2007 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited - Blue RebornPosted in Features on November 1, 2010 0) (
You probably remember Blue, our 2007 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited that was painted Ford Grabber Blue and had a 6.1L Hemi, Dana 60 front and rear ends, 40-inch tires, etc. It was a great Jeep. Approximately two years ago, it was decided that Blue had to be returned to California-legal status. Blue was disassembled and the cool parts went to other projects. Because of a lack of $$$, the JK sat for a long time in a corner of Burnsville Off-Road's parking lot with no drivetrain or suspension.
Our parent company, Source Interlink Media, decided to sell a number of project vehicles. They gave employees a chance to bid on them first, so I was able to purchase Blue. As the vehicle will live in Utah, California's rules were no longer an issue, so a V-8 was procured to help the Unlimited get out of its own way.
The new 5.7L VVT Hemi's variable valve timing affords plenty of low-end torque and high-end horsepower. Burnsville has figured out the programming so the 5.7L VVT and 545RFE automatic overdrive transmission work seamlessly with the JK's CANbus system. Dan McKeag and the crew at Burnsville have done more Hemi swaps into JK Wranglers than we can count and their swaps look and work as if Chrysler performed them. The OE NVG241OR Rock-Trac transfer case was making noise, so JB Conversions sent another to replace it.
A Teraflex Elite LCG long-arm suspension was installed, using Teraflex's excellent 3-inch coils and VSS shocks. The lower long arms are bent for better ground clearance and the bracketry is heavy-duty - tough enough for even the hardest use. The VSS shock's valving is perfect for the JK. They're the most economical of Teraflex's shock choices, too.
Dana 60s were slated to go back in Blue, but John Currie wanted us to use Currie Enterprises' new F9 front and rear ends. The F9 housings are fabricated from 3/16-inch plate, use heavy tubing, and the venerable Ford 9-inch third member. We went with 1-ton F9s with 35-spline axles and F450 outer ends. The front has large diameter Currie rotors and uses the OE JK calipers. The rear end includes Currie disc brakes with an integrated drum E-brake. Up front, a Currie high-pinion 9-inch was loaded with 5.29 gears and a Detroit Locker. The rear third member is a Currie nodular iron low-pinion 9-inch with a Daytona pinion support, 5.29 gears, and an ARB Air Locker. Wow, a project actually running the front and rear ends as originally designed - a reverse cut front and regular cut rear!
The Shrockworks stubby front bumper was retained, as was the Warn PowerPlant 9500HP winch/compressor. Also retained were the R-SE rocker guards. In back, AEV corners protect the rear quarter panels and an Expedition One tire carrier bumper opens with one hand using the tailgate latch and doesn't rattle.
Mopar/Katzkin leather seats are easy to keep clean. Much easier, in fact, than the truly awful Yes Essentials OE fabric that came in the JK. We chose a leather color that matched the lightest plastic in our khaki interior. The leather arrived and fit perfectly. My Jeep Trail Guide GPS was reinstalled on top of the center stack. Burnsville had a non-navigation hard drive head unit, something we never saw before. It is now in Blue. All the satellite radio and hard drive features of the nav radio are there, just no nav. The JK hardtop doesn't insulate well. Insul-Liner insulated panels install easily and keep the JK's interior much cooler (or warmer).
TrailReady's new HD beadlocks were the perfect choice to mount 40-inch Goodyear MTR with Kevlar tires on. These Goodyears balanced well. The 17x8 TrailReady wheels have 4.5 inches backspacing, perfect for fitting the JK on a trailer. The 40s rub on the frame a bit at full steering lock, but there's no harm in that. A PSC steering-assist kit replaces all the JK's trouble-prone steering parts and includes a new, high-volume pump that helps even the big 40s to steer easily.
Blue is reborn. The new VVT Hemi runs better than the old 6.1L did and the Elite LCG suspension allows the JK Unlimited to work on road or trail. The Currie F9 front and rear ends are innovative and very strong. The JK Unlimited now works better than it ever has.