Desert Speed, Family Capacity, And Crawl-Ability
High-velocity Jeeps were a relatively unknown phenomenon just a few years ago. Many thought that the term "Jeepspeed" was nothing short of an oxymoron. No matter. Mike Barnett, Tom Barnett, and the rest of the crew at T&J Performance Center simply lowered their heads and kept building Jeep after Jeep that worked at high speed as well as in low range. Many of these fast-and-slow Jeeps were XJ Cherokees built for competition in the Jeepspeed series.
When the four-door JK Wrangler appeared in 2007, Mike and Tom saw much more than a traditional backcountry explorer in the offing. "When the four-door JK came out, we knew we needed to get one for the shop," Mike Barnett revealed. "The wheelbase lends itself to be perfect in both slow and faster applications. With four doors, there's more utility and it's more family-friendly. On top of that, it's an ideal recon vehicle for our race team, and it makes a reliable prerunner."
A once over of the T&J JK reveals a variety of mods that work well by themselves. When combined on the same vehicle, they take it "from a boy to a man," as Mike said.
The JK looked great in front of the shop, but we needed more "data" to truly understand its prowess. We headed into the dirt not far from T&J's Orange, California, headquarters. The area we chose has a main road whose personality can change in a heartbeat. If you get lulled into fuzzy security, you'll be rudely awakened by a turn, a lipped rise, an errant rock, or all of the above. Don't slide off the edge. It's not a long way down, but you'll still incur major damage on the way.
How did it work? The silver JK is adorned with 37-inch Goodyear MT/Rs, a Rubicon Express long arm suspension system, and Bilstein bypass shocks. Combined, these parts provided ground clearance and bump control far, far beyond what a stocker could even begin to dream of. Landings and bumps that would have spelled major damage for a stock vehicle were soaked up easily as the JK begged for more. Mike's decades of experience behind the wheel didn't hurt, either.
We think this JK is a perfect flagship for T&J Performance Center. It combines desert speed, family friendliness, and crawl-ability into a rig that's still street-able. How can you beat that?
Vehicle: 2007 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited
Owner: T&J Performance Center
Hometown: Orange, California
Engine: 3.8L V-6
Induction: Stock EFI
Transmission: Stock automatic
Transfer Case/Low Range Ratio: NVG241OR/4:1
Front End: Stock Dana 44 with Barnett gusset kit
Rear End: Stock Dana 44 with Barnett gusset kit
Ring And Pinion: 5.38
Front Differential: Stock E-locker
Rear Differential: Stock E-locker
Suspension: Rubicon Express 4.5-inch long-arm, Bilstein 9100 bypass shocks, Barnett shock mounts. Front Travel: 12 inches. Rear Travel: 11 inches.
Tires: 37-inch Goodyear MT/R with Kevlar
Wheels/Backspacing: 17x8 Pro Comp Series 6089/4.5 inches
Bummer: Lack of power from the stock V-6. A Hemi swap or an ATK stroker V-6 may be in this Jeep's future