The first thing many new Jeep owners do is get a parts catalog and go nuts with steel bumpers, armor, and a big winch. While these are worthwhile upgrades, they add weight to the vehicle, which can degrade acceleration, fuel mileage, and trail prowess. Greg Mulkey isn’t new to Jeeps, and he had a plan in mind when he picked up this ’12 two-door Wrangler. “The intention was to keep the vehicle under 4,000 pounds,” he says, “and we accomplished that goal.”
The goal was to keep the Jeep under 4,000 pounds
Weight was an important factor for this Jeep because it was designed to race in the Everyman Challenge at King of the Hammers. The rules only allow minimal modifications, so keeping the vehicle light makes it faster and more reliable. The biggest changes were made to the suspension and are the handiwork of Curt Hildebrand and TeraFlex. A TeraFlex PreRunner LCG long-arm suspension kit is used in conjunction with King 21⁄2-inch-diameter remote reservoir shocks. The suspension nets 13 inches of front wheel travel and 15 inches of rear travel, with equal compression and extension to soak up the bumps.
The stock engine, transmission, transfer case, and even drivelines were all retained. The axles were upgraded to Tera44 units front and rear, but they still retain the factory disc brakes. Raceline Liberator wheels are forged, so they are lightweight and strong, making them perfect for this build. Combined with 35-inch BFGoodrich KM2s, they provide increased ground clearance with reduced rotating weight to results in better acceleration and braking with less breaking.
To cut weight, the rear seat, carpet, and top were removed and the front seats were replaced with PRP suspension seats. Despite the fuel cell and five-point harnesses, there are actually a lot of creature comforts on this race Jeep. It still has a functioning HVAC system with air conditioning and a full stereo, and the top fits over the custom six-point cage. Even the stock bumpers and fender flares were retained and made to work around the LED lights and Warn winch. “The plastic bumpers are lightweight and easy to source, so if we destroy one it is no big deal,” Greg explains. Plus, with all those new JK owners adding big bumpers and armor, tons of factory bumpers are available for Greg’s race Wrangler if need be.
2012 Jeep Wrangler JK
Engine: 3.6L Pentastar V-6
Transmission: 545RFE 5-speed auto
Transfer case: NP231
Front & Rear Axles: Tera44s with 4.88 gears, Eaton E-Lockers, and RCV axleshafts
Springs & Such: Teraflex LCG Prerunner suspension with King 21⁄2-inch-diameter remote reservoir shocks
Tires & Wheels: 35x12.5R17 BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2s on 17x8 Raceline Liberator forged rims
Other Stuff: Custom rollcage, Rugged Radios intercom, Lowrance GPS, PRP suspension seats and harnesses, Warn 9.0Rc winch with synthetic cable and Factor 55 winch thimble, LED Warehouse Pro Line lights, Wild Boar grille, Genright hood, Genright fuel cell, Speaker LED headlights, SSV Works stereo, Spiderweb Shade, Powertank PT10, Hi-Lift jack