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1999 Jeep Wrangler TJ - Rubicon Ruler

Posted in Features on December 1, 2007
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Contributors: Phillip Dayton
Gordon's Jeep Wrangler TJ might shine like a show rig, but it wheels on the Rubicon Trail several times a year.

Gordon Mott of Placerville, California, started wheeling in 1980 when a friend invited him to go on a trip to Buck Island halfway in on the mighty Rubicon Trail. Prior to that, Gordon and his wife Guadalupe spent their spare time winning titles and trophies rally-racing their '71 Corvette. For his first trip, he borrowed a friend's Jeep on the condition that he would fix anything that broke. Thankfully, nothing broke and not surprisingly he had a great time. Wheeling with his friends had Gordon hooked, and the '71 Corvette was soon replaced with a '72 Jeep CJ-5. A '77 Jeep CJ-7 replaced the '5, and his latest creation is this '99 Jeep Wrangler TJ.

Gordon's Wrangler started out stock but received all of the appropriate modifications along the way to make it a very capable trail rig. To start with, Gordon went with the proven Rubicon Express 6-inch long-arm kit with 10-inch Sway-A-Way coilovers. The suspension also received a TeraFlex antisway kit. This gave him the clearance needed for the 37x12.50 Goodyear Wrangler MT/R tires mounted on 15x10 Eagle Alloy wheels.The Eagle wheels are equipped with Champion C-3 beadlocks for added tire-to-rim grip.

To handle the load the tall tires put on the drivetrain while on the trail, Gordon installed a Tera CRD60R rear axle equipped with an ARB Air Locker and Ford Explorer disc brakes. A Tera CRD60 was used up front as well and outfitted with Solid Axle Industries knuckles and steering arms, Chevy 1-ton tie-rod ends, and Dynatrac disc brakes. The front also has an ARB Air Locker installed for the added traction when required. The stock AX-15 five-speed transmission is still in place and is mated to an Atlas II transfer case from Advance Adapters.

The shine on this Wrangler is not chrome. Gordon custom-made the bumpers, hinges, and the rest from stainless steel so they are easier to maintain.

To push his rig down the trail, Gordon has stayed with the Jeep 4.0L I-6 engine for now but has added a Banks header and exhaust system. Gordon hopes to replace the motor in the future with a V-8, and we suspect it'll be a Corvette mill. Other trail accessories include a Kilby onboard air system, a Warn 9500 winch, and dual batteries.

In order to keep the Wrangler's body free of trail scars, Gordon custom-built the rocker guards and the front and rear bumpers out of stainless steel and also created a rack for the rear-mounted spare tire. Gordon also built the full rollcage, which is set up with an overhead console and speaker mounts. For the bodywork, which included removing the taillights and relocating them to the rear bumper, installing the AEV Heat Reduction Hood, and laying on the custom paintjob, Gordon went to Stymeist Auto Body in Placerville, California. For the interior, Gordon looked to Santana's Upholstery in Diamond Springs, California. The crew at Santana's modified the factory seats so they'd sit atop custom storage boxes and also added air lumbar supports and heating.

Over the last 23 years, Gordon has not only been wheeling but also has worked as a volunteer for the Jeepers Jamboree event, spending 15 years as a cook and the last 8 as a Jamboree Rock Roller. During those years, he has wheeled the Rubicon Trail in each of the three Jeeps he has owned - a feat that his Corvette could certainly never have accomplish.

SPECIFICATIONS
Year/Make/Model: '99 {{{Jeep Wrangler}}} TJ
Owner/Hometown: Gordon MottPlacerville, CA
Engine: 4.0L I-6
Induction: Stock
Transmission: AX-15 five-speed
Transfer Case: Atlas II 3:1
Frontend: Tera CRD60R, ARB Air Locker
Rearend: Tera CRD60R, ARB Air Locker
Ring-and-pinion: 5.38
Suspension: Rubicon {{{Express}}} 6-inch long-arm system w/Sway-A-Way coilovers
Tires/Wheels: 37x12.50 Goodyear {{{Wrangler}}} MT/Rs/15x10 {{{Eagle}}} Alloys w/Champion C-3 beadlocks
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