JBA's Head-Turning Jeep
If you have ever dealt with JBA Performance Exhaust, then it's more than likely you know who Mark Matthews is. Mark has been the go-to marketing and promotions guru at JBA for over a decade. On top of being involved in the world of off-roading on a business level, he and his wife Melissa are also huge fans of hitting the dirt in their spare time. Also, with Melissa being an avid rockclimber, Mark needed to build a vehicle that would not only satiate his craving for the dirt but one that would also be capable of transporting Melissa and her gear to the numerous rockclimbing events she attends.
Mark's first vehicle was built for speed: an '86 Ford Ranger complete with a C4 Transmission, fiberglass fenders, a 6-inch lift kit, and more, pushing over 15 inches of travel both front and rear. After some time, he realized that although his prerunner was fun, it wasn't very practical for his particular needs. Having come from the world of off-road desert racing, Mark wanted to find out what this four-wheel-drive and rockcrawling world was all about. During a trip to the TDS Safari in the Anza-Borrego Desert, Mark took a ride in Cole Quirrels' flatfender Willys Jeep and he was hooked. That ride proved to Mark the value of a solid four-wheel-drive vehicle and compelled him to start his own Jeep project. We guess it would be safe to say that both Mark and Melissa enjoy spending time crawling on rocks.
He chose to begin his creation with an '04 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon because of the vehicle's well-known strength and out-of-the-box versatility and quality. As soon as the vehicle was purchased, it was sent straight-away to JBA's research and development facility in San Diego, California, to receive a newly designed set of Cat4ward ceramic-coated stainless steel headers and a stainless steel 2.5-inch exhaust system. Mark also swapped in a RedTop Optima battery to ensure proper ignition and power considering the amount of abuse and audio modifications intended for the vehicle. A K&N FIPK kit with a dry charger filter wrap was also added to help keep the massive amount of dirt and dust the Jeep sees out of the engine.
Next up was tackling what most Jeepers consider the good stuff: suspension modifications. The stock Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is one of the most well-equipped four-wheel-drive vehicles on the planet. Not many people would argue that you can't take this vehicle places where most stock vehicles could never get to. Mark left the stock Dana 44 axles under the rig and stuffed them with Superior 4.56 gears and air lockers both front and rear. To give the Jeep more height, greater articulation, strength, and tire clearance, Mark chose to install a Rubicon Express 5.5-inch long-arm kit. The kit would allow installation of 315/75R16 Toyo Open Country M/T tires and 16x8 KMC XD Series Moab wheels. This tire size is the equivalent of a 35-inch-tall tire, which is more than enough to tackle just about anything Mark and Melissa have planned. With all that new articulation, a CV (constant velocity) driveshaft, also by Rubicon Express, was installed.