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2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited - Earthquake

Posted in Features on December 23, 2014
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We really like the JK platform, but it’s all the crap it’s filled with we aren’t too fond of. The wheelbase, the interior size, the availability of four doors, and more all make for a great Jeep. A four-door Wrangler works really well, no matter if we want to go wheeling, camping, or just road-tripping. What we never did like was all the plastic, the gee-gaws, the nanny systems, and the way the interior electronics seem to spaz out with the first drop of water. We can’t figure out how you guys back east can actually wheel these things. So, we got into our heads how cool it would be to build a Jeep off of a four-door that lent itself well to all of those attributes.

Now, we aren’t talking a tube-chassis full-race buggy thing. We want to keep the top and doors and have HVAC but ditch all the crap associated with the rest of the platform. Right around that time we’d dreamed that up, we caught wind of this Jeep. It belongs to Randy Mancini of Santa Rosa, California. While it is much nicer than anything we’d likely build, it is exactly the sort of build we’ve been contemplating for some time.

It was actually further gone than the Jeep we were thinking of building. It started as salvage-titled Jeep. Well, OK, it really started as a body tub and a frame. From there, Gen-Right Off Road started literally lifting the frame off the ground and beginning the build. The Jeep is called Terremoto, which is Italian for earthquake. Its exhaust and engine makes it feel like an earthquake as it goes by.

This is a little outside of our normal type of features in that it isn’t driveway-built, and it isn’t a cheap build. However, the idea behind it is awesome. If you were so inclined, we think you could home-build a radical four-door JK for less than the cost of a top-of-the-line Rubicon four-door. No, it wouldn’t be this extreme, or likely this fast, but a lot of the ideas the GenRight guys used here might translate over if you were to ever try something like this at home.

Chassis
The frame started as a ’10 Wrangler Unlimited. While there was no body on it, GenRight installed its Elite long-arm kit. That consisted of cutting coilover mounts into the outside of the frame. The mounts are outside the frame primarily for stability, but the added space freed up underneath for links and other things doesn’t hurt. Out back, there is a monster crossmember, and the tops of the shock towers tie into the ’cage. Together, that more than makes up for any structural rigidity lost from cutting the frame. In the middle of the Jeep, hidden under that flat 3⁄8-inch-thick 7075 T6 aluminum belly pan, are two more super-heavy-duty crossmembers that not only stiffen the frame up some more but also hold the lower links. Have you ever see how overbuilt some of the Army Corp of Engineers stuff is? This is that kind of overbuilt.

Up front, the three-link is made using Summit Machine 7075 Aluminum links. King Racing 21⁄2-inch-diameter, 14-inch-travel internal-bypass coilovers hold the Jeep up while King 2-inch-diameter, 4-inch-travel bumpstops keep the tires from getting too frisky with the fenders. Out back, the same specification shocks and bumps team up with a GenRight Elite swaybar to help control body roll on-road. However, the rear suspension is a double-triangulated four-link. Notice no sway bar up front? Yeah, it wouldn’t fit, and we are told that thanks to the higher rate of the rear one, a front bar is not really needed anyway.

Drivetrain
It all starts with a Chevy powerplant in the form of an LS3 V-8. While we don’t know all the specs, we know it has been bored and stroked out to 416 ci. A manley-forged crank and rods team up with Wiseco forged pistons to make the bottom end. The valvetrain consists of a custom-ground Comp Cams camshaft that opens CHE rockers with LS7 lifters. They reside in West Coast Customs Stage III L92 heads. It is fed thanks to a 20-gallon aluminum GenRight gas tank, and the engine is lubed up with Torco 20/50 engine oil.

Above that, a FAST throttle body (rated for 1,375 cfm) teams with a Holley HP EFI controller and sits atop an Edlebrock Victor Jr. high-rise intake manifold to provide the juice for the squeeze. K&N was tapped to provide all the air the engine could suck in with an old-school round air filter, and a custom-built 3-inch-diameter exhaust dumps gasses just behind the belly skidplate through a Dynomax Race Bullet Muffler. It is cooled by a four-core Griffin radiator filled with Peak1 premix and has two SPAL fans pulling the air through as needed.

All of that combines to crank out 640 hp and 595 lb-ft of torque. A billet TCI 2,500-rpm converter coupled to a TCI Super Street Fighter 4L80E takes all of it and feeds that into a 3.0:1 Atlas II T-case filled with Torco 75/90 oil. A TCI stand-alone computer controls the slushbox’s shifts, and the driver is able to shift this manually shifted transmission either through the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel or with the Art Carr gated shifter that sits on the console. A monster-sized custom Griffin-built transmission cooler holds that much-abused Swepco 20/50 transmission fluid cool.

That huge-by-large power travels out to the front and rear axles through a pair of 1350-jointed JE Reel driveshafts. Both front and rear axles are high-pinion Currie Enterprises Rock Jock 60s stuffed with 5.38:1 Currie Super 60 gears, ARB Air Lockers, and Torco 75/140 gear oil. The rear axle is full-floating with a 5-on-5.5-inch bolt pattern and uses Brake Man Thunder Storm rotors and calipers.

The front axle uses 35-spline Yukon axleshafts and U-joints that go out to a 5-on-5.5-inch hub with Warn Premium lock-outs. Brakes up here are also Brake Man, but they are 13.6-inch diameter Wave Rotors with billet-machined F4 calipers. The tires are 40x13.50R17 Goodyear MT/R with Kevlar wrapped around Raceline Forged 17x8-inch beadlocks. An AGR Ram Assist kit pushes on a GenRight chromoly tie rod and drag link, configured in a high-steer setup.

Body and Interior
As if this Jeep needed to be lighter, a combination of carbon fiber and aluminum combine to make a very lightweight armor, fender, and bumper package. Up front, a GenRight stubby aluminum bumper and stinger make a home for a Warn CTI winch wrapped with nylon rope. Moving back, we find a set of GenRight carbon fiber fender flares (with matching flares out back). From there, we find GenRight’s 3⁄16-inch-thick aluminum rocker guards. Out back, a GenRight aluminum bumper (without a tire carrier) guards the rear tailgate and winch.

The hood is custom-built out of carbon fiber and fiberglass with functional heat-evacuating side vents. JW Speaker was tapped for the headlights and interior LED lighting. The custom aluminum half-doors stuffed with speakers and power locks can be pulled to put the factory doors and tops back on the Jeep.

Inside, the entire tub was stripped to bare metal and shot with Line-X before anything else happened. Then, GenRight’s eight-point ’cage kit was thrown in for good measure. On the ’cage are some small Axia convex mirrors. If you notice anything about this interior, it will be that custom-built aluminum dashboard that flows down into the center console. There is no ignition switch on the column, because the race-sourced tilt column and removable wheel just don’t have provision for it. All the controls are through dash-mounted switches, including the front and rear winches.

The dash is stuffed with other trinket-bobs such as an iPad, an 8-inch Lowrance, and a Rugged Radio race radio with a four-person intercom. Not to be forgotten is a 1500-watt Sony sound system, an aluminum Racepak with digital gauges, and billet butterfly vents. A Vintage Air HVAC system pushes the air through the vents and is controlled with a Vintage Air control panel. Further down on the console, between the front seats, an Art Carr shifter pokes through next to the Atlas II shifters with billet aluminum knobs. The four PRP bucket-style Rally Venture bucket seats are covered in ostrich skin and suede and mounted to the floor via GenRight mounts. Under the rear seat is a RedTop Optima battery.

Good, Bad, and What It’s For
The idea of being able to put a top on a Jeep like this is awesome. The removable B-pillar bolts back in at the bottom and then clamps to the ’cage up top. But then, if you were to put a top on it, what about where the rear coil-overs come through the floor? We’d want to cover them up somehow, especially if we were mudding. We like the way the interior controls are easy to reach but can’t believe none of them have died yet. Despite all the modified engines we’ve driven (or maybe because of them), we would have started with an LS6 or LS7 and left it stock. The engine and trans both stay cool, but with only 20-gallons to feed it, that engine must starve fairly often. That said, we’ve been out with this Jeep a few times, and it works well on everything from dry lakebed blasting to slow rockcrawling to monster desert whoops.

Hard Facts
Vehicle: 2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Engine: 416ci LS3 V-8
Transmission: TCI 4L80E
Transfer Case: 3.0:1 Atlas II
Suspension: Three-link (front); dual-triangulated four-link (rear)
Axles: Currie Rock Jock 60 (front and rear)
Wheels: Raceline 17x8 forged beadlock
Tires: 40x13.50R17 Goodyear MT/R with Kevlar
Built For: Going anywhere and occasionally going there really fast

Why I Wrote This Feature
As I mentioned at the beginning, I’m sure this Jeep is out of my price range. That said, it’s just the sort of thing I’d love to do with a four-door Wrangler. I mean, why pay all that money for stock parts that are going to be thrown out anyway? I’m talking about the axles, ’cage, T-case, probably the engine once it pops, and so forth. Sure, this will take time for any of us to build at home so it might sit for awhile. Or, build it on the cheap and wheel it like you stole it. I like the flat belly, the way the crossmembers actually make the frame stronger, and the way the links tie-in. Obviously, I also like the console and lightweight idea of the whole thing. The wheelbase is only 2-inches more than stock and it was left that way, because as we all know, a four-door has some issues rubbing its belly. All in all, a great idea for a build that carried out better than I probably could.
—Pete Trasborg

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