter that fits the T-case directly to the stock tranny with no mods. The custom-built shift linkage sets the shifters stacked atop one another, and with a black plastic boot, it appears stock. To hold the new transfer case in place, a multifunctional bellypan was fabbed by S&N. The bellypan not only holds in the T-case; it also protects the underbelly and mounts the lower links for the front and rear suspension. The gas tank was another vital piece that needed protection, so a skidplate by Kilby was fastened to it.

Scratch-built links hold the Currie Enterprises Rock Jock Dana high-pinion 60s under the Liberty. The rear uses a triangulated four-link to prevent lateral deflection. The front straight-axle conversion employs a Panhard rod to keep the differential underneath the Liberty. Sway-A-Way Racerunner-series coilover shocks dampen each corner of the linked suspension. Rotating the differential yokes from the T-case is done with a set of Tom Wood's driveshafts. Locking the 4.56:1-geared differentials are Tractech's Detroit-series Lockers. Out back, the classic Detroit Soft Locker keeps both meats biting dirt. Up front, the new Electrac locks 'em up with a simple flip of the switch.

Stopping power is applied to the axles by way of Wilwood's six-piston disc brake system. Currie's Antirock off-road antisway bar was fixed to the front suspension to reduce body roll. An AGR steering system was installed to turn the wheel and tire combination. Custom bracketry holds the hydraulic pump in line with the engine pulley system without interfering with the stock engine accessories. A remote reservoir supplies fluid to the hydraulic pump and AGR Rock Ram. This ram is tied to the knuckle to assist the AGR steering box in managing the oversize tires. Warn hubs on the ends of the front axle allow for a quick disconnect of the differential.

It took 14 inches of lift over the stock suspension height to get the little Liberty to sit on the 35-inch tires. The 8.5x15-inch Trail Ready bead locks were outfitted with BFG 13.5x35-inch-tall Krawler T/A tires. If for some strange reason the Jeep were to get stuck, it's also equipped with a Warn winch that is nestled inside Off Road Tech's front bumper. The 35-inch spare tire hangs on a hinged bracket attached to the rear bumper, also made by Off Road Tech. A set of Warn off-road lights mounted to the new front bumper illuminates the front end for night runs.

Painting the SEMA project was left to the able hands at Custom and Classics in Pasadena, California. After smoothing the flares, handles, and mirrors, they were sprayed to color-match the OEM pigment. The stock red was tapped for the tear-apart graphics that transition the red into Dupont's Superjet Black. The rocky appearance behind the front wheelwells was airbrushed on, and coats of clear cover the whole enchilada. Some of the interior stock panels were smoothed and shot with the stock red to blend the interior with exterior color. The stock seats were reskinned in black-leather Katzkins, which suits the Superjet Black paint. Breaking up the solid black seats are dark-gray inserts fitted to the center sections of the seat and backrest.

Although the Jeep Liberty is not the most popular vehicle to build as an off-roader, this one certainly has the ability to tough the roughest trails. Its individuality personifies the idea that here in America, we can do what we want, regardless of other people's ideals.

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