River Raider's JK Truck Conversion
When the Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited was introduced as a 2007 model many enthusiasts welcomed its four doors as a great way to carry extra passengers and gear. Kenny Hauk, owner of River Raider Off-Road in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, however, became enthralled with the JK for quite a different reason: its wheelbase and body lent great possibilities for customization.
Kenny had anticipated and hoped that Jeep would offer a truck-bodied JK. When Jeep didn't offer one to the general public, Kenny decided to build his own.
Looking for a cheap JK to start the project with Kenny purchased a 2WD four-door theft recovery from California. The vehicle had been stripped of most of its factory parts with the exception of some of the interior and the stock 3.8L V-6 (a 5.7L VVT Hemi V-8 from Burnsville Off-Road was installed shortly after the photo shoot). With a blank canvas in front of them, Kenny and the River Raider Off-Road crew started in to the build, cutting out the rear portion of the body and beginning to fabricate and mock up the bed.
Kenny and his team didn't approach the build blindly; an artist's rendering and design plans were formulated and established and the build followed this course. However, the fabrication and building process wasn't easy by any means as it was certainly different from anything that had been done before. The River Raider team took these challenges in stride and attacked the build with the end product in mind. It had not been done before. But it would be done when they had completed it.
With most of the rear body portions removed the bed came to fruition. The bed, bulkhead, and tailgate were all formed from 14-gauge steel and laid atop the stock Wrangler floor pan. A set of River Raider's rear Crusher Corners and tube fenders were installed as well. A River Raider Sport Cage was installed and an Avenger TiteTop was used to enclose the cab. The front of the Raider ST received a Truck Master Designs hood and a River Raider snorkel. With all in place, Kenny's good friend Steve Clevenger coated the Raider ST with Silver Steel paint and a matte clear coat. After paint, the rig received River Raider bumpers front and rear and a set of River Raider rock sliders.