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2006 Jeep Wrangler V10 - Viper TJ Unlimited

Posted in Features on October 1, 2007 Comment (0)
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Burnsville Off Road (BOR) in Burnsville, Minnesota, has become famous for its factory-like Hemi swaps into Jeeps of all kinds, especially the new JK Wrangler. The company has also swapped a few Viper V10s into TJ Wranglers over the last few years. The last Viper V10 conversion in an '06 short-wheelbase TJ was so impressive that Dan McKeag, the owner of BOR, decided he just had to have a Viper V10 TJ of his own. The only difference was that he wanted an Unlimited for its extra wheelbase.

There was one leftover bright orange '06 TJ Unlimited sitting on the dealer's lot, so Dan purchased it and towed it back to the shop. With 3 miles on the odometer, BOR stripped the TJ and went to work. Everyone in the shop is an expert at motor swapping, so the whole crew knows what's up and does exceptional work. Dan had already purchased an '06 Dodge Ram SRT10 that was damaged on the way to the dealership and therefore had no miles on it. For those who don't know, the Dodge Ram SRT10 is a 2WD truck built by Chrysler's SRT shop that has a 505ci (8.3L) Viper V10 that produces 500hp at 5,600 rpm and 525 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm. The big V10 is not just a high-rpm-performer, as it produces 90 percent of its total torque output at 1,500 rpm! To stop the beast this TJ was going to become, the crew at BOR chose to use the big Brembo brakes that came on the SRT10. They found that the smallest wheel diameter they could use to clear the brakes was 20 inches, so to get enough flotation larger tires would also have to be procured. More on that in a bit.

The louvers from an '89 Pontiac Grand Prix help the big Howe radiator keep things cool under the hood. The Grand Prix louvers look like they belong on the Jeep.

The guys at BOR have plenty of experience installing the V10 in the TJ and say that it's easier than putting a Hemi in the JK. They also used the stock SRT10 48RE overdrive automatic that not only lives behind the V10, but in Cummins-equipped diesel trucks too. Since the SRT10 was a 2WD pickup, a 4x4 tranny tailhousing was used so a 241 Rock-Trac transfer case could be installed. The 241 has a 4:1 Low range and is extremely strong. The V10, 48RE, and 241 were in the Jeep and working in two days! Hood louvers from an '89 Pontiac Grand Prix help the Howe aluminum racing radiator keep the big mill cool. BOR built the stainless exhaust system using a MagnaFlow muffler and cat. The only other additions under the hood are an ARB compressor on the left-side battery tray and an Optima RedTop battery on the right-side tray. A Gen-Right Off Road gas tank with skidplate carries almost as much gas as the stock tank but affords more clearance both underneath its skidplate and for the big Iron Jock 60 housing. Stock axles wouldn't do, so Dan contacted Currie Enterprises and ordered Iron Jock 60 front and rearends with 5.38 gears, an ARB Air Locker in the back, and a Detroit Locker in the front. The Iron Jocks will be plenty strong for this Jeep, and their high-pinion design keeps the driveshaft up and at manageable angles (although in the Unlimited, with its stretched wheelbase, this isn't really a problem). Tom Wood's Custom Drive Shafts built front and rear CV driveshafts that will hold up to the Viper V10 horsepower.

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Superlift supplied its 6-inch long-arm TJ system with Bilstein remote-reservoir shocks that are valved perfectly for the TJ. The suspension works great, even with the added weight of the V10 up front. We'd like to see Superlift triangulate its upper rear arms, but that's just us. A SwayLOC dual-rate sway bar from ORO works well on- and off-road and is air-actuated, so you can instantly switch from pavement to dirt setting. A Currie Antirock rear sway bar was installed and is adjustable as needed. The suspension easily clears the 39.5x13.50-20LT Interco Irok tires mounted on 20x8.5 American Racing Cartel wheels. Instead of external beadlocks, Dan used a set of Staun internal beadlocks that lock both the inside and outside beads of the tires to the rim.

For armor and rock protection, BOR installed Currie Tail Bonez on the Currie rear bumper/tire carrier, Currie Rock Ribz rocker-panel guards, and a shorty front bumper from Mount Logan Off-Road. A Warn 9.5xp winch fits nicely on top of the Mount Logan bumper. An ORO X-Line winch rope was also installed. ORO LiteDOT LED taillights are much smaller and brighter than stock and even include backup lights.

The Currie Iron Jock rearend has 5.38 gears and an ARB Air Locker. The Gen-Right Off Road gas tank comes with a beefy skidplate and sits 1 inch higher than stock and has 4 inches more clearance for the rearend.

Dan says that he would have started this project a little earlier than three weeks before Easter Jeep Safari if he had it to do again, but BOR got almost everything finished in time for the Jeep to show off at Safari. The only additions they needed to finish afterwards were the installation of the SRT10 brakes and the Currie rear Antirock sway bar. We were able to drive the Viper TJ, and it was impressive! While the V10 revved high and was unbelievably powerful, it's low-rpm torque production allowed it to work well at crawling speeds. The Howe radiator kept the engine cool whether we drove fast or slow, and all the other parts worked as advertised. Although the big brakes weren't on the TJ when we drove it, Dan reports that the SRT10 brakes stop the Jeep better than any other setup he's ever built.

The BOR Viper TJ Unlimited is one of the finest all-around Jeeps on the planet. It's so good that we may end up with it - if we can pry it away from Dan.

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