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Jeep Wrangler TJ - Widow Maker

Rear Right View
Tom Morr | Writer
Posted June 1, 2008
Photographers: Jerrod Jones, Kevin Dill

A Suspension Engineer Goes Head Over Heels For His Unlimited

Home mechanics often complain about how the people who design auto parts must not have to install or use those products. Foreign-sports-car engineers are the most common targets of home-mechanic venom, but aftermarket truck parts designers aren't immune.

Luckily, many 4x4 manufacturers are small enough that - for better or worse - their engineers have a hands-on stake in product development and testing. Their jobs don't entirely involve playing with CAD/CAM software on a computer screen. Superlift/Black Diamond Head Engineer Kevin Dill is one example of a hands-on product designer. Before signing on with Superlift, Kevin designed the original Atlas transfer case while working for Advance Adapters, so he has broad-based knowledge of what backcountry 4x4 enthusiasts need to go farther and better.

Leading the charge is a Warn 9.5ti with Spidertrax fairlead and Warn driving lights on a Hanson Enterprises bumper. The Dynatrac ProRock 60 frontend has high-steer linkage and PSC-massaged pump and ram-assist. Adjustable Bilstein coilovers with remote reservoirs are optional upgrades for Superlift/Black Diamond's long-arm TJ/Unlimited and X2 kits.

First, Kevin shelved the stock engine and transmission in favor of a 6.1L Hemi V8 coupled to a 545RFE automatic transmission. This drivetrain is a first for a TJ Wrangler and is an outgrowth of Superlift's project-vehicle relationship with Chrysler's Jeep SkunkWerks team. Previous project friends at Street & Performance in Mena, Arkansas, supplied and prepped the Hemi, then handled the swap using a wiring harness from Squier Incorporated (also in Mena).Instead of using custom one-off parts to build the rest of his Jeep, Kevin selected from among the best off-the-shelf parts the off-road industry offers.

An aluminum Griffin radiator helps dissipate the V8 heat. Once his Jeep was back in Louisiana, Kevin added an Airaid intake and an Edelbrock nitrous system to wake things up even further. Terry Carpenter, local talent in West Monroe, Louisiana, custom-fabricated and TIG-welded a stainless steel exhaust system using a single Edelbrock SDT muffler.Underneath, a Dill-designed Superlift 4-inch Rockrunner long-arm kit was the underlying reason for this Jeep. To fit 39x13.50-17 BFG Krawlers on 17x9 Walker Evans beadlocks, Kevin also designed and added in the Black Diamond Bilstein coilover shock option to his build. (The suspension kit's threaded Rockrunner arms allow a wide range of caster adjustment to restore handling.)

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