Our Latest Project JK Is Poised To Do Battle
Building a project vehicle is a balancing act. On one hand, we want to showcase the latest and greatest, and on the other, we want to keep it simple. Every time we ponder a new aftermarket part, we ask ourselves whether or not that part would bring us closer to creating a simple, functional trail rig. Too many parts just make for a cluttered rig.
Editor-In-Chief Phil Howell located this two-door '08 JK Rubicon at Hemet Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Hemet, California. Yours truly retrieved it from the dealership.
Before making any modifications, a theme had to be chosen. We've got immense respect for the courage and dedication of the men and women of the armed forces, and that respect brought the 1960's television series "The Rat Patrol" to mind. A running theme of the "Rat Patrol" was "Impossible Mission? Impossible Task? Give it to the Rat Patrol!" In short, the Rat Patrol was ready to do battle anytime, anywhere it the world. The JK's deep green combined with the well-documented military heritage of the Jeep tied in well with the Rat Patrol theme. Our goal with this JK is to build a trail rig that can go anywhere and do anything. It's a simple idea, but the execution proved a little more involved.
Our first order of business was to drop the vehicle off to Mel Wade, owner of Off-Road Evolution in Fullerton, California, to begin our build. Following our mission statement, a 3-inch Black Diamond Suspension system was installed along with Off Road Evolution's air bump system at the front coils. In addition to retaining the factory geometry of the vehicle, the Black Diamond system replaces the factory front lower control arms for more durable and adjustable units and includes adjustable heim-jointed traction bars in the front and rear. Based upon our vehicle's trim level, model type and other parameters, the front and rear coil springs in each kit are matched accordingly from the factory. A factory option that we chose to incorporate into the kit were custom-valved Bilstein 5100 Series shock absorbers. To compliment the shocks, a pair of Bilstein bump stops were chosen as part of the Off Road Evolution air bump system, which borrows the same technology that desert race trucks utilize to help absorb some of the suspension rebound and ride harshness when on hard packed roads and trails. Once at a respectable trail height, a set of high-quality and durable American Expedition Vehicles 17x8-inch Pintler factory cast bead lock wheels replaced the factory Rubicon units along with a set of equally durable 35x12.50R17 Toyo Open Country MT tires. Given the additional height increase and extreme angles of articulation that the front suspension possesses, the OE front brake lines were replaced with extended stainless steel versions from Currie Enterprises.