I have been running across this Jeep for about a year now. Our introduction came on the side of a very steep sand dune somewhere in the middle of the High Desert. My attraction to this Jeep is not just because it's super clean and sports some of my favorite colors, but because the rig is built to function. Since that first meeting, the '04 Jeep Unlimited has come full circle with its complete and total buildup. Through this evolution the Jeep has received an amazing amount of detailed attention and very cool custom work.
Brad Kilby, owner of Kilby Enterprises, built this Jeep for numerous reasons, but for now I'll just tell you it was for fun. During my first encounter with the Jeep I had noticed that its little OEM 4.0L engine struggled to climb the very steep sand dune. This wasn't the fault of anything or anyone, it's just that the 190hp 4.0L engine trying to spin 35-inch tires at altitude lacked initiative under these conditions. Brad solved its lack of tire spinning power by sending the Jeep to American Expedition Vehicles in Missoula, Montana. Dave Harrington, as usual, worked his Hemi magic and soon had a 5.7-liter Dodge engine breathing 330 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque under the hood. A 5-45RFE five-speed automatic transmission coupled to an NP241 OR transfer case transfers the power to the axles. The power-to-vehicle weight ratio for this combination works wonders out on the trail.
The Unlimited's 103-inch wheelbase is an excellent building platform for trail performance. Incorporating a quality and functional suspension brings the Jeep alive. Nth Degree Mobility's Longarm Gyrojoint suspension system was installed on Kilby's Krawler by Xtreme Unlimited in Oceano, California. This system offers outstanding handling with proper suspension geometry. The long arm kit ties into Nth Degree's Tummy Tucker for protection and ground clearance. Rubicon Express remote reservoir monotube shocks help tame the ride.
Jeep Rubicon Dana 44 axles were placed in the front and rear of the Unlimited. The factory Tru-Lok lockers were left in place but the gearing was changed to 4.88 to accommodate the 35x12.5R18 Nitto Mud Grapplers. Baer disc brakes were fit on the ends of the axles for additional braking power.
Kilby Enterprises offers a great line of steel protection for Jeeps. Bolted to Brad's Unlimited you will find his Sierra front bumper, Sierra rocker guards, and the prototype for his new Sierra rear bumper. Included in the array of Kilby steel protection are his gas tank skid, gearbox skids, and his Body Clamz which protect the vehicle's body mounts.
The end result of this Jeep buildup is very impressive. After a day on the trail with Brad and his Unlimited, I walked away amazed at the super-functional combination of the longer wheelbase, Hemi power, and the handling of the Nth Degree long arm suspension. You may have noticed that the Jeep is in pristine condition, this is changing very soon. Another reason Brad built this Unlimited was to display his Kilby products at trade and off-road shows. Since the Jeep has made its rounds and won an award here and there, it's ready to become the Kilby family trail Jeep. Brad is getting some serious pressure from his two children who want him to use it for what it was built for. This is especially true since one of them is quickly approaching legal driving age. I suspect next time I see this Jeep it won't be so shiny but will have quite a few character marks, compliments of numerous trail runs.