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2006 Jeep Wrangler TJ Unlimited - Austin's Unlimited

Left Side Angle
Christian Lee | Photographer
Posted October 1, 2009

A 14-Year-Old BMX Racer Gets A Jeep Before His License

A time-honored American father/son tradition is building a vehicle for the kid to drive when he gets his license. Traditionally, the project vehicle is a total basket case or at least rough around the edges.

Not so with the Sager family. Daddy Bob - a 4x4 industry veteran whose rsum includes counter jobs at long ago shops Dick Cepek and Off-Road General Store - picked up a clean, barely-used cream-puff from a real Orange County housewife, who drove it to the Crystal Cathedral on Sundays (or something like that). This low-mileage 2004 TJ Unlimited (LJ) was nearly showroom-pristine.

Backtracking a bit, Sager's son, Austin, is a hot-foot BMX racer. For the rare weekends when father and son are both at home, Bob wanted a vehicle project to give Austin sweat-equity in something he'd drive once he got his license. Bob is now Superlift's regional sales rep, so this father/son LJ also serves as a West Coast demo vehicle for the long-arm system. Keeping with the current trend of biggest-possible tires with least amount of lift for street-ability, Bob decided on a Superlift 4-inch kit instead of the 6-inch system. He ultimately fit 37s in the fenderwells.

Jay Parodi of Tri-County Gear in Pomona, California, helped Bob install the kit. The Superlift system uses a multi-piece bellypan assembly to protect the geartrain and also to serve as mounting points for the internally-swiveling Rockrunner link arms. The job requires drilling and sleeving several holes through the framerails: Superlift frame brackets support a two-piece pan setup, which allows the 3/16-inch-thick transmission crossmember piece to remain in place if the beefy 1/4-inch-thick outer plate needs to be removed for fluid changes and routine drivetrain servicing. Bob opted for the nearly flush Flat Pan Kit from Superlift's Black Diamond division. This pan is profiled for maximum ground clearance but tucks the transmission up tight. Instead of modifying the floorpan, Bob installed a Daystar 1-inch body lift to get the proper clearance.

The Superlift kit's other main feature is its eight swiveling Rockrunner arms. They're contoured to allow full steering, complete driveshaft clearance, and good ground clearance. The internally-threaded design uses OE-style steel/rubber and urethane eye bushings instead of Heim ends. By combining threaded DOM tubing with traditional ends, the arms don't bind/limit articulation - which isn't always the case with Heim ends. (Superlift engineers tested a huge-articulation three-link front system, but it ate bushings.) The four-link Rockrunner setup went into production as a best-of-all-worlds combination of off-road travel/articulation, on-road predictability (the swiveling arms permit caster to be accurately dialed in), and component durability. For shocks, Superlift SSR monotubes with remote reservoirs got the nod. Other suspension details include rear threaded-style swaybar disconnects, custom Tri-County Gear rear swaybar mounts, front Currie Antirock swaybars, Superlift adjustable track bars, and Bulletproof braided-steel brake hoses.

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