Recipe For An EVO JK
When it comes to extreme JKs Mel Wade's '07 sets the bar. Mel got his legs in the off-road world building and driving Suzuki Samurais and buggies, but when his family started outgrowing the small-statured Suzuki, the newly launched 2007 Jeep Wrangler seemed like the ideal solution. Mel was more than familiar with the Jeep brand. Since he and his wife, Lisa, had opened their shop, Off Road Evolution in Fullerton, California, a couple years earlier, Jeep owners had become some of their best customers. The two also figured that the JK would serve as a great calling card for the business.
With only a few miles on the odometer (mostly from the short drive back to the shop from the dealer lot), Mel had his '07 Jeep Wrangler Sahara JK Unlimited on the rack and stripped of the factory suspension components. A Full-Traction long-arm system was installed to clear 37-inch Toyo Open Country M/T tires. The stock axles were also addressed with a set of 5.38 Superior gears and new driveshafts from J.E. Reel were installed as well. However, this was just to get things started. Mel had bigger plans.
Since the JK was a newly launched 4x4, extreme parts for it were just beginning to appear on the market. Mel and his increasing number of JK customers would eagerly await every new product that was rumored to be near release. After a while though, Mel got tired of waiting and started building. Soon after, a whole line of JK-specific equipment was spawn. The first of the products to appear, the EVO-Lever coil-over rear suspension, got everyone's attention. Not only was it different from any other kit on the market but it created gobs of wheel travel and provided an incredible ride as well. Since the launch of the first EVO-Lever kit, the line has expanded to include the EVO-Lever rear Double ThrowDown system, which incorporates dual bypass remote-reservoir coil-over shocks for optimum performance. Front EVO coil-over systems for Jeep JKs are also offered.
Having improved the suspension Mel moved on to the JK's vulnerable body panels, many of which he'd already dented, pinched, and creased, on various trail obstacles across the U.S. After building and testing a handful of prototypes, the EVO-Armor front and rear steel-plate fenders and rock sliders were created. Additional EVO products were also introduced, ranging from axle gussets and shock mount skids to billet aluminum winch fairleads and billet dress up items such as door handles and AC bezels.
Mel's EVO JK has reached a finished state more than once in its short life, but being that it's continually used and abused on trails in addition to its frequent poster boy appearances at shows, it's in a constant state of being built, and re-built, to ensure that it looks good every time it's seen. Check out the photos captions to see what other goodies went in to the Mel's Jeep JK. It's one of the best recipes for a well-built Wrangler that we've come across.